The National FFA Organization, formerly Future Farmers of America, is a youth organization that promotes agricultural education through instruction and hands-on experience. Members gain practical knowledge through participation in student-led activities and fundraisers. While common fundraising methods — selling discount cards, car washes and the like — are dependable, interactive community activities can be more fun and even more successful FFA fundraisers.
Host a Community Yard Sale
Organizing a community yard sale is a simple task but requires a couple months of advance planning. First, pick a date. Also consider choosing a rain date if the sale will be outside. Find a place to store items until the sale, and inform all students, parents and faculty as soon as possible so they can begin donating. Be sure to utilize all free or inexpensive advertising methods: school and church bulletins, online classifieds and in the community section in the local newspaper.
Consider a Haunted Trail Fundraiser
This Halloween fundraiser requires thorough planning and safety considerations but has the potential to be a very successful moneymaker. You will need access to a wooded nature trail and volunteers to prepare and serve as characters within the trail. Research local haunted trails to determine which scary themes and decorations are the most successful in your area. Also consider a more pleasant, autumn-themed trail or hayride for a kid-friendly alternative. Advertise by posting fliers in local businesses, churches, recreational centers and around school. Remember to include important information such as ticket prices, days and hours of operation.
Plan a Mr. FFA Pageant
This is an interesting spin on the common annual Miss FFA Pageant in which male club members volunteer to perform onstage. This event can take place in a school auditorium or at any other local venue with a stage. To encourage participation and guest attendance, take a humorous approach. Ask funny interview questions and instead of formal wear, plan a casual work wear segment. Raise funds with tickets and by selling program ads to local businesses.
Try a Chili Cook-Off
A fun, casual way to socialize and enjoy great food, chili cook-offs are popular among both students and parents. Spread the word that there will be a contest to find the community's best chili recipe. Participants pay an entrance fee — around $25 is a reasonable amount — and compete to win a prize and the title of Best Chili Chef, awarded by a panel of judges. Prizes can be serious, such as a portion of the total entrance fees, or humorous. Silly prize ideas include handmade gifts from FFA members or ingredients to make more chili. To raise more funds, you may sell tickets to the event or raffle off items donated by local businesses.
Grow Something to Sell
Growing flowers to sell is an in-class activity that doubles as an effective long-term fundraiser. Choose species that grow well in your region's climate and soil and that are popular enough to sell easily. Also consider other seasonal items, such as pumpkins for Halloween. On weekends, rent a booth at a local farmers market and inform parents and faculty members of the sale.
Alison Datko is a professional editor with experience as a journalist, writer and blogger. She contributes to a variety of print and online publications, specializing in music, food, art, fashion and culture.