college students in dorm room brainstorming fundraising ideas


It’s never early to get started with fundraising. Let’s be honest, your intentions and your desire to make a change are what matter when organizing a charity auction. In fact, our fundraising ideas for college will prove to you that you can even set up a successful charity auction from a dorm room.

Ready to encourage students, professors, and parents to raise donations for a good cause but don’t know where to start? Then, our college fundraising ideas may offer you the inspiration.  We’ll go through everything you need to think of in order to run a successful fundraiser on campus

How to Set Up A College Fundraiser in 7 Steps

You may not need a lavish event to meet your fundraising goal, but you do need an airtight plan and a dedicated team. After all, your creative fundraising ideas will only materialize if you have the right people by your side. (Group projects, hello!)

These 7 steps might seem difficult unless you have a supportive team. This is exactly why the first step is assembling the committee.

Moreover, mobile bidding software like ours can make planning and running your college fundraiser even easier. You can try CharityAuctionsToday and see for yourself. 

That being said, keep reading to find out the other steps you need to follow for a successful fundraising campaign.

1. Assemble Your Committee

Increase your fundraising success by assembling a hard-working and excited committee within your group. 

For this to work, you need to discuss everyone’s resources and abilities to see who would fit well in different areas, such as marketing, decoration, advertisement, and more. Keep everyone’s skills in mind as you move forward and form teams.

2. Adhere to A Budget

Before you set up a fundraiser, you need to ask yourself some questions such as:

  • What is your group’s fundraising budget? 
  • What free resources are available? 
  • Are there any local businesses you could collaborate with?

After all, if you don’t determine precisely what your group can afford to spend, how will you know what fundraising activities you can set up? While you don’t need a lot of resources to organize a fundraiser and raise money, you totally need to establish your budget at the beginning of the process.

Once you’ve determined your budget, you can start brainstorming different affordable ways to host a college fundraiser.

3. Brainstorm Event Ideas

College fundraising events are supposed to be fun, so come up with an affordable fundraising event that will excite the audience you are trying to reach

For example, if most of your donations will come from students, then you should focus on setting up activities in which they will be interested. Keep in mind, however, that, in this case, your fundraiser should be short and straightforward. College students are generally busy with their studies and social life, so it would be best if you ran a fundraiser that gave them something of value while also not taking up a lot of their time. 

On the other hand, if your target audience is the local community you should come up with something that is more family-friendly and appeals to community members of all ages.

We’ve collected fundraising ideas below, so read on.

4. Establish A Plan

Get your group together and organize every step of your next fundraising event. Here are some questions you should take into account:

  • How much will everything cost?
  • Who will perform different necessary steps?
  • When and where will you get the required supplies?
  • Will there be an entry fee? If yes, how much will it be? 

Keep in mind that you are working with a team, so make sure you set a fundraiser date on which all of your members will be available. 

Since a successful event is a well-planned one, this stage is crucial. Include all the activities you have to conduct in your plan. From gathering materials to creating decorations, or developing online campaign advertisements, you need to set a date for all the necessary steps and establish who will be in charge.

5. Spread The Word

What better way to generate excitement about your event than by publicizing your college fundraiser in advance? 

Here is some information you should include while advertising the fundraiser:

  • Date and time
  • Location (address or virtual)
  • Which cause your group is raising money for

It would also help if you highlighted exciting points about it or mentioned how donors would benefit from supporting your fundraising efforts. You should also leverage any social media platforms where the school’s supporters are active.

Want to discover more ways to spread the word about your college fundraiser? Then, you might find our article on the most effective ways to get publicity for your event useful. 

6. Triple Check

On the day of your event, make sure everything is in place and ready.

  • Do you have enough change for customers paying cash for goods or services?
  • Are you in a high-traffic area and noticeable to passers-by?
  • Do you have all the necessary products, order sheets, and items you might need?

Do not forget to thank all the contributors generously for their donations, no matter how small or large they might have been. Always be courteous to your donors and let them know their support is essential to your group and its goals. 

Guidelines to Keep in Mind 

No matter what type of fundraising ideas for colleges you choose, you need to remember these essential points if you want to set up a successful and engaging event

  • Always verify company and product information when attempting to work with any wholesaler or fundraising company that may offer products for your event.
  • Check with your college’s dean or school administration beforehand to get permission for your fundraiser
  • Fill out any necessary paperwork.

Top 15 Fundraising Ideas for College

From sports competitions to themed movie nights or online auctions… we have some exciting yet easy fundraising ideas that will get students excited.  

This might surprise you, but the most effective fundraisers are not the most extravagant ones, but the ones that engage students and community members. After all, charity auctions are not just about raising funds but also about bringing the community together. People will remember the people they met and interacted with—everything else is just in support of facilitating a space where people can meet and bond.

So, here are the 15 college fundraising ideas that are not only efficient but also wholesome. 

1. Live and Online Auction

A great 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 group’s fundraising products. Direct students to your link 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 require no minimums. Some companies will even drop-ship the items directly to your customers for you with no extra fees. 

Check out CharityAuctionsToday to see if your group qualifies for some unique, free programs we have available, such as online auction hosting. Your college group could also generate some campus buzz by 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. 

Nonetheless, for a college audience, a live and online auction would work better if combined with other college-related events. For instance, you could auction tickets to the next sports competition or a special table at the college dance.

2. Barbecue at a Dorm (or Frat/Sorority House)

Cookouts and barbecues are always excellent for students. After all, what college student will say no to a home-cooked meal? To make the fundraising event more appealing, you can collaborate with the campus food service or a local restaurant

You can hold the event at your college location like a fraternity or sorority house and charge a per plate or admission fee to those who attend.

Moreover, in case you decide to go for an online auction, you could still auction a home-cooked meal or barbecue ingredients.

3. College Dance

What better way to raise money at university than by throwing a dance for students and asking them to pay a small entry fee? The primary focus of your fundraising event is going to be the music, so make sure to find a reliable volunteer DJ on campus… The wider the music variety, the better.

In fact, to make this fundraising idea more fun, you could set up a themed dance or a silent disco. This way, your event would be different from a regular college party and would therefore attract more people. 

While you could sell tickets at the door, you could also auction the dance tickets at an online auction. 

4. Sports Competition

Sports competitions are great college fundraisers. Think about it, not only will you have fun, but you will also raise money while playing sports and enjoying yourself. It’s no wonder this is one of the best fraternity fundraising ideas. 

Invite students to participate in different sports competitions on campus such as beach volleyball or basketball. Then, on the day of the event, you can charge an entry fee and provide snacks and beverages attendees can purchase. However, as previously mentioned, you could also offer the sport competition tickets during an online auction. 

If you lack inspiration, check out our tips for organizing a sports fundraiser

5. Gaming Marathon

This creative yet fun fundraising method is a student favorite.

First, you need to decide on the marathon length. It can range anywhere from a few hours to a 24-hour-long gaming session depending on your fundraising goal. Then, choose exciting games to play; be creative and make it as fun and interesting as possible.

You could also start tournaments, like air hockey, ping pong, or even a video game tournament. The students will pay a small entrance fee to compete against other students. In fact, students can also donate to bet on whom they think will win. Each winner moves to the next round until they are down to the finals where one winner will take the overall prize.

6. Theme Movie Night

This is one of our favorite fraternity or sorority fundraising ideas. 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”.

Moreover, you can sell beverages and themed movie night snacks to bring in even more money when implementing this fundraising idea.

That being said, you could also set up a “movie night” gift basket with Netflix gift cards and gourmet snacks and auction it during a live and online auction. This way, students can enjoy movies from the comfort of their own dorm rooms.

7. Tutoring Service

One of our favorite fundraising ideas, the tutoring service enables you to raise money while also helping other students. You can do this by offering tutoring services for payment from younger students that need assistance with their studies.

You can advertise your services on bulletin boards and in dorms around the school.

8. Bake Sale

Offering homemade baked goodies to hungry college students is an easy way to their hearts and their pockets. Bake sales are a great way to raise funds, especially among students as most of them would buy cookies or muffins anyway, but this way they are also helping a good cause. 

That being said, think of all the sorority or frat houses that most probably share food. Wouldn’t it be a better option to just auction the baked goods for delivery so that everyone in a sorority or frat house can enjoy them? 

9. Raffle

Selling raffle tickets is 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 on your flyers, letting people know that they are sponsoring your event. This is a great way to get the community involved and spread the word quickly about your event. 

10. School Spirit Sale

From sweatshirts to notebooks or hats, these are just a few school apparel items you could sell. This is a great way to raise money while also boosting school pride, especially during sporting events.

Having said that, it would probably be better to auction university memorabilia during an online auction prior to sporting events so that on the big day, students can represent the college.

11. Washes

We have all heard about charity car washes, so why not step it up a notch by offering other types of washes, too, such as dog washes, window washes, bike washes, and so forth?

This is a very inexpensive way to set up a fundraiser. Make it fun by also playing music and offering snacks, and people will definitely attend. It’s also a great sorority or fraternity fundraising idea as you can organize a wash with your housemates and raise funds for a good cause.

12. Donation Jar

A classic fundraising idea. Ask businesses to sponsor your event by allowing you to set up a donation jar at their place of business. Place them in several local stores. Collect your donations once a week or more until your group has reached its fundraising goal.

13. Used Textbooks

There are plenty of college students who are strapped for cash and college textbooks are not exactly cheap. 

Do some research on the internet to search for companies that offer used books for sale individually for these types of purposes. You can buy these used textbooks at discounted prices, and then resell them on campus or online, helping students save a great deal of money on books while also earning money for your group. 

Moreover, you could also set up an online auction for used textbooks and then deliver them. 

14. Campus Photo Contest

Photography is a favorite activity of most smartphone users nowadays, so this fundraising idea is a no-brainer. Announce the deadline to submit images and give students an email address that they can use to send in their images. You can even make the contest themed. For example, during Halloween, you can have a spooky photo contest or a study-themed contest during finals week. 

Once students have sent in their pictures, display them in a central location and other students pay a small amount to vote for their favorite image. This way, you can meet your fundraising goal and the winner of the contest can receive more recognition for his or her art. 

15. Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

This is a great fundraising idea as it does not require effort, and it also gets the community involved

Student volunteers can set up their own fundraising pages and then encourage their network to financially contribute. Moreover, this is another one of our favorite fraternity or sorority 

Raise Money from Your College Dorm

You don’t need loads of resources to throw a successful fundraiser event, but you do need inspiration. We hope that these college fundraising ideas prove useful to you and that you will get the chance to implement them in the school year to come.

In fact, meeting your fundraising goal from your college dorm becomes even easier with CharityAuctionsToday. Want to build your auction in minutes? Then, try creating a demo in no more than 3 minutes. fundraising idea

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