Hallmarks of Highly Successful Chapters Series: Fundraising Beyond Dues

Christopher Gauger, EAA 746128, Chapter Field Representative I


July 2022

In this article series, we will be looking at the best practices we see the most successful chapters consistently engaging in.

EAA chapters can sustain themselves with dues from their members, but dues should not be the only source of funds for a chapter. If a chapter seeks to expand its activities, then it will need to fundraise. Fortunately, fundraising is not as difficult as it may initially seem, and there are many methods to raise money for your chapter.

The only required expense for an EAA chapter is the annual chapter renewal and EAA insurance fee, which together amount to $398. A chapter can pay this expense entirely with member dues: for example, a chapter with 20 members that charges an annual due of $20 would raise $400 to pay for renewal and insurance. However, in order to pay for chapter activities, this chapter would need to either raise its dues, attract more members, or raise funds from other sources.

There are many uses for chapter funds. These include:

  • Annual chapter renewal and insurance
  • Building or restoring an aircraft
  • Buying aviation tools for a chapter tool crib
  • Supplies for Young Eagles rallies and Flying Start events
  • Marketing materials for the chapter
  • Food and beverages for chapter gatherings/meetings
  • Establishing a chapter home/facility
  • Paying yearly expenses if the chapter already owns a facility
  • Sponsoring a youth to attend the EAA Air Academy
  • Providing youth aviation scholarships
  • Emergency fund reserve

Once your chapter has determined what it needs to raise funds for, you can then plan on how to raise the funds.

Fundraising ideas include:

  • Pancake breakfast/fly-in
  • 50/50 raffle — state raffle rules apply
  • Aviation day camp
  • Silent auction
  • Charitable flights under CFR 91.146
  • Hosting the EAA Ford Tri-Motor, B-17 Flying Fortress, or B-25 Mitchell
  • Hangar dance
  • Aviation summer camp
  • Building a pedal plane and raffling it off
  • Hosting a pancake breakfast at AirVenture — Learn more
  • Selling a donated, homebuilt, or restored aircraft

Pancake breakfasts are a common and proven fundraising activity for many chapters. They offer an opportunity for pilots and the public to visit the chapter for food and community. When paired with a Young Eagles rally, they can also bring more young people to the chapter. To help chapters provide pancake breakfasts, EAA has pancake griddle plans that chapter members can request from chapters@eaa.org.

People like to donate to good ideas and good causes. When seeking donations from the public, you should make it clear what kind of activity their donations will support. For example, you could promote your chapter’s pancake breakfast by stating that its proceeds and donations will go toward the chapter’s Young Eagles program or other youth aviation activities. This can be stated on the event’s flyer or on the donation jars present at the event.

These donations can help a chapter build upon its existing activities and introduce new ones. For example, a pancake breakfast coupled with a Young Eagles rally will bring in donations to support the chapter’s future Young Eagles rallies. These rallies and donations can enable the chapter to launch a Young Eagles Workshop, a Young Eagles Build and Fly project, or another kind of youth activity such as an aviation day camp. The rallies recruit the kids for these activities, and the donations allow the chapter to pay for the activities.

In addition to the aforementioned fundraising ideas, chapters can also utilize AmazonSmile for donations. Shoppers on Amazon can select a charitable organization to support, and Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price from each eligible purchase to the organization the shopper selected. This allows your chapter members and other supporters of your chapter to help support your cause.

Note that EAA chapters must be incorporated as non-profit entities, and that being a non-profit organization does not automatically mean the chapter is an official charitable organization. Chapters in the United States incorporate as non-profit organizations in their state, but to receive charitable status, they must apply through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). We recommend that chapters apply to receive 501(c)(3) charitable status through the IRS. This will allow the chapter to receive tax-deductible donations. To learn more about chapter donations, tax-exempt status, and financial management, visit EAA.org/Nonprofit.

There are many ways to fundraise for your chapter outside of member dues. By having a variety of sources for funds and promoting the reasons for your fundraising, your chapter can be financially sustainable and have the means to grow its membership and expand its activities.

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