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Types of Fundraising

The number one question on everybody's mind do I raise money for my unit?  Below you will find a list of ways in which you can raise funds for your unit, aircraft, and programs. Note: Before beginning any fundraising efforts, please review the unit manual and finance guide. Links to these documents can be found on the Documents page under Resources. 


Events are a great way to raise money because they let donors get up close and personal with your unit members and aircraft. If you have never hosted an event before, start small with a hangar dance for your local community or a quarterly luncheon where donors and friends can come tour your aircraft and learn a little history. If you think you would like to try a bigger event, like an Air Show, consider partnering up with units that are near you geographically. This will increase your overall event scope and hopefully your ticket sales!

Within events, there are specific ways that you can raise money without directly asking for donations. Ticket sales, raffles, and auctions are all ways to involve donors in their own philanthropy.

Direct Solicitation

Direct solicitation refers to directly asking a person to donate money to a particular cause, regardless of whether the ask is in person or via mail. The CAF tries to limit any negative connotations that are often associated with direct solicitation, such as "pan-handling." However, the following methods of direct solicitation are considered acceptable: 

  • Letters targeted to existing donors and immediate local community highlighting the CAF's mission, specific projects, and asking for support. 

  • Solicitation of event sponsors from local organizations (all foundations and corporations with a national presence should be cleared with CAF HQ first, per Section 9 of the Unit Manual.) 

  • Solicitation of aircraft sponsorship as outlined in the Aircraft Sponsor Program. 

Remember that the most effective forms of direct solicitation come through one-on-one personal relationships that you or your members may have with others in your community. Take the time to understand what interests your donors and analyze what initiatives you have that may align with their desires. However, also remember to stay true to your mission, even if it means losing some potential funding. 

Crowdsource Funding

Crowdsource fundraising refers to the use of online tools to garner support such as Kickstarter, Crowdrise, and others.  Currently, CAF HQ uses crowdsourcing to raise funds for the annual 12 Planes of Christmas campaign. If a unit wishes to develop a separate crowdsource fundraising initiative, such activities must be pre-approved by Headquarters in order to prevent inadvertent competition among the CAF. If you wish to discuss a crowdsource project with HQ, please contact the Development office and provide:

  • A plan

  • A project with a particular story-line

  • A specific fundraising goal

  • A fundraising timeline (most effective crowdsource funding initiatives have a 30-60 day duration)


Grants are sources of funding that come from foundations, family trusts, organizations, and sometimes corporations. They usually require a proposal or application in order to receive funding. Grants should be pursued for larger, long-term projects, not immediate needs because grant seeking is a long process. To learn more about the grant process, visit the Grant Seeking page under Fundraising Basics. 

Corporate Funding

Corporations gave over $21 billion to charity in 2019, accounting for just shy of 5% of all giving. The most common form of corporate giving is employee gift matching programs, through which companies match charitable donations made by their workers up to a pre-determined amount. It is estimated that annually $5 billion is donated through corporate gift matching programs. A staggering $4-7 billion in matching gift funds go unclaimed each year because many workers don't realize that their companies have such programs. 

This is especially true of Fortune 500 companies where 65% of companies offer gift matching programs, but the median employee participation rate is only 9%. Check with your employers about such opportunities and ask your members and donors to do the same! 

The Restoration Grant Fund

The Restoration Grant Fund is the CAF matching gift program, through which units raise money and then apply to receive a matching gift from the CAF for aircraft restoration. Since it was established in 2008, more than $1 million dollars has accomplished $2 million dollars worth of work. The goal of the program is to help get aircraft back in the air faster. 

Currently, the majority of money for the Restoration Grant Fund comes from the 12 Planes of Christmas campaign, a holiday giving program each December that highlights 12 airplanes in the CAF's fleet in need of restoration. Through this program, donors can either direct their donation to a specific aircraft or to the restoration fund for distribution among the airplanes in need of restoration. 

To learn more about the Restoration Grant Fund or the 12 Planes of Christmas campaign, please contact the Development Office. 

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