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Fundraising? Need an idea?


I used to work for a 501(c)(3) charitable organization for several years that assisted abused women and children. It was a difficult job made more difficult by the constant instability of donations. Now that the economy has suffered, these organizations are suffering from lack of funding more than usual.

It’s easy to say no. It seems like every time I buy dog food or a bag of groceries, someone is asking for money. I’d love to help, but I simply can’t afford to donate a dollar every time I buy a head of lettuce.

Never have I stumbled over a request for donations like this…

Purple Cow

I came home from work last week to find a 3 foot by 4 foot wood purple cow in my yard. A letter was taped to its chest notifying me about the organization’s (a local Christian high school group) desire to provide livestock to famished countries. They provided some options for the cow removal:

Pay $10 to have the cow removed.
Pay an additional $5 to have the cow delivered to a friend or neighbor.
Pay $15 for a ‘No Grazing Permit’ to ensure the cow never darkened your door again.


Call the organization, tell them you aren’t interested in the game, and they will pick up the cow free of charge.

There were six hideous purple cows in total haunting our city – and everyone knew about them. The funniest part of all? No one saw the cows being moved. They would simply disappear from your yard and reappear in someone else’s. High school kids are amazing at being sneaky.

They took a serious situation, somehow lightened it, and made participating irresistible.


  • Reply Jenn |

    That is the best idea ever! Whoever came up with that is genius. Now I kind of wish I had something to raise funds for. “No grazing permit.” I love it!

  • Reply NYGIRL |

    I agree that the “Purple Cow” idea is genius. Assuming I had money to donate, I would definitely give to this fundraiser because the kids really put some effort into it. I am also bombarded daily at the grocery store checkout where the cashier asks for a donation each week for something different. I wish I COULD give to all of them, but I can’t.

    I am curious as to what you did about the “cow” situation though.

  • Reply Jen |

    Maybe I’m just a cranky Yankee, but I would be annoyed. It smacks a little too much like blackmail, and I’d be really irked that someone stuck something on my property without my permission, and that they wanted ME to go through the bother of calling the organization to get them to take it off my property.

    I agree that it’s creative, but I find it too intrusive.

  • Reply Lynn |

    I think it is a great idea but only if I have donated to the charity previously or had some kind of relationship with whomever wanted the money. I agree with Jen that I would be really mad if I had to call to get it removed – especially if it was just some random organization!

  • Reply Sunflowers |

    Sure, it’s creative… But I also agree with Jen and Lynn that I would find it intrusive and annoying! I’d like to know what happens if someone calls and asks for it to be removed – does the person on the other end try to again persuade them to donate? That would tempt me to file a complaint against them.

  • Reply Debt |

    Ha! That is really creative, I did something similar when I was in high school for a fundraiser involving Pink Flamingos!

    I like the idea that you can pay to have it moved to another neighbor’s lawn, that’s genius!


  • Reply Beks |

    NY Girl – the cow was intended for my brother. He paid for it to be removed.

    Jen – You didn’t have to call if you didn’t want to. If you didn’t call within 12 hours, they took it away and you didn’t have to worry about it.

    Lynn – Cows were only placed in yards by people who knew the homeowners. No cow was placed on a random yard. Sorry, I should have clarified. People paid to have high schoolers place them in friends and family’s yards.

    Sunflowers – If you left it in your yard for 12 hours, they picked it up. No call was required. The phone number was intended to help people who wanted the cow out sooner than 12 hours. Sorry, I should have made that clear.

    Debt – I like the pink flamingo idea!

  • Reply Mar |

    Our church had something like this with pink flamingos and green alligators. I had them put in someone’s yard and she thought it was a hoot, but never did guess that I did it.

    On a non-fundraising but very funny note, I had a sign for one of our gubernatorial candidates in my yard in 2006. About 2 weeks before the election we came out at 8 a.m. Sunday morning to go to church. Our sign was missing and SIX signs for the oppposing candidate were in our yard instead. My 10 year old was horrified and thought I would go nuts but I just started to laugh because it looked so darn funny. I took the signs down and tried to find out who did it but everyone denied it. Several people said they were very, very sorry that they hadn’t thought this up, though!

So, what do you think ?