LIFESTYLE

Raising funds can be a ‘laughing matter’

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Funny 4 Funds’ new secret fundraising strategy ranks right up there with Area 51, Kentucky Fried Chicken’s recipe and the Coca Cola formula. The difference is that Bill Simas and Mike Murray, founders and owners of Funny 4 Funds, are willing to share their secret with clients.

Funny 4 Funds just finished their first year of business, and the partners were brainstorming different ways to better help their customers, when they came up with this secret only a few weeks ago. Simas and Murray claim that those clients, who have implemented the new strategy, raise nearly $3,000 before any ticket sales.

In the past year, even before their new strategy, Funny 4 Funds has hosted 115 90-minute comedy shows, helping to collectively raise more than $600,000 for various efforts. Customers pay a one time overhead fee for the show, and Simas and Murray then work with them throughout the fundraising process.

In October alone they performed 32 shows. After a year of business they are starting to get repeat customers and even opened their first franchise in Connecticut with comedian Brad Axelrod.

The comedy fundraisers average around $5,000, but final totals have been increasing throughout the year and the duo saw their largest this past weekend, at $33,710 for Laughs for Leo.

If this trend continues both Simas and Murray believe they will hit the $1 million mark sometime in the early spring.

Although Funny 4 Funds is not raising the money directly, their services provide customers with the “vehicle of a comedy show” to host fundraisers. Both Simas and Murray also work with clients to talk about ways to “maximize fundraising efforts.”

Murray said he and Simas are much more than just comedians. They act as consultants, advisors to make sure each of their clients can go the “extra mile” in their efforts.

“Even though 99.9 percent of the time clients are overwhelmingly thrilled with the final product, we will beat each other up on how we can improve for the next show. We pride ourselves on that,” Murray said.

Simas said, “We do so much more than just show up and tell some jokes. You won’t find any two people that can out passion us. We are emotionally invested in every show.”

Simas and Murray do every sort of show from a little league team raising money for new uniforms to transplant patients hoping to offset some of their medical expenses.

For the comedic duo Funny 4 Funds means so much more than the money they are helping to raise, but the comfort and laughter they are providing for a family, or for a community that may be suffering.

“When the community comes together, especially for a sad cause, we can bring them laughter,” Murray said. “There is nothing better than providing a few hours for people to forget about it all. That’s the power of laughter and that’s why we do it.”

Form very young ages, Simas and Murray were proponents of “paying it forward” and believe if you had the ability to give back, to help others you were responsible to do so.

Simas was a child of divorce and quickly learned to use comedy as a way of keeping both sides of his family happy and learned that he was at his happiest when he could make people laugh.

Despite, having to grow up handicapped, due to hearing loss, Murray always felt lucky to have a strong support system of family and friends by his side. He knew if he was ever in a position to do the same for others he would.

Even before Funny 4 Funds Simas and Murray were using their talents as comedians to help host fundraisers. Murray approached Simas last year saying that if they “combined forces we could create a monster.”

“I think at the beginning we didn’t understand what was really happening,” Simas said “This has become so much more than we originally thought it would. We’ve really changed what it means to host a fundraiser.”

“We are still coming to grips with how invested people are with us and appreciate us. We are inspiring people,” Murray said.

He added that there are no plans to stop, or slow down with Funny 4 Funds, rather they, “are endlessly looking for ways to improve and provide better for any cause that comes along.”

With their new top-secret strategy they both hope their new clients will continue to raise larger amounts.

While implementing their secret, the comedians hope to grow their business in the next year, possibly adding more franchises that will follow their brand and model as well as acquire a secondary trailer to be able to do more shows per night right her in Rhode Island; Currently they can do 4 a night between the set up and break down of each site.

Most importantly, Simas and Murray hope to give back to the community of comedians in New England by offering more opportunities for them to perform with Funny 4 Funds as the business grows.

Alongside Funny 4 Funds, both Murray and Simas are working on their personal careers as comedians.

This December they will be performing at the Odeum theatre in East Greenwich, a show they hope to sell out. They will be filming the show professional for clips they can send to various talent shows and national gigs.

“We remind each other to never stop promoting selves don’t give up on your dreams,” Murray said.

The two have an agreement though that if one gets famous the other gets to tag along.

No matter what may happen with their personal careers, Simas and Murray said Funny 4 Funds is their foundation and will continue to grow alongside the business.

“We get a thrill from helping people,” Simas said. “Now, we don’t book shows we book moments. We couldn’t be happier with the success we have seen.”

For more information on Funny 4 Funds visit their Facebook page or their website at, www.funny4funds.com.

For more information on their December show or to purchase tickets visit www.theodeum.org.

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