My first experience in helping raise funds occurred in those days known as the depression. My conference president had announced that I was being sent to a little town to help the church pay off its debts—debts the members felt were not theirs. Hence, they had little interest in contributing to them. Most of them were without work and could not have given much had they wanted to. There seemed only one recourse—to get up a publicity project in the form of an advertising book. The members were dubious. The church board debated the matter pro and con. It would be useless, they said, for no one had ever solicited more than $100 Ingathering from the few blocks of business section. We could never sell enough ads to pay for the printing. And besides it would completely ruin their Ingathering.
My spirits were dampened a bit, I must admit. But I had insisted it could be done. Now I must prove it. So I started out with all the fortitude I could muster, and in a few days had sold $500 worth of ads. I need not tell you the church was soon on fire with enthusiasm. And much to the surprise of all, the project increased the Ingathering fund. I have helped to sponsor seven of these books, and in every case they have been a boost to the Ingathering.
At another time I was asked to go up in the mountains and help some faithful members complete their church building. The community boasted two small stores, both operated by Adventists, and the county seat was fifty miles over the mountains. Transportation was very difficult. The church had been able to raise only $45.25 for Ingathering. It really took faith even to start a book under those conditions.
But we worked the little towns in both valleys, and soon had more than $400.
A struggling academy just getting started needed $500 to install a water system. In less than a week .we had sold sufficient ads to make their dream a reality, and the church increased its Ingathering $100 that fall. My last experiment in this line was in 1939. In a city of 60,000 inhabitants we cleared $1,000 by selling ads for our church directory without even working the uptown business. The same year the church increased its Ingathering $300.
Now how can a person go about issuing an advertising book and raising church funds ? I would list seven steps.
I. Get Bids on Cost of Printing.—Get prices by the page, including the cost of paper and cover, a cut of the church and other cuts, and prices on printing only. You may be able to exchange ad space for paper, cuts, etc. Many businessmen ask if the printing is to be done locally. It is good salesmanship to be able to tell them you have contacted a local printer, even if you have not given the job to anyone yet. Their cuts are usually at a local printshop, and they prefer not to have them go out of town. Printers often have books of this nature put out by other churches, by clubs, or schools, and they are always glad to furnish you sample copies.
Most printers will give you a lower rate if you will do the proofreading, folding, etc., yourself. They usually charge for the time they think it will require. Small job printers will give better satisfaction than a newspaper office. Don't be too hasty in contracting for the printing. In my inexperience I paid over $roo for the first book. Since then I have had a much better job on larger books for $40 to $70. Once I saved more than $50 by having the work done at one of our college presses.
2. Secure Dummies.—Have a printer make up at least three dummies (blank books) with a good grade cover, containing about sixty pages each. You will need one book for your soliciting, another to copy the ads in when you get home, and a third book to complete for the printer, after all the advertising has been secured. I believe you will find 6" x 9" the neatest and most practical size.
3. What the Book Should Contain.—Plan what you are going to put in the book besides advertising, and reserve space in the dummy for it. Keep in mind that your total number of pages should be divisible by four. If you had thirty pages of type for instance, you would have to pay for thirty-two. I like to reserve the front cover for the picture and address of the church. Page one, inside, should explain what the funds are to be used for, the contents of the book, thanks to the advertisers, and a request that all members patronize them.
Page two, and all succeeding pages of even numbers, could be used for ads. On page three, you might use a picture of the pastor, with the church bulletin program beneath. Page three, and all other pages of odd numbers, could have a quarter-page ad top and bottom, with the middle section reserved for the history of the church and a brief history of the denomination, including a statistical report of " our world work. If you have sufficient membership to warrant a church directory, the members' names, addresses, and telephone numbers can be grouped together at the back of the book.
4. Preparing Dummy for Advertising.—Your dummy should contain two or three times as many pages as the book you plan to print. Keep the first few left-hand pages for full-page ads. Skip a few pages, and rule some pages for half-page ads. A little further over, rule some for quarter-page ads. Then, leave a number of pages and rule off some eighth-page ads. Then away over where prospects would not be likely to turn, make provision for some sixteenth-page ads.
Not far from the back reserve at least two pages for complimentary ads. This section netted us $200 in the last book. You will find many people with nothing to sell the public, or who insist that it is against the ethics of their profession to advertise, such as doctors and lawyers. Many of these are willing to make a contribution. In such cases, only the name should be printed—not the amount. If there are some who insist that they do not want their name in the book, always remind them of your "Compliments of" section where they can place their name as "A Friend."
Keep the last four or five pages to use for your bookkeeping, for listing the paid ads, the price of complimentary ads, etc. This will be more satisfactory than using a separate book.
5. Price of Ads.—The price of the ads will vary somewhat, according to the town you are working. It is well to secure a few directories and advertising books of other churches, schools, or clubs, and learn what they charge. The accompanying diagram shows the prices I used in the last book. They would no doubt be $25.00 much higher now. I have found it best not to sell ads under $3.50. If advertisers insist on something less expensive, refer them to the complimentary section. This page can also be used for firms whose products you would not care to advertise.
6. Securing Ads.—Scan the classified section of the telephone directory, the city directory, the newspaper, and all other local advertising material. You will find that certain men always run a full page. They are usually the best ones to contact first. This also gives you a guide for knowing what size ads to try to sell them. It will surprise you to see what large ads some little firms always take. A look at other advertising will also call your attention to business firms you never knew existed.
Tell prospective advertisers your purpose in sponsoring the book, explain briefly how it will look when finished, what it will contain besides advertising, and the price of your larger ads. Also assure them you will see that they get several copies when the books are finished. If a man hesitates, ask if he has a cut of a bill-head, and show him how nicely it will fit into one of the spaces. Small business firms will often take ads if you will help them write and arrange the copy. Otherwise they would rather say "No" than be bothered. I remember on one occasion getting a full-page ad from a landscape gardener by picking up a few of his labels and showing him how attractively they could be arranged on a full page.
I found that ruling the middle section of the book into equal-size ads for the county courthouse men proved very successful. If you get the sheriff or judge or tax assessor to buy, all the rest will follow suit. These are usually written up as "Compliments of John Doe, Sheriff of Blank County." The "mountain book" had three county seats represented, and not a single official turned us down.
Some pressing shops, shoe repair shops, beauty and barber shops, and even filling stations, feel that their small volume of business does not justify them in paying cash for an ad, but they are happy to put in an ad, and "pay in kind." So I accepted -credit for services they had to offer, and sold these services in the form of tickets to the church members.
Urge the advertisers to use cuts as far as possible in their ads, as this makes the directory much more attractive than plain type. If they give you mats or letterheads, stick them in with a little Scotch tape. This adds to the looks of the dummy. In a tactful way suggest that you are trying to conserve time by not coming back to collect, and you will give them a receipt for the money now, if it is convenient for them.
7. Preparing Dummy for Printer. —Printers appreciate having material presented to them in an orderly manner. They do not like to receive a bunch of little pieces of papers and penciled notes, clipped together for them to arrange. After you have copied everything in the second dummy, try to see what further improvements you can make in arranging the material. Scatter the cuts throughout the book, not forgetting to make the inside cover page and back cover page especially attractive.
If the book is a church directory, you will not need to have many copies. One or two copies for each church member and each advertiser will be sufficient, as they are not for general distribution. However, I tell the advertisers at the time I solicit them that we haven't decided yet how many copies we will have printed. When the town was small, and the membership was not sufficient to warrant a directory, we printed enough advertising books to distribute to the homes.
Of all the "money raising" schemes I know, the advertising book or church directory will yield the largest results for the effort expended.