Fundraising at Belfast Window Dressers

Until 2019, the only fundraising we had ever done in Belfast had been to use small donations from local churches to provide supplies for lunches and breaks for our volunteers.

At the LC meeting in 2019, we heard a presentation about grants offered by the New England Grassroots Environment Fund and we were all encouraged to apply. I knew that one member of our Belfast steering committee had grant-writing experience, so he and I wrote a Grow Grant application for $3500.  We focused on our desire to serve more seniors, more low-income customers, and more residents of the outlying towns in the part of Waldo County that we serve.

We were grateful to receive $1750.  We greatly expanded our outreach, printed 50 posters ($38) and distributed them with rack cards around the county, and made public presentations at two libraries and a grange hall.  We increased our special rate percentage from about 20% to 37.5% and we served 7 customers in the towns furthest from Belfast.

This past March, we decided to reapply for a Grow Grant.  We wanted to build on our efforts from last year by meeting in person with relevant agencies and also to approach town select boards and the Belfast Soup Kitchen, which is opening a new building soon. On May 26, we learned that we have been given a grant of $2425.

The other fundraising success we have had this year is from the Belfast Co-op.  The Co-op runs the “Common Cents Round Up Program” whereby one local non-profit each month receives funds collected when customers “round up” their total bill to the next dollar.  We applied for the program and were one of many organizations staffing informational tables before the Co-op’s annual meeting on March 1. 12 organizations were selected, and Belfast Window Dressers was one of them.    We will receive “round up” monies during the month of May 2021.

We plan to use both sources of funds almost exclusively to cover inserts for our low-income customers, though in this new pandemic time we may also consider new methods of outreach such as mailings.  The door is wide open and we’re very grateful to have the opportunity to explore new options.