Many fundraisers take months to plan, and these often raise large amounts of money. When your organization needs money immediately, taking advantage of your network connections helps you quickly pull together a last-minute fundraiser. These typically don't raise as much, but they require just a few friends and a bit of ingenuity instead of months of planning.
Ideas at the Office
Rally some volunteers from your organization and ask them to spend the week raising money at work, if company policies allow. Many bosses agree to help staff raise money for their causes by offering incentives to other staff members. For example, organize a dress-down day where employees can pay a small amount to dress casually instead of in business attire. Depending on the size of the company, this amount is often $1 or $5.
If a boss is willing to offer a free day off to a winning employee, sell raffle tickets for the extra day off for several days. Some bosses prefer to pick the day, but more tickets sell if the date is the winning employee's choice.
Pitting departments against each other inspires a touch of friendly competition. Place large jars or buckets in each department labeled "Pennies for" your organization. The employees donate pennies or larger amounts of money, and the department that raises the most in its jar wins. Prizes vary based on the boss's discretion, but they could include letting the entire department leave at noon the following Friday or taking turns parking in a coveted spot.
Gather organization volunteers, friends and family to donate their time for some outdoor fundraisers. Use social media to reach homeowners in your neighborhood to see if any need yard work completed. They pay you to mow or rake leaves, and you give the money to your organization. This works best if you provide set prices, such as a per-yard mowing fee -- but mention that you accept additional donations. Many people give more than your asking price to support your cause. You can also ask neighbors to donate unwanted household items to you, which you can then sell in a large yard sale.
Cash in by washing things people don't like to wash themselves. Car washes don't take much planning; you just need the washers, the soap and attractive signs pointing drivers toward you. A roadside location on a street with heavy traffic works best, and the location needs access to a water supply. Instead of cars, offer to wash dogs. This works best with a little marketing; even a few days of signage or sharing on social media helps. These volunteers should be comfortable around dogs, and you need enough people to hold and wash several dogs at once.
Indoor fundraisers require venues large enough to hold a crowd, such as a church fellowship hall or community center. Many offer their facilities for free to help organizations raise money. A bake sale comes together quickly. Ask volunteers to bring their best-tasting baked goods, all with a list of ingredients to avoid allergy issues, and sell them either for a set price or in an auction. Market to buyers through social media and flyers posted at nearby businesses such as gas stations and grocery stores. Or, organize a bingo night, with prizes such as gift certificates or mixed-item baskets donated from local businesses.
Many bars and casual restaurants offer trivia nights, and some allow groups to raise money by charging the trivia participants a small fee to play. Any volunteers who participate in a trivia night fundraiser might need to be at least 21 years old, depending on the venue. Restaurants sometimes give their wait staff the night off and let you and your volunteers serve as waiters and waitresses for an evening. You keep all your tips as donations, and the restaurant typically provides a small donation, usually a percentage of the evening's sales.
Although crowdfunding campaigns aren't typically used for general fundraising purposes, they can quickly raise money for a specific need. If your organization needs fast money to repair storm damage to its facility, for example, a crowdfunding campaign might help. The secret to a successful crowdfunding campaign is getting shares on social media. Send urgent requests to all your volunteers, friends and family asking them to share the link on the social media pages and to email it to people not on social media. They can request that their friends share the link as well. More people seeing your link means more chances for someone to donate, even small amounts such as $5. Keep your description of need short and to the point, explaining clearly how the organization can't be effective until this money is raised.
Based outside Atlanta, Ga., Shala Munroe has been writing and copy editing since 1995. Beginning her career at newspapers such as the "Marietta Daily Journal" and the "Atlanta Business Chronicle," she most recently worked in communications and management for several nonprofit organizations before purchasing a flower shop in 2006. She earned a BA in communications from Jacksonville State University.