Fundraising 101 Heading link
A student organization can have a great idea for a fundraiser, but unless the planners execute it well, they won’t get the results they hope for or need. The following are some common fundraising best practices.
Steps for Fundraising Heading link
1. Create a plan
Student organizations need to have a roadmap of what they’re going to do and when they’re going to do it. Failing to hash out the details of a fundraiser will leave a student organization disorganized, in chaos with no clear idea of how all the pieces of the event/program should fall into place.
2. Create deadlines
Busy students who are helping with a fundraiser in their spare time need to know when tasks should be completed. Event leaders must set up a firm schedule for everyone involved to ensure each task is completed.
3. Have a realistic goal
When planning a fundraiser, organizers may have high hopes about how much money they can bring in. Although it’s great to be optimistic and enthusiastic about what the student organization can achieve, people still need to look at the results of past fundraising efforts to help set realistic goals.
4. Have strong leadership
Although the fundraiser is a group effort, there needs to be strong leadership in place to take the reins and make sure things get done and on time. Students working on the event will have times when they need guidance, so a leadership team should be in place to provide that support.
5. Train your volunteers
People who help with fundraisers may not have experience asking strangers for money, so it’s important for the leadership team to train them on how to make a pitch for the event to get people to show up and open their wallets.
6. Identify prospective large donors
During a fundraising campaign, it’s important for a student organization to determine who is likely to give a large donation and focus outreach toward that group. For example, a sorority or fraternity should reach out to alumni who are members of their organization, because they have a personal connection to it.
7. Identify new donors
Although a student organization may have tried and true donors it can go to each time there’s a fundraiser, students shouldn’t rely only on those people. It’s important to always look for new, potential donors that may be interested in helping the student organization, otherwise the donor pool won’t be able to grow.
8. Be direct
Some people don’t feel comfortable asking for money, and as a result, they may not make it clear what they’re trying to accomplish. While it’s a mistake to be too pushy when asking for money, not being direct will make a group lose opportunities to raise the funds they need.
9. Communicate with donors regularly
Student groups should be in touch with past and potential donors on a regular basis to let them know what’s going on with the organization. Notify donors about how their contribution helped, so they will feel like it’s worthwhile for them to donate again.
10. Explain why funds are needed
People like giving — if they are giving for a good reason. When approaching donors, campus student organizations should explicitly spell out the fundraiser’s purpose and where the money is going.
11. Highlight the donate button
If the organization has a website that promotes its fundraisers, the donate button should be front and center on the site — and operational. Hiding the button will frustrate potential donors and possibly cause them to spend their money elsewhere. Similarly, a donate button that doesn’t work is just as good as not having one at all.
12. Use diverse strategies
Campus student organizations that do fundraisers every year should avoid doing the same kind of event annually. Although one type of fundraiser may have been successful in the past, if it gets stale, there will be a decline in donations. It’s best to revitalize fundraising efforts each year to keep people excited about contributing.
13. Ask using multiple platforms
During a fundraising campaign, it’s not enough to just contact prospective donors one time. It’s important for a group to follow up to maximize the results. Also, donors should be contacted on multiple channels, such as snail mail, email and social media.
12. Use social media in the right way
Social media is a great way to reach potential donors and publicize an event. However, some people may be tempted to set up an auto direct message asking for donations when people follow them. Since social media users are already bombarded with automatic messages, many of which are solicitations, when they follow someone new, this can make them less likely to help — and can even turn them off to an organization completely.
13. Keep track of the numbers
Event organizers need to know how their event did in terms of funds and attendance. Not keeping track of how each fundraiser performed means your group misses out on valuable information that can be used to plan future events.
14. Thank donors
Student organizations must build a relationship with their donors to have successful fundraisers each year. Part of this is remembering to thank them for coming to the event and being generous with their time and money.
ABC’s of Student Organization Fundraising
Apply for a grant: Apply for University funding.
Art Sale: Have local artists donate some of their works, which will be displayed and then sold to the public.
Auction: Have individuals, groups and businesses donate goods and services. Be creative in what you can auction off and make certain that the goods and services are sold at reasonable prices.
Babysitting during PTA meetings, Open House, Meet the Teacher Night (contact the local secondary schools to arrange this service).
Babysitting during worship services
Babysitting Evening – promote as great time for parents to have alone time!
Bag groceries: Ask a local grocery store if you can bag people’s groceries for donations. Be certain to put up a sign saying what the money supports.
Balloon Pop: Before filling a balloon with air or helium, put a note inside. Have a certain number of the notes worth a prize. Have people buy balloons and pop them in the hope of getting the prize. Be sure to pick up the broken balloons afterwards.
Band and choir concerts: Ask a Juniata band to donate their time by performing a benefit concert for your cause. Charge admission for the event.
Battle of the Bands: Gather some bands from your local community. Book a venue and advertise with posters, flyers, and radio announcements. Hold a mini concert in which the audience chooses the winning band.
Beat the Goalie: Pick the best hockey or soccer goalie you know and invite people to try to score a goal for a prize. Every participant has to pay to play.
Bench-a-thon: Have people bench press weights in the school gym and collect pledges for every pound they lift. Make sure all participants have spotters.
Bingo: Host a bingo night at a local hall, place of worship, or school.
Boat Race: Organize a model boat race on a body of water. Charge a participant/spectator entrance fee. The winner of the race gets a prize.
Book (used book) Sale: Ask all your friends, relatives, and teachers to donate their old books. Advertise your book sale by means of posters and flyers. Set up a table and sell books. If there are leftovers, you can always give them to a needy library, shelter, or school.
Bowling: Organize a bowling night or a competition. Charge everyone a small fee to enter or have participants get bowl-a-thon pledges.
Breakfast in Bed: Clubs provide breakfast in bed for participants
Cake Walk: Auction off cakes.
Calendar Sale: Create a calendar highlighting the projects and members of your organization, and sell it to students and their family members.
Call Burger King or McDonalds and arrange a benefit night where your organization gets a cut of the night’s profit.
Car Wash: With a group of friends, set up a car wash in the parking lot of your school, church, or public area. (Be sure to ask for permission and make sure that people are careful of moving cars).
Carnival day: Host a mini carnival, with games, prizes and popcorn, in a local park or your own backyard. Charge admission and/or a small fee to play games.
Charity Ball: Hire a DJ or a band, rent a hall, advertise, and sell tickets for a dance.
Classic Car Show: Organize a classic automobile show. Invite people to attend and to bring their cars by placing ads in local newspapers, leaving flyers at local businesses, and charging people to come and see the show.
Clearing Snow: Shovel snow from people’s driveways and walkways in the winter months for a donation.
Comedy Hour: Host a comedy skit during lunch at your school and charge people to attend.
Concession Stand: Purchase products at Sam’s Club and get in a high visibility, high traffic, high demand spot. Perhaps at major event!
Coupon Sale: Have coupon books donated by local businesses, and then sell them to students and adults. You can also contact Sheetz.
Craft Sale: Make all the crafts yourself and sell them.
Day of Community Service: Gather together a group of friends, and contact a number of organizations for which you would be interested in volunteering. Then have people sponsor you to do community service for 24 hours.
Debate Evening: Research a number of debate issues and invite various community members to debate issues. Charge the audience to come and watch. The issues can be fun.
December: Gift-wrapping service.
Dog Show: Invite faculty and staff to show off their dogs in a show. Make it a competition that people pay to enter, and offer a prize for the best groomed dog, most- and least-obedient dog, and so on.
Dress-down day: Charge faculty and administrators who wants to participate. Make certain that you ask permission of Human Resources, first.
Duck Race: Sell numbered plastic ducks. Set all the ducks afloat in a race on a river. The person who bought the duck that wins the race gets a prize.
Eating Marathon: Have a pie eating, hot-dog eating, or ice cream-eating contest. You can charge people to participate or to watch, or you can make all participants obtain pledges.
Family Barbecue: Host a family barbecue with games and activities.
February: Sell red carnations for Valentine’s Day.
Flower Show: Invite gardeners from your community to enter their flowers in a competition for a prize. Ask volunteer experts to be judges and charge all participants and spectators a fee.
Food Fast: Get together with a group of friends, gather pledges, and fast for a full 24 hours.
Fruit Stand: Get permission to go to local farms and pick fruit to sell. Sell the produce in high-traffic areas or at community festivals.
Game Show: Recreate one or more of your favorite game shows and charge contestants a small entrance fee. Sell tickets to the audience.
Gardening: Tend the garden of a neighbor, a local store, or community park for a donation.
Gourmet Cooking School: Hold a cooking class and charge an entrance fee.
Guess the age of your teacher: Organize an event in which students pay to guess the age of your teacher. Obtain approval from your teacher first, however.
Hold a Theme Party: Decide on a fun theme. Charge an entrance fee, but be sure to explain to people what their cover charge is going towards.
Hoopla: The competitor throws hoops over prizes. The person whose hoop completely lands over the prize gets to keep the award. Make sure you do not spend too much money on prizes.
Holiday Ornament Sale: Sell ornaments during the holiday season.
Hug-a-gram: Advertise a hug for a dollar. Have people buy a hug for a friend. After a member of your group gives the hug to the designated person, give them a small card with a message from the person who sent the hug. (You could do the same idea, but have the Juniata College Eagle give the hugs).
International Dinner: Have people from various ethnic origins cook traditional foods, and then charge admission to an international dinner.
Jellybean count: Fill a jar with jellybeans and have people pay to guess how many there are in the jar.
June: Father’s Day sale
Karaoke: Rent a karaoke machine, sell tickets or charge an admission fee, and sing all night.
Kilometers of Coins: Gather donations of coins (pennies, dimes, or quarters) and lay them side-by-side until they stretch out to be a kilometer long. Alternatively, surround your gym, library, or parking lot with the coins.
Lemonade Stand: Make lemonade, post signs, and sell it on a hot day.
May: Mother’s Day sale.
Miniature Golf: Build a nine-hole miniature golf course at your school, featuring ramps, water and sand traps, and other obstacles. Charge people to play a round during lunch.
Monopoly Match: Have a group of students play a Monopoly tournament with the winner receiving a prize.
Nacho Party: Plan a morning to make nachos and popcorn, which can be sold during lunch.
October: Halloween party; pumpkin sales; Thanksgiving turkey raffle.
Pancake Breakfast: Some companies will offer the equipment for free; others will give you the product necessary to make the pancakes. Hold first day of hunting season or cold winter day!
Perform a free service for donations: Rake leaves, shovel snow, take care of a pet. When offering your service, ask the person who benefited from your actions for a donation toward your worthy cause.
Piñata Contest: Charge a fee to have each blindfold person have one turn at trying to break a candy-filled piñata.
Pitch-a-thon: Rent a radar gun and measure how fast people can throw a baseball or kick a soccer ball. Charge $1 per try and give a prize to the fastest individual.
Plant Sale: Organize a plant sale with plants donated by local nurseries.
Plant Trees: Ask a nursery for seeding donations and then get people to sponsor a tree.
Pledges: Gather pledges to have dance-a-thons, rock-a-thons, or any other type of endurance contest you can think of.
Pumpkin-decorating Contest: Around Halloween, hold a pumpkin-decorating contest among different grades of homerooms.
Puppet Show: Make puppets with socks, felt and other craft materials. Pick out or write a story. Set a date, time, and location. Advertise with flyers and posters. Sell tickets in advance and at the door. Advertise to the local elementary school and day care facilities.
Recipe Book: Gather together favorite recipes and put them together in a book. Sell the book through your school, sports organization, or community center. Try to get the photocopying donated by local businesses.
Scavenger Hunt: Set a route and make a list of items that the participants need to find in order to win. Advertise your scavenger hunt well and charge everyone a small fee to participate. The winning person/group gets a prize.
Sell buttons or t-shirts displaying your logo.
Sell candy, cards, etc.: Work with reputable businesses that provide merchandise you can sell. Be sure at least half of the money raised goes to your cause.
September: Back-to-School supplies sale.
Singing Telegrams: Hopefully with someone who has a great voice!
Skip-a-thon (row-a-thon, see-saw-a-thon): Choose a date, create pledge forms, and advertise. Have participants gather donations or pledges using their pledge forms, then participate in the activity.
Spaghetti Dinner: Prepare a great dinner for students or community members and charge a fee.
Spelling Bee, Trivial Pursuit, Checkers, Scrabble, Twister: Have participants and spectators pay to participate and the winner receives a prize. You cannot charge admission for Poker Games as that would violate Gambling Policies.
Sports Tournament/Fitness Competition: Organize a sports tournament or fitness competition. Advertise well and charge spectators to come and watch groups compete. You may need to have medical personnel on hand.
Submarine Sandwich Sale.
Swim-a-thon: Get sponsors for the number of laps you swim.
Talent Auction: Auction off the talents of people. For instance, great singers offer to sing at a wedding, party, or special event.
Three-on-Three Basketball Tournament: Organize a basketball tournament in your school with the winning team receiving a prize. This can also be done with soccer, tennis, badminton, volleyball, or any other sport.
Toy Sale: Hold a toy sale. The best season for this is just prior to Christmas.
Triathlon: Set a course of running, cycling, and swimming. Have participants get pledges to compete to win prizes.
Tutor students at the local schools.
Ugly tie, worst hair-do, best mismatched outfit: Have the students come to an event, dinner, or a sports game where the vote will take place. Provide a price to the winner.
Videos: Make and sell How-To videos; for example, how to improve your golf swing, or how to make crafts.
Walk Dogs: Love pets? Try walking dogs every day for a fee.
Walk-a-thon: Choose a date and a route, make up some pledge forms, and advertise with posters. Have participants gather donations or pledges using their pledge forms.
Winter carnival or bazaar: Hold a winter carnival or bazaar. Invite students, staff, and the community. Charge admission and/or a small fee to play games.
Some ideas to get you started thinking about how to raise money and do so creatively. This list was generated prior to COVID-19.
24 Hour Baseball Match
The Brooklyn Cyclones minor league baseball team front office staff played baseball for 24 straight hours in an effort to raise money and awareness for local Brooklyn food shelters. The Cyclones took on teams of fans from five to 85 years old, consisting of the Borough President’s office, T-ballers, circus clowns, Coney Island freaks, The Old Boys of Summer, and more. Participating teams were asked to make donations, with all proceeds from the event going to Reaching Out Community Services, Inc. and Coney Island’s Salt and Sea Mission Church, Inc. Fans were also asked to make a donation to the cause. The idea for 24 hours of baseball was born in a winter meeting focusing on ways to generate attention that would help the ballpark’s immediate surrounding community
For a donation to support the Bowers Beach Fire Company in Bowers Beach, Delaware, teams participate in the annual Canoe Joust. The canoes don’t exactly evoke the image of a charging steed – they glide a little hesitantly toward each other – but in a short time, the foes are within striking distance. A jouster must cleanly hit their opponent straight on; no swinging is allowed. While the jousters try to keep their balance atop their mid-canoe platform, the two paddlers on each team maneuver the boats around. Team members must wear helmets and life jackets.
Best seat in the House
First, find a sofa to use. This fundraising raiser involves raffling off tickets for a student and two friends to win the best seat in the house. Tickets are sold throughout the week prior to a game. Before a volleyball, basketball, or football game announce the winner. The winner gets to sit on the sofa with two of his or her friends. Make sure the sofa is in an ideal spot to view the game. For halftime, order pizza and sodas for the winner and guests.
Night Golf Tournament
Add a special twist to a golf tournament, and hold a night golf outing. Instead of playing golf during the day, participants will play in the evening. To setup a night golf outing you use special glow golf balls that use glow sticks to illuminate them, and use various different glow sticks to outline certain holes you wish to play. Increase the excitement and have special contests with prizes for the participants, such as best decorated golf cart, golf bag, and outfit. If you don’t want to bother with the trouble of setting up a night golf tournament you can also have a night golf hole-in-one-contest. Choose a par 3 hole, and have people pay for a chance to win a donated prize. There’s nothing more exciting than watching glowing golf balls flying through the air at night, unbelievable sight.
Purchase 10 pink plastic flamingos (lawn decorations). Pick 10 yards in your community to be the lucky recipients. Attach cards to the flamingoes’ necks with a phone number along with all the pertinent information regarding your group. State that for a $10 donation, the flamingos will be removed but for $15 they will be moved to the lawn of their choice. Make sure you also place a sign that has a contact name and phone number among the flamingos for those who drive by and would like to have the flamingos placed in a friends yard. (Also give the option to simply pick up the flamingo gratis, since some people have no sense of fun.) It takes some organization, but is lots of fun. An additional fundraising idea is to sell “Pink Flamingo Insurance” for $10 to protect yourself from the invasion of these pink pests.
Scrabble is all about being fluent in the language and coming up with words that might be worth a lot of points. People have fun coming up with strange and exotic words no one else has thought of. Teams of four, six, or eight gather at different tables, each with a Scrabble board and all the letters available. Each team starts with the same opening word, and has 20 minutes to fill the board with high-scoring words. A judge sits at each table. Individuals pay $35 to participate. Players can sneak a peek at a dictionary for an additional $10 donation. Make extra fundraising money selling refreshments, auction, etc.
We have a monthly fundraising event that both the kids and adults have really gotten into. We host Karaoke nights. Admission is $5 per person and our parent guild supplies the punch and snacks for the evening. Sometimes we hold a competition and sometimes it’s just a free for all. The machine is rented from a local DJ along with a library of 5000 songs for about $100 per night. We normally raise $500 to $600 in an evening and have a great time doing it!
Keep the designs simple for obvious reasons. It is often helpful to also have the face-painting fundraising volunteers paint their faces beforehand so there are some real life examples of the faces. This is a great way to practice before paying customers get there and a good bonding experience for the volunteers.
The normal charge averages about $2.00 but you need to decide what is appropriate for your target group.
Lazy Boy Day
We ran Lazy-Boy Day for a fun activity and a way to raise some money. We set up a Lazy Boy chair in the cafeteria at lunch on Monday to Thursday, and sold tickets for 25 cents each. On Thursday, just before the end of school, we drew the winner’s name. That person got to spend all of their classes on Friday from the comfort of the Lazy Boy chair. Student council members brought the chair to the winner’s first period class and at the end of first period, student council members moved it to their next period class. It was a great way to raise a little money and have some fun at the same time. I’ve heard of schools where you get to keep the chair at the end of the day, but we just used an old chair from somebody’s basement.
Here is a novel fundraising idea for your organization or project. It works particularly well if you normally have several labor intensive, or product sales type fundraisers during the year. Instead of having several small fundraising projects, determine your total fundraising needs and sell “Fund-raiser Insurance”. For $25.00 (or whatever per capita figure you need to raise), a person gets a certificate and wallet sized card that states that they are insured from all fundraising activities for 6 months, or whatever period chosen. (If you are a school or other children’s group, determine the necessary amount per family.) If the person so wishes, they can purchase a policy for a year for $50.00 (or other appropriate multiple amount). Give your members a break by allowing them to simply purchase insurance for the required amount and save the hassle of dealing with multiple fundraisers.
Eight hundred and eighty students, approximately 11% of the regular diners, skipped a meal around the University of Massachusetts campus as a fundraiser to benefit the victims of the tsunami disaster in Southeast Asia. The event occurred at all UMass dining commons and local retail outlets. The price of the meal skipped along with the price of the food that was not produced because of the reduction in students eating at the dining halls, was donated to OxFam, who will use much of the money to provide vaccinations for tsunami victims.
This is a great fundraiser for high school students, but could be used with other groups. Have a competition within the different classes in the school (senior, junior, sophomore, freshmen) to see who has the most school spirit. Each class has two colors that their paper chain consists of. Sell each strip of paper for 25 or 50 cents. Keep the chains hidden and then at an assembly have class representatives bring out the huge paper chains that have accumulated over time. Whichever class’ chain is the longest receives bragging rights for the rest of the school year. This is a great activity to do right before homecoming or other school functions when school spirit is high. The only thing you have to pay for is the paper and staples/glue/tape.
Shower with Flowers
The South Shore Junior Women’s Club of New Jersey has an ongoing fundraising event similar to the flamingo flocking. Our symbol is the daisy, so we use flowers instead of flamingos, we like to use the term “Shower with Flowers”. We scatter 40-60 brightly colored flower pinwheels throughout the front lawn of various homes. We started with club members initially but it didn’t take long before we were “Showering” outside of our small group of women. We just stared this fundraiser this July and we have been averaging one home per week. We recently ordered more flowers and have begun an additional committee. Our system is much like the flamingo flocking. We charge a $5.00 donation for simply removing the flowers, $10.00 to remove and select someone to send them to next, and $15.00 to remove, resend, and find out who sent them to you. Most people choose the $15.00 option. This has been our most enjoyable and successful long-running fundraising idea, so far.
Our group can make money prior to Halloween selling “Goblin Insurance” as a fundraising project. Here’s how it works. Using a computer and a printer you print up special Halloween Insurance Policies. You charge $5 per residence policy and $15 per business policy. Here’s the good part. You keep all the money! Your group agrees to clean up any Halloween mess – soaped windows, etc. made during Halloween night. You do not agree to repair vandalized items – broken windows – blown up mailboxes, etc. Most people will think it’s a clever idea and will donate $5. Sell a couple hundred and you have yourself $1000. Your expense will be the cost of ink and a ream of paper.
This works well for groups of people who know each other e.g. schools, church, social clubs. Sell red (love), pink (like) and white (friendship) bows with a message. Use card stock (business card size) for personalized and anonymous messages attach desired color of bow with pin – we sold them for $1.00 each, raised over $350 in 4 hours. Each person can “send” as many messages as they want and the recipients get to wear the bows. Great for the ego! How to do it : 1. Have the sender write their name (if they want to); the recipient’s name; brief message and attach bow. 2) The organizers of the event distribute all bows and messages (i.e. cupid) 3) Recipient receives bow and message, wears bow, keeps message.
Get in touch with a store or mall in your area and ask about setting up a gift-wrapping fundraising booth for their customers for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and/or Christmas. Just like regular gift wrapping stations, you can charge different amounts for different levels of wrapping. You will need to invest in boxes, tape, wrapping paper, and bows. You can either accept donations, or charge a fee per gift (depending on size, etc.). Usually the store will let you make announcements advertising your booth over their intercom while you are there gift-wrapping. Make sure you have enough people on hand to staff the booth during times advertised.
Have a fundraising pumpkin festival in November with pumpkins for the children to paint. Cover a table with newspaper (tape it down with masking tape so it stays covered). Set out liquid tempera paints, paintbrushes and plastic yogurt containers filled with water for rinsing the brushes. Let the kids paint goofy or creepy faces on the pumpkins. Add in pumpkin baked goods including a pumpkin pie bake-off. Serve pumpkin pie along with hot beverages, raffles and other complementary activities. The result is fun and fundraising!