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17 Fundraising Ideas to Raise More Money


We get it: a smart repertoire of fundraising ideas is hard to come by despite its importance to success. With that in mind, here is our carefully curated list of 17 tips and tricks on how to make your next fundraiser more successful – we picked them up along the way from people like you!

Boy holds bake sale as fundraising idea

Revive old school favorites

Okay, we know. Since the dawn of ages, everyone and their mom has had a bake sale to raise money. But the simplicity of this fundraiser idea is what’s helped it withstand time. A unique twist on this classic will set you apart. Here are our suggestions:

  1. Don’t generalize. The quickest way to be overlooked is to have a run-of-the-mill bake sale. Try specializing in one specific product, and give your sale a compelling tagline. A great example of the bake sale model done right is Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for cancer. Four-year-old Alex Scott had the right idea specializing in lemonade and making her cause explicit.
  2. Get foot traffic. Organize your sale around a larger event if you can, like a sports game or a carnival. But don’t count on strangers to make your sale a success. Make sure you promote the heck out of it with old-school flyers and more modern social media campaigns. Drawing a crowd of supporters will attract even more people to your sale.

Hosting a yard sale is another tried and true fundraising technique that gets a bad rap for being “boring.” But what’s old can be new again, as long as you’re willing to have fun with it. Take it from us:

  1. Know your audience. Take a good, long look at the stuff you’re planning to sell and build a profile of your ideal customer. Selling a bunch of grandma’s sweaters and old china sets? Maybe you’re catering to an older, more conservative crowd. Got some old video games and rock and roll records mixed in with that? Arty 20-somethings love garage sales, so maybe they’re who you’re trying to reach.
  2. Get some help from your friends. Once you have an idea for the “theme” of your sale, ask friends to donate any items they want to get rid of that would fit in. Collaborating makes for a killer selection of items, which will attract more buyers.
  3. Advertise appropriately… and aggressively. The way you’ll advertise will depend on the audience you’re trying to reach. Make interesting flyers that complement the type of sale you’re having and put them all over town, but especially in neighborhoods where your key audience is. Advertise a number of things you’ll be selling to give people an idea of your selection. Cover all your bases by hitting up social networks and making e-vites.
  4. Pay attention to detail. On the day of your sale, make sure your garage/yard is a place people will enjoy spending time. Play some music, provide beverages and above all, make sure your merchandise is well-organized. There’s nothing worse than sifting through a pile of junk with no apparent order. Clearly label the stuff you’re selling and make sure it’s all easy to access.

Want to transport this classic to the 21st century? Check out our post about online garage sales!

Don’t be afraid to be goofy

Fundraiser ideas don’t have to be stiff. Fun and humor are great ways to connect with people and make money for your cause. So let that personality shine through in your fundraising with these ideas for inspiration!

  1. Rewards. Give donors an unconventional reward for their donation. One of our favorite examples of this method is Jorts4Jay. Jay’s brother-in-law sent donors a photo of himself wearing jean shorts (AKA jorts) each time they gave $50, helping raise $15,000 to fight Jay’s cancer.
  2. Set silly mini-goals. Similar to rewards, setting a mini-goal that goes with a punishment for the organizer will help motivate people to donate. If you’re just starting with a goal of $5,000, you can boost donations by saying you’ll shave your head when you hit your mini-goal of $2,000.
  3. Protection. With protection, people have to donate to protect themselves from something they don’t want to happen. Scary as it might sound, you can get really creative with the punishments, as exemplified by the many purple toilet campaigns sprouting up around the country to fight cancer. When a purple “Flush Away Cancer” toilet appeared on a neighbor’s front lawn, he or she had to donate $15 to have it removed, $20 to have it placed on someone else’s lawn and $25 to buy “toilet insurance,” ensuring the toilet would no longer appear on his or her lawn.

Get physical

Organize a something-a-thon. Not a marathon runner? That’s no reason to shy away from physical feats as potential ways to raise money. Physical challenges are a great way to rally donors behind your cause, and can work for you no matter your level of physical fitness.
Girl gets sponsors to climb mountain as fundraiser idea

  1. Play to your strengths. If you’re a hiker, set a goal to climb a steep mountain and get sponsors to back you by donating to your cause.
  2. Get inventive. Have a weird talent like holding your breath or drawing with your feet? Have sponsors donate $1 for every 10 seconds you hold your breath or pay $5 for each foot portrait you make them.

Play the numbers game

Using numbers strategically can help motivate people to donate to your cause, and don’t worry, you don’t have to be a math whiz to do it. Here are a couple clever ways we’ve seen numbers used in fundraisers:

  1. Take advantage of significant dates. Use birthdays and surgery dates as reasons to donate – for example, if the birthday of the person you’re raising money for is on the 10th of the month, ask donors to donate $10 on that day. If they are having surgery on the 13th, ask donors to give $13 to wish him or her luck.
  2. Itemize expenses. If possible, make an itemized list of exactly how much money you need and for what. It’s easier to get donations from people when they know exactly where their money is going. Someone might not know it only costs $20 for one bottle of medication, so explicitly stating it will let them know exactly how much their contribution is really helping you.

Get together in person

Friends finish running marathon as fundraising idea

Yes, the internet is a fantastic tool and has worked wonders for the fundraising business, but we can’t stress enough how important it is to complement your online efforts with offline events. In fact, our research has shown that organizers who hold an offline event are 43% more likely to raise $5,000 or more.

Not sure where to start? Check our guide to planning a successful event. Here are a few quick tips:

  1. Get creative with your event. Have a cook-off, a roller skating marathon or organize a sports game and donate the proceeds to your cause. Stand out by setting a theme to your event or by incorporating costumes. People are more likely to remember a baseball game if the teams are dressed as superheroes than if they’re just wearing baseball uniforms.
  2. Diversify your event. Create as many opportunities to collect donations as possible. Couple a benefit dance with a live auction or raffle. Get your friends involved in donating some prizes for the raffle to increase your revenue. Sell drinks and snacks to guests. Always emphasize your cause.

Tap into all your networks

Fundraising techniques aren’t one size fits all, so try to come up with the most effective approach for each different group of people in your life. Here are a few tips:

  1. Get organized. Make a list of all the different social groups you’re part of, both online and off: church groups, coworkers, classmates, etc. Sometimes support can come from unexpected places: An online Bronies group started a second fundraiser for 8-year-old Kiki Havivi, helping raise over $800 towards her cancer treatment.
  2. Brainstorm the best way to approach each group. A few examples:
    • Set up a donation jar at work and ask your coworkers to put a dollar in every time they swear
    • For networks like your college friends, making a Facebook page or group with the link to donate digitally might be more effective, as they’re likely to be scattered around the country.

The bottom line

Fundraising today is pushing boundaries and expanding beyond tradition, and with a little human creativity you can raise more money for your cause. Overall, the most important thing to keep in mind is to be yourself and have fun – if you’re enjoying yourself and are passionate about your cause, you’re more likely to attract donors who will feel the same way!

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