Where did you get this idea? I was inspired by the 2003 movie Calendar Girls, in which a group of women pose nude to raise money to redo the lounge in a hospital. I went to our philanthropy director and asked her, "Why don’t we do a calendar like that for our benevolent-care fund?"
What is the benevolent-care fund? The fund's purpose is to help our neighbors here in financial distress who can no longer pay for their home and their care. We've seen an increasing need with the current economy, and it's a cause that's very close to my heart. I know what extended stays in health care facilities can do to you financially, and I hope the fund is there if I ever need it.
How did you wrangle the models? I didn't have to strong-arm anybody or make any hard sells. I recruited several ladies from my water aerobics class. At our first planning meeting, we had 24 volunteers. I ended up using 16 models -- April and August each have two models; October has three. The women were just great. Some were a little shy when they first came to the photo shoot, but our photographer put them at ease.
How did the shoot actually work? Someone donated two rolls of surgical tape, and we used props, so we weren't completely naked. We picked venues around campus that showed our lifestyles and how we were different. We didn't want to show women playing bridge, so our April shot is of women playing pool.
What were your costs? We spent $3.55 per calendar on printing and mailing. All of the prep work and camera work was done by volunteers. The only other expense was the chocolate cake we used for our December photo, which I got for $35. When the photo shoot was over, we went across the hall and ate the cake.
You hope to raise $50,000. Does that seem doable? We printed 5,000 calendars and are selling them in our community and on Amazon. If we sell them all, we should be able to exceed that amount. I would love to make $100,000. That's my dream goal.
What's the reaction been like? We've had a lot of attention from the media. At last count, we'd sold more than 2,000 copies, or more than 40% of our inventory. We're delighted.
This article first appeared in Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine. For more help with your personal finances and investments, please subscribe to the magazine. It might be the best investment you ever make.