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Chapter Fundraising
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Suggested Practices for Chapters

Compiled by the CSI Fundraising Task Force, which includes Scott Gillig and Toilynn Carson,
with contributions from the various sources, mentioned throughout this document.

*Thanks to the following who responded with fundraising ideas on the CSI Faculty Advisor Network!
Joe Kandor, Karen Hinch, Chester R. Robinson, Kathleen Ritter and Nancy Sherman

*Thanks also to Diane Shepard-Tew and Pamela Cingel-Gillig for their chapter fundraising ideas.


Introduction: The Formation of a CSI Chapter Fundraising Committee

Fundraising is an important component in helping to maintain the chapter's budget and in accomplishing the annual financial goals. The budget includes a target goal for fundraising activities, which takes into consideration the strategic plan for the year (see Section 2.4 of the CSI Chapter Financial Policies). A chapter's Strategic Plan is its written statement of its vision, mission, identity, and the chapter's intent and objectives in complying with CSI's overall purpose in existing. The Financial Policy is a written statement that guides the chapter through the management and maintenance of its financial matters in the pursuit of maximizing the goals of CSI, as written in its Strategic Plan. Every year the chapter's Executive Committee establishes some annual goals. Many times those goals require focused fundraising efforts. For example, many chapters provide academic scholarships to their members or provide the officers or other highly invested members money to attend the annual ACA World Conference. Other chapters seek to become more involved in community service.

Getting started in fundraising at the chapter level first involves appointment of a Fundraising Committee by the President in consultation with the Executive Committee. The Fundraising Committee will consist of members who are most likely to assist in reaching the chapter's fiscal goals. When fundraising ideas are derived, the Fundraising Committee will follow the chapter's Financial Policy in coordinating and executing the fundraising plan (i.e., presenting the idea to the Executive Council, gaining approval to go forward with the idea, getting access to initial funds for supplies, etc.).

Generating Fundraising Ideas

There are numerous sources from which to get fundraising ideas. Beyond this document, talking with other chapters about their fundraising activities is certainly the most efficient resource for generating appropriate ideas. Some chapters have already considered the special nature of CSI and the special approach needed in fundraising while representing CSI. Those chapters with established fundraising policies could educate other chapters on the pros and cons of a specific fundraising attempt. The International CSI newsletter, The Exemplar, frequently includes chapters' fundraising activities in its Chapter Happenings or other columns. Past issues of the International newsletter are available on-line (

There are many other sources available that can help the Fundraising Committee consider a thorough list of fundraising possibilities. The Internet is an excellent resource for exploring any stage of fundraising from developing to executing such ideas. Also, chapters could consider the successful fundraisers of other organizations. University papers and campuses are inundated with the fundraising ideas of various organizations. The media is full of fundraising ideas as well. Radio and television stations frequently announce upcoming fundraising events.

Successful CSI Chapter Fundraisers

The following is a list of successful fundraisers attempted by various CSI chapters. Within each idea are some considerations that a chapter should make before taking on the respective fundraiser. There have been chapters who have tried these ideas and have not been successful for various reasons. Contributing to their lack of success are poor planning or timing, not enough initial funds to support the chapter through the fundraiser and taking on too much too soon. So, a chapter needs to consider, realistically, where they are at financially and which members are available to complete the various tasks.

Easy Money

There are several ways that chapters can gain some income with minimal effort. However, these avenues for supplementing a chapter's budget generate income that could basically only support an already solvent chapter. The income from these fundraising activities will in no way support a chapter that wishes to grow and move forward. There is one major cautionary statement that applies to any request for additional monies from members beyond CSI Headquarter's annual dues. When a chapter charges the members local dues, the dues should be used at least in part to provide additional member benefits.

Annual Chapter Dues

Some chapters charge their members annual dues. These annual dues generally range from $5.00-$20.00. Members are notified of their dues date by their mailing label, which is included on all correspondence they receive in the mail from the chapter. Additionally, some chapters send "reminder" or "late" notices. Other chapters have a specified cut-off limit such as six months late and then they no longer send that "inactive" member correspondence.

Honor Cords

Honor cords are worn with graduation regalia and distinguish the graduate as belonging to an honor society. Members seem to appreciate this honor and distinction. Many chapters buy them from CSI Headquarters. Then, the chapter raises the price of each cord (e.g., to $15.00) and makes them available to members. Honor cords sales are most effective if a reminder of their availability is mentioned frequently. Further, many chapters are willing to mail them and even make them available graduation day. Headquarters now has specific months in which honor cords can be ordered, so chapters need to plan ahead.

Annual Report and Annual Plan

For chapters that meet the requirements for maintaining an active chapter, including submitting an Annual Plan and an Annual Report, CSI HQ mails a rebate for each active member to the chapter. The member must be current on their CSI International annual dues to receive credit as an "active" member. To receive the rebate, the report is due to Headquarters no later than April 30 of each year. Rebate eligibility is determined in the summer, at the end of CSI's fiscal year in April. If a chapter is eligible to receive a rebate, CSI HQ will mail a rebate check to the approved CFA on record for the chapter usually in August. Chapters must cash/deposit rebate checks within 90 days.

Chapters can download the CSI Annual Report and Annual Plan forms from the CSI website.

Becoming a University Recognized Student Organization

Although CSI is a student and professional academic honor society, some chapters have successfully proposed and received a portion of the Student Services fees that are a part of much graduate student's tuition. The chapter should inquire about this option through their university's Student Services/Organizations office. Many times applications are accepted once a year, which is generally in the fall. Chapters that have pursued this option generally completed an application and submitted a copy of their chapter's by-laws and other requested materials. Once on file, to maintain this option, chapters generally just have to submit an application annually.

Initiation Banquet

During some initiation banquets, the agenda of the chapter is to serve lunch, have a guest speaker and honor new initiates during a two-hour banquet. CEUs are offered. Chapters doing this may charge $10.00 (member) and $15.00 (nonmember) to cover lunch, CE and to make a few dollars per person.

Moderate Money

Cheaper T-shirts, Sweatshirts and Baseball Caps

Chapters may purchase customizable chapter logo t-shirts from the CSI Store and sell them as a fundraiser. In conducting this fundraiser, chapters typically collect money and orders up front and then place their order with the CSI Store (and submit payment by credit card when ordering). Chapters may only order/purchase chapter logo t-shirts through the CSI Store, per the CSI Trademark Policy. This fundraiser is a valuable advertising tool for the chapter.

Talent Show (or Fashion Show)

With this fundraiser, chapters select various acts to perform in their chapter's talent show. Then, talent show tickets are sold to the public. This is a fun, family event for the university and/or local community. Chapters can determine if they wish to open participation in the talent show to include acts from the community.

A fashion show would follow these ideas, but would definitely require and encourage the public's involvement as the clothes featured could be borrowed from local department stores. Advertising could take place at and through these stores. In this case, it may be more feasible to hold the event in a local mall or community room.

Bake Sale

Members bake various goods and set up a table on campus or in the community somewhere. University students do not often have the benefit of home-baked goodies. Some chapters have even prepared brown bag lunches or hot meals on campus at times that students were not served in the university cafeteria.

Topless Car Wash

It seems the name alone has made this a successful fundraiser. The chapter that came up with this idea set up their car washing area behind a business. Designated people were to lure people to the car wash. When the driver pulled behind the business, they found out that "topless," in fact, meant that if they wanted the top of their car washed it required a donation. Other chapters have found the traditional car wash effective as well.

For the Big Bucks


This repeatedly has been a successful fundraiser. Members are requested to donate goods or services to be auctioned off. It has been reported that students will pay "big" bucks to be served in some way by their faculty members (e.g., served a dinner for four at the professor's home, have a professor edit an article for them, go on a boat ride, get guitar lessons, etc.). Donated goods (e.g., gift certificates to a restaurant or for entertainment, beauty basket, athletic equipment, etc.) also go over well.


With this fundraiser, chapters often raffle a donated item. For example, one chapter had a ten-speed bike donated to them from Wal-Mart. Member sold raffle tickets to the public and consequently raised approximately $1,000.00. Chapter members have access to so many types of items that possibly a member would be willing to donate such an item.

Another chapter raffled a "Day of Beauty." This chapter sold tickets for $3.00. The winner received a pedicure, manicure, facial, massage and a haircut and style, which were all services donated by a local beauty salon.


This fundraising idea can accomplish several tasks at the same time. Chapter-sponsored conferences or workshops promote the chapter, encourage professional membership, is a member benefit and can provide a chapter with significant funds. At the onset of planning this event, the chapter will have to have some money available to them so that they can set-up this event (e.g., food, CE certificates, postage, printing costs for reservation brochure, conference/workshop program and room and equipment reservations). Most chapters report charging approximately $50.00-$75.00 with generally 75-125 conference/workshop attendees. Some chapters offer up to three workshops and one conference each year. Workshops generally involve shorter, one-topic, programming with one speaker. A conference, on the other hand, is generally at least a daylong event with one featured speaker and several mini-workshops offered some time during the conference.

Selecting an emerging topic (e.g., Family Violence, Play Therapy) for the conference is important as well as scheduling an expert speaker or speakers. Attendees are less willing to hear people speak that they have repeatedly heard. Some chapters really embrace this opportunity and feature pioneers in the field. Others invite, for example, past ACA Presidents to speak. Legal and ethical workshops can generate much excitement and offer a great opportunity for participants to gain required CE credit. Either the chapter or department needs to make sure they are authorized by the NBCC, state licensing boards for counselors, marriage and family therapists, social workers and state departments of education for school counselors. Many chapters split the expenses and involve their university's Continuing Education Department. Other chapters have found it more beneficial to do it on their own or with other chapters.

Successful workshops are those that appeal to the specific needs of member and nonmember students and practitioners. One chapter gathered a panel of alumni together that hold various positions within the field. The workshop provided student attendees the opportunities to explore career options, find out how to interview and received feedback on their portfolios and resumes. Another chapter offers comprehensive exam workshops. Departmental alumni along with practice exams have developed a study guide. Two-hour review courses are held on eight consecutive Saturday mornings with the last one ending the week before comprehensive exams. Registration for the series is required to receive the study guide for $30.00.

Miscellaneous Fundraising Sources and Suggestions

The following includes invaluable information about fundraising. Although the ideas presented in this section are not from CSI chapters, a chapter can still take the information and customize it to their particular situation. If you are in doubt about a particular fundraising strategy, please consult with other chapters to see if your idea has been field tested successfully.

Fund$Raiser Cyberzine
12101 7 Mile Road, N.E.
Belding, MI 48809-9617
Deane R. Brengle, III
Voice: 616-691-7574/fax: 616-691-8079

The Why

Keep in mind the three primary reasons for having fundraisers:

  • To raise funds (this allows you to operate and buy equipment that your organization needs to operate).
  • To attract attention to your message and organization.
  • To bring people together (to socialize and have some fun).


Where possible try to choose fundraising activities that have the widest possible appeal. Your members will provide a base from which you can operate. However, by choosing fundraising activities that attract the involvement from friends and the business communities, you can expand your budget, operations, have a better chance of attracting attention to your message from a wider audience and have more fun in the process.


You can raise funds in three ways. Lots of small contributions adding up to the desired total, a smaller number of large donations or a central fundraising activity providing the major part of your annual funds or lastly a combination of the two. What you do should be based on your resources, number and type of members, your community and the enthusiasm that is generated.


Enthusiasm is your best resource. Without enthusiasm everything will become a chore. The lower the enthusiasm the harder it will be to achieve even the smallest target and the more enthusiasm the easier and more enjoyable all tasks will become. Enthusiasm is highly infectious!


When choosing a fundraising activity, remember that volunteers will perform better if they are enjoying what they are doing or feel what they are doing is successful and making a difference. They will enjoy what they are doing if there is either an element of fun or visible success. People will not mind being a little put out or even bored if they can see what they are doing is helping achieve the goal of the organization.


Donors always want something in return for their funds or time. If this is just the knowledge that they have helped a good cause: great. However, this is rarely the case. Do your homework! It is your responsibility, as the fund-raiser, to know what the donors will consider to be a worthwhile return for their donation or sacrifice. Think about whom you are asking to donate time, goods or money. Why are they donating and what is it they want in return? The reasons can be infinite in number and surprising in simplicity from public recognition to a simple thank you.

Asking for Cash

At times your only goal will be to raise funds, when this is the case, your best option is to simply ask for money donations. You can accomplish this by donation receptacles, letter campaign, door knock or any other form of straight out request. You should simply put your reasons why you need the money, how you plan to spend the monies raised, the fact that all money raised will go for the stated purpose and the benefits of spending the monies in the planned manner. Remember if the cause was good enough to attract your support then it is worthwhile enough to attract the support of others. By a simple and planned approach to asking for money donations, you will not have the expenses of a special event. This allows you to use more of the money raised on your end project. Asking directly for a cash donation may be the single hardest activity for volunteers to do. To many it will be like begging, so think carefully on how you will ask your volunteers to do this and how they will perform this task. Helpers will find it easier to sell tickets in a raffle or to a good event than to ask for a cash donation.

Gifts in Kind

When approaching local businesses or major sponsors, a direct request may not meet with the desired result. So before you ask, consider the alternative of asking for "in kind" (i.e., ask the donor to donate something in relation to their businesses). For example, ask an airline for free tickets or a local sports store to donate sports goods for your raffle or auction.

Planning and Commitment

The backbone of a successful fundraising activity is the combination of two points: planning and commitment of those involved. Copying an activity that was successful for some other group does not provide you with a guarantee of similar success if there is not the similar planning and commitment. The decision on which activity is right should be based on your circumstances, strengths and weaknesses not those of others. Pick the wrong event for the wrong reasons and you could end up wasting the efforts of your group and make it harder, if not impossible, to enroll their support next time.

Up Front Costs

Keeping up-front costs low reduces risk and keeping costs low overall will help the profitability of the activity. By following a few simple steps, you may find it easier than you think to reduce the risks.

Make a list of exactly what you need and then try to have as much as possible donated. If you cannot have it donated, then the next step is to borrow or rent. Buy only when you have to. When renting or buying make sure you do your homework. Find out all the places that offer what you need and at what cost. This way you will be able to make an informed choice and may end up saving quite a bit of the money that you are trying to raise. When buying, find out if your organization qualifies for sales tax exemption or government assistance. From commercial suppliers, inquire if you can buy on consignment (i.e., only buy what you use and return the rest). There are many commercial companies that either cater strictly for fundraising groups or have developed ways of offering assistance. It is up to you to ask around and find these or any other methods of keeping costs, fixed and up-front, to a minimum to help the success of the fund-raiser. Be patient and do not be afraid to ask for special discounts, deals or treatment.

Simultaneous Activities

Another way you can help the success of the fundraising event is to ensure your time and expenses are used as efficiently as possible by running as many events simultaneously as possible. Concentrate your efforts by having different raffles, auctions and stalls operating at the same time as possible. By reducing the admission price, if you have one, you will attract more people who will spend more once you get them to attend. Ask other organizations to join in and share the risks as well as the profits.

Fundraising Calendar

A fundraising calendar helps everyone to have a much better and clearer picture of past and future activities. Record not only your immediate information, but information on other community activities that might have an effect on your own efforts and activities during the relevant financial period. This fundraising calendar will help those who follow up and become a major factor in the future success of your organization.

Record items such as:

  • all your planned regular meetings
  • all preplanned fundraising events,
  • all fixed or known dates for payments,
  • all known community events that will affect your own events,
  • when office bearers face replacement or re-election,
  • tax time, if applicable,
  • long weekends and holidays; (can be poor timing for some kinds of fund raising).

Hub Events

Barbecues and picnics are a great event with which to host other fundraising activities (like auctions, raffles, door prizes or member draws) while everyone has fun. The events are the "hub" of the fundraising wheel and the fundraisers the spokes. Together they help the money wheel go round.

  • door prices
  • raffles-HUB-auctions
  • members' draws

The barbecue is the hub event. The event that provides a reason to get people together in one spot at one time so the fundraising activities can take place, while all are having a good time, of course. The types of hub events are endless and limited only by your imagination. Hub events can be for the induction of new members, relaxation after meetings, monthly social get togethers, awards presentations or anything that you can think of. People do not need much encouragement to attend a good time.


The two most critical requirements for a successful non-profit organization are money and people. There is no point in having one without the other. Both require skill in attracting, keeping and fully utilizing. Here we will have a brief look at the people side of the things.

The only thing in abundance in fundraising is hard work and ideas. People can only do the work. Ideas are only as good as the people who try to make them a reality. The common factor and the critical factor are people who are properly recruited, motivated and engaged. The first step is to ask. Very few people will actively go out of their way to volunteer. You have to find them and ask them to give of themselves. Asking appears to be a simple thing to do. However, there are a few points to consider which help your success rate in achieving the "yes" to your request. Once again a little homework or preparation can go a long way. Treat volunteers as you would a major donor. A major donor can give you the money you need and attract a lot of attention, but without the volunteers you cannot do much with this money.

Top Recruiting Volunteers

Always remember that volunteers are satisfying their own needs when working for your organization. If they can satisfy their needs while satisfying your needs, all is in order. It is when the two needs are no longer mutually supporting that you lose valuable people. Talk with your volunteers so you know what their needs are. This way you will less often be taken by surprise by a change in their needs. This change, if not anticipated or catered for, usually means you will lose the volunteer. By talking to volunteers, you may be able to better satisfy their needs and produce a more effective and longer term volunteer. As the needs of your organization change, so do the needs of your volunteers. By talking with your volunteers, you are showing respect and helping yourself to help your volunteers by keeping track of these changing needs. The needs of a volunteer will not remain the same forever, so it is to your advantage to endeavor to maintain a symbiotic relationship between the two.

Asking an individual for a commitment is the same as electing them to a position. So it is your obligation to show them the same respect as an elected official. You need to make sure they understand what it is you are asking them, the level of commitment required and the period of commitment. Ask for their feedback so all issues can be covered before a final agreement is reached. This way you can tailor your request instead of receiving a "no" and having to start all over again with someone else. As in other matters, the personal touch is best in this matter. Phones, letters and newsletters have many useful functions-this in not one of them. By investing your personal time and effort, the volunteers will feel important, respected and needed. It is easier to hold on to a volunteer than to go out and find a replacement.

Keeping Volunteers

Keep in touch with the progress of new volunteers. They will soon drift away if they feel that they have been forgotten or worse, taken for granted. Dull, boring and lonely tasks are a major threat in losing volunteers. It is well worth the effort to apply a little imagination and thought to make theses kinds of tasks more enjoyable or at best less monotonous. You can do this by assigning more people than necessary so the job is over as quickly as possible and adds a social dimension. Make sure the goal of the activity is clear and measurable. This way the group or individual will have a sense of achievement at the completion. If there is no challenge or clearly understood reason for the task, the volunteers' sense of worth and value will quickly diminish and they will fade away.

You cannot say thank you enough. Reward good work and do it so everyone can see that you do recognize and reward those who deserve it. How you do this depends on your organization. Putting aside one night of the year and dedicate the celebration to them. Do not miss an opportunity to mention the successes and achievements of your volunteers at your regular meetings. It only takes a moment to do, but the effects last a long time. You do not need to spend lots of money; simple certificates have a powerful effect.

Keep a file on each volunteer for there are many advantages. You can remind yourself not to forget birthdays so you can say "Happy Birthday" on the right day. You can keep an accurate record on what each individual has done so you can better plan a variation to their tasks and so keep them as fresh as possible. At the end of their service or on request, you can provide them with an excellent record of service that they can use as a reference or simply as a record of their achievements.

Ticket Considerations

The tickets you use in your fundraising activities need careful consideration, as they are a part of your image. As such, they can be used to promote your organization and play a role in building the way the public perceives you or maintaining the image you have taken care to build. Below are some thoughts on tickets for your consideration.


The price of tickets to a planned activity must take in three considerations: funds already raised, amount needed and who will be purchasing the tickets. First consider the disposable income of the group whom you will be asking to purchase the tickets. If you ask more than they can afford, not only will you not sell many tickets, but also you will run the risk of putting your organization in a bad light. Even if the cause is a worthwhile one, people can only afford to be so supportive and they will resent your lack of appreciation of their circumstances. Second, once you have determined what is a fair price relative to the prospective group, you can work out how many tickets you need to sell. The problem you may face is that you cannot sell enough tickets at the set price to make a worthwhile profit. Here you must strive to find a balance between the two. If a compromise cannot be reached, reconsider if the activity is suitable to your organization and its resources. The third consideration is whether to use funds already raised to subsidize the ticket price. Is it better to have a lower price so more people can attend and you raise the funds by what they spend at the activity or is the ticket price the primary fund-raiser?

To this end you should look beyond just the ticketed price to how the ticket will look. A carefully designed ticket can say much about your organization, its members and your cause. One of the main reasons for holding a fundraising activity is to raise awareness of your organization. Thoughtfully designed tickets are a great way to promote this awareness. While you may get a cheaper printed ticket in the short term, it may present an image that will cost you more in the long run.

Please note that most of the organizations on these pages list a minimum age for their volunteer opportunities. There truly is a wide range of opportunities for children of all ages. Unfortunately, we often do not think of involving our children in our volunteer endeavors and miss out on a great opportunity.

The "Nine Basic Truths of Fund-Raising" as excerpted and printed below from Tony Poderis' book "It's a Great Day to Fund-Raise! --(1997)

  • Organizations are not entitled to support; they must earn it.
  • Successful fund-raising is not magic; it is simply hard work on the part of people who are thoroughly prepared.
  • Fund-raising is not raising money; it is raising friends.
  • You do not raise money by begging for it; you raise it by selling people on your organization.
  • People do not just reach for their checkbooks and give money to an organization; they have to be asked to give.
  • You don't wait for the "right" moment to ask; you ask now.
  • Successful fund-raising officers do not ask for money; they

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