When Fire Chief Elliott Neeper was looking for a new website for the Lawrence Township Fire Company, he came across First Arriving and realized it would be the solution to their problems. The department was using a generic, create-your-own website template and was struggling to be found online and to increase their fundraising efforts.
The new website incorporated new means of fundraising and both were immediately successful. The progressive Five of Hearts jackpot brought increased traffic to the newly established website. “Our first jackpot that we gave away for the Five of Hearts was approximately $67,000,” Neeper said. “The website has allowed us to fundraise with little to no overhead. In Pennsylvania we have a manpower problem. This new website has allowed us to have events that support our day-to-day operations.”
Funding has continually increased from the launch of the new website to the present day. Neeper said gross sales have been close to $650,000. “We are constantly updating the homepage so when people come to the website, they see what we are about, what kind of incidents we handle, and then right on the homepage there is a link that they can go to the raffles. The Five of Hearts draws them in. We are close to $70,000 right now for the payout on the jackpot, so for $6 you can buy a ticket and put it in a tumbler and you could be selected when it reaches $70,000. For six dollars, everybody is going to get on that.”
“When COVID hit, we were looking for a way to fundraise because Pennsylvania had shut everything down and large crowds were not allowed,” Neeper said. “We did a lasagna dinner fundraiser baked in the firehouse and offered to the public as a carryout meal. It was a $12 dinner and we made like $3,000 which was good, but it took a lot of work and time to put together everything.”
“I reached out to First Arriving and had a conversation for like an hour and a half about what I wanted, and they hooked us up with the link for the shop location and showed me how to do everything,” Neeper said. “We started putting things on this site and we set up a merchant account through our local bank and LinkedIn.” The success of the new raffle saw a good profit and helped the fire department get its name and fundraising efforts out to the public.
The fundraising is necessary to keep them running, Neeper said, because their municipality does not pay for their electricity, water and gas. “The only thing they pay for is the upkeep of the trucks and some fuel,” he said. “We are responsible for keeping the lights on in the house and taking care of everything. Now I can do a raffle on the website, and it takes three people at the most. I do not need 15 to 20 people to host an event. An online raffle can make an average of $8,000 to $10,000. With the Five of Hearts we make close to $5,000 a week.”
Following the success of their new website and online fundraising strategies, the department plans to look to First Arriving for future solutions, as well. “We just chatted it out, and I told them what we wanted, and what you see on our website is what it has been from the beginning with First Arriving,” Neeper said. “We are looking to do a refresh here in the next couple of months. First Arriving has been so great to us, we will stay with them for the refresh too.”