Everyone has an opinion about their version of the Family Readiness Group -- now called the Soldier & Family Readiness Group in the Army. No matter that opinion, we can all agree that when done correctly and with enough volunteers, this group can be a thriving source of community within a military unit.
One of the most challenging parts of volunteering is coming up with fundraising ideas to support the events that will provide that sense of community. In my experience, there are a few things that increase the chance of participation: food, involving the kids and convenience.
When hosting an FRG fundraiser, consider whether or not the families' or service members' lives will be a little easier if they attend. Do they get to skip making a meal? Will the event be in the same location where they work? Will the kids have a good time?
15 FRG Fundraising Ideas
Disclaimer: be sure to check the rules to ensure you're within parameters of your guidelines, any base or command-specific rules and your bylaws.
1. Chili Cook-Off Every fall, there are amateur cooks who insist they make the most incredible chili. Recruit them to make their famous recipe. Host a chili cook-off during lunch hours at the battalion. Provide the toppings, and sell packages that include a flat fee for a bowl and a drink and a "Sampler" package where they can taste several different recipes and throw their judge's hat on! Have a trophy and apron for the winner and make it an annual event.
2. Apparel Work with a local printing company to design T-shirts, hats, sweaters, coffee mugs and more with the military unit's logo. Sell these as an ongoing fundraiser and also have some available to purchase at meetings and events.
3. Family Movie Night in Your PJs Host a showing of a recently released-to-DVD family/kid-friendly movie. Sell popcorn, snacks and drinks. Bonus points if you can set up a movie on the lawn so everyone has lots of space.
4. Father/Daughter Dance What little girl doesn't love getting all dressed up with her dad? They've seen you getting dressed up to go to military balls; now it's their turn! For a twist, make it a princess ball or tea.
5. Mother/Son Dance We can't leave out our sons!
6. Breakfast Burritos Set up a hot burrito station during arrival hours. They'll love getting a hot, healthy breakfast right as they're walking into work.
7. Snack Center If there is an available space in the building, turn a closet or cabinet into a snack center with chips, drinks and some healthy options. Add a Keurig & K-Cups for a deluxe coffee bar. Clearly mark the prices and have a lockbox for payment, or put it in the office of someone who won't mind keeping an eye on it all.
8. Christmas Market Many military spouses work from home, starting their own business to have flexibility while maintaining an income. A great way to support the business owners in your unit is by having a shopping event where vendors donate a percentage of their proceeds to your FRG. Invite the unit for a shopping night to get some Christmas gifts off their to-do list and support a great cause.
9. Gift Wrapping in December Choose one day a week during December to gift-wrap presents. You can charge per item, a flat fee or allow for a donation amount of their choice. Check with the Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) to see if they have a program you can participate in.
10. Yard Sale Host the sale at a volunteer's home off base. Allow families to donate items that they no longer want to the yard sale, with all proceeds going to the FRG. There are lots of families with items they need to clear out and don't want to go through the process of having their own yard sale.
11. Junior Bike-A-Thon The kids are the bikers! Create a course and have the kids (with the help of their parents) collect pledges for the amount of times they can complete the course on their bike.
12. Golf Tournament Golf is such a popular sport, and golfers are always looking for great tournaments. Contact a local course and coordinate a scramble.
13. Trivia Night Host a themed trivia night. Charge an entry fee per table and have food, snacks and drinks on hand for additional fundraising.
14. Chick-Fil-A Day If there's a Chick-fil-A near you, you know they invest in their communities. Contact your local store about having a fundraising night. Usually the manager coordinates a date and donates a percentage from every order where they present your flyer or group name.
Some bases don’t allow off-base FRG fundraisers, so again -- make sure to check on your local rules.
15. Murder Mystery Dinner Perhaps, more appropriate as adult only, but so much fun. Order themed kits online and recruit your cast of characters. Spend a lively evening figuring out "whodunit." Charge an admission fee and have snacks and drinks as options.
Has your FRG hosted any of the fundraisers above? What are some of your best FRG fundraisers?
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