March 7, 2013

Editorial: Imaginative fundraising

When good causes need money, it behooves them to figure out ways to coax people into parting with theirs by giving a little something back.

We were struck by the simplicity and, at the same time, the ingenuity of the idea a SUNY Plattsburgh fraternity used over the weekend to raise money for multiple sclerosis research and treatment. Zeta Beta Tau called it Flipping Out on Multiple Sclerosis, and the name certainly fit.

One of our photographers shot a compelling picture of the goings-on at Amite Plaza, as a student smashed a plate to smithereens in exchange for a $1 donation to the fight against multiple sclerosis.

What a delightful appeal to a harmless side of human nature. Who wouldn’t want to smash a plate for a good cause? (By the way, in case you were wondering, the fraternity bought the plates, so it donated money, as well as time and effort, to the project.)

For $4, a donor could satisfy a curiosity many of us have harbored over the years: Is it really possible to yank a tablecloth out from under dishes on a table without breaking anything?

For many years, we’ve witnessed a wide range of ideas for fundraisers — some brilliant, others less so. Local people have walked, rocked, danced, skated and otherwise bounced their way to raising money for local charities.

Some causes have a natural inducement built in. Fundraisers for performing-arts groups, for example, will always have the capacity to offer donors something in return for their investment: entertainment of one kind or another.

Most organizations rely on the old “ask and hope” method, which apparently still works but offers nothing but self-satisfaction in return.

Local United Way organizations were formed mainly in order to relieve the public of multiple fundraising campaigns over the year and to spare some public-service groups the burden of having to raise their own money. United Way works because everyone realizes it is a great cause and it has the dual benefit of helping great people to do their great work and cutting down on non-stop fundraising efforts throughout the year.

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