This is the introduction to a forthcoming linkfest I'd like to share with anyone who wants to sing carols as a fundraiser, for the Salvation Army or other charities that collect money for missions in early winter, for up to ten hours. This post explains how to pull off this stunt, reliably, day after day, and enjoy it:
1. Work cheap, not free. You're not punching a time clock, but your time is worth something...I'd say US$50 per day, minimum, but offer to waive payment if I brought in less than $100.
2. Dress warmly. The best days for this form of fundraising have at least a hint of snow in the air. Choose a hat (or kettle, saucepan, bucket, etc.) suitable for "passing." (Transfer money to a solid, lockable "bank" as the hat fills up.)
3. Look alive! Foot-tapping, bell-jingling, hand-clapping, and of course shaking hands with people or helping them load and carry purchases, keep you warm in that frosty air.
4. Breathe from the diaphragm--it's the only way to be able to talk or sing for even one hour.
5. Singing in aid of a mission is not a recital or an evangelical outreach, right? It's about setting the mood that motivates people to donate. This is most effectively done by a combination of songs that awaken memories, and a physical scene (cold air, winter trees, snow if possible, red stocking cap if you have one) that appeals to people's generosity. The song list is the part you completely control. You can sing new songs, songs that reflect your own beliefs, or songs that you enjoy singing, but the hat (or kettle) will fill up faster if you sing traditional Christmas carols.
6. The more voices and instruments you can enlist, the merrier--but expect other people to get cold and tired fast, and be able to find your keynote by tapping a bit of metal against a lamppost if necessary.
7. Always be prepared to pause in between verses to chat with people, receive non-cash donations, listen to stories, and let them sing along if they feel so moved. Always be prepared to laugh out loud when you meet a heckler...even if you suspect he's a real hater, it's possible to make his "clowning" part of your act and cash in on it. Always stop singing, even in the middle of a verse, to thank donors. Pauses to thank and chat up donors are the much-needed breaks that expand the song list to fill up ten hours and keep your voice from giving out during that time.
8. If feeling chilled, tired, or fluzly outweighs the pleasures of laughing at yourself, singing, and fundraising, go home--you probably are coming down with something, and donors will unconsciously sense your germs and avoid you. A permanent or long-term, non-contagious disability is a solid asset for this kind of fundraising (even a sprained ankle shows how dedicated you are), but a headache can be disastrous.
9. Know your mission. Volunteer time in the office, kitchen, laundry, etc., and shop in the store if they operate one, during the rest of the year. You'll be a more credible fundraiser if you know firsthand that the mission is legitimate.
10. Have fun!!! The spirit of love and joy is crucial to this kind of fundraising.