Sons of The American Legion member Patrick Myers with US Coin Boards speaks to the Junior Shooting Sport Conference attendees on Sept. 16, 2017, in Indianapolis.

JSSP chairmen learn keys to a successful fundraiser

Ida Jewel made it her goal to raise money for The American Legion Department of Indiana’s Junior Shooting Sports Program scholarship, so she collaborated with US Coin Boards to conduct a gun raffle. Jewel, the department’s JSSP chairman and chief range officer for the Legion’s national air rifle championship, gave raffle booklets to all 11 district chairmen to distribute to posts. Tickets were sold at $5 apiece and $2,500 was raised for the scholarship.

“You represent The American Legion – a very powerful brand, a very respected brand,” said Sons of The American Legion member Patrick Myers with US Coin Boards to attendees of the Legion’s Junior Shooting Sports Conference in Indianapolis on Sept. 16. “To raise money effectively people have to trust you. They have to trust what you’re doing, they have to trust who you are and they have to believe in you. When people trust your cause, they will donate to you.”

Myers, who resides in Camp Hill, Pa., but is a member of Squadron 500 in Indianapolis, has been developing fundraising games, raffles and programs for more than seven years with US Coin Boards, which works primarily with nonprofits such as The American Legion.

A few keys to an effective and successful fundraising campaign that Myers shared were to:

  • Brand the fundraising campaign with the Legion emblem and Legion youth program logo for people to trust what your selling.

  • Identify the fundraising need, amount to raise and timeline. Jewel set a fundraising goal of $2,500 and a timeline of six months for the raffle and said she sold out of tickets way before the drawing was held in July at the Department of Indiana’s convention.

  • Have financial accountability of all tickets sold and money raised.

  • Set a goal and make it realistic and attainable.

And the No. 1 reason a fundraiser fails? “Because people are afraid to ask for money," Myers said. "But if you have a prize, just know your audience, make sure it’s something of value, and it’s something they actually want to have.”

Oftentimes Legion departments or posts will team up with other organizations for a cause, and Myers said when that happens it’s important to do so with another trusted brand to make the fundraiser effective. For example, the Department of Indiana is starting a Youth Cadet Law Enforcement Program, and is currently conducting a raffle to support its efforts and collaborating with the Indiana Sheriffs' Youth Ranch. Posts throughout the state received raffle booklets that featured the Legion emblem, the departments law cadet program logo, and the Indiana Sheriffs' Youth Ranch logo. Each booklet distributed contained 10 tickets for $10 apiece.

Myers said that post-level support for fundraising efforts is vital as there are many costs associated with starting and maintaining a Legion program, like Shooting Sports.

“Who can’t sell 10 tickets at $10 apiece? Can you get the support of 50 Legion posts? That’s $5,000 you can raise,” Myers said. “Your boots on the ground are your active Legion members. You can get your members to support a good cause as long as you deliver that message, and you give them something that’s easy to sell.”

One last piece to fundraising that Myers shared was the top-down approach -- leaders need to build a support team.

“If you don’t have a team supporting you, you’re going to fail and you’re going to be out selling,” he said. “The stronger your organization is underneath you, the more powerful you are at raising money.”