Shut the Flock up.

So last night after youth group, Girl Ninja took a bunch of her high school girls Flocking. What’s flocking you ask? Well, let me tell you. We  take about 25 of those stupid Flamingo Yard Ornaments (the ones that old people tend to have in front of their mobile homes) and put them in an unsuspecting victim’s front yard. We leave a sign saying “You’ve been flocked by Young Life. For $25 we will remove the Flamingos from your yard or for $50 you can tell us who to flock next.”  It’s a clever and fun way to raise financial support for our kids to go to camp this summer, not to mention the victims seem to really enjoy being able to “flock” their friends.

This summer, Girl Ninja and I will be responsible for taking 25 freshmen to summer camp so they can have the best week of their lives. It’s going to be epic. Unfortunately, an epic week isn’t cheap. Many of our Young Life kids come from families that can pay the full camp fee, but some don’t. Girl Ninja and I have taken it upon ourselves to help these kids fundraise, flocking being one example.

While car washes are fun and all, let’s get real, they aren’t huge money makers. On a good day we could maybe make $500 at a car wash. Divide that up over the 15 or so kids working it, and suddenly each kid is only walking away with $33 towards their camp fee. Minimal return on investment, and a crappy hourly wage if each kid is there for about 5 hours.

That said, I am a big believer in making these kids work hard to raise money, not just going door to door asking for a handout. That’s why Girl Ninja and I have reached out to our parents and some other close friends, asking them if they would like to “Hire a few high school kids for a day.”

Girl Ninja’s parents put in an order for about four guys to come help build a fence they’ve been meaning to put in. My parents are hiring a group of boys/girls to refinish their basement (rip out the carpet and paint all of the walls). Another local community member has a slew of yard work he doesn’t want to do, and is pumped to hire six or so kids for a days work of manual labor. These type of projects pay handsomely and will go a long way in helping the kids in need to pay their way to camp.

But now I need your help (no I’m not asking you to give me money). Aside from flocking and service projects, we really are scratching our heads on ways to help these kids make more money. We will go the car wash route and selling crappy candy bars if need be, but I’d like to be much more creative and think outside the box.

Help a Ninja out! What other ways can we raise funds for these kids without just being like “Yo, can we have some money?Have you seen any cool fundraising tactics? If you got flocked would you be pissed?

p.s. in case you are wondering, the bottom of the note indicates a flocking victim can simply give us a call and we will remove them for free if they don’t feel like participating. We typically only flock people we know or are already active in supporting Young Life. Not like we just pick random people who might shoot us in the face for stepping foot on their property. 

 p.p.s. here is a picture of me being blobbed at young life camp when I was in high school. 

46 thoughts on “Shut the Flock up.

  1. Hahaha great idea those flocks !
    Here are two things we did when I was in the scouts in France : we would sell home made cakes and cookies at church, but the best operation is when we were delivering croissants on a Sunday morning to a neighborhood. Here is how it worked : we would put some fliers in mailboxes a week before, (or even ring to doors) to say that we would deliver croissants at home, and that people should call us if they wanted to order. They would tell us how many croissants they wanted, and what time they would like to get them delivered. Then we would order all the croissants we need from a big bakery, and deliver them at a higher cost. This was always a very successful operation.
    I have good memories from running all over my neighborhood with bags full of croissants in the hands (yup no cars here…).

  2. Our youth at church raised money by washing windshields at the gas pumps at a busy quick stop. . They also had a dessert/labor auction at church one evening and raised the remaining $3500 they needed. That was quite successful since our town is very small. Pop. 650

  3. What about an Auction? Kids offer up services (cooking, babysitting, manual labor, etc), and see what people are willing to pay for the service.

  4. 20 years ago I was involved with Young Life and went to a camp in the North Carolina mountains. Still rates as one of the best summer trips ever. Bless you and Girl Ninja for doing this. I can’t wait until my son is old enough to find out how awesome Young Life is. As for ideas, I have to agree with a couple of the previous posts. An auction for services and the yard sale. I’ve had good results with both of these in the past.
    p.s. My mom still has a pic of me being blobbed at camp.

  5. My only question is, where do you store all the flamingos when they’re not in use? Do you put them out on your own front lawn, or do you just borrow them from the old people living in mobile homes each time they’re needed?

  6. I love the “Flocking” idea! How creative. Fundraising idea’s that come to mind would be: Garage sale, baked goods, my son’s football team just held a fundraiser by selling water softener “salt pellets” door to door, sell city restaurant discount cards, brat fry . . .

    Best of luck and enjoy camp. My kids look forward to “Bible” camp each summer.

    Ninja – what is the cost for a person to go to camp for the week? Would it be possible for your readers to sponsor a camper?

  7. I know it seems lame, but bake sales. They WORK.

    We raised a TON of money for our senior project in my final year of university by doing bake sales, and setting up in the foyer right around lunch time. We used to have to fight other groups for the spot. Once I saw someone just walking into all the workrooms in the school with a box filled with goodies, selling them for a dollar each. Everyone in the room always bought something.

  8. How fun! Flocking is a growing trend around my hometown.

    I remember doing Bowl-A-Thons every year to earn money for cheerleading camp back in high school and I would always earn enough money to pay for camp, new shoes, body suit and even put some of the money towards new tumbling mats! It was really easy and we had a lot of fun bowling. What you do is have somebody pledge per pin. For example for every pin I knock down, “Mr. Smith” will donate .25 cents to me. Or you could do a flat rate. “Mr. Smith” will donate 10 dollars to the cause. This was one of our best fundraisers!

  9. My youth group (which was affiliated with my local church) would sell bagels and Krispy Kreme donuts after the morning church services every few weeks. It was always a big hit because you’d get all the families with little kids that had rushed out of the door in the morning and still had to eat breakfast/brunch hankering for a donut. That was about 7 years ago, though, so maybe we had better luck with people tending to have cash on them. I usually tend to carry a little cash, but not a lot.

    I don’t know how I’d feel about the flocking if it happened to me. (I also don’t have a lawn at the moment that could be flocked.) I don’t like getting ambushed by people looking for donations when I feel pressured into something and it’s not planned.

  10. Food sells! Do a fun event with beefburgers and hotdogs along with a bake sale, donation buckets around, have someone donate some live music…all that. When we need a good fundraiser in our community…those always do really well. Even adding a human auction, offering services for a price like was mentioned above would add to the turnout. Good Luck!

  11. Yeah, if I was flocked I’d take all the flamingos to a public dumpster far from my house and throw them all away. Even if there was a note that said it could be done for free.

    @Allison, you can get in big trouble for selling food without a food-handling permit, ESPECIALLY meat. Plus you only really make money if the food was donated.

    • I dont handle that part, I just attend all our local stuff with my kids. Boyscouts do this all the time in my area. Geesh, who knew I would get a handslap on a fun blog idea. Where do you live that your first thought would be I would get in trouble for not having a food handling permit anyway? I doubt the boyscouts get a “permit” when they do their fundraisers.

      • That was the rule when I lived in Dallas- food permits had to be had to give out food, even to the homeless :/ Also, did you not hear about that huge kerfuffle about lemonade stands requiring food permits?

        Personally, I think acquiring a food permit would be a good lesson to the children about what is involved when one wants to start one’s own business (and, even if it’s just for the day, that’s exactly what a bake sale is). We live in a country that values entrepreneurship and being a self starter, and I think it’s good for children to see *all* steps of that process. I know that might make me sound like a Grinch, but if you think about it, why is it fair to make a hot dog stand guy buy a food permit but not make a huge bake sale in front of a grocery store buy a permit? They’re both selling food and making money off of that food. Yes, the bake sale only lasts one weekend, but what if a hot dog stand guy just wanted to sell food for one weekend, say, on the 4th of July outside of a grocery store when it’s crazy busy? He’d need a permit.

        To me, it’s just good business sense and abiding by the law to teach that to kids, and I don’t think it’s uptight to think about it. Food handling permits are fairly common requirements, I wouldn’t be surprised if your area has them, too.

  12. We’re frugal early retirees, but any kid with the guts to ring our doorbell and sell us cookies or chili will get at least $15. They’re both done as bake sales or coupons from local franchises.

    Does your area have a recycling program offering cash for containers, newspapers, & cardboard?

    This project sounds like a great opportunity for the kids to blog about the experience, along with display advertising and a “Please donate!” button. If only they could connect with a talented blogger…

  13. If I was flocked I’d make little hats and beards for the flamingos and then hunt you down and put them back on your lawn! or like pose them all up against the wall, and get a garden gnome with a squirt gun to aim at them, like an execution. Or better yet, set them up that way in your church yard!
    This is why I will never own a home where there is a HOA. Also, why you shouldn’t pick me to be flocked.

    That said, I always buy cupcakes at bake sales, even if it is for religious organizations I’d not necessarily otherwise support. Also: I find the statement of faith for Young Life creepy, myself. So if you want money from crotchety but generally youth-positive atheists like me, I’d vote for cupcakes.

    • Little hats and beards would be quite hilarious. Also note that I said we typically only flock houses that we know are Young Life friendly, so not too often we would run in to a flamingo hating atheist, but I suppose it’s possible. We’ll put some cinnamon rolls in the oven just for you 🙂

      • For becca: http://www.atheistnexus.org/group/youngatheists

        Also: I see only 13 flamingos in the picture above, but the text assures me there should be about 25. Are the remaining 12 camera-shy, have they flown off, or can you economize by getting away with only 13? This is a serious question, as some people have much bigger lawns than others.

  14. Hahahha I love that flamingo idea. That’s pretty sweet. We used to have pie auctions in my sorority, where you could buy a pie and throw it at someone’s face. Kinda like a dunk tank!

    Also we would go to farmer’s market and set up a game booth for kids.

  15. When I was in youth group we would host a spaghetti dinner with each person in our group also putting on some sort of entertainment. Some people sang or rapped others did skits ie monty python etc always good fun and at then end of the show we did a final skit where we all stood in a line facing our audience with our youth leader in the middle and to the tune of the 2001: a space odyssey song and throughout the song we held up our hands and someone walked down the line from each end putting whipped cream in each of our hands and at the climax we all threw it in the face of our youth leader. Everyone loved it we all had a good time and so did the people who attended it. It was a good price for dinner and entertainment but spaghetti, ragu, salad ingredients and garlic bread are dirt cheap and we probably had ice cream for dessert or something like that, so the overhead was minimal. We made a hefty profit and it turned out so well they have continued the tradition every year. Been going on for 15 or so years now. I think tickets were about $15 each and some kind of deal on 4 or more so families could still afford to come. We also may have had a certain age or younger are free type of deal too.

  16. Our church does Rent-a-Youth during the summer. Those who are going to camps or mission trips work various projects over the summer at people’s houses. Cleaning, organizing, babysitting, lawn care, etc. in exchange for donations that go to the church to fund scholarships. It’s a pretty good program.

  17. Ninja, I’ll say I was up from California to visit my godmother in Seattle for the 4th of July 2 years ago (she lives in the Wallingford neighborhood), and she randomly got flocked by a youth group. Best party conversation starter ever, and the best thing was, we were in the patio right on the side of the house and never heard them. Stealth! My godmother isn’t affiliated with any church or youth group in town, but she was more than happy to pay the money for camp, so there must be others out there, too. It really was just too hysterical-looking not to find it funny, and in the end, it was only $25 or $50, and she could definitely afford it. Keep doing it!

  18. Business takeover? The resulting money going to the group really depends on the business – I’ve had better luck with local businesses as opposed to the chains. The takeover can be as simple as a business donates half their profits for the day to your organization and you just refer absolutely everyone on the planet to go to that business for the day. It can also be as intensive as helping bag burgers and fries and cleaning up tables at a sit down or fast food restaurant. A local bowling center may have people register for a specific time to bowl and charge a set rate for shoes and games allowing a portion for the group then you spend the whole time trying to raffle off items and/or passing the jar.

  19. My daughter attends private school and we have a few fundraisers we need to participate in each year. The fall auction and the spring yard sale are our biggest but we also sell Butterbraid frozen pastrys, Little Caesars Pizza Kits, McDonalds coupons and all that. The Butterbraids are my favorite and I always meet my full selling requirement with that fundraiser alone.

    I also like to purchase those buy one – get one cards that kids occasionally sell for $10-$20. They pay for themselves almost immediately so it’s an easy sell.

  20. I would suggest if you go the car washing route get a pressure washer and try to get in touch with a trucking company, I used to wash dump trucks (from up near your neck of the woods) and got paid $35-50 a pop. They take about the same amount of time as a regular car and many truckers and trucking companies are very prideful of their trucks looking clean so it was basically a bi-weekly payday for the people i did it for. Also, you could mow people’s lawns…most people really dont like to do it and now that the weather is getting nice it grows fast (could be a bi-weekly payday as well). Another option would be to see if any of the local stadiums for some of the minor league teams or high schools would pay your group to clean up after an event (usually pays well). Best of luck!

  21. Haha I wish my HS Young Life had done stuff like this. I never joined because I wasn’t comfortable with the religious aspects of it, but my friends always loved fall weekend and the summer camp.

  22. Flocking sounds like fun, though I currently don’t have a yard. I was wondering what the unsuspecting people would do if they got flocked, but your note answered all my questions. My husband’s sister and brother-in-law are young life leaders, and I know that they’ve made an impact on a lot of kids, so I wouldn’t mind being flocked. I don’t really have any fundraising ideas to add, but good luck!

  23. I am also trying to help raise funds for my daughters soccer team, loving some of the ideas posted by you and your readers. One thing I wanted to call out is to remind anyone that donates money to check and see if their company does matching. My company will match any $25 donation or higher to any qualified non-profit and I know many others do too. Another idea is to reach out to people whose companies donate after a certain amount of volunteer hours have been completed. See if they can volunteer some hours, even if it is helping with a car wash or etc. I am able to get my soccer club an extra $750 a year just by helping the team out for 50 hours a year.

  24. In my region, one fundraiser I see quite a bit of is at bag-your-own grocery stores, where sports teams will offer to bag for you in exchange for a donation. Also, there’s always bottle drives. And, similarly to the spaghetti dinner idea above, there can be pancake breakfasts (perhaps even at the church where these kids attend, before or after a service).

  25. Never done this but thought it would be awesome for someone to do: We have a set recycling schedule where I live, so every couple days I along with the surrounding towns bring out their cans and bottles. The town is taking them away for free, someone should grab them and turn them in themselves and get my 5 cents.

    You could bring in a TON even if you just got people you know (maybe not a ton but probably more than a car wash)

  26. I’ts nice you offer the option of de-flamingoing peopel’s lawns for free if they don’t want to participate. It’s a cool way to make some money that’ sounds more effective than a car wash! Good stuff man!

  27. I really can’t think of a way to raise money that is more JERKY than this. I’d call the cops if someone left their crap on my lawn. Just have a car wash, don’t deface other people’s lawns. I like reading your sight, but every once in a while you write something that makes me thing that IRL you just aren’t a very cool person to be around.

      • Did you just choose to ignore this statement: “We typically only flock people we know or are already active in supporting Young Life. Not like we just pick random people who might shoot us in the face for stepping foot on their property.”

        We have “flocked” two houses so far and they have both GIVEN significantly more than the $25 we ask for (the first house giving $200). I can think of a lot of ways to raise funds that are more “jerky” than asking people that support Young Life, to do nothing more than support Young Life. Ha.

        • Uh, Ninja, you ASKED ” If you got flocked would you be pissed?” The answer, for some people, is “yes.” No one is ignoring your statement that you are only flocking people you know are supportive of Young Life. You asked us what WE would feel, and we are telling you, basically, that it’s a good thing you have that policy, because not everyone feels the same way you do. Which is fine. Grow up.

          • Also, I should add just because someone knows/supports your group doesn’t mean they support holes in their lawn. I know my dad would have a shitfit if someone did that, regardless of the cause.

  28. Hahaha, that’s awesome. If the sign didn’t have the line at the bottom saying that you’re not being forced to participate, I’d be pissed. In all honesty though, if someone flocked my house and I found out it was for a good cause, I’d probably pony up the money to flock someone else’s house.

  29. Eh, it’s really only okay if you’re doing this to a group who knows about it or is in support of your charitable cause. My hometown had a group that did the flocking thing way back when to support a missions trip to Poland and put them out in neighbors’ yards who were not affiliated with their church or group. As I understood from an unsuspecting neighbor that got flocked, there was no “we’ll remove them for free” pass, either. I’m not really cool with that, but it sounds like your group did this the “right” way.

    Fundraising-wise, IMO, the best money makers involve, food, fun, games and guns. Sell tickets, advertise, bring in a willing crowd. Reverse raffles, gun raffles (depending on your demographic and state legalities, of course), bake sales (+1 for friends that are pro cupcakers), and ethnic food fests. I say “ethnic food fest” in that regardless of my religious status, if you make delicious food (I’m looking at you, little old Russian Orthodox church ladies) you will bring me to your event with promises of pierogi and homemade borsch. Actually the only time I willfully enter a church these days outside of weddings and funerals are for church dinners. I’m getting hungry thinking about them.

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