I am frequently asked to help with 'fundraisers' for various causes. I do what I can, but a lack of imagination hurts most efforts. Read more after the jump.

Wanna raise funds for your cause? What's your first thought? Let's put on a benefit concert! Sorry, that bit it played out. What usually happens is you get a bunch of local bands that play every weekend, (usually for free) and try to get people to pay to see them. It almost sounds like an insane concept when you really think about it. I'm not disrespecting the local bands either. The bands usually step up even though it reduces their drawing power for their next gig, hurting their bottom line as well. Then there's the cost of the p.a. and the venue and security and so on. Even worse is when the event is set up as a "Battle Of The Bands". Why do I want to do an event where most of the people go away pissed, and trust me, everybody other than the winning band goes away pissed?

Rich people are among the stupidest fundraisers. Their answer is almost always "lets have a golf tournament". Once again, they are fishing for money in an overfished pond. The other big problem with a golf tournament is that you are severely limited on the amount of people who can participate. There's only so many holes on a course and so many hours in the day. Then you have to rent the course (golf course operators are also severely "tapped" when it comes to charitable events too), round up prizes and find a bunch of people willing to pay a hell of a lot more for something they usually do for a hell of a lot less.

So that's the two biggest examples of fundraising done wrong. How can you do it right? First off, look at the option of NO fundraising. If your are trying to help an organization the first thing you can do it try to get your friends and roll up your sleeves and offer your labor. A small army can spiff up a place pretty quick . That way the place can use its maintenance funds for other uses.

The big one though, is say, raising funds for someone with a sick or dead family member (sorry I couldn't think of a better way to say that). My advice is to get creative. Have everyone you know collect aluminum cans for a month. You might pull in three-four hundred bucks if you work really hard (and that's more than you would have made at the battle of the bands). Know someone who cooks? Why not sell home cooked meals on a designated night? You could prepare plates of your favorite Mexican food for two or three dollars a piece and sell them for eight bucks, netting five bucks a plate. Think about it, that's what people who were going out were going to pay anyway and you saved them time and a tip.

Also, could the family use some food to get them by? Could you do a small canned food drive, or even organize people to cook for them?

Why not put together a crew to mow lawns or do hauling or landscaping for a weekend? You can make big bucks and really help people. Technically football squares games are illegal, but why not put together a squares game for five bucks and square and give half to the winner and half to your charity?

The problem is, is when bad things happen you go into autopilot and do what other people have always done and that's not always the best thing. If you put together something fun, creative, new or something that involves a little "elbow" grease, you will greatly increase your chance at success.

P.S. If you name ANYTHING "___fest" or "____palooza", kick yourself in the face.