Raise Money for Your Group!
I have been involved in many fundraising activities for various clubs, youth groups, non-profits and charities over the years. I have found the best ideas are fast and easy events that put cash on the books quickly.
I have been involved with raising money for non-profit groups since the 1980s, when I worked for several small human-service agencies. After becoming a mom in the late 1990s, I turned my attention to helping parent organization raise cash for various projects. I have served on the boards of parents of blind children groups in two states, as president and vice president of the parent organization at my daughter's school, and also served as a parent advisor for my daughter's church youth group. In every one of these roles, helping raise money was an important part of my job.
Here are some of my favorite money-raising techniques. All of these are tried and true methods I have used to help clubs and youth groups raise cash quickly and easily. Most require little or no up-front cash investment. Your group will realize a big profit margin so you can raise cash fast.
Every group needs to raise money in order to have funds to meet its goals. Stay away from complicated schemes and go with one of these easy ideas.
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Easy Fundraising Ideas for Your Organization - Lots of Great Fundraisers in this Book!
This book not only gives a lot of exciting ideas, the author walks you through the steps necessary to execute the fundraiser. You will get a good feel for the amount of work needed to pull off each event. The book includes both simple and complex events. This is a good, comprehensive book with a lot of ideas for your group.
Provide a Service to Raise Cash Fast
An Inexpensive Fundraiser
One easy way to raise money fast for your group is to have an event where you provide a service such as washing cars. You can set a fee for the service or do it for donations. Frequently doing it for a donation of any size will result in a bigger cash flow by the end of the day.
You will need to set the time and place for the event when you will get a lot of traffic. Saturday is usually a good day for the event, but avoid a day when everyone will be inside watching a ball game. Try to find a place to have your car wash where people are out running errands for the day, such as the center of a busy shopping district. You can also have your event as part of another event, such as washing cars on site while people are at a school ball game, flea market or church event. This can be a very effective time to ask for donations.
A car wash is an inexpensive event, especially if your club members are able to bring buckets, rags and towels from home. Your club might want to provide the soap or find someone to donate it.
Washing cars is a fun fundraiser for teenagers and can easily raise a couple of hundred dollars in an afternoon. Offering the car wash monthly throughout the summer is a good way to build repeat business.
How to Have a Raffle - One of my Favorite Fundraisers
A raffle is my top pick for an easy fundraiser. Unless you can get the prize donated, you will probably have an investment up front, but if you choose a good prize you will easily double or triple your investment.
The key to a good raffle is to select a prize that is in high demand and expose a large number of people to the opportunity to buy tickets. You must sell a large number of tickets, you must have a great prize. You also need a lot of people to buy tickets. If you are only going to try to sell tickets to a small number of people, offer a less expensive prize because you may not recoup all the money otherwise.
If you can get a prize donated, then all of your ticket sales will go to profit; but, if the prize is not something people want, then you will not sell as many tickets. Having a great prize is really the key to a successful raffle.
The ideal prize is something that most people want but few people own. Carefully consider who you will be selling tickets to and what they would take a gamble on.
In my experience, for most prizes, you should sell tickets for a dollar a piece and six for five dollars. Some will argue that you don't want to fool with six for five, but I believe people buy more tickets when they feel like they are getting a bargain. More people will buy five or 10 dollars worth of tickets when you offer the extra one.
Here are some successful raffle prizes I have used for fundraising over the years.
- A two-man fiberglass boat. Our bass club set up a booth and sold tickets for a two-man fiberglass fishing boat at our county fair. This was a very successful fundraiser for our club, because it was a rural area and nearly everyone had access to a fishing pond. I bet there was not a man in the county who had not bought a ticket by the end of the fair. Lots of people returned to our booth to buy extra tickets. We had to invest a few hundred dollars in the prize, but we made that back easily with about 400% return on our investment.
- State of the art gaming system. We tripled our investment in one weekend, when we raffled a Nintendo game system the year these were first released. This works when a new gaming system comes out but before most people own it. Timing is everything with this prize. If you can raffle off a prize everyone wants before they have a chance to buy it, you will get a good return on your investment.
- Bicycle. We had a hardware store donate a child's bicycle we set up as a display. The winner would be able to go to the store and select the bike of her choice up to a certain value. This was a moderately successful raffle for our group. We got a lot of grandparents buying tickets to win the prize for their grandchild.
- Cordless electric lawnmower. If you live in a suburban area with smaller yards, this can be a good prize today. A lot of people would like to have a cordless mower, with gas prices as high as they are; but, most people do not want to pay the initial cost of the mower. This might not work in a rural area where people have huge yards and need a riding mower, or in an urban area where people do not have yards. Apartment dwellers will have no interest in this prize. Make sure you will have a large enough pool of ticket purchasers to make this investment worthwhile.
- Gift cards. This is a paradox. It seems like a gift card or gift certificate would be a great prize, but people are actually less likely to take a gamble to win a gift card that would allow them to buy whatever they want than if there is an actual item involved. It is easier to sell tickets for a $250 flat screen television, for example, than for a gift card for $250. People are funny!
50/50 Raffle: Fast and Easy Fundraiser
It Doesn't Get Much Simpler than This!
There is a raffle that can be done at almost any event, although this probably works best in a large social group of some kind. It could be a group of people who work together, a church, a club or all the folks in your bowling league.
For a 50/50 raffle, the winner takes half the pot and the other half goes to charity. The more tickets that are sold, the higher the prize. People love this cash prize, and the higher the pot, the more tickets you will sell. With the right crowd it can turn into a bit of a buying frenzy at the last minute.
Depending upon the size of your group, expect to make anywhere from fifty to a hundred dollars for only the price of your roll of tickets and the effort of going around talking to all of your buddies, giving them a chance to win a bunch of money.
Raffle Tickets for Your Fundraiser - A Roll of These Will Make Your Life Easier
One roll contains 2000 raffle tickets. This should last through a few raffles. At a dollar a ticket, you do the math!
It is well worth it to purchase a roll of raffle tickets rather than try to make them by hand or on a printer or copy machine.
Have a Yard Sale to Raise Money for Your Organization
Clean Up Your House and Rake in the Profits!
A yard sale is a fundraiser that can go either way. It can be a lot of tedious work for a relatively small return, or it can be a lucrative project. The key is having some higher ticket items to sell.
If your group brings in some large appliances, nice pieces of furniture, power tools, and gas-powered lawn equipment then you are probably going to have a good sale and may raise between several hundred and a thousand dollars. This is a worthwhile sale.
On the other hand, if your group ends up with a lot of clothing, toys and household knick knacks, you are probably not going to be able to raise much more than a hundred dollars on a Saturday morning. Many people would not consider this a good cash flow in exchange for the amount of work involved. If you end up in this situation, do not waste your time pricing everything. Just let people stuff grocery bags and charge 50 cents or a dollar a bag. You will raise some money, make contacts with the community and perhaps bring in customers for another purpose. Consider combining this yard sale with another fundraising event.
Sell Something to Raise Money - A Time-Honored Fundraiser
Selling something is a fundraiser that will require an initial upfront investment. This investment can be quite small and does not have to eat into your profits if you are able to get your materials or ingredients donated.
Here are some suggestions of lucrative and easy sales I have been involved with over the years.
- Candy Sales. Our parent organization bought candy bars in bulk at a wholesale club for 50 cents each, then we sold them at school sporting events for a dollar. This yielded a 50% profit. We made a few hundred dollars a year from these sales and gave us a way to promote our organization at the same time.
- Beverage Sales. Our youth group made frozen lemonade drinks to sell after Wednesday night services. It was a matter of whirling ice cubes and lemonade in the blender, pouring into a cup and adding a straw. This is very fast paced and is over in a short time. We did this every Wednesday night throughout the summer and made a few hundred dollars at our small church. If you have a large church, be sure to have plenty of blenders and people to staff the booth.
This fundraising idea could be adapted to any number of beverages, hot or cold, and could be done throughout an event to maximize profits. Check with your local government to make sure you do not need a food vendor's license before doing this fundraiser.
- Cookie Sales. At our lemonade sales, our youth group noticed people were asking if we had any food for sale. The next week we bought cookies, divided them into individual servings and sold these for a 75 percent mark-up. We did not find this to be very lucrative, but with a little experimentation, you might have more success.
- Popcorn Sales. If you have access to a big popcorn machine, consider selling popcorn at an event. If your event is big enough it can be worthwhile to rent a popcorn machine. You will have to purchase small paper bags to serve the popcorn, and have a big salt shaker handy. Popcorn sells itself because it smells so good it draws people in.
Consider having a big cooler with soft drinks to sell along with the popcorn. If you buy these cheaply enough, you can mark them up for a good profit.
Some Items You Could Sell - Selling the Right Product Makes Your Group Money Fast!
Amazon makes buying in bulk simple. You can purchase everything you need from Amazon and have it shipped to your home, office or school. This saves money on gas and makes preparation for your fundraiser nice and easy.
Craft Sale: Making Items to Sell
Showcase Your Group's Talent!
One of the most surprising easy fundraisers I have participated in was a craft sale for a program serving children from single parent families. Using donated materials, the children crafted a variety of Christmas ornaments, decorations and gifts.
We set up a booth at a local fall festival, anticipating our main objective would be to bring attention to our program, possibly recruit some new volunteers. Instead we raked in hundreds of dollars! People loved the crafts made by the children!
Your mileage may vary, but we were very pleased with the outcome of this easy fundraiser, and it was a great boost to the children as well, to know that someone wanted to pay money for something they had made.
Selling Children's Crafts
Setting up a table like this one, with crafts children have made, can be an easy fundraiser. For best results set up in an area with a lot of foot traffic and people with money who will support your cause.
Product Sales - A Fundraiser in a Package
There are a lot of companies that specialize in helping groups fund raise, usually by selling a product or coupon book. Our small parent group raised over a thousand dollars selling flower bulbs. It can be lucrative, but make sure you have enough people to help you distribute the items at the end of the sale.
Here are some companies who have programs to help you with an easy fundraiser. Do your research carefully. Find a company with a good track record and a good profit for your group, at least 50 percent. It is helpful to select a product that people want and can use. If you choose a consumable product, you can sell it year after year. You will build repeat customers who come to depend on your sale.
I recommend having people pay for the product when ordering. Do not order anything you have not received payment for; you may not be able to collect, and get stuck with product you cannot sell.
- Dutch Mill Bulbs
Our parent group had a great experience working with this company. We easily raised over a thousand dollars. The company was very easy to work with and had helpful advice that made our fundraiser even more successful. They have both spring and fall f
- Yankee Candle Fundraising
I have not worked with this company, but everyone loves Yankee Candles. The product will sell itself. Your group earns only 40% profit, but because the item is higher priced, you can still make a good income.
- Great American Fundraising
I have no direct experience with this company, but my daughter's school used them for many years so they must have had good results. Choose from gift products, magazines, candy bars, coupon sales or a combination.
Be Sure You Have a Secure Place For Your Money During Your Event - Keep Your Hard Earned Money Safe!
A Cash Box for Your Fundraiser
This is the kind of cash box I recommend to groups doing simple fundraisers. You need a secure place to keep your money organized during your fundraiser. This simple cash box is inexpensive, but more that sufficient to do the job.
Recently a charity in our city was heartbroken after a thief took off with an unguarded cash box during their fundraising event. Don't let all your hard work go for nothing!
Be sure to put someone trustworthy in charge of your cash box during and after the fundraising event. Do not leave your money unattended at any time!
More Fun Fundraising Ideas for Your Group!
Here are some videos with even more ideas to help you raise the money your group needs!
© 2012 Frischy
Share your fundraising ideas here! What have you done that has worked?
Anja Toetenel from The Hague, the Netherlands on September 07, 2013:
You came up with awesome ideas for fundraising, thank you! Something that works great too, or might work, are the causes you can start on Facebook, especially if you have a lot of friends out there in your contactlist!
anonymous on August 12, 2013:
Hey everyone! I would love to be able to help with the fundraising efforts. I am the founder of a social fundraising platform that markets out all of our projects and work hand-in-hand with our project creators. We specialize in communities, small business, non-profits, and individuals. Thanks!
anonymous on July 17, 2013:
@anonymous: Key thing to have is a name for your fundraiser! Then, I usually recommend holding a festival run by your close friends and family with all kinds of fundraisers such as craft stands, bake sales, games, and contests. If this is too far-fetched for you, i recommend a raffle or grab bags. best of luck to your family and God bless! :)
anonymous on March 18, 2013:
Ok i'm raising money for a church trip to atlanta and indinapolis. Please let me know if you have any good ideas and no not a carwash we tried. thank you!
CristianStan on March 18, 2013:
Great lens A+. You gave some very good tips on ideas for fundraising
yourgoldenfuture on January 15, 2013:
great ideas to do for the fundraising...
KaneshiaKelly on September 22, 2012:
great ideas, however, I am attempting to fundraise for the a blogging site, do you have any suggestions.
JennaBaxton on September 18, 2012:
Really good ideas here, thanks!
anonymous on August 16, 2012:
We are desperately trying to raise money for a personal cause. My husband recently became disabled and we already had 3 of five in the family who are special needs or disabled. We use GiveForward. Last time we had to do this in order to travel for medical reasons for our baby- it was super successful. This time I absolutely CANNOT get this one off the ground. Any ideas for that- the one listed are super for school and other related things, but I don't know about personal fundraiser where we need to earn quick cash!!
Nancy Tate Hellams from Pendleton, SC on June 09, 2012:
Like you, I have done tons of fundraising in my time and you have shared some great ideas. Thanks.
Barbara Tremblay Cipak from Toronto, Canada on May 18, 2012:
great collection of fundraising tips and ideas here!
gmacmom on May 03, 2012:
Two great fundraisers that we have used to raise funds that had great success was a carwash like you mentioned above and also a company online called ReachingOurGoal.com. Both had a high percentage of profit with no selling or having to outlay any money.
sherioz on April 26, 2012:
These are excellent ideas. I like how you have given the positive and negative aspects of each and recommendations, not just for the particular method itself, but how it can work best.
Fcuk Hub on April 23, 2012:
I've done nothing. But when I'm giving money for any fundrising I have great feeling in my heart :)
aksem on April 21, 2012:
We will use your ideas, thank you. Maybe we would persuade our chief to combine our fund rising with advertising Company of our firm
Marc from Edinburgh on April 21, 2012:
I love the idea of selling popcorn at an event - soooo simple, yet so effective...EVERYONE loves popcorn. Genius! x
Pam Irie from Land of Aloha on April 20, 2012:
I love having a combination group yard sale, craft sale. Selling soda and burgers, hot dogs is always good to do too. :)
Virginia Allain from Central Florida on April 09, 2012:
Hold a flea market if you have a good sized parking lot available or a field. Sell spaces, do the advertising and sell food at the event.