A Sizzling Labor Day Fundraiser

I can hardly believe that the dog days of summer are already upon us. With Labor Day just around the corner, we are about to celebrate the very last holiday long weekend of the summer. And if happen to be looking for a suitable summer fundraiser for your church, school, team sport or favorite charity organization a labor day cookout fundraiser is the ideal theme with minimal preparation time involved.

Meat On The Barbecue

Enticing folks to your group cookout on a three-day weekend should be the least of your worries. After all, is there a better way to celebrate the summer than with eating and playing games—all raising money for a worthy cause?

Where to hold your fundraising cook out?

In most cities and towns throughout North America, the weather remains warm enough to enjoy the outdoors for cooking, picnicking, and swimming and water sports well into September. The first decision you will need to make is where to hold your barbecue cookout charity event.

A local park or community center with an outdoor area is an ideal spot. The good news is that many of these public areas come equipped with tables and chairs and even hibachi grills. However, if they don’t, you may need to rent or borrow. If you’re planning big, save ample space for parking, cooking and eating, and, of course you’ll need the proper restroom accommodations.

A fundraising cookout on a nearby lake would compliment games, swimming, boating and water skiing after you eat. However, if you don’t have the luxury of a lake nearby, invite a smaller group of guests over for a fundraising barbecue and pool party.

What’s on the menu?

What food and how it will be provided should be one of your biggest decisions. There are a few different ways that you can provide food for a fundraising cookout, such as:

  • Assign a group to buy and cook the meat and other main grilled items themselves
  • Hire a caterer to bring in their own equipment for barbecued chicken and ribs
  • Make it a potluck affair, where the price of admission is a donation and everyone brings a dish or two to contribute.
  • To raise extra money, offer space for food vendors to set up shop for a nominal charity fee. Local businesses might be willing to set up a wagon selling candy floss, candy apples, baked goods, French fries, pizza or homemade preserves from local farms such as chutneys, jams and even apple cider.

As far as the menu food for your fundraising cookout, think about easy to whip up local summer favorites and options that can be prepared ahead of time, such as:

  • Corn on the cob
  • Char-grilled burgers, sausages on a bun and hot dogs
  • Mom’s chili
  • Chip wagon fries
  • Fresh peach cobbler
  • Strawberry shortcake

Just be sure to remain realistic. Keep the menu simple unless you have access to an indoor kitchen area with cooking appliances, warmers and electricity.

Bring in the entertainment

However, your BBQ cookout hardly has to stop at food. Be sure to include fun and games in your outing, such as:

  • Sack races
  • Agility for dogs
  • Face painting
  • Carnival games and rides
  • A clown
  • A petting zoo
  • Turtle races
  • Tug-o-war
  • Softball game
  • Water balloon fight

Depending on the crowd you expect to draw to your fundraising cookout, and if you think you might make additional funds or not, you might consider adding a summer concert to your fundraiser agenda. Everyone appreciates entertainment while or after they eat.

For larger crowds you can look to hire a local band or a disc jockey seeking to play for charity or a small fee and charge a nominal admission fee for concertgoers. Half the earnings might go to the band while the remainder goes to your charity.

However, if you plan to limit the invite list to your closest friends and family, you can ask a band to play for free and leave a collections bucket, encouraging music lovers to drop coin donations in the name of charity.

Final tips to consider

  • Take the pressure off – If you’re expecting to make your cookout fundraiser a major affair, ease stress by organizing a committee, one that can share the responsibilities of the event planning, rather than taking it all on yourself.
  • Getting the word out about your fundraising cookout – Remember, if people don’t know about it, they won’t come. Make up flyers, newspaper ads, radio spots, word of mouth and email invites (also spread word on social networks like Twitter, Facebook, etc.) will all help spread the word.

Don’t leave out any details – On your fundraising marketing (see above) be sure to include all of the important details, including the fundraiser theme, where the money will go, what food and activities will occur, the location, how to get there, and the date and time.

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