Category Archives: Fundraising

Easter holiday bits and bobs

Guiding things what I did over the holidays:

  • Final signing-off-the-Queen’s-Guide-book meeting.  The book should be winging its way to the Chief Guide now!
  • Summer camp meeting for leaders on our division subcamp (within the larger county camp).
  • Bag packing – in a local supermarket raising money for our International Trip Guides and a bit for unit funds.  The girls (and their mothers and sisters, and leaders and a few other helpful Guides) were there for 9 hours over a weekend and raised over £1100, an excellent total.  We’ll repeat it in a couple of weeks, hopefully not catching too many of the same shoppers.
  • Refreshing the Guides’ display board with recent photos and nice bright backing paper.
  • And the most fun thing: a trip to a theme park with the Guides!  I’ll save that for another post.

Bag packing April 2015 (1) - Copy


Silent auction (shhh!)

Silent auction and bake off (16) (1280x960)

The week before half term, instead of a normal Guides meeting, we held a silent auction as a fundraiser for local Guides and Young Leaders going on international trips this summer.

We organised it with little time to spare: we set the date a month in advance at our term planning meeting, and most of the publicity was done with less than two weeks to go. Our PR advisers would have preferred more notice, but it came off alright in the end.

If you’re unfamiliar with silent auctions, the first thing to note is that they’re not actually conducted in silence, but the bidding is done with pen and paper rather than by gesturing to an auctioneer.

The lots are laid out on tables with a bidding card next to each one, and lots of pens and pencils available. When it is announced that bidding is open, everyone is free to move around, look at the lots, and write their name and a bid price on a card if they want. If they come back to that lot later and find that someone has outbid them, they have to decide if they want to bid even higher or give up.

When the bidding closes, whoever has written down the highest bid on each lot wins it. They pay, pick up their prize and go home (hopefully) happy.

We had a wide range of lots, from small things the children could bid on with pocket money – little toys, sweets, themed goody bags that one leader put together from things she found in Poundland – to bigger prizes including pledges like babysitting and baking a cake offered by Guiding members, and vouchers and gifts kindly donated by local businesses.

I only wrote to local businesses (mostly email, a couple of letters) less than two weeks before the event, but I heard back from about 5 out of 30, which is a not bad response rate. I think the short notice worked fine for them – they were happy for someone to drop in and pick up the lot the day before. I made sure to follow up after the auction saying thanks again and letting them know how much we’d raised and that it was much appreciated.

On the night, we served tea, coffee, cake etc., and Unit Leader’s husband kindly came with his disco equipment to make announcements on the mic and play background music. Bidding was open for an hour and a half. There wasn’t a huge number of adults there – not members of the public, anyway; I think all were guiders or friends and families – but we still made a very respectable £420. I was pleased to win a haircut (I’ve had it now, and very please I am too, as it was long overdue) and a gift voucher for an art shop (haven’t used it yet, but I’m keeping it safe).

Between now and Easter, we have two more fundraising evenings coming up, because with four girls going abroad there’s quite a lot to raise. Let’s hope they go well, too.

Silent auction and bake off (17) (1280x960)

Dickensian evening 2014

A few days after the Guides made those candy cane reindeer, we sold them – and lots of other things – in aid of the district at our town’s Dickensian evening.


What do you mean, your town doesn’t have one?  It’s one of the highlights of the year in mine.  On the first Friday in December, the shops and churches and museum stay open late and serve mince pies and mulled wine, and the market place is filled with charity stalls, carol singers, morris dancers, brass bands, donkeys and reindeer, little fairground rides, snow machines, food vans, people selling flashing toys, competitions, and more.  And everyone is encouraged to wear Victorian costume.

This year was particularly impressive because the town has lots of snazzy new Christmas lights, bought with help from winning a “best town centre” award.

I arrived as soon as I could after work – having had some strange looks getting on the bus in my long skirt and shawl – and found other Leaders and Young Leaders from my district putting the finishing touches to our stall (under our Active Kids vouchers gazebo, again – best purchase ever).

We had a tombola, and were selling candy cane reindeer, “sweet bombs” (little wrapped packages of assorted sweets), homemade jam and ginger wine, homemade decorations and Christmassy biscuits, flashing head boppers (left over from the BIG GIG) and a few other odds and ends that kind people had donated.

Dickensian Evening 2014 (1)

The tombola did so well that all the prizes were all gone before the end of the evening.  The candy cane reindeer were popular, too, and we sold most of the 200 we had.  The other things sold reasonably, except the flashing boppers.  We still have lots of them left, and I’m not sure what we’re going to do with them…if we still have them in summer, we could give them to the girls at county camp.  In the meantime, let me know if you’d like any!

We had a good number of helpers through the evening, including a few Guides from both units.  I especially appreciated the Brownie Leader who turned up later in the evening with a flask of hot chocolate and paper cups.  It was very cold, I hadn’t had any dinner and was starting to feel a bit wobbly, and it was a lifesaver!  A lot of Guides past and present visited the stall – always nice that they come back and see us and still think kindly of Girlguiding after they’ve left.

Dickensian Evening 2014 (6)In other good news, we won the “best-dressed stallholders” competition, which means we’ll get our fee back.  I think what tipped it was our bonnets, made by some of our leaders from plant pots covered in fabric, ribbons and lace.

Ooh shiny horse shoes

In half term, I went to the Guide Hall to spray-paint some horse shoes.  It was lovely and peaceful being in there by myself.

Let me explain: we got the horse shoes free from a local stables to use for crafts and games on our summer camp (Wild West theme, if you remember).  There were about 30 left over, which we left gently rusting in a bag in the hall.  Unit Leader asked me to come up with a way to transform them into something we can sell to raise funds.

First I scrubbed them with wire wool to get off the rust and mud as best I could.  Then I laid them out on newspaper and gave them a good old spray, with the windows wide open of course!  It took a good couple of hours to do them all on both sides.

Now they’re sitting prettily drying on the worktop.  I don’t know what the finished product is going to look like (or even what its function will be; ornamental, I suppose), but I’m pleased with the results so far.

Horseshoes (1)

Someone left the cake out in the rain

So after those epic baking nights at Guides (part 1 and part 2), what happened to the cakes?

Flu clinic 2 (6)

Unit Leader took them home and baked them in marathon sessions, cling-filmed and labelled them, and brought them along to the health centre the following Saturday mornings, along with all the other things necessary for a cake and book stall and a tombola.  Lucky she has a transit van, really.

She and several other volunteers in the district work at the health centre, and they kindly let us have a stall outside when they hold clinics for flu vaccinations every autumn.  We get lots of passing trade, the staff get tasty treats for elevenses, and the patients have a gamble or buy a cake or book to make them feel better after their jabs: win win.

Flu Clinic 1 2014 (4) - Copy

On the day of the first stall, it just rained and rained.  We still had plenty of people buying cakes and our other wares, but not many wanted to stop and chat or browse, and all the helpers were cold and damp before the end of the morning.  And our gazebo overturned into a tree, which was quite funny.  Lesson learned: always peg out the guy ropes, even if it doesn’t seem windy!  At the second stall, the weather was warmer and drier, so it was much more pleasant standing outside and encouraging people over.

Flu clinic 2 (2) - Copy

Both times we had a good number of helpers from the district: leaders, Senior Section, Guides, Trefoil Guilders, assorted family members, and even the children of one of the health centre staff.  Quite a few also dropped off cakes or popped in to say hello on their way to get jabbed.  Some I hadn’t seen for a while, so it was a good chance to catch up and talk about events coming up in the future.

Flu Clinic 1 2014 (1)

It was good, too, for that warm fuzzy sense of community.  Some of the helpers seemed to know everyone who went past, which was useful for drawing them in and getting them to buy something out of guilt friendship.  Even I, who haven’t lived in the town for 7 years, recognised quite a lot of people.  I also had some nice chats with strangers, particularly an 80-year-old woman (she told me so) who told me she went to Brownies in the hall where we still meet, and about how she especially remembers doing her Telephone badge and having to walk in a group to the phone box in the market place with a penny and ask the operator to be put through to a certain number.  Yet more evidence that Brownie memories can stick with you for life.  I know some of our current Brownies have just done their Communicator badge, in the same hall where this lady was a Brownie, which included sending a text – I love how that’s pretty much the same thing, over 70 years later.

Altogether, both stalls raised over £900 for the district – everyone involved (especially Unit Leader, the driving force) can be very proud.

Flu clinic 2 (5)

Fun at the fête

Fête stall

Unit Leader (who is also Division Commissioner) arranged for us to have a stall at a nearby village fête to raise funds for the division.  This is something we don’t do a lot – usually fundraising is for units and districts – but she’s keen and working hard to make us feel more unified and the proceeds will be spent on something that helps that.

I went along to help, along with our District Commissioner and UL’s mother and sister.  I felt both very unprepared and very loved: I rocked up on my bike in uniform with just a banana to sustain me through the day, but the others had brought chairs, packed lunches, a thermos of coffee, mugs, a bottle of squash, and beakers for everyone.  That’s my guiding family.

We put up our new gazebo (purchased with Sainsbury’s Active Kids vouchers, and extremely fast and simple to pitch) and filled it with tables, signs (some showing the old branding; naughty of us, I know), promotional materials, a tombola, guess the number of sweets in the jar, and miscellaneous items to sell.

The crowds arrived, and we had a steady trickle of people passing our stall all afternoon.  The most popular thing by far was the tombola.  It’s simple to run and it’s not very original, but it works.  The other things we had to push a bit more, but by walking around the fête a bit with the jar of sweets, we managed to fill a page with guesses.  Altogether we raised a very respectable £215.

We also had some good chats with past, present and hopefully future members of Girlguiding, and with anyone else who was vaguely interested.

I enjoyed looking round the other stalls and soaking up the great British village fête atmosphere.  I bought some future birthday cards, threw cricket balls at crockery, admired the entries for the photography and miniature garden competitions, and ate some tasty home-made cake.  We also had a good view of the singing, dancing and hoop-spinning going on in the performing area.

Fitsteps fundraiser


Participants dancing

Everyone enjoying a…whatever this move was

Recently, we had another fundraiser for International Trip Guide.  A couple of leaders in my district go to Fitsteps classes – Fitsteps is a bit like Zumba but with ballroom dance/Strictly moves, no partner or previous experience required – and because they’re chatty, enthusiastic people who tell everyone they know about Guiding, they mentioned ITG to their instructor and she very kindly agreed to run a taster session free of charge.

Free for the instructor, that is: we charged participants £5 and, as always, there were refreshments and a raffle.  I’ll tell you now that we raised a respectable £172.50, another dent in ITG’s fundraising.

Table of cakes for sale

An antidote to all that exercise!

I designed the posters and distributed some of them, and made some cakes, but I wasn’t involved in running the event; I just turned up and enjoyed!

I had a great time: I do like a good dance, and it was fun working out to waltz steps, quickstep and so on.  Some of the footwork was a bit too quick for me, but I like a challenge!  The instructor was very good (and energetic), and apparently she picked up a few new class members so it was a win all round.

Fitsteps instructor on stage

A bit blurry, but ideal for anonymity!

Attendance was ok, not massive – only one of my Guides came, despite a lot of pushing: you can lead a horse to water etc. – but actually it was a good number for the size of the hall.  Any more and it would have started to feel a bit crowded.  I spoke to a few leaders/Trefoilers/friends’ mums whom I hadn’t seen for a while, which was lovely.