How to Do a Jail and Bail Fundraiser

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Jail and bail fundraisers can be a fun and entertaining way to raise money for a nonprofit organization. There are different permutations on the idea but essentially, people volunteer to be "arrested" and placed in "jail," then have to go before a "judge," who sets the "bail" amount. The volunteer "jailbird" must raise the "bail" money to be released. A jail and bail fundraiser can be done by a nonprofit organization staff, or it can be done by a volunteer who donates the proceeds to the nonprofit organization.

Step 1

Select a time, date and location where the fundraiser will be held. This may be done at a restaurant, school cafeteria, church activity hall or a person's home. The location needs to have a telephone or cell phone and a place for a "judge" to sit, as well as room for the "accused" and observers.

Step 2

Entice supporters who are willing to be arrested so they can be bailed out. Some jail and bail fundraisers offer the opportunity to pay a small fee to issue an "arrest warrant" for somebody who they want to see arrested. Sometimes the arrest warrant is used as an opportunity to make up outlandish and humorous charges such as "wouldn't smile" or "talked back to her mother as a teenager."

Step 3

Take the arrested to the event location. There, the volunteer judge will set the bail amount, which the volunteer has to raise in order to be released. This can be done through phone calls to friends and family who pledge to donate either the whole bail amount or a portion of it. Bail also can be raised by asking the people who are attending the event.

Step 4

Release the volunteer after bail has been met. Follow up with the person or people who pledged the donations.


  • It is critical that only willing volunteers are arrested. Taking somebody from one place to another without his consent could constitute the crime of kidnapping.


  • The amount of the bail should be set based on how much the person can be expected to raise in donations. Wealthy individuals or celebrities may have the ability to raise more funds to secure their releases. Sometimes a volunteer will agree to donate his own bail amount in order to be released.


About the Author

Rita Radostitz lives in Eugene, Oregon. She has written about human rights, health & fitness and interesting people for years. Her articles have appeared in the Austin Chronicle, Oregon Quarterly and on various websites. Radostitz holds a Masters of Science in journalism with distinction from the University of Oregon and a law degree cum laude from Villanova University.

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