Over the past month I have been lucky enough to observe the work of some true fundraising professionals in action as they took a new fundraiser idea from concept to completion. The staff and board members of the James L. McKeown Boys & Girls Club in Woburn, Massachusetts successfully planned and implemented a MooFest event with the main event being the Cow Pie Bingo fundraiser. And yesterday was the big day!
Planning a Cow Pie Bingo Fundraiser
About five months ago, the Club had an idea for a Fall fundraiser called MooFest where the main event would be Cow Pie Bingo. Cow Pie Bingo is similar to a raffle event where you sell tickets, but instead of pulling a winning ticket from a basket, the winner is randomly chosen by whatever parcel of land a cow decides to deposit a “pie”.
MooFest ended up being a highly successful Fall fundraiser event that brought the entire community together for a day of farm fun, games, raffles, crafts, food, and drinks. Here I’ll share with you the details on how you can plan your own Cow Pie Bingo fundraising event.
Here’s a picture of the cow waiting in the trailer and getting ready to be the star of the show.
Cow Pie Bingo
The main event of MooFest was Cow Pie Bingo. It’s actually more like a raffle than the game of Bingo. But the cute name coincides with the large grid that’s painted on the grass.
Determine how many tickets you will sell, at what price, and the cash prizes that will paid out. Here are a few options:
The Club sold 500 tickets at $50 each and awarded one large cash prize of $5,000 to the big winner.
As numbered tickets are sold, keep track of the name of the person who purchased each number.
The day before the big event, paint a large grid on a flat area of grass and line the outside with a fence to keep the cow in and the people out. Each parcel will be approximately 1-foot square.
Randomly assign each parcel a number. You don’t need to paint the numbers on the grass. Instead, create an excel spreadsheet showing the numbers, then hang numbers and letters along the fence to identify each parcel.
Remember to keep a list of the numbers (for example: #1-500) of who owns each parcel of land so you can call out the winner’s name when they win.
A local agricultural school supplied the cow for this event. As soon as the cow was brought out of the trailer, his caretaker/handler/owner escorted him up and down the gridded field.
Here’s a close up of the star who performed his duties within 30-45 minutes. So handsome!
Some legal details:
- Note that legal guidelines for running a raffle vary by state, county, and city, so check with your own governing agency. Laws regarding the sale of the tickets also vary by state, therefore since a cash calendar raffle is considered a lottery by many states, only adults (who shall not receive financial renumeration) shall sell tickets.
- Some states require that you print directly on the ticket that the buyers don’t have to be present at the drawing to win.
- Some cities/states require the purchase of a raffle permit. Check with your local City/Town Hall.
- Deposit funds into your charitable organization’s checking account. Write out checks to the winners so there’s a written record of the transactions.
ENHANCE THE EVENT
The cow could perform in just minutes of stepping onto the grass or it could take over an hour. So while you have all of these spectators (aka: potential buyers) in one place, make a day of the event by having music, food, drinks, games, and a raffle table. Here are the ways the Club organizers made MooFest a really fun Fall event for families.
Additional Chances to Win: While spectators waited for the cow to perform every fifteen minutes there were chances to win a smaller prize. For example, wherever the cow’s front-right hoof was standing at exactly 3:15pm, 3:30pm, and 3:45pm was the winner of a $100 gift certificate.
Raffle Baskets: Guests could purchase raffle tickets for chances to win raffle baskets donated by event sponsors.
Play Yard Games: Cornhole, super-sized Jenga made from cut 2″x4″ wood, and other yard games were set up throughout the parking lot and grass areas for both kids and adults to play.
Connect Four games were put on the picnic tables.
Photo Ops: Kids could poke their face through this hand-painted farm photo and have their picture taken.
Food: Volunteers cooked hamburgers, hotdogs, sausages on the grill. Baked goods, snacks, and drinks were sold. Families could enjoy an entire dinner.
If you prefer to not to cook, consider asking a food truck vendor to come on-site for the day.
Bar: Obtain a one-day permit to serve alcohol from your City/Town Hall for adults to purchase beer and wine.
Decorations: Fall flowers, hay bails, and cornstalks decorated the perimeter of the area and were raffled off later in the day.
Mobile ATM: A local bank brought their mobile ATM to make getting cash and spending easier for the adults.
DJ or Band: Music was playing throughout the day.
Ice Cream & Food Trucks: A mobile ice cream truck arrived on-site for guests to enjoy ice cream. If your volunteers prefer not to cook hamburgs and hotdogs on the grill, contact a few local food truck vendors and make an assortment of food available. Taco, grilled cheese, sausage, and salad/sandwich wraps are really popular food trucks.
SIGNS & PROMOTIONS
Advertise your event on social media, publish to your organization’s website, and send emails. Have a vinyl banner made that can hang outside for cars driving by to see.
On the day of the event, hang balloons at the driveway entrance to be seen from the street and lining the entrance leading people to the outdoor area where your event is taking place.
The fundraising professionals at the James L. McKeown Boys & Girls Clubs did an incredible job organizing and running this MooFest event which featured the Cow Pie Bingo as the main event. It was fun, entertaining, and profitable!
For even more fundraising ideas, remember to sign up to receive our emails. We’ve also just recently (Sept 30, 2018) started a Facebook page called “Entri Ways to Fundraise” where I’ll be sharing fundraising ideas too.