Whether you’re just starting out or a seasoned fundraising veteran, finding good fundraising ideas is vital to your campaign’s success. But while there are plenty of ways to raise money, how do you know which will be the perfect fit for your fundraising situation?
Not to worry, we’ve already done the legwork: combing the Internet, compiling a list of the most frequently mentioned and highly recommended ideas, and consolidating similar ideas.
This article summarizes 30 great fundraising ideas, including info such as how much you can raise, effort and volunteers required, types of fundraising activities, and more to help you decide on the fundraising plan that matches your resources, priorities, and goals.
Below you’ll find this article’s roadmap, so feel free to skip down to the section that’s most relevant and useful for you. The fundraising ideas are organized by category, each one with a chart that compares ideas. Keep reading to get started on your path to fundraising success!
COVID-19 Update: This post was published before the novel coronavirus pandemic. While many of the ideas here are still doable, check out our other post 10 Socially Distant Fundraising Ideas to Connect Virtually for ideas that are specifically COVID-friendly.
These great fundraising ideas are profitable, simple, and even fun. Fundraising doesn’t have to be difficult and with these top fundraising ideas, you’ll be in the best position to engage your supporters and reach your fundraising goals.
Restaurant fundraisers are fun, social, and delicious! It’s simple: you and your supporters enjoy a delicious meal at a restaurant near you on a certain day and the restaurant donates a set percentage of sales back to your cause, usually between 15-25%.
On the GroupRaise platform, you can find fundraising restaurants near you, compare donation percentages, and set up your restaurant fundraiser in one minute. After the restaurant approves your request, just spread the word to your supporters. The more people come, the more your group raises for your cause!
Everyone loves to eat out at their favorite restaurants, so restaurant fundraising is a great choice if you’re looking to fill out a fundraising calendar for the whole year. Make restaurant fundraisers monthly or quarterly events and boom – you’ve got a good portion of your fundraising strategy covered.
A t-shirt fundraiser is one of the most creative fundraising ideas. You design your own custom shirts that reflect the spirit of your cause, then sell them. The profit goes towards your fundraising goals and your buyers get a cool shirt. The fundraising platform Bonfire allows you to both design and sell your shirts online, even shipping the items for you, so you don’t have to stock any inventory.
T-shirt fundraising has unlimited potential in terms of what you can design and how much money you can raise. Are you an artist with a knack for online promotion? Then you could see big profits with this fundraising strategy.
T-shirts also work well in combination with fundraising events, online donation campaigns, and product fundraising. If you’re already planning a specific event, have a crowdfunding page set up, or are selling other products to fundraise, add on a t-shirt option for additional fundraising profit.
A shoe drive fundraiser puts a unique twist on a fundraising campaign. Instead of asking for cash donations – although you can do that too – you ask for gently worn, used, and new shoes. Everyone has at least one pair of lonely shoes they don’t wear anymore, sulking in the closet, so you should be able to collect quite a few pairs.
Then, by coordinating with the company Funds2Orgs, you’ll be able to repurpose those shoes and receive a check to benefit your cause. Funds2Orgs will pick up the shoes for you, then send you a check within 48 hours after processing the shoes.
A shoe drive is both profitable and environmentally friendly: contributing to your cause, letting your supporters clean out their cluttered closets, and giving their shoes a second life instead of sending them to the landfill.
Like everything else, fundraising has moved online. With online crowdfunding, you collect donations via a web page. As the name suggests, this fundraising strategy involves accumulating many small donations from a large number of people. Thanks to the magic of the Internet, you can reach a wider audience than ever before, upping your chances of fundraising success.
Here are some popular crowdfunding sites, along with the groups they’re geared towards:
- Fundly – individuals and nonprofits (also has peer-to-peer fundraising – see description below)
- Edco – schools and sports teams
- CauseVox – nonprofits (also has peer-to-peer fundraising)
- Indiegogo – entrepreneurs and community projects
- Causes.com – nonprofits and individuals, with social network features
- DonorsChoose – schools
- GoFundMe – individuals
- Facebook Fundraisers – individuals and nonprofits
While it’s easy to set up a crowdfunding page, you’ll need to put some effort into promoting your campaign for it to be successful. With so many causes out there, make sure yours stands out. That being said, with some savvy social media sharing and a compelling story, you could earn a lot with crowdfunding.
As you’ve seen with the t-shirt fundraiser and crowdfunding ideas mentioned above, your fundraising cause has huge potential to grow if you put it online. With online donation platforms and clever use of social media, you can make it easier for your supporters to donate and reach people you don’t even know. Keep reading to learn about some more online fundraising ideas.
Like its cousin crowdfunding, peer-to-peer fundraising involves getting small donations from many people. However, peer-to-peer fundraising is geared towards larger movements, usually organized by medium to large nonprofit organizations. While crowdfunders share one fundraising web page, peer-to-peer fundraisers have multiple participants who each create their own fundraising page for the same cause.
Some of the crowdfunding platforms listed above also have peer-to-peer fundraising capabilities, but here are additional peer-to-peer fundraising websites – all three geared towards nonprofits:
Matching is when a person, group, or company agrees to donate the same amount that you are able to raise on your own, effectively doubling the final amount you can fundraise. While not exactly a fundraising idea on its own, matching donations allow you to significantly increase the proceeds from your fundraiser – with almost no additional effort.
Companies can be especially good as matching donation partners. How do you know if a company will match your donations? Contact them yourself or – especially if you are a nonprofit – consider using the platform Double the Donation, which has a database of more than 20,000 donation matching companies.
Remember the Ice Bucket Challenge? This viral social media phenomenon in 2014 raised millions to support people with ALS and increased worldwide awareness of the disease. Participants nominated specific friends on social media, publicly challenging them to – within 24 hours – video themselves pouring a bucket of ice water over their heads or donate to an ALS-related charitable cause, then pass on the nomination to other people.
You can raise money and awareness too by creating your own social media challenge. The more memorable the better!
If there’s anything that draws a crowd, it’s delicious food. Everyone’s gotta eat! Food is a great way to reach new supporters.
In addition to restaurant fundraising – the most delicious way to change the world – there are plenty more food-related fundraising options, especially for cooking enthusiasts and those with an entrepreneurial spirit. Scroll down to learn more!
A potluck fundraising dinner gathers all of your supporters to share their favorite dishes together and contribute to a cause at the same time. Ask for volunteers to bring food items, then charge all attendees for admission. You can even make it a cook-off, where your attendees vote for their favorites by placing $1 in an envelope next to the dish.
For a fun twist, set a theme for the dinner. The theme could be related to holidays, seasons, cuisine type, or anything else you can think of.
Ah, the classic bake sale. There’s a reason why this fundraising idea keeps popping up. Who can resist delicious cookies, cupcakes, and other baked goods, especially when enjoying a sweet treat also comes with supporting a good cause?
A successful bake sale takes some time and effort to put together. In addition to volunteers to bring food items and run the cash register, you’ll need a space to display and sell the goods – somewhere accessible to a lot of people, ideally attracting customers who didn’t even know about the event beforehand. In the end though, despite the effort to set up, a bake sale could bring a nice influx of cash to your cause.
A food sale fundraiser involves – wait for it – selling food. Not just any food though. A food sale fundraiser is different than a bake sale or a fundraising dinner because the food items are usually ones that have a long shelf life. That way, you can sell over a couple weeks rather than just one day.
Some of the most popular food sale fundraisers include:
- Candy bar fundraiser
- Cookie dough fundraiser
- Coffee fundraiser (selling coffee beans)
- Lollipop fundraiser
Not everyone finds selling to be fun, but if you can gather a group of volunteers willing to take initiative to sell, a food sale fundraiser could be a profitable fundraising activity. Your supporters already love your cause and when you offer tasty treats, they will be happy to chip in.
Some ideas to raise money require an initial cost to set up and not all fundraising groups have the resources for that. That’s okay – there are also plenty of inexpensive fundraising ideas.
In fact, you’ll find free fundraising ideas throughout this article. For example, restaurant fundraisers and all of the other ideas in the Best Fundraising Ideas section come with little to no upfront cost. Keep reading for more free fundraising ideas!
With a yard sale fundraiser, you can give items you aren’t using anymore a new life in another person’s household and earn money for your cause at the same time.
While both individuals and groups can fundraise with a yard sale, the more the merrier for this fundraising strategy. The more stuff you can sell, the more you can raise. Because of that, yard sales are particularly good fundraising ideas for schools and churches, where a large group of people can contribute. Even if you’re a solo fundraiser looking to hold a yard sale, reach out to family and friends and see if they have any items they’d be willing to donate to your sale.
If you’ll be selling in the front yard of a house, check to see if the neighborhood has a designated yard sale date. On that date, multiple houses will be holding sales and you’ll get increased traffic of people browsing all of the sales.
To make your yard sale even more successful, make sure your community knows about it ahead of time. Advertise ahead of time with signs, post on community Facebook groups, and put up flyers on bulletin boards.
An advocacy campaign’s primary purpose is to inform members of the community about the cause you care about and inspire them to take action to help. Your supporters could help by contacting their local government representatives, voting for specific policies, attending public demonstrations, signing a petition, or donating money.
Fundraising is definitely secondary here, but we’re including advocacy campaigns within this list of ideas to raise money because these campaigns can benefit your cause both indirectly and directly, especially if you are raising for a nonprofit. Indirectly, advocacy campaigns widen your audience of potential supporters and work to build a better environment for your cause. Directly, advocacy campaigns can also result in increased donations to related nonprofits.
Advocacy campaigns can be free because – at their core – they are all about talking with and convincing people. As long as you can contact people on social media, send out emails, or strike up conversations in person, you can conduct an advocacy campaign.
Both discount card fundraisers and coupon book fundraisers involve selling a collection of coupons to local businesses. The difference is that a discount card is one card with multiple offers and an expiration date, sometimes printed on both sides, while coupon books have a series of tear-off or markable pages.
To get the discounts or coupons, you can either approach local businesses directly or order pre-made discount cards or coupon books online, then resell them. The most inexpensive way would be to DIY and make direct agreements with local businesses, although you’ll still need to print the cards or coupons.
Here are some companies that sell pre-made discount cards and/or coupon books:
If you choose to order pre-made discount cards online, be aware that there will be some upfront costs. For example, the most inexpensive online card ordering option we found offered a minimum of 250 cards for $2.50 each, costing a total of $625 upfront. However, if you sell those cards for $10 each, you’ll raise $2,500 total. After subtracting the $625 upfront cost, you end up with $1,875 of profit for your organization – a pretty nice result!
Whether you’re fundraising alone or acting as the fundraising coordinator for a group, you most likely already have a lot on your plate. Fundraising doesn’t have to complicate your life further.
We’ve already covered some simple fundraising ideas within the sections above – such as restaurant fundraising – but see below for more inspiration on how to raise for your cause without any added headaches.
Raffles are already pretty well-known as a fundraising idea. Organizers put together a prize, sell raffle tickets, then randomly select the winner. Good raffle prizes can range from gift cards to electronics to full-on gift baskets with all sorts of goodies.
But you can make it even easier. With a 50/50 raffle, half of the money goes to your fundraising cause and half goes to the lucky raffle winner. As an organizer, there’s no need to worry about putting together a prize. What’s more, a 50/50 raffle has huge potential for success because the larger the money pot gets, the more motivation people have to join and get their friends to join.
What’s one of the simplest ways to raise money? Just ask. Sit down and hand-write letters explaining your cause and asking for donations. It’s pretty old-school, but it works. People appreciate receiving a personalized hand-written letter. If you’re having trouble finding addresses, emails can work too, but they don’t capture nearly as much attention as a letter.
The key to success here is in who you contact. Send letters to your current supporters, for sure, but also think about who else could be interested in your cause. Reach out to related community circles such as school parents, sports club members, church members, and more.
A chain of hearts is a great way to support an already-existing fundraising campaign. When someone donates, they receive a paper heart, star, or any other shape. Donors can write their name and a short message. Then, organizers display all of the hearts together in a central location to show the growing support for their cause.
You can display the hearts in a lobby, hallway, or another public place such as a restaurant or supermarket. When you ask people to donate and they see all the hearts of people who have already donated, they may be inspired to donate themselves. A chain of hearts creates social pressure that can make your campaign more successful.
A calendar fundraiser is one of the most effective ways to raise money and stay top-of-mind for your supporters. As the end of the year approaches, gather a series of photos, put them into calendars, then sell the calendars.
The possibilities are endless in terms of which photos to include. The simplest option is to just take your favorite photos from the year from your fundraising group. Or, if you want to get even more creative with it, invite your group to participate in a photoshoot.
Your calendar doesn’t even need to have photos of people. For example, if you are fundraising for school, collect student artwork, scan it, and use that for the calendar photos. Or, if you are raising for an animal shelter, use photos of the animals – everyone loves cute dogs and cats.
Not only will you profit from the sale of the calendars, your supporters will think of you every time they look at the calendar!
Yankee Candle Fundraising is as simple and straightforward as it gets: just sell some candles and a portion of the sales goes to your group. In fact, this strategy has become one of the most popular fundraising ideas.
The Yankee Candle company provides a significant amount of support to fundraising coordinators, including a fundraising consultant, sales packets, and more. To make the sale easier, your supporters can order online. There are two different selling seasons, fall and spring, each with their own catalogue of beautiful candles.
If you’re in a pinch and need to raise money fast, you’ve got options. Beyond crowdfunding and 50/50 raffles, we’ve compiled additional fast fundraising ideas to get you the funds you need.
Wait, you can donate by text message? Yes! Now that most of us are addicted to our smartphones, giving supporters the option to donate by text message can be an incredibly effective and quick fundraising strategy.
Platforms with text-to-give tools such as Snowball and OneCause allow fundraising groups to collect donations via mobile phones. Once you have your donation system set up, you can invite your supporters to text a particular keyword such as “donate” or “give” to your text-to-give phone number. Then, your supporters will receive a reply text message with a clickable link leading to your donation page.
Donating by text message works especially well in combination with other fundraising event ideas, because you can ask for donations right then and there, in the middle of the event, when people are feeling most inspired about your cause.
A penny drive fundraiser is pretty straightforward. Head to local restaurants and businesses and ask them if you can put a donation jar next to their cash registers. Make sure to leave information about your fundraising cause along with the jar.
Your penny drive will be even more successful if the employees of the store agree to ask customers if they would like to donate their spare change to your cause.
While pennies don’t seem like much, they can add up quickly! Leave the jars for at least a week, then pick up the donations.
As a tried-and-true fundraising idea, a car wash fundraiser has a lot going for it. For one, with a car wash, you can get the cash you need right away. With just one sunny Saturday morning, you could raise a significant amount of funds.
Also, car washes can be pretty fun team-building fundraising activities, especially if you bring a speaker to play your favorite music while you wash.
A car wash fundraiser takes some planning and effort to be successful. You’ll need several volunteers: one or two to hold signs by the road and the rest to wash cars and collect the cash.
You’ll also need to consider timing and location. For a car wash that’s both profitable and pleasant for your volunteers, schedule for a warm day in the spring, summer, or fall. Look for a parking lot along a busy road and ask the owner of the parking lot for permission to either rope off a portion of the lot or use it on a day when it’s normally empty.
You’ll want to attract both current supporters and spontaneous drive-by customers. Let your existing supporters know about the car wash ahead of time through social media and other channels. To bring in spontaneous customers, consider holding your car wash when traffic is typically higher. You could even set up your car wash alongside another event, such as a sports competition.
To energize your supporters and attract attention to your cause, you’ll need some out-of-the-box ideas. These creative fundraising ideas will delight even experienced fundraiser attendees.
Each of the unique fundraising ideas below allows you to unleash your creativity and customize how you want to fundraise. Read on to find out how.
Did you know that you can turn any of your skills or hobbies into ways to raise money for your cause? Just teach a class, charge for admission, and boom – you’ve got fresh funds for your cause.
Fitness class fundraisers are popular, ranging from a zumba fundraiser to a spin class fundraiser. But the class you teach doesn’t have to be fitness-related. You could do a cooking class fundraiser or lead an art class instead.
You can teach as many classes as you want, as long as you are willing to volunteer your time and you can generate consistent interest.
Here’s how a walkathon fundraiser works: First, a participant asks donors to pledge to give a certain amount tied to the distance the participant walks. For example, if a donor pledges to give $1 for every mile walked and the participant walks for 5 miles, the final donation amount is $5. Participants should try to get pledges from multiple donors.
This type of fundraiser is creative because there are a ton of alternative fundraisers that work the same way. If you’re not keen on walking, you can hold a bikeathon, swimathon, rowathon, skipathon, stairathon, danceathon, readathon, and even a knitathon.
Walkathons and similar fundraisers are most effective and fun when done in a group, especially if the participants are competitive. You could have a prize for the person who walks the farthest or raises the most money through pledges.
One more thing to keep in mind: you should probably put an upper limit on how much people can walk so that donors know there is a ceiling on their donation and participants don’t go overboard.
Beyond t-shirts, there are a whole host of other customizable products you can sell to fundraise, such as:
- Mugs, travel mugs, water bottles, and tumblers
- Tote bags
If you can think of a customizable product, there’s probably a company that sells it.
Here’s where creativity comes into play: you can put whatever design you like on the products. You could put your fundraising group’s logo, if you have one. Or, you could submit your own design or artwork to appear on the product.
Think about what products could be relevant for your supporters. For example, if you’re fundraising for a swim team, you could sell towels. If you are fundraising for a college club, a travel mug could be useful.
Fundraising can be fun! Especially when you get a group together to play games and socialize. Those are the main themes of the two fun fundraising ideas below. Check them out!
Everyone loves a carnival and that’s true for carnival fundraisers too. Not only will you and your supporters have a great time playing carnival games, you’ll also have ample opportunities to raise money for your cause. You can charge for admission, per carnival game, or both.
Popular and easy DIY carnival games could include bobbing for apples, a soda bottle ring toss, cornhole, a donut-on-a-string speed eating competition, and more. If you have the resources, you could also rent a dunk tank. You’ll need an open space such as a soccer field to set up the different carnival stations and volunteers to staff the event.
Carnivals also work great in combination with other ideas to raise money. You could have a bake sale within a carnival, for example, or hold a raffle, or even incorporate a social media challenge.
Bingo isn’t just for retirees – it can also be a fun fundraising idea. Gather your friends and supporters together to hang out, play a game of chance, and have a good time.
To really energize your supporters, make sure you have some enviable prizes. For example, you could have themed gift baskets or two tickets to a sporting event or theater performance.
The prizes don’t have to be expensive. For example, you can keep costs down by seeing if local businesses offer gift cards for charitable causes.
Whether you’re looking for high profit fundraisers for schools, charities, or sports teams, you’ll find some great fundraising ideas below.
These fundraising event ideas may fall under high profit fundraising ideas, but don’t let the logistics scare you away – the events can be as big or as small as you would like. Don’t have the resources for a huge event? Scale it to your group’s size and resources.
Within the descriptions below, you’ll find recommendations for both large and small fundraising groups.
Just like in a regular auction, guests in a fundraising auction bid on the items they’d like and the item goes to the highest bidder. However, in a fundraising auction, the items for sale are usually donated and the proceeds go to the charitable cause.
In addition to live auctions, there are several other types:
- Online fundraising auctions: As the name suggests, online auctions happen on the Internet and organizers send the winner the item afterwards.
- Silent auctions: In a silent auction, organizers put pieces of paper next to the items where the attendees write down their name and bid before a deadline time. This format is especially useful in combination with other fundraising event ideas, as participants can browse the auction items at their leisure.
- Date auctions: A date auction is one of the more unusual and outrageous fundraising ideas. Auction participants bid for the opportunity to have a “date”, which usually involves dancing with or spending a portion of the event with a volunteer.
Who wouldn’t love listening to great music and giving to an awesome cause? A benefit concert is a good fundraising idea for music lovers.
When planning a benefit concert, first think about the types of music your supporters enjoy. Then reach out to local musicians and see if any would be interested in playing for your event. It’ll take some effort to set the concert up, including finding a suitable space and recruiting volunteers to staff the event, but the payoff will be totally worth it. Sell tickets to your concert and make sure to mention that the proceeds will go to support your cause.
A fundraising gala can be as simple as a potluck dinner and dancing to a list of your favorite songs or as grand as a catered dinner with live music. Go with whatever fits your fundraising group’s resources. The most important part is that people have fun, get to know your cause, and feel great about donating.
To add an extra twist and attract more attendees, consider throwing your gala with a theme and ask people to dress up.
This fundraising idea can require significant effort, volunteers, and upfront cost, but it also has huge fundraising potential.
Sports competitions make for great fundraising ideas. A golf tournament fundraiser can be a super successful way to raise a lot of money, where participants pay to enter the tournament and spectators pay to watch.
Beyond golf, you can turn any sports competition into a fundraiser. For example, you could hold a tennis tournament, basketball tournament, mini-golf tournament – even a cornhole tournament or a beer pong tournament (if you’re of age, of course).
The tournament fundraising strategy works especially well for team sports, as teams pay to enter the competition. You could also offer a prize to the tournament winner or a prize to anyone who creates a bracket that guesses the winner. In January of 2020, several members of the GroupRaise team actually used the sports tournament strategy to quickly raise $200 for Australian bushfire relief.
All right, now that you’ve heard all about great fundraising ideas and learned which ones could be the best choice for you, get out there and fundraise. You got this!
While you’re here, why not check out your closest restaurants that do fundraisers? A restaurant fundraiser is a delicious and easy way to fundraise – it could be the perfect choice for your group.