Raising Funds for Your Fossil Club or Society

by Bruce J. MacFadden and Eleanor E. Gardner, Florida Museum of Natural History

Most fossil clubs and paleontological societies generate funds to support their activities and awards. Such funds are critical to the success of these organizations and their capacity to advance their goals and objectives. These funds are typically generated by member dues, auctions, raffles, and net proceeds from other activities like fossil fairs. These are all time-tested ways for your club to sustain itself.

In this short article we want to focus on examples of other successful ways to raise additional funds for special programs, activities, and new initiatives. We are therefore highlighting two such fundraising efforts that have been recently successful in Florida—from the Southwest Florida Fossil Society (Port Charlotte) and the Florida Fossil Hunters (Orlando).

Chuck Ferrera with Julia Tejada
Chuck Ferrara with Julia Tejada

swffs-logoThrough personal connections, the president of the Southwest Florida Fossil Society, Chuck Ferrara, became aware of the Community Foundation of Sarasota that supports local non-profit organizations in the southwest Florida area. Partnering with them, the SWFFS undertook a 24-hour online fundraising drive for their society. Donations totaling $1800 were received during this time interval, and with the match from Community Foundation of Sarasota, the net proceeds totaled $4750. These funds will be used for worthy causes like increasing the amount of the annual student scholarships provided to the University of Florida and other regional universities, as well as new initiatives that advance the mission of the SWFFS (particularly focused on youth learning about fossils and paleontology). While we realize that not all fossil clubs and societies will have a local foundation available for matching funds, it never hurts to do some background research to see what might be available and with a mission that would align with the goals of your organization.

Cindy Lockner at 2016 Women in Paleontology Day
Cindy Lockner at 2016 Women in Paleontology Day

ffh-logoIn March of this year, Cindy Lockner, Bonnie Cronin, and Russell Brown of the Florida Fossil Hunters and Eleanor Gardner of the FOSSIL Project partnered to write a grant proposal for consideration by the Paleontological Society’s “Outreach & Education” grant committee. They were successful in convincing the Paleontological Society to award $2,500 toward the FFH’s efforts to increase participation by underprivileged minority K-12 girls in the annual Women in Paleontology Day event in Orlando, FL. Each year the PS provides a number of grants (up to $2,500) to support programs and activities involving educational outreach and community engagement. According to the PS website, “potential fundable projects include, but are not limited to, field trips to fossil sites and/or museums for teachers and pre-college students, educator training and curriculum development, participation in local community initiatives, development of educational materials for classroom use, and website or other online material development.” Many fossil clubs/societies around the US have similarly worthwhile endeavors that the PS may be interested in supporting. For further information about the PS Education & Outreach grants, see http://paleosoc.org/grants-and-awards/paleontological-society-outreach-and-education-grant. If your club or society needs grant writing tips, contact Eleanor at [email protected] – she has co-written two successful PS outreach grant proposals in addition to four successful research grant proposals.

We are certain that there are novel ways that other clubs have used to raise funds, and we would like to hear from you so we can feature these successes in our newsletter as well!