All you ever wanted to know about charity collecting!

Tell us about your own charity collection, or ask for advice from our charity experts.

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TheCollector
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All you ever wanted to know about charity collecting!

Post by TheCollector » Thu Aug 24, 2006 7:06 am

Charity collecting

1 ). For those already collecting . . .
2 ). Introduction for those just starting out :wink:
3 ). What do we mean by "charity"?
4 ). How do I go about starting?
5 ). How much is this all going to cost?
6 ). How do I decide where to sell my collected autos
7 ). What can I expect to receive from celebrities?
8 ). What do I write in my letter?


1 ).For those already collecting . . .
If you are already collecting for charity, you really need to have the Fanmail.biz toolbar loaded :D This toolbar will allow you to search the whole database by celebrity name or in many cases the show name. It makes getting hold of those details much, much quicker. To download the toolbar, click here: http://www.fanmail.biz/toolbar/

Also, when it comes to selling your autographs/merchandise on eBay for charity, you can post a thread on the Charity Collecting forum with a link in it to your online auction. That way you can attract quality autograph collectors to your auction {up}

Please remember, we all need help and support from time to time, especially those of us collecting for a third party :D If you have any questions, please post them in this forum, and I or another one of our "charity specialist" moderators will get back to you as soon as possible :P

2 ).Introduction for those just starting out
Collecting for charity, or for "non-profit" organisations such as schools or local hospices is quite different from collecting for pleasure. Your ultimate goal after all is to collect autographed items (not just photographs :wink: ) in order to be able to sell them off - either through a public or private auction, a public or private sale, or through an online auction site such as eBay.

3 ). What do we mean by "charity"?
This might sound like a stupid question, but before we go much further I think it would be wise for me to clarify what I mean by "charity" and "non-profit". First, to give the dictionary definition:
A charity is a kind of non-profit organization that solicits and is able to accept donations or gifts from individual and corporate donors. A registered charity is a charity which has successfully applied to the government of their country under the tax benefit provisions for charitable status. An organization benefits from obtaining chartiable status because it possesses the privilege of issuing official receipts to donors for their monetary contribution.

In basic terms, this means that a charity is a self-funding organisation which relies on donations from business and from the public in order to carry out its work. For more information on charities in the UK, you can go to: http://www.charity-commission.gov.uk

Having said all that, it is still perfectly fine to raise funds for organisations which are not neccesarily charities, but who are in need financial help - such as schools, hospitals etc. Care must be taken though when you write your letters that you do not refer to "charity" if the organisation you are collecting for is not one.

4 ). How do I go about starting?
The first (and most obvious :D ) place to start is to choose a charity to collect for. Occasionally you might be asked to help out a particular charity through your school or place of work, but I am going to assume you are collecting from scratch. . . . .

I would suggest you choose a charity which means something special to you. Maybe one who you have been involved with in the past, or one which helped out a member of your family or a friend. Another way to go is to choose a larger national or international charity who supports a cause you are particularly fond of, such as an animal charity, or an environmental cause.

For a first-time collector though, I would recommend a smaller charity for several reasons. These benefits include the level of support a smaller organisation can offer you, as well as you will find it easier to establish a good and reliable contact in the organisation which quite often is not the case if you are dealing with a major charity. You will probably also find that a small charity will be a bit more grateful for your efforts :wink:

The next thing to establish is why you are collecting? What is the cash going to be used for? A new gymnasium? Funding research into a particular disease? It will make your job later much easier if you can have a definate benefit in mind for the money. Celebs want to see their donations actually doing something :D

5 ). How much is this all going to cost?
One thing that new collectors often forget is that in order to get autographs to sell - you are going to have to spend some money :(

Things to consider are:
Cost of postage & SASE's/IRCs - click HERE for curent international postage prices
Cost of envelopes - Click HERE to find out about SASE's
Cost of paper for letters
Cost of ink or toner if you are going to type your letters
All of this is of course without the cost of your own time (which you unfortunately have to give for free :wink: )

Before you start, you really HAVE TO sort all this out with your charity. One of the ways they can help you is to provide you with their own headed paper (letterhead) for you to print your letters on. This has the dual benefit of cutting your costs, plus providing you with some credibility that you are actually collecting for who you say you are :P

If your charity cannot provide you with their official paper, then I advise you at least to get a letter of referral from them which you can photocopy/Xerox and send out with your letters.

With regards to the other costs involved, there are two basic routes:
Either your charity has to provide your stamps and envelopes for you (this can be quite a good arrangement for schools/hospitals etc), or you will have to pay for these items yourself, and either claim the cash back from the charity - or take your expenses back from the proceeds of your sale/auction.

I favour the latter arrangement as it usually saves on a large amount of paperwork! But whichever way suits you and your charity is fine.

6 ). How do I decide where to sell my collected autos
That is really a matter of personal choice. The main thing is to reach as bigger audience as possible. A well organised public sale can be a great idea for a local charity - plenty of local coverage in the press and on the radio can work wonders!
For others, an internet sale might be the best choice. Auction sites like eBay make autograph sales simple, and provide you with a ready and receptive audience. One thing that will benefit you here are valid "proof of authenticity" from the celeb or their agent (but we will cover that later).

The UK eBay site recently launched a dedicated service for charity collectors - more info can be found here: http://pages.ebay.co.uk/community/charity/index.html

7 ). What can I expect to receive from celebrities?
This all depends what you ask for :lol: This really is the case . . . You need to make it clear in your letter what you require. More often than not you will still receive an autographed photo, but in about 10% of cases you will also receive signed DVD's, CD's, books, clothing, posters, scripts, and even jewellry :D It just depends what you ask for (politely!) :P

8 ). What do I write in my letter?
Your letter should contain the three magic components :P

1). An introduction to you and your charity. Explain briefly about your charity, and your motives for helping them to raise cash.
2). Explain how the celebs donation will benefit the charity. Where will the cash be used, and on what?
3). Thank them for their help. <<arrow$ Most important!!!

My idea of a letter would go along these lines (try to keep it brief and factual).

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Lastly - enjoy it! It will often not be easy, but the rewards you will reap in seeing people being helped as a direct result of your efforts is unmeasureable. {thumb2}

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