Putting the FUN in Fundraising

When you hear “Game On” during the City of Richardson’s Corporate Challenge - it’s not always just about sports. There is a philanthropic element to the event as all participating companies are asked to raise a minimum of $1,000 for Special Olympics Texas, the events charity of choice for 16 years. To date, the Challenge has given this organization over $1.1 million, which has provided hundreds of Special Olympic Athletes with uniforms, transportation to competitions, quality equipment and hours of practice time.

The Challenge prides itself on having something for everyone. Even those individuals who are not athletic or interested in playing in a competition can help organize their company’s fundraising efforts for the charity. Many companies have formed FUNd-raising teams emphasizing the fun aspect of raising money for a wonderful cause. A raffle program is provided by The Challenge to assist companies in meeting their goal and while it used to be the sole method for raising funds for many companies, talented and creative individuals have come up with all sorts of fun ways to raise remarkable amounts of money. Lennox executives participate by allowing employees to bid on an opportunity to throw a pie in their face. CDS just had a field day, where their executives participated in a dunk tank for money, and a hot dog eating contest. The City of Richardson team had a pizza eating contest at lunch time, where participants took pledges for every “slice” consumed. Every department was represented and the pledges were quite impressive.

Organizers have been impressed with the creativity in the last couple of years as companies work to reach their goal. Robbie Hazelbaker, Assistant Director of Parks and Recreation who is one of the original event planners, has watched with amazement as the giving level continues to grow. “We’ve seen everything from Annual Bake Sales to Pizza/Hot Dog Eating Contests to Jeans Day Buttons. This year we’ve heard about Dance Competitions with top executives on an X-box 360 and even a Calendar of Men. Words with Friends and Scrabble Tournaments are even on the agendas and the results of thinking outside of the box have been incredible” says Hazelbaker. “Many companies have matching gifts programs, doubling what their employees raise. Additionally, Tektronix has a charitable foundation that gave a grant in addition to their matching gift’s program.” he added. “We have received company contributions that added up to as much as using these methods and ideas,” he added.  Last year alone 54 participating companies donated $172,000 to Special Olympics Texas.

Many companies are starting their fundraising efforts earlier as well. The games are slated to begin August 16, with final donations due at the Closing Ceremony in October. Yet companies like Companion Data Services, have already started on their efforts. The title sponsor of the Challenge, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, is well on their way to match a substantial gift given last year.

“We see teams not only competing between the lines, but challenging each other to make a real difference in the lives of people disabilities.” Hazelbaker said. “It really feels good as a municipality to offer a tremendous program for employee’s mental and physical health, and be equally successful in the charitable aspect,” he added.

There truly is something for everyone to participate in through the City of Richardson’s Corporate Challenge...Game On!