26 General Fundraising Ideas – Step-by-Step Guide



Fundraising Ideas to Generate More Revenue for Your School or Nonprofit

Fundraising ideas generate new revenue streams for your school or nonprofit, and serve those who need it the most in our communities. It would be impossible to list the endless types of fundraisers and fund raising ideas available today. There’s certainly no shortage of them. Many can easily generate enough interest to bring in paying patrons looking for some simple entertainment or who are there, specifically, to financially support your cause through their generous donations.

Several organizations offer specific, specialized opportunities for groups to raise money through donating items in which donors may receive payment for their items at a fraction of the retail price or may donate them outright. One idea that fits into this category is the donation of sports equipment to help support a local children’s after-school program. Another example is the donation of cell phones. Support shelters, such as battered women shelters or halfway houses, can then convert the phones for use by those involved in their program or residing in their shelter.

Food drives are another great way to raise donations. They’re especially helpful for poverty-stricken community who benefit from free meals and groceries. Check with local churches or grocery stores for sponsorship of a food drive.

Auctions are another wonderful way to raise money for your charity. Whether you hold them locally or online, you can easily accept many different types of donations from willing contributors, such as vacation packages, services from local businesses, antiques, other items, free meals, and the list goes on.

Direct item sales, such as t-shirts, food treats, hats, tea towels, candles, catalog sales, and other like-items generate revenue fast.  The only issue with such items is the need for money to purchase the items. However, with catalog sales or online auctions you can have people place and pay for their orders initially, and use that money to then fulfill and deliver orders to recipients, keeping the profits for your charity.

Who doesn’t love a great meal? Using food to raise money is always a terrific way to boost donations. Charitable banquets or dinners are one way to accomplish this. You can also opt to hold a relaxed meal, such as a buffet-style meal, pizza party, public breakfast, barbeque, baked potato dinner, or other food-related event, in which you can invite the local community or select group of people to attend. Simply charge a small participation fee at the door and welcome your guests.

You can also raise a ton of money by hosting a special activity in your area. Gather your group and put on a local charitable dance or game night. Carnivals, tent events, contests, and games are all ideas that the public will love. Providing a needed service for a donation, such as a car or dog wash, house cleaning, window washing, or other service is something that can also easily be put together with a few volunteers willing to offer their time and energy.

Here are some more specific ideas you can use for your next fundraiser.

Bake Sale

A wonderful way to raise money and involve your local community is to put on a bake sale. Find volunteers and friends who will donate cookies, cakes, brownies, and other goodies and charge a dollar to participate in a cake walk and/or other activities where people can win baked goods. As these events occur, also have tables open for people to purchase baked goods.

Beach Party

Rent and decorate a swimming pool so that it looks like a tropical beach. Have fun water games and set up booths that provide refreshing beverages and snack items. Charge an admittance fee that includes entrance and participation in games.

Beauty Day

Charge your female supporters admission or tickets to a day of pampering. Women can get together and enjoy a relaxing atmosphere where they can try on perfumes, get a makeover, have their nails done, and so forth.

Bingo Night

Set up a bingo night where everyone who participates pays a fee to join in on the fun or purchases as many bingo cards as they’d like. Offers prizes to bingo winners. You can also offer snacks and beverages for purchase, along with some light entertainment to spruce things up.

Car Wash

All you need for a car wash fundraiser are some sponges, buckets, soap, water, and a bit of gusto and enthusiasm. A sign helps, too. Before you get started, though, settle on a price. What you charge should depend on how much work you do. If you’re only giving cars a quick exterior wash, you’d charge less than if you were willing to also vacuum and wipe down the interiors. If you offer more than one service, have different prices for those services.

Charitable Auction

Hosting an auction for charity is a popular fundraising technique. Advertise that you’re looking for items that people will donate to the auction. Remember to give auction winners and those who donate items a receipt so they can write off their donations on their taxes. This will help increase donations and participation. Make sure you comply to all local, state, and federal regulations.

Charity Sports Run

Get people to sign up for a charitable sports run or other sporting event. Have participants get people to donate a certain amount of money per mile or make a one-time donation.

Clean Up

Offer clean up services to local businesses for a fee. Some businesses might need to have parking lot trash removed and swept, need their signs washed, or have leaves blown or raked. Businesses can write off your services for tax purposes. You can also go door to door and offer these types of services to residents. A small crew of people can do these jobs quickly while raising plenty of money for your charity.

Coffee and Donuts for All

Set up a coffee and doughnut stand in the early morning hours in a high traffic area. Put up some information about your fundraising campaign along with a sign. People can purchase hot coffee and tasty doughnuts, and you keep the proceeds for your non profit. You can also offer a short coffee and doughnut menu to local businesses and have volunteers or group members take phone orders from employees at these different businesses. Volunteers can then deliver the orders and collect the money. This in something you can do repeatedly, constantly bringing in donations.

Community Fasting

Ask people to give up sweets or other junk food or even a couple of meals a week. Have them donate the money they would’ve spent on those items to your charity.

Costume Ball

This is a great event for holidays, especially Halloween or New Year’s Eve. Hold a dance where people dress in costumes and charge admission at the door. You can also hold contests for best costume, funniest costume, scariest costume, and so forth to make it more interesting.

Dance Off

Ask family, friends, and neighbors to pledge money for every hour you or one of your volunteers can dance. You can also use this for a walk, where donators pledge per mile walked. It can also apply for bike-a-thons or other events.

Dinner for a Week

Get local restaurants to donate dinners or be willing to prepare and deliver meals to a lucky winner. Raffle off free dinners for a week and charge people to enter the raffle. The winner receives free dinners for a week and you raise money for your non profit.

Game Night Competition

Add a little competition and entertainment to your event by throwing a game night party. Everyone who enters can play video games, board games, and other games to compete for prizes. You can charge a small entry fee to get in, such as $5 per head, and even charge for sodas and snacks or other items, if you’d like. Offering some interesting prizes and fun entertainment can bring in a ton of donations. Create a simple flyer or newspaper ad to promote your event locally.

Game Show Fundraiser

Host a game show type of event in which you and your group set up a space that resembles a television game show. Charge a small entry fee for participation. Contestants play games or answer trivia questions until there is a winner. You can also set this up as a tournament where people compete in rounds. Each winner goes to the next round until you reach two final contestants. Then, do a special final round to see who will win the overall competition. Offer winners and runners-up fun prizes.

If you want to throw this type of fundraiser at work, church, or school, create a display board with game questions and answer sheets available for a small donation. Place your display in a well-traveled area where people will see it and can pick up their game sheets. You can do this every day for a week or two. Participants place their answer sheet in a drop box located at the display.

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Now back to the sheets…collect the sheets daily and tally the scores. Each day, announce the winner or announce the names of every contestant who answered every question correctly (should you have a tie) and do a prize drawing over the intercom for that day’s winner. Do this every day, with new game show quizzes, for as long as you wish.

Haunted House

This is a brilliant fundraiser, especially around Halloween. Ask around to try to get a business or individual to donate a space where you can hold a haunted house. With a little imagination and the right tools, you can also set something like this up in a wooded or other outdoor area. Find volunteers who are willing to dress up in scary costumes and/or work as a ticket taker, equipment operator, or can perform some other necessary task. Charge at the door and let partakers have the time of their life! Also, if you want to really rake in some donations, this is an event that can be done several nights a week or every weekend, throughout an entire month.

Holiday Banquet

You can throw this great event during any and every holiday. Set up a place where you can invite the public (or do an “invite only”) to partake in a breakfast, lunch, or dinner hosted by your nonprofit or charity. You and some friends or volunteers can prepare a simple, tasty meal or you can hire a restaurant to cater the meal. Charge a reasonable entrance fee per person. Make sure you advertise or send out invitations ahead of time and have people make a reservation so you can have a good estimate of how many people will attend. Put on some music or offer some easy forms of entertainment to spice things up.

Hot Air Balloon Launch

First, you’ll need to find a hot air balloon club that would like to feature their balloon for your occasion. If you can’t find someone with a hot air balloon you can use, try to find someone with a small plane or other small aircraft. Next, find an appropriate area to hold the event and make sure you comply with any local regulations regarding the drop of postcards. We recommend that you advertise that you have a clean up crew to pick up the postcards that don’t get an owner.

Promote your event via local radio stations, newspapers, and flyers. Supporters pay $1 for every postage-paid postcard they want to send out into the air. On these cards, they write their name and a short message asking the finder to return the card. Gather all the cards from your supporters and give them to the balloon or aircraft pilot. When the pilot goes up, he or she will start throwing the cards out into the sky. Make sure all cards are addressed with the address in which finders should mail the cards.

The person whose card returns that has gone the farthest distance by a specific date wins a prize. During this event, you could also hold a raffle for a free hot air balloon ride.

Be sure to clean up any left over postcards.

Karaoke Night

Have a great time hosting a karaoke night for charity. You can purchase a karaoke machine or rent one from a local DJ and have fun for hours. Charge $5 a head to get in and you can even hold singing competitions!

Neighborhood Yard Sale

Get neighbors to hold a community yard sale for your charity in which they donate a percentage or all of their sales to your organization.

Pajama Day

Several variations to this work wonderfully, such as having “crazy hat day” or “ugliest tie” day, etc. This is a great way to raise money at schools, work places, and so forth. Charge fifty cents or a dollar on a designated day where everyone who pays gets to wear their pajamas (or whatever you’ve decided to make it all about) to school, work, etc. Then, have a few contests for “cutest PJs” or “strangest hat” to keep it fun and get people excited.

Pirate’s Bounty

Find a place to hold a treasure chest fundraiser. Fill up a large chest with secret prizes, which have been donated to or purchased by your group. Put a lock on the chest. Sell keys that won’t work, as well as the one key that will successfully open the chest. On the day of the event, allow everyone to line up and try his or her key on the lock. Alternatively, you can sell cutout keys with each one having a special raffle type number on it. On the day of the drawing, announce the winning number and let the winner collect the chest.

Poetry Reading

Ask your local café if you can hold a poetry reading. You can also do this in someone’s home, at a park, or other location. Participants can share their poetry as you pass a hat around to collect donations.

Public Auction

Ask businesses, family, friends, and others to donate skills or items that can be put up for auction. For example, restaurants could donate a free meal or a maid service could donate a free home cleaning. Teachers could donate a tutoring session or teenagers could offer one free night of babysitting. Be imaginative!

Rat Race

You can hold this unique event at school, work place, or another venue. Create or set up a special “race track” in which contestants can place rats, mice, or other creatures at the starting line to hold a fun rodent race. Find out the cost for rats or mice at your local pet store. Use this price to help your determine the price you should charge for your race entry fee. Have contestants sign up ahead of time so you know exactly how many rodents you’ll need for the races. Offer prizes to winners and a nice block of cheese to winning rodents.

Yard Sale

Go through your attic and closets, pull out those things you don’t use anymore, and have a yard sale. If you want to go even further, get friends, family, and neighbors to donate items, too. Let people know that you’re trying to raise money for a good cause. If you want to take it a step further, have a mobile rummage sale or trunk sale. Travel through your community offering your items for sale.

You can even go high-tech and combine your yard sale with our auction software. Simply ask local businesses, friends and family to to donate items for your cause, then use our online charity auction software to display the yard sale items. Once you are ready, email to invite all friends, family and group members to the charity auction yard sale. You would be amazed at how high some of the bids can go!

Questions about an online auction? Call or email today.

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