A Cheerleader for Raffle Fundraising by Annabel Nichols

A Cheerleader for Raffle Fundraising by Annabel Nichols

 

Fundraising has been a large part of my high school experience. As a freshman, I tried out for and made the varsity cheerleading squad. I was over the moon with excitement. This excitement was a little dampened when I realized the cost involved in being a cheerleader. Cheerleading is one of those sports that high schools have but don’t financially support. The cost to each cheerleader per year was around $1,600.00. I knew that would be a hardship for my family. My parents were very supportive and said they would somehow make it work. Well, I wanted to be as much a part of the solution as I was a part of the cost. So that is where my experience with fundraising began.

One of the main fundraisers that the cheerleaders put on every year was a bingo night. This involved procuring bingo prizes as well as 2-3 large raffle prizes. The proceeds from this event were divided among the cheerleaders. This included selling tickets to the event itself. There were usually 40 bingo prizes and 3 raffle prizes. The raffle prizes became the main selling point for the event. Each year they drew in a large number of participants and helped fund about a third of my yearly expenses. I have now been involved in this event for four years. Without this raffle, the bingo night would have just been another bingo. The raffle prizes essential to the nights success.

Along with raising funds, this annual event has given the cheerleaders the persona of a cohesive hard working team. This is an image that is important for the sustainability and success of the squad. In this time of budget cuts and program trimming, it is even more important to show that cheerleading can support itself. This fundraising not only helped financially but also with the image of what cheerleading is all about. It is more than cute girls jumping around. It is about supporting our athletes and being strong successful athletes ourselves. The bingo night helped raise the community’s awareness about cheerleading and the individuals involved. The raffle is such an integral part of this event that without it, it would not be successful or have the community involvement that it does. In addition to helping raise money, it allows businesses to gain community respect by donating to our organization. We are in a town made up of struggling, family owned businesses. By showing that these businesses care about our cheerleaders, their reputation and their business are more successful.

I have gained so much from being involved in this fundraiser. I did not realize this until this year.  I have become much more comfortable handling money, communicating and being confident. I have learned the importance of making eye contact, smiling and using clear and direct explanations when procuring raffle items. I now know that customer service skills are a part of everyday life no matter what I choose to do as a career. Effective teamwork is also essentially to fundraising and applicable to so many other things. I now know the importance of follow through such as sending thank you notes to those who donated raffle items. This almost always ensured that we could count on that company to donate again in the future. I was able to accept responsibility for both my successes and failures. I learned that persistence pays off. I may have had to go to 20 different companies but in the end, I knew I would also procure a raffle prize.

One thing that I didn’t know would be so helpful was social media. I am addicted to social media as are most high schoolers. I have not had the opportunity to utilize this communication technique for fundraising until cheer. I was surprised and pleased at how many people responded positively to information put out on social media. Calling out the businesses that donated raffle items was a win-win for us. The business benefited by the recognition and it advertised the raffle prizes at the same time. I guess what I am trying to say is that this fundraising event helped me grow and mature as a person each of the years that I was involved. I gained tangible skills for my future that I wouldn’t have learned in a classroom. For something that seemed like a small event, it will have a lasting positive effect on me with all that I have learned.       

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Contributed by Annabel Nichols

October 15, 2015

         

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