Fund raising is not the easiest job in this economy, yet success in it makes all else possible. I intend to watch out for out-of-the-ordinary fund raising ideas I can pass on to non-profit organizations, maybe even small businesses and/or individuals, with the hope that they can use them to strengthen their financial positions.
The non-profit sector in particular seems very much in need of new ideas. These days it is hard to decide to part with one's money, and it may be made easier with a new and interesting kind of event.
Steve Fluder may have just the new event many organizations are looking for. A fund-raising consultant from York, he came up with the idea six or seven years ago, and, he recalls, "I thought I was going to lose my job. My boss looked at me as if I were crazy."
The idea was for a nine-wicket, family-style croquet tournament. Crazy or not, it was tried. "That first one was sponsored by the Mennonite Historians of Eastern Pennsylvania," he says. "They're still running it."
Fluder thinks he might have been the first with the idea for croquet as a fund raiser; but it is hard to tell about "firsts". Nobody is ever really sure what's being developed over the next ridge, or who came up with the germ of the idea.
There is, for instance, what seems to be a countywide croquet tournament in Westmoreland County, which has been going for some years now, and which--he himself points out--had an independent origin. There are a few others; and there are places where there are combined croquet and golf tournaments.
But it is at least certain that Fluder is among the founding fathers of this type of family tournament. The big-league, six-wicket tournaments run by the American Croquet Society (ACS) are a different type of competition altogether.
After Fluder left his job to set up an independent businessman he went through the same rough time the rest of the economy was enduring. After that, though, things started to turn around.
"I've had six tournaments this year, and expect a couple more in the fall. And next year looks pretty good."
Any group wanting to meet with Fluder and explore what his program has to offer may begin by visiting his website at www.croquetyour way.com.