People who are raising funds may pursue traditional methods like:
- Selling cookies
- Washing cars
- Hosting bake sales
Or, they might attempt more unconventional means like building scarecrows, arranging sports tournaments, cooking breakfasts, washing dogs, shaving hair or chaining up a volunteer and asking people to contribute money for his "release."
Angel -- or scarecrow -- festivals are community-wide competitions in which people try to make their own life-sized angels or scarecrows. Charge an admission fee for anyone wanting to enter the contest, or implement spare change voting where visitors vote on the best creation by throwing spare change into a bucket at the feet of their favorite one. Ask a local mini-golf business to host a tournament at which guests pay to compete against each other, with the understanding that all money raised goes toward fundraising.
Enlist a group of people to convene on a prearranged day with goods that they baked on the previous night, such as cupcakes, muffins, cakes or homemade bread. Sell these goods in a highly visible public location, such as a school or a stadium. Alternatively, advertise a pancake breakfast in which guests pay a fixed rate to enjoy all the pancakes, sausage and bacon they can eat, or prepare breakfast meals and deliver them to people in the community who have signed up for them.
Use a popcorn machine to make vast amounts of popcorn and sell it during school lunch or some other crowded event, or host a popcorn-eating contest in which participants who are able to eat the most popcorn within a certain time frame win prizes.
Seek the participation of a local celebrity or well-known community figure, such as a prominent high school teacher, who agrees to be “jailed” by being tied to a lamppost or some other object in public view. Beside this person, post a chart featuring a thermometer with a number at the top. The number signifies the amount of money needed to “free” him from jail. Have the jailed person ask passersby for donations, and slowly color in the thermometer as more money is raised until you reach your goal. Alternatively, ask a well-known person to undergo a public haircut, in which onlookers are asked to donate money to a given charity, and the hair is donated to people who might need it.
If you have a large garden, designate a day in which visitors can pay a small admission fee to look over it. Provide guided walking tours where you explain the nature of the various flowers, plants and fruits on display. Sell concessions at the event or, if space permits, combine the garden tour with a yard sale. Invite friends over to play games, drink tea and eat cake. Play board, card or traditional games like spoons and hot potato and award prizes to the winners. Set out a bowl in the middle of the main table with a note indicating that donations are welcome.
Boze Herrington is a writer and blogger who lives in Kansas City, Mo. His work has been featured in Cracked and "The Atlantic."