You volunteer for any kind of local charity, or perhaps you need to supplement your sports team or school with funds for a trip or event. What are methods to fund raise? What can be done to get tiny bits of money from individuals that will eventually add up to money that will help where it is needed?


What comes below are a few ideas I've had on how to raise funds. This includes methods that are commonly already in use, and others that I've thought of that may be used in places, but may not. The best bet for raising funds is to do as much as possible and not rely too much on any one method. It also makes sense to not be too reliant on any one segment of the population.

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Raking Leaves

This fundraising method depends on where you live. Where I live there are thousands of trees just in my neighbourhood alone, and more than half are deciduous. This idea works best if it is a school-class, or a sports team. Each member of the class or team hits a different street with a flyer indicating that they are a class or team that is raising funds by raking the leaves and bagging them for 2$ a bag. Presuming there are people that contact you from the flyer, you then get the whole class or team to congregate on the customer's house. The result is unity and fun for the class or team, the whole lawn raked in an hour for the customer, and money raised for the cause. Hopefully more than one person calls, and in one day you'll be able to do ten or fifteen different lawns. For this idea you'll need a rake for each class or team member, someone to supply the bags, and some method to get the volunteers to the house where the raking is to be.

Bottle Drive

Make one pass through any neighbourhood and place flyers on everyone's house indicating that the following Saturday there will be a bottle drive to collect any bottles or cans that anyone might have. On that Saturday, drive through the neighbourhood and knock on every single door, asking for their bottles or cans. In some cases you'll find people who haven't any, others who don't want to help, but in most cases you'll find some amount from some people. For this idea you'll need a car or van for collecting all of the bottles, and then the time it takes to return all of them for a refund.

Shovelling Snow

Make sure that everyone on your team has a shovel and is ready to go on a moment's notice once the snow falls. Even for people who pay for a service to come and plough their driveway, there is usually a walkway of some sort that needs to be shovelled. The idea is to get to it before the owner of the house would, knock on their door, explain that you're raising money for your hockey team to go to a tournament, and ask for a reasonable amount of money such that the person won't hesitate to help you out. Make sure you do a good job, and maybe you'll be able to go back to that same house for the rest of the winter.

Selling Chocolate

This is probably the most common that I've been a witness to. I have coworkers with kids in school who need to supplement their classroom with money for special events or extra craft material. The school works with a chocolate company that specializes in selling chocolate for charities, the parents take the boxes of chocolate to their workplace, and then off they go to coworkers. I have always helped the coworkers by buying a box, never more than 2$ or 3$, so what is the cost to me? Most people have that attitude, only occasionally some people get jaded by the volume of chocolate that gets pushed at the workplace because of all of the parents who have to sell it. If this is the case, try to think of a different place where you could sell the chocolate. Would making a few phone calls to people in your parish or group of friends help? Would you be willing to sell a group of boxes for a small loss in order to offload the responsibility of selling them?

Prize Draws

All you need here is the prize or prizes and a roll of doubled tickets. If you're in a town or a city where there is a really popular sports team, see about acquiring tickets to a game in the near future and sell as many tickets as you can for a draw to win those tickets. See if there is anyone in your wealth of contacts who is able to get a prize for free. Maybe a gym bag from someone who owns the local sporting goods store, or a free meal at a local restaurant. Finding the prizes should never be too difficult. If this is for a class or a team, have each member put some money in and pay for a prize, and then receive repayment once the tickets are sold. The best place and time to sell the tickets is if there is already an event happening. If there is a parish picnic, or a tailgate party before a game, have the prizes on hand so that people can recognize the legitimacy of your fundraiser, and write their name and phone number on the ticket so that they can be easily contacted if they win. Make it a goal to sell two to three times the value of that prize in tickets. So if it is two tickets to see the professional hockey team play for a total value of 200$, try to sell about 500$ worth of tickets, either 250 tickets at 2$ a piece or 500 tickets at 1$ a piece.

Selling Doughnuts

A coworker of mine just did this recently for her childrens' football team. They got in touch with the Krispy Kreme doughnut shop and found that if they bought 50 dozens or more, the cost of the box was only 4$. Each member of the team was asked to sell a minimum of 10 boxes at 8$ a piece (netting 4$ per box). Go through whatever channel you'd like and advance-sell the boxes of doughnuts. Coworkers, friends, family, neighbours, and anyone else you can think of would all be likely to help by paying one extra dollar for a dozen but have it delivered right to them. For this fundraiser you'll need someone to go and pick up the doughnuts and then find the proper distribution method to get them all out in a timely basis.

A Home Show

My wife works with the Pampered Chef and does kitchen shows. With her organization there is the possibility to have a show where the hostess isn't an individual, but is rather whatever team, class or charity that is to be the beneficiary. Organize an event where all of the parents of a hockey team or class are invited to someone's home for such a show. It needn't be Pampered Chef, it could also be Tupperware or Candlelight or whatever else. Get in touch with one of the consultants from those companies and find out what they can do for a fundraiser. Advise the consultant that there will be many people invited and find out if the consultant will also be willing or able to donate some of their profit to the fundraiser. Make sure that someone in the class or team is willing to host the home show, or see if there is any modestly available public space that can be rented, like a church basement or one of the rental rooms available in local SuperStores.

Spaghetti Dinner

This one is a little more involved, but still rather do-able. The best bet is to pay attention to the local grocery store flyers and wait to see when spaghetti and cans of tomato sauce and paste go on a deep discount sale. It may also be possible to contact a manufacturer of these basic food items or the owner of the grocery store and ask for a bulk purchase price for the purposes of a fundraiser. Cheese will be the most expensive part, so try to find the lowest cost that is possible. People coming to the spaghetti dinner will be well aware that this is a fundraiser, and since the cost of the plate will be so low, don't worry that the cheese is substandard. Get a handle on the other components of the meal, things like herbs, bread, butter, drinks, paper plates and plastic cutlery and so on.

For the event itself you need two things, the place and the date. With respect to the date, try to find a weekend that doesn't coincide with holidays and doesn't coincide with mass vacations. Depending on where you live and what you can find as a place for the event, you may also want to schedule the event when you know it will be warm and that the chances are that the weather will be good. For the place, the most common place to find spaghetti dinners is in church basements or in school cafeterias. Contact the people involved and find out what needs to be done to use their space for the fundraiser you are planning. If you've got someone in your volunteer group who has a large property and is willing to host the event, you could have this event outdoors at their place. This would be the lowest cost but would involve a little more effort in terms of getting enough chairs and tables.

It is just such an event where having a prize draw makes sense for an alternative fundraising revenue stream.