Getting your American Legion Auxiliary unit the resources it needs to support veterans and make a real impact in your community can be easier than you think. But you don’t have to take it from us — take it from Margaret Eklund and Margie Hominy — two unit members just like you, who have grown their programs through a variety of innovative fundraisers.
Lean into the talents of your volunteers
Margaret Eklund, a member of ALA South Carolina Unit 48, worked with the talents in her unit to raise funds for veterans with a variety show.
Eklund said the show came together pretty naturally. She had a friend who was a Dolly Parton impersonator, and many of her fellow unit members had a knack for comedy.
“All you really have to do is have the talent, and get enough interest to make it all happen,” Eklund said.
After combining those two acts with a local country music band, Eklund and her unit realized they would be able to put on a decent show — so they got to work. After sourcing the props, setting up The American Legion post hall, and spreading the word, they were ready to take center stage.
“Everybody really enjoyed it,” Eklund said, “and due to everything that has happened with COVID-19, I think it was perfect for everyone to have a laugh.”
Due to demand, they hosted the show twice — taking donations of any amount at the door both nights. With those donations, they were able to fully fund their project to give Christmas gifts to veterans at their local nursing home.
“We just have a heart for the veterans, especially because there are some of them who no one ever comes to visit, and they just light up when they see the gifts,” Eklund said.
ALA unit members have so many diverse talents, and tapping into them could be the answer to the need for more resources toward your mission.
Join forces with other community groups
Margie Hominy, member of ALA Ohio Unit 256, worked with another local charity, The Fraternal Order of Eagles Auxiliary, to host a cornhole challenge fundraiser.
Instead of competing for donations with other charities in her community, Hominy found that it could be beneficial to come together to raise funds. She knew one easy way to get people invested was through a bit of friendly competition, so the two organizations decided to challenge one another in a cornhole tournament.
“We have a large property, so we were able to have about 14 games going on at a time, and we had about 25 teams from each charity participate,” Hominy said.
To make it fair, pairs were assigned randomly within the ALA and Eagles groups, respectively. After four or five rounds of play, they crowned the winner. But it was truly the ALA’s mission that won that day.
In addition to funds raised with entry fees, Hominy made the most of the time by working to secure basket donations from community businesses. With the help of the Eagles Auxiliary, they were able to secure 40 baskets full of goodies, which attendees could purchase tickets for a chance to win.
Having other activities and serving food made the event more appealing to the families of those who would be participating in the main event.
“We also made sure to advertise it,” Hominy said. “We got help from local businesses to spread the word, and we made sure to put it on Facebook.”
At the end of the day, the fundraiser netted over $6,800, while at the same time bringing the community together. Though sometimes other organizations can seem like competition, working together and combining resources can be a way to reach new interested members and supporters.
There are so many fundraising ideas on the internet. But many times, as Eklund and Hominy have discovered, the best events are the ones that fit naturally into your volunteer base and community.
Learn from other fundraising success stories
Need more ideas for unit fundraisers? Hear straight from other local-level fundraisers and unit members just like you by taking the ALA Academy course Unit Fundraising: Moving the Mission Forward by Engaging your Community. Log in with your member ID at www.ALAforVeterans.org.
We want to hear your story! Share your unit fundraising successes with us at Development@ALAforVeterans.org.
Apply for an ALA Foundation grant to bring in additional income for your mission projects
The American Legion Auxiliary Foundation offers four types of grants to ALA units to help it reach its full potential:
- Veteran Projects Fund grant: supports a new need for local veterans/military
- Veterans Creative Arts Festival grant: supports supplies needed for local Veterans Creative Arts Festival events
- Mission in Action grant: supports branded items to promote the ALA in your community
- Subgrant: passes on donations from corporations or foundations to your unit projects
Learn more and apply at www.ALAFoundation.org/grants
Use your fundraising skills to serve veterans in a new way
Do you already have a knack for fundraising? The American Legion Auxiliary Foundation is looking for talented and passionate leaders to serve a three-year term on our board of directors. This group is committed to growing the support the ALA Foundation gives to veterans, military, and their families by spreading the word about grant programs, raising funds to continue the mission, and being good leaders and stewards of resources.
More information and the application can be found online at www.ALAFoundation.org
. Applications are due April 1.