college fundraising ideas

Before you dive into these 16 fundraising ideas for college, we thought it would be handy for you to know the six steps to accomplish before selecting your fundraising niche.

STEP ONE: Assemble Your Committee

college students in running gear entering a large canvas tent to register for an Alzheimer's fundraising relay race

The first thing you need to do for your college fundraiser is set up a fundraising committee within your group. Then, ask interested members to volunteer their time, effort, resources, and commitment to fundraising.

Discuss everyone’s resources and abilities to see who would fit well in which roles, such as marketing, organization, decoration, design, and other promotional roles. Keep everyone’s talents in mind as you move forward.

STEP TWO: Adhere to a Budget

What is your group’s fundraising budget? What free resources are available? Now is the time to determine precisely what your group can afford to spend to set up a fundraising activity and what resources will be freely available to your group when needed.

Once you’ve determined these things, you can start brainstorming different affordable ways to host a college fundraiser that realistically falls within your means.

STEP THREE: Brainstorm Fundraising Ideas for Your College/University

The best college fundraising events are not just fun but are affordable. Come up with an affordable event that will excite the audience you are trying to reach. If most of your donations come from other students, then target your efforts toward activities in which they will be interested. If your target audience is the local community, or alumni, come up with something appealing to them.

Keep your fundraiser short and straightforward. Students are generally busy with their studies, social life, and groups, so run a fundraiser that gives them something of value and does not take up much of anyone’s time.

If you’re a college student who likes gaming on Twitch, click here to learn how to make money on Twitch for your organization.

woman gaming using three monitors sitting at desk

STEP FOUR: Establish a Plan

Get your group together and organize every step of your event. Consider what everything will cost, who will perform different steps, and when and where you’ll get supplies. Then, make sure you’ve accounted for everything you’ll need.

Now, set a fundraiser team date on which all your members will be available. Finally, start gathering materials, creating decorations, developing flyers or online campaign advertisements, and preparing for your event.

STEP FIVE: Spread the Word

Publicize your college fundraiser in advance. Generate excitement about your event, letting people know when and where it will take place, the online location if it is virtual, and why your group is trying to raise money. Please point out any particular aspehighlight, highlighting exciting points or how donors will benefit from supporting your fundraising efforts.

Remember this about potential donors: don’t hesitate to ask for donations because, in general, people like to help others.

woman speaking into megaphone to a crowd

STEP SIX: Triple Check

Make sure everything is in place and ready on your event’s day.

  • Do you have change for customers paying cash for goods or services?
  • Are you in a high-traffic area and noticeable to passersby?
  • Do you have all the necessary products, supplies, order sheets, or other items?

Do not forget to thank every contributor generously for their large or small donation. Always be courteous to your donors and let them know their support is essential to your group and its goals.

Two pieces of sage fundraising advice >>> Please read!

No matter what type of fundraising idea you choose, these two points are good to know and may save your proverbial rear on fundraiser day!

1. Always verify company and product information when working with any wholesaler or fundraising company that may offer products for your event.

2. Get permission for your fundraiser—you can start at  Student Services or the Campus Activity Board. If they’re not the correct liaison, they’ll direct you to the appropriate agency. And be sure to submit your completed paperwork before the deadline! We can tell you that we’ve had a few students do all the necessary paperwork to create a terrific fundraiser, and on the day of the event, it was closed down due to a lack of proper signed paperwork.

16 Fundraising Ideas for College Students

1. Donation Jar


Let’s start with one of the more straightforward fundraising ideas. Ask businesses to sponsor your event by allowing you to set up a donation jar at their place of business. Then, place them in several local stores—the more, the merrier—remember your math classes! Collect your donations once a week or more until your group has reached its fundraising goal.

2. Barbecue


Cookouts and barbecues are always excellent for students on the run or a casual dinner event. Hold the event at your sorority/fraternity house or other college location and charge an admittance or per plate fee to those who attend. Ask other students or members of your group to help by donating utensils, food items, and other necessities.

3. College Dance


Throw a themed dance or party for students in which they pay an admission fee to get in the door. The primary focus of your fundraising event is the music, so make sure to find a reliable volunteer DJ on campus or play mixed CDs. The more variety, the better!

4. Sports Competition for Fundraising

college-fundraising-sports-fundraising-sports competition

Sports competitions are great college fundraisers. Sign up for other fraternities or sororities to participate against yours in different sports competitions on campus, such as beach volleyball. Charge an admission fee, and have all your favorite snacks and drinks available for sale. 

5. Direct Sales


Direct sales is another one of the more robust fundraising ideas for college. Direct sales is a technique that can earn plenty of money for your college fundraiser. Remember, if you’re selling goods to consumers, you may need to keep your inventory (that you paid for upfront) in a safe location. Some distributors will “float” the goods to you with a payback within a week of the fundraiser’s close, so you don’t have to have the money upfront.

If you do not have the budget to purchase products upfront, your group can opt to go the route of catalog sales. Potential donors can browse a catalog of different items and complete the order form. Buyers make their payment at the time of their order. You then fulfill the orders with the company that provides the catalog and items for sale, paying the wholesale price and retaining the profits for your group.

6. Food Sales


Food to hungry college students is an easy way to reach their hearts and pocketbooks. There is a variety of ways to accomplish this. For example, selling hot dogs, chips, pizza slices, and other easy-to-serve items during lunch hours is a possible way to earn donations fast.

You could also have an ice cream social or sell beverages or snow cones on hot days or hot cocoa or coffee on cold ones to students, faculty, and others passing by during lunch. Reach out to your community tContacto donate food items for your fundraising event. Explain the purpose of it and offer free publicity for their restaurant or other business.


7. Gaming Marathon


Fundraising through gaming is a creative and effective method of fundraising. First, decide on the marathon length. Depending on your fundraising goal, it can range from a few hours to a 24-hour-long gaming session.

Then, choose exciting games, like wild variations on bingo or trivia games, or set up a casino night. Be creative and make it as fun and enjoyable as possible. Charge an entry fee to participate. You can have prizes donated before the event or purchase them yourself for winners of different games. You could also start tournaments, like Twister, darts, ping pong, or another competition with ribbons or prizes.

8. Online Auctions


Another way to meet your college fundraising goals is through internet sales. You can host online auctions or set up a particular web page for your fundraising products. Send students to your link (URL) and let them know why it is essential that your group raises the money it needs. Offer affordable products that suit the tastes of the average college student, and you will surely draw their interest. 

There are plenty of wholesalers on the internet today, so search for companies that offer the types of merchandise you are looking for at the right prices and that don’t require a minimum purchase. Some companies will drop ship the items directly to your customers for you with no extra fees.

Your fraternity, sorority, or group could also generate some campus buzz, creating a Yard Sale Auction. Ask local businesses, friends, and family to donate items for your cause, then use our online charity auction software to display the yard sale items. Once you are ready, have everyone email and invite their friends and family to the charity auction yard sale. You would be amazed at how high some of the bids can go!

9. Pie or Water Balloon Throwing Contest


Get the most popular members of your college group (elected student government position holders are ideal) to volunteer to have pies or water balloons thrown at them for prizes. Students purchase tickets for each throw they want to take at the favorite volunteer of their choice. You can even paint a bull’s eye on the volunteers, and whoever hits the bull’s eye gets a ribbon or other small prize. Make it hilarious and find good volunteers that campus students recognize.

10. Table Game Tournament


Set up a pool, air hockey, or other table game tournament. Students pay a fee to compete against other students. Students can also donate to bet on who they think will win. Each winner moves to the next round until you are down to the finals, where one winner will take the overall prize.

11. Raffle


Selling raffle tickets for a special raffle event is also an excellent way to raise money for college groups. Most people are willing to spend a dollar on a game of chance in which they might win a prize. You can keep your costs down by accepting donated items or services that can be given away as prizes.

You can also try to get local businesses to participate by selling tickets in their stores. Offer to promote their company name in your flyers and other materials, letting people know they are sponsoring your event. This is a great way to get the community involved and spread the word quickly about your event. Moreover, it markets the participating businesses, giving them good, free publicity, which is advantageous to their business and gives them a great reason to support your efforts.

12. School Spirit Sale


Sell school apparel, like sweatshirts, t-shirts, hats, and other items featuring your school’s mascot. This is a great way to raise money while also boosting school pride, especially during sporting events. Can you borrow the mascot’s suit and wear it around to sell the apparel on campus?

13. Theme Movie Night


Get everyone together for a special movie night with a particular theme, such as “horror movie night.” You can even spice it up by having people dress up like their favorite horror movie characters and offer prizes for “best costume.” You can also sell beverages, popcorn, and other snacks to bring in even more money when implementing this fundraising idea.

14. Tutoring Service


Raise money while helping your classmates! Do this by getting a team of students together, each student has an affinity for a certain discipline—like Ed is great at algebra and Sally’s jam is chemistry. College students who need assistance with classes or disciplines we offer. Advertise it on bulletin boards and in dorms around the school.

Keep the tutoring service going all semester to continue fundraising all semester.

15. Washes


Now, we have all heard about charity car washes. Why not step it up a notch by offering other types of washes, too, such as dog washes, window washes, bike washes, etc.? This is an inexpensive way .to set up a fundraiser. Make it fun and have a great time—and people will come!

16. Photo Contest


Love to take pics? Selfies?
We often see students walking around campus taking selfies or posing for pictures with their friends. So hosting a photo contest on a college campus, where 99% of students have a smartphone with a camera practically fastened to their bodies, makes it a fundraising no-brainer. Announce the deadline to submit images and an email address where they can send the photos, along with their name and phone number.

You can make the contest themed. For example, during Halloween, have a spooky face theme. Or when students are studying for finals, have a study-tip-themed contest.

Once students have sent in their photos, display them in a central location and have students vote with their dollars. If there is a campus newspaper or online edition, they may work with you to promote it AND provide the backdrop to display all the images entered. Run the contest for a week or two, then announce the winners. Give really good prizes and have the student newspaper cover the event with a reporter and a photographer. In addition, the newspaper can cover the event and put the winner in the paper or online edition.

Ready to hone your fundraising chops by using one or more of these helpful college fundraising ideas? Whatever you decide to do, we wish you all the best in your fundraising efforts.

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