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Has the fun gone out of your fund-raising? Stale, overdone events like bake sales or car washes are old news. Different, creative and innovative are the buzz words for successful fund-raisers. Here's some suggestions to bring fun (and money) back to fund-raising:

1. Singing Christmas cards: Similar to a singing telegram, this fund-raiser is easy, since we can all sing Christmas carols. The singing can be shared among the group membership to lessen the time commitment. Another option is having each group of four or five people take designated nights of the week. A spokesperson begins by explaining who sent the "card." Other nice touches include having the singers dress in festive costumes or bringing a dish of Christmas cookies.


2. Handyman team: Who among us doesn't have several small carpentry or repair jobs around the house? These days women living alone especially have trouble finding someone safe and reliable to do their odd jobs. Band together to form a handyman team and charge less than the going rates. All payment for services rendered is a donation to the club or organization.


3. Sponsor a renaissance fair: The Society for Creative Anachronism (a medieval recreation group) has chapters all around the country. They may be willing to demonstrate fencing, period dancing and jousting and other medieval activities for free. How about a medieval fashion show? Add musicians and jugglers for a full day of programming.


4. Tiny tot wedding: As the name implies, the format for a tot wedding is a simple one. Children play all the parts. The bride and groom should be around four or five years old, with the minister slightly older perhaps age seven. The flower girl and ring bearer should be only two or three years old. A reception follows the ceremony, including all the usual events, like a cake cutting and bouquet toss. Funds are raised by charging admission.


5. Create a balloon picture: This fund-raiser works well with youth groups. The object is to create a large picture on the floor, using various colored balloons. Sturdy string boundaries hold the balloons in place. When the picture is complete, admission is charged to view the finished product. If possible, the venue should be a location where the audience can view the picture from up above.


6. Parable of the talents: This unusual fund-raiser begins by giving each member of the group money, instead of asking for it. Amounts might be between $10-25 or more. Participants are given three months to double or triple the money. In this way, individuals have freedom to use their own unique talents. One person might buy seedlings, grow the plants and sell them, while another might choose to invest in a snow shovel and clean walks.


7. Silent service auction: Window washing, lawn mowing, dog walking and grocery shopping are all things we'd sometimes like to avoid. With a silent service auction, participants bid on paper, for a certain number of hours of service, such as two hours of leaf raking. Those group members handy with tools might offer carpentry or car maintenance.


8. Inch luncheon: The element of surprise and curiosity makes the inch luncheon fun. Participants are asked to attend a special Inch Luncheon, without any further explanation. Upon arrival, they discover that, instead of paying a set price for a meal, each pays according to his/her height. An example might be ten cents per inch. Each person is required to step up to a doctor's measuring chart and their height is announced to all present.


9. Lunch with the Mayor: This project is actually a "have lunch with the mayor" raffle. However, it could be done with a hometown celebrity or any other politician who is willing. Be sure to get the "celebrity" locked in many months in advance. Sell chances for 4-6 months to maximize profits.


10. Host a travel series: The series should consist of between three and six travel programs over a period of months. It's often possible to find presenters who have videos or color slides and personal anecdotes to share, free of charge. Ethnic costumes, music or foods of the region can be added to give the evening extra flare.


Finally, here's a few more ideas to get your creative juices flowing: The bottomless soup bowl, treasured heirloom exhibit, miniature doll house displays, cooking class-made-easy for the guys, classic car shows, funky leisure suit competition and the best neighbor-in-the-world contest.