Fundraising is the heart of any charity or non-profit organization. The exact type of event to hold depends on the type of organization, the benefactors, the patrons who will participate and the time and manpower available to the organization.
For organizations with few volunteers or little time, some simple fundraising ideas can produce a few hundred dollars at a time. Many restaurants offer dining nights in which the organization receives a portion of the sales for the evening. Chain restaurants generally offer between 5 and 15 percent of the sales, while local privately owned establishments may offer greater amounts, especially if the cause is close to them. Some retail stores also offer shopping nights; just ask the management if it is a possibility, and the store may be able to work with you.
Raffles are another easy way to make a few dollars. Try to get local businesses to donate items or money to purchase the raffle items. You can set up a booth at local community events, in front of local stores, or advertise the ticket sales in papers. Many local papers offer free advertising for non-profit organizations.
Selling products is one of the most popular choices for fund raising. For a building project, personalized brick pavers or tiles are a popular way to raise funds. Manufacturers offer everything from candy and food products, to wrapping paper and cards, personalized books, calendars, scratch cards, magazines, credit cards and even store gift cards. Most home-demonstration companies also offer cash or products for sales of items like candles, baskets, makeup, novelties, storage and home decor products. Any products earned can be used for future raffles.
Along those same lines, a 50/50 raffle at a local event can produce fast cash. This is an excellent fund raiser for groups like marching bands and cheerleading squads to hold during football games. Attendees purchase a raffle ticket for a set price and one raffle ticket is chosen at the end of the night to wins half of the money taken in.
When a larger pool of volunteers is available, the types of events that can be handled logistically becomes easier. Meal-based events like a pancake breakfast, spaghetti dinner, afternoon tea or beef-and-beer need a volunteer force of at least a dozen to make them successful. Volunteers are needed to cook, seat customers and service tables.
For an "A-thon" to be successful, enough participants must be available to make it worthwhile. These participants can be group members or supports who volunteer to read, walk, dance or do any activity for an extended period or time. They gather pledges for their time spent at the activity.
Holidays provide additional potential for events. A holiday craft show, breakfast with Santa Claus or present delivery by Santa himself can take advantage of the biggest spending season of the year. Festivals with pumpkin carving, a scarecrow-decorating contest or pumpkin tossing are fun fall events. The spring is an excellent time for flea markets and Easter-egg hunts.
College groups may find much success with "grams" sent out to friends and loved ones. Parents can buy "cookie-grams" for their children in college, or students can exchange "candy-grams" or singing telegrams with their friends.
As with any business venture, the more time you put into a fundraiser, the more yield you are likely to have. The largest fundraisers take the most amount of time and require the most dedicated volunteer force.
A carnival requires a great deal of planning and usually some cash flow to make it happen. Sporting events like golf tournaments or races can yield high-entry fees in exchange for fun and prizes courtesy of local businesses. Bingo and Basket Bingo are popular activities that require great advertising and excellent prizes. Pageants for men or women and talent competitions require finding contestants in advance. Prizes generally are donated and can be anything from recording time and photography sessions to cash and gift cards. During a jail and bail, high profile organization members are "jailed" until they reach bail. Bail is set by the organization according to their standards and the number of monetarily supportive friends they believe they have. Talent competitions or concerts can be successful money makers since they usually produce ticket sales or entry fees, concession income, and even T-shirt and novelty sales.
Josie Myers has been a freelance writer and tutor since 2008. A mother of three, she was a pre-kindergarten teacher for seven years, is a Pennsylvania-certified tree tender and served as director of parks in her local municipality. Myers holds a Bachelor of Arts in music and business from Mansfield University and a Master of Arts in English from West Chester University.