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The Ultimate Fundraising Guide

The Ultimate Guide to Fundraising Ideas

Nonprofit organizations such as charities, schools, and specific group-cause campaigns depend on the money they raise to serve their movement. Orchestrating unique ideas every year, and sometimes seasons, can come as a challenge to even the most creative groups. Before you launch into planning mode for those infusions of cash, you first must determine what generates the most interest from your audience and tailor your ideas in a way that are unique to your organization or event. The goal is to procure enthusiasm and excitement from donors and volunteers.

Dive into DiscountMugs Ultimate Guide to Fundraising Ideas and lookout for useful hints that can help you all the way to success.

1. Product Fundraising

Product fundraising ideas involve the sale of specific items (either your own or someone else’s). The “product” can be anything from lollipops to t-shirts, and your organization benefits when you allot a percentage of the profits to the cause.

Tip: It’s often best if your items of choice are related to your organization or cause in some way. You’ll want to speak directly to your audience and encourage them to make a purchase.


2. Fun Run

A fun run, also known as a walkathon or jogathon, is a great way to get the community involved. Now more than ever children and adults alike can benefit for the physical activity and for the most part these sorts of events tend to be family-friendly and enticing – think foam and color runs, for example.

All participating in the run should make a set donation but may be encouraged to pledge a certain amount per lap or mile completed. Be aggressive when promoting the event for maximum turnout, and don’t leave any detail like music and snacks for the last minute.

Tip: Offer event t-shirts for participants to encourage early signup and guarantee attendance.

Fun Run Idea_Fundraising Idea


3. Raffle

Whether you’re after fundraising ideas for small groups or large-scale organizations, raffles are one of the most common choices around. However, don’t underestimate the turnout – everybody loves a good raffle.

Tip: Try and secure several donated prizes and invest in a few big ones to reduce the cost out of your own pocket. Call on your bigshot contacts and enlist your team to reach out local businesses who may be willing to help.


4. Cook-off

There’s always a good time for a cook-off and they can be easily adapted to fit your fundraising event. Make the rules as relaxed or as complex as you deem necessary, but make sure you set a deadline for enrollment. Cooking utensils may pose as a hazard for both participants and guests, and you want every detail to be accounted.

A favorite dish may be selected by a panel. Event guests must pay an entrance fee, and perhaps even vote in cash. The dish with the most dollars wins! The winning chef receives a prize and bragging rights of course.


5. Silent Auction

If you can secure big ticket prizes from local businesses, a silent auction can be an effective way to raise funds. Set up each prize with a minimum starting bid as well as a form in which guests can write their bids.

Tip: A variety of websites host online silent auctions. This alternative can be helpful if you’re a little strapped for cash and need to save on things like a venue. Make sure to promote your online event across the appropriate channels to ensure maximum turnout.


6. Bingo Night

Bingo nights are great social events and can bring in big bucks for your charity or group. Get a local celebrity to host as the night’s caller, and they’ll double as a big draw for your event. There usually is a charge per card, and you should encourage guests to purchase more than one to help increase their winning chances.

Tip: Other fundraising elements like the sale of refreshments or a raffle can be added to your bingo night for a bigger impact.

Bingo Night Idea_Fundraising Idea


7. Car Wash

A car wash isn’t the right choice for all, but for many it can be an easy way to bring in a good amount of money in a few hours’ time.

All you need to succeed is a good location, well-made signage, and hard workers who aren’t afraid to get wet. You can offer donation buckets for people who may not have time to stop but could put some money in your bucket while they’re stopped at the corner.

Tip: You may also sell refreshments for people to enjoy while they wait for their car.

8. Sports Tournament

Sporting tournaments are attractive ideas to a wide variety of people. For the less athletic, try something a bowling tournament at the local lanes or a children’s putting competition at the local golf course. You may charge a participating fee and award the winner a trophy to ensure your cause receives most of the funds raised.

Tip: Recruit sponsors to account for t-shirts, wristbands  or event programs.


9. Carnival

A carnival is a great way to get lots of people involved and make some money at the same time. Carnivals include a variety of events such as booths and games and may receive tickets for payment.

Tip: Sell tickets ahead of time (possibly at a discount price) to help generate more excitement about your big day.


10. Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is one the preferred fundraising methods these days. It only requires you create a profile page for your cause at your preferred website and use your social media channels to generate traffic to your funding page. Notably, a good strategy for nonprofit organizations.

Tip: Create a video to help donors understand your cause or write a descriptive introduction. The idea is to raise money through smaller donations from a larger group of people.

Crowdfunding Idea_Fundraising Idea


11. Fundraising Market

Fundraising markets are fun and unique. You must first run a drive to gather used clothes, toys, and other household items, and later resell such items at a lower price. A lot like a garage sale, it helps if you classify all items before the sale and set a minimum price value.

Tip: Contact local retailers and encourage them to participate. They may rent your space for a price!

12. Bake Sale

Have a bake sale where everyone gets to decorate their own confections and give a prize to the winner.


13. Gift-in-a-Jar sale

Mason jar gifts which include desserts, chili, soup or other snacks are really popular. Take orders for the jars and then deliver them to people with a thank you note for supporting your cause.


14. Sell Chores or Run an ‘Auction’

You can run an auction of sorts where individuals are bid-on in exchange for simple chores. The winning bidder can then use said individuals to complete tasks like yard work, babysitting, dog walking, reorganizing a closet, washing a car and other simple chores. You could also have people sell coupons for their services.

Sell Chores Idea_Fundraising Idea


15. Promote Your Cause at School Games

If your local school has a big athletic program, especially football, there may be an opportunity to raise funds for your cause at a game. Here are some ideas:

  • Make food and/or serve drinks. Preorder custom printed koozies or to use while serving to promote your organization, cause or message.
  • Run the concession stand at the game wearing printed cotton t-shirts with your cause moto, event date, or logo.
  • Use the same social media hashtags your school uses during big games to get the word out about your campaign.
  • Get a picture with the mascot to share on your social media channels.
  • Work with the school’s athletic department and create a ‘Fan Getaway Package’ which includes tickets to a big game. You could even try to secure a meet and greet with the coach or players.
  • Sell customized products such as sunglasses, water bottles, snacks or ball caps with your logo on them.


How to Run a Great Fundraising Campaign

Prepare, prepare, prepare!

One of the most important factors in a successful fundraising event is the preparation. As the saying goes, "if you fail to prepare, you should prepare to fail," and that’s absolutely true of fundraising. Consider who your audience is and how you can promote your cause. It’s important that you have a clear and achievable fundraising goal, including a deadline as it’s a great motivator for both fundraisers and donors. You may want to break up your team into smaller groups of committees to manage different parts of the event such as decorations, food and beverages and donations.

Set Milestones

You can also make a deadline work for you by breaking it down into different goals. For example, The University of New Hampshire used the alumni office’s phone number to set milestones (1-603-862-1234). When they received the 1st, 603rd, 862nd  and 1234th donation, they celebrated by giving a prize to a random donor.  Maybe a local donor or company will match funds if you reach a milestone? You can also make the incentives a bit quirky and fun.

For example, if you reach a certain dollar amount, a high profile person in your group may cover popular song and share it across social channels to create a buzz. This tactic usually has great success when fundraising for college organizations.

Create a buzz

Call your local newspaper as they might want to write a story on your efforts, or you may want to take out an ad that is simple and to the point. You can also generate interest by placing posters or flyers in strategic places.

However, printed flyers and posters are an expense which thanks to social media is no longer needed. Use social media platforms to create a profile, share event date, updates and photos. Get your followers to share your content - you’ll reach far more people than you think.

Create a Buzz Tip_Fundraising Ideas

Offer sponsorship opportunities

If you can get a local company on board as a sponsor you can minimize expenses and increase donations. Corporate sponsors can be thanked for their contribution with a poster or sign which gives them some promotion and raises money at the same time. Some companies may not be able to give cash but could offer free use of equipment or facilities.

Work as a team

The most successful fundraising projects are the result of a team effort. By bringing together a group of people with diverse skills, experience and ideas you can get the best from everyone. Make sure you take everyone’s ideas into consideration and give everyone a role so they have a sense of ownership, and celebrate all of your achievements.

Build anticipation

Before your event you can build up an atmosphere of anticipation by handing out invitations or incentives. Small and inexpensive giveaways like pens or pencils are a great way to remind others that an event is coming up. They also make great thank-you gifts for individuals who donate time or resources.

Manage your budget closely

Keeping expenses to a minimum is absolutely essential in a fundraising project, so it makes sense to put someone in charge of overseeing the budget for the team so they have complete visibility. Find someone who is good with figures – ideally someone with accounting experience – and they may be able to help you shave unnecessary costs with cheap fundraising ideas.

Manage Your Budget_Fundraising Ideas

Focus on larger events

Rather than running lots of small fundraising events throughout the year, it may be more effective and efficient to focus on one or two larger events. Small events which don’t require much organization such as bake sales are great to run now and again.

Use donated prizes

Very few people will pass up the opportunity to win big, so if you persuade a donor to contribute a big ticket item to your event you’re more likely to excite your attendees. When you have a prize in place, create a contest which every entry has an equal chance of winning. Find out who in your team has connections in the community or is best placed to contact local businesses to secure donations, sponsorship or to provide space for the event.

Go For It!

No matter what you do to hit your fundraising goals, remember to always have fun! There are so many ideas, but it’s best to decide as a group what the best options are to meet your goals, and get to work! It will be worth it in the end.

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About the Author Roxana Clares

Roxana Clares is a product specialist and content marketing manager for DiscountMugs. She is passionate about content creation that adds value and creative insight to an online audience, and believes in the importance of data to improve content marketing strategies. Roxana is the author of the DiscountMugs blog series.

Roxana Clares