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Bombarded by brainstorms: Ideas to raise school funds flourish

"Bombarded with ideas."

That's how Jo Strege described the wealth of fundraising ideas that have surfaced over the past two weeks.

The hope is that they will create "wealth" for the Perham-Dent schools in a time of desperate financial need.

"More Than Nothing" has been the battle cry, as school officials and community activists strive to raise "more than nothing" following the defeat of the school's levy referendum.

Acting as a clearinghouse for the fundraising campaign is the 549 Family Foundation, which is headed by Jo Strege.

The ideas range from modest bake sales to a "Shrink-A-Thon" which will raise money in "pledges per pound"--while promoting weight loss and healthier lifestyles.

An important reminder, noted Strege, is that donations made to the MTN campaign are tax deductible. "But if you want to take the deduction for 2008, you only have a couple weeks left," said Strege, adding that a donation to the school district would make a great Christmas gift.

The "More Than Nothing" campaign is an idea to build a community/area-wide movement to encourage individuals, families, businesses, organizations and alumni to make a voluntary donation to benefit the Perham school district.

The organizers are inviting participation from everyone interested in or concerned about the budget shortfalls that face independent school district 549 in 2009 and school year 2009-2010.

"This is not about blame games, finger pointing, 'yay versus nay' voters. This is not about starting a new referendum push," said Strege.

One of the most promising of the MTN ideas is the "Nothing At All" idea introduced by 549 Foundation board president Brian Mort.

Most residents recently received their "Proposed Property Tax for 2009". Along the left edge in bold letters, there is "School District 549". In most cases, the tax bill went down from 2008 to 2009. MTN organizers are urging property owners to write a check for the difference.

"If everyone did this one thing, we'd cover the district's budget shortfall for 2009-2010," said Strege.

The website address is:

To make an online donation you can use the 549 Family Foundation's account at the West Central Initiative page. 549 Family Foundation is a component fund of the West Central Initiative.

Those who prefer to mail a check:

Please make your check payable to 549 Family Foundation. In the memo line write MTN.

If you wish, include the sub-campaign on the memo line.

Mail it to:

549 Family Foundation-MTN Campaign

200 5 St. SE

Perham, MN 56573

All contributions made to the 549 Family Foundation are tax deductible.

Other ideas include:

Parent Challenge: John and Becky Schornack challenge all parents of students in Perham schools to match their donation of $100.

Class Challenge: Alumni classes are challenging for other classes to match their donation, such as Class of 1978 challenging other classes of the 70's to match their donations.

Tax Projection: Some may be willing to donate what their tax bill would have been had the school levy passed.

Sale: Businessses could clear out store rooms of last season stuff and have a MTN sale. Turn old inventory into a tax-deduction. Have a 1-item sale for a time period, with the profit would go to MTN.

Round-Up: Consider asking customers if they would like to round up their charge at the check-out counter.

Talent Shows: Have been great crowd-pleasers in past years.

Dodgeball Tournaments: Students and adults involved.

Telethon: Organize with local businesses, radio and local TV to air live.

Have a bake sale: Perham students have already proven it works raising in excess of $600 for the MTN fund.


Website, posters, logo help spread the word on 'More Than Nothing'

Logo: Designed by PHS student Brendon Lauer. Buttons made for donors to help spread the word about MTN.

Website: Designed and maintained by 549 Family President Brian Mort.

Drop Boxes: Designed by PHS Industrial Tech Teacher, Jon Skow, and constructed by his students. Distributed to 30 area locations for donations at check-out counters.

Posters: Designed and distributed by PHS students, sophomore Amber Kalina and 549 Family student ambassador, senior Nikki Werner, with the help of the PHS Student Council, who is 549 Family's Student Ambassador Club.