How To Hold A Wheelchair Van Fundraiser

Got Money? If the answer is no, we're here with the basics for hosting a handicap van fundraiser for financing mobility vehicles or modifying an existing minivan to be handicap accessible with a ramp or lift. A fundraiser is a wonderful way to raise money or to supplement cash received through a grant or wheelchair van loan. The wheelchair user, family and friends can hold the fundraiser, or you might find community-outreach programs, churches or other groups of individuals-for-a-cause to rally for an individual or organization needing a handicap van. Whether you do it yourself or it's by group effort, you'll benefit from the following fundraising ideas to help you buy that wheelchair van or modify an existing minivan to be handicap accessible with a ramp or lift.

A fundraiser is a labor of love, for which family, friends, volunteers, sponsors, etc. donate their time, goods, and services toward its success. As you can imagine, there's a lot to consider when you plan a wheelchair van fundraiser.


Step 1: Brainstorm!

Brainstorming

Get a few ideas for a fundraiser theme on paper before you ask others to help. The theme might be inspired by the wheelchair user's favorite hobby. If it's sewing, a costume party might be fun. Brewing beer might lead to a tasting event or an Oktoberfest celebration. Ask volunteers to collect donations for a gigantic yard sale. Take advantage of sponsor offers—a neighborhood service station might be willing to provide an outdoor lot and water for a car wash. Request access to a playing field for a sports tournament. (If you want hold an outdoor event, consider the season and likelihood of inclement weather.) Determine a reasonable donation range for your audience. Would they attend an elegant—and expensive—dinner in a ballroom, or would they be more likely to spring for a reasonably priced spaghetti social?

When you determine the theme for your wheelchair van fundraiser, enlist recruits to help put it together. Enthusiastic volunteers are beneficial in many ways—their help is free, their enthusiasm inspires others to participate, volunteers often have good ideas, they can network and spread the word and—it’s worth saying again—their help is free! A lot of spirited labor might even influence the theme choice: Clean-up teams for lawn work and houses!


Step 2: Form a committee to coordinate the wheelchair van fundraising effort.

Fundraising committee

People must be contacted, materials gathered, progress tracked, money accounted, sponsors courted, venues scouted and plans executed. Go over the following with your team:


  • Decide who'll coordinate each aspect of the fundraiser. Delegate multiple tasks to each person if you have only a few volunteers.


  • Make a list of everyone involved, their role(s) and their contact info, and distribute the list to the entire team.


  • Discuss the theme for the fundraiser with your team. Express your thoughts and ask for their suggestions. If you have a hard time deciding what's best, consider combining ideas or let everyone vote on the ideas. To narrow your choices, take into account the amount of money that might be raised. Needless to say, you should zero in on the most profitable event. Ask your team to think about resources they might provide.


  • Evaluate potential venues. Tour the places to be sure there's ample room and parking.


  • Obtain any official paperwork that might be required, such as permits or licenses (for health authority, food service, etc.). Apply for documents as far in advance as possible.


  • Tell everyone to get the word out!


  • Depending on the scope of the event, make sure you'll have enough volunteers to handle set-up, crowd control, food prep and distribution, entertainment, music or booths (if any), clean-up and whatever else is necessary. If you come up short, ask your sponsor businesses if they have any staff interested in helping out, for compensation if necessary.


  • Take your fundraiser online! Ask family and friends to donate and collect items from others that can be sold on eBay or another sales site.


Step 3: Open a bank account.

Bank sign

Give the account a clear, descriptive name. For example, "Joe Smith's Wheelchair Van Fund." Some banks have special perks for fundraisers—just ask!


Step 4: Launch a wheelchair accessible van fundraiser website.

Building a website

Though not essential, this step can be very helpful, providing an online presence that gives you credibility and a place to send people for more information. Include some photos and a few paragraphs about why you're raising funds. Ask a family member or friend with web skills to build the site, or ask them if they know of anyone who'd be willing to build the site for you. It doesn't have to be elaborate. Sources like PayPal and GoFundMe.com offer online fundraising tools, including website-creation tools and online donation boxes.


Step 5: Inform the community and local businesses—Advertise! Advertise! Advertise!

Advertise your fundraiser

Volunteer word-of-mouth isn't the only way to inform an audience about an upcoming fundraiser. There are other free and almost-free methods of advertising. Your local media outlets—television and radio—often air public service announcements (PSAs), and they may be willing to promote your event. Similarly, some local businesses have changeable signage to display your message for a day. Your team can hang flyers around town in storefronts, churches, community centers and on designated bulletin boards. Spread the word on social networking sites and create a central hub of accessible information and opportunities to discuss the wheelchair accessible van the funds will purchase and other related topics. Have family, friends, and volunteers send out a boilerplate email blast to all their contacts, announcing the event and asking for donations.

Sponsors of your event might be willing to underwrite the cost in exchange for free advertising or other perks. If they can cover the expenses, your ticket sales are profit. Correspondingly, if your ticket sales cover the cost of putting together the wheelchair accessible van fundraiser, then anything donated by sponsors is a bonus! And remember—sponsor help doesn't have to be monetary. The donation of a venue or materials was already mentioned. Sponsors can donate party favors, raffle prizes, food and beverage or even hotel or airfare if your honoree needs to travel. Don't hesitate to ask! You'll be amazed at what you can get simply by asking!


Step 6: Thank everyone for their involvement.

Thank you from a little girl

Soon after the wheelchair accessible van fundraiser, send Thank You notes, preferably handwritten, to the all the volunteers, sponsors and donors. This is an essential step! Goodwill goes a long way, especially if you plan to do it again!

Upload photos from the event to your official website and, when the time comes, share images of the recipient with that new wheelchair van! Good luck!