Welcome to the fourth and final installment of our Spotlight series, where we feature Colorado non-profit organizations and their fundraising strategies. To gain a board member’s perspective, we spoke with Alex Benko from Dolls for Daughters. For 10 years, Dolls for Daughters has been collecting toys to give to underprivileged kids in Colorado.
While Dolls for Daughters puts on multiple events throughout the year (a Bowl-a-thon, dinner auctions, a beneficiary event, a golf tournament), their most popular event is their Toy Shop. Every year, on the first Saturday in December, the Toy Shop opens to everyone who wants to get toys for their children for the holidays. Though the Toy Shop opens at 8 am, the line typically starts to form on the Thursday before, as toys are on a first-come first-serve basis. Still, it follows a very civil process: adults need to bring birth certificates of the children they’re shopping for, and identification to demonstrate that they are responsible for those children. On either side of the line, there are tables from other organizations such as Clothes for Kids, McDonalds, or Walgreens, offering free flu shots and help for underprivileged families. Not only does the event allow families to pick up gifts, but it is also a way for them to connect with resources. The Toy Shop is non-denominational, which means it is accessible to everyone. Their focus is not just the holidays, but the spirit of giving.
To increase involvement at these events, Dolls for Daughters works with a huge advisory board made up of kids who voice their opinions and help contribute to the events. Additionally, they use Facebook to market their events. Alex himself makes a point to attend community events, often times finding new companies that could benefit from pairing with Dolls for Daughters. In terms of getting the entire board engaged, board members sit on a committee before they move into their role. Moreover, the board members each have their own sphere of influence, which allows Dolls for Daughters to utilize everyone’s strengths, and board members to be involved in those things that matter most to them.
Although under-staffing is a problem for many non-profit organizations, Dolls for Daughters usually has between 300 and 350 volunteers helping them run events. In October, they hold a Volunteer Appreciation Lunch, where older volunteers give testimonies about their experience at the Toy Shop. Because of the nature of the event, and the age minimum of 5-years-and-up, Dolls for Daughters rarely has trouble staffing the event. Volunteer spaces fill up quickly, which helps the organization to run the Toy Shop smoothly and effectively every year. Most of the toys they give at the Toy Shop they buy on Black Friday, but they also bring in a lot of toy donations at their Bowl-a-Thon which typically takes place in the spring.
Alex, who has been a board member for four years, offered some advice to other board members when it comes to putting together a successful fundraising event. “Listen. Go out, observe, and listen. That’s how you find ideas and inspiration.” When the board finds something that works better for them, they implement it. Still, Alex suggests, “You don’t have to rush into an idea… we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. If something works, then stick with it.”
The Dolls for Daughters Volunteer Luncheon will take place on October 5th at 11:30 am at the Wellshire Event Center. Lunch is provided, so click here to fill out an RSVP form!