Fundraising Ideas

Here are some easy fundraising ideas you can use to raise funds and much-needed money for your school, church or charity.

It can be difficult for a non-profit organisation to get motivated and create events so here are some fun (perhaps crazy) and quick fundraising ideas you can try out.

Organising the Event

You need as many people as possible to turn up, so pre-event marketing is essential. At your school or church put posters up in plenty of time, so people know the date. Announce it in newsletters, on coffee mornings and offer a book of entry tickets for people to sell to their friends and family.

Once the event has taken place, you can add it into a regular calendar so people can look forward to the next event. Perhaps once every three months or at least once per year.

For fundraising events, everyone wants to get involved, and you can never have enough help from volunteers. When planning, have an idea of how much you want to raise so you can calculate ticket prices in advance.

Your goal is to charge enough to entice people to come along and make a profit, but not too much that you put people off. Find out how big your venue is, so you don't overbook. Once your event is over make sure you communicate how much you have made and thank everyone for coming and helping.

10 Ideas That Work Well

Here are ten easy to implement ideas to raise funds in the next 12 months.

1. Race Night

Many people like horse racing and a race night is a great event to hold. People bet on past races and watch the horses run from previous races played on a DVD. Your guests bet on the horse of their choice just like the real thing (you'll get odds and background on the horses before you bet) then watch the race and see who wins.

You raise money from the bets placed, as not all will pay out. You can lay on food, perhaps a small entry fee and a bar (or soft drinks if you don't have a license). This event is a great fun way to get people together and raise a lot of money.

2. Auctions

An auction every year is by far the biggest money spinner in our children's primary school. The PTA made as much from this one event than all the others put together. A professional auctioneer donates an evening of his time. Families, workplaces and local businesses donate items for auction. Everything from meals in local restaurants to cosmetic sets to signed copies of books to football memorabilia to family holidays in private villas.

A child has the opportunity to be the head teacher for a day for example. They work-shadow the head and visit classes, get treated to lunch, etc.. This prize went for £800.00. There is much competition amongst the children to get this item. A book of auction items is published the week before the event.

The parents manage the night and act as runners trying to keep up with the auctioneers. Everyone attends on the night with cash and chequebooks with all auctions settled on the night in question. Best of all, this can work alongside the family contributions and donations. Sent in from Annie Garfoot.

3. Annual Fund

Your school can operate an annual fund which parents contribute to each year. For example, £40.00 per year goes into a total reserve; then the PTA can award monies for special projects that the parents provide. This system usually gets waived in cases of hardship, but many parents contribute and then vote on the schemes presented.

4. A Summer or Winter Ball

Organising a black-tie event can be costly, but could introduce much-needed funds. It's something that needs careful planning as the costs of hiring marquees are extremely expensive. Our school saves costs by having canapes rather than a first food course, offering Pims rather than Champagne, and adds in some of the ideas here into the evening event.

5. Summer Fete

Many fetes occur in the summer, and if you're a school or church, you'll likely have a playing field or church field you can hold this event. Develop stalls that sell local produce, a coconut shy, tombola stall, BBQ stand, drinks tent, lucky dip and anything you can think of that people enjoy. Have a DJ playing music and announce what's going on during the day.

Charge a nominal fee for entrance and get people to bring things along such as homemade cakes and items for the tombola stall. You can even have teachers in the stalls and charge children to throw wet sponges at them.

6. Christmas Fayre

In your school or church hall develop a Christmas market along the lines of the summer fete. Get the teachers to dress up and have one as Father Christmas to give out small presents that others have donated. Have a prize draw from the tickets sold with similar stalls to the ones mentioned above selling homemade produce and tombola stalls. Perhaps even have a donated stand with products from parents and local businesses.

7. Auction of Promises

Similar to the above auction scenario we raised over £3,000 at an Auction of Promises with all kinds of promises made from local businesses and parents that included free babysitting to CDs donated by the local radio station.

How it worked was that with about 60 parents, we tapped into their companies and suppliers to get some fantastic prizes to auction and this included a weeks holiday on a Canal boat. This scheme is a great way to get some phenomenal prizes because usually, they don't cost the local business anything (except opportunity cost). They get their name promoted within the auction when each item becomes up for sale. Sent in from Frederika Johns.

8. Sponsored Contests

Another group I work with is the local school. They only have 32 pupils but raised £3k to refurbish their toilets with a sponsored art contest. All the local businesses were asked to donate £10 to sponsor one of the children's work.

They then display the art all over the area in shop windows, house windows, businesses - in fact anywhere to show off and promote the work on display. On the day of the contest, visitors buy a card listing all the art, and for each piece of art they find, they get a signature from the sponsor.

Those who get all the signatures get put into a prize draw with all the prizes donated by local businesses. It worked so well the first year; they did it again this year to purchase some more sports equipment. Also, the children loved being a part of the contest as they got fully involved and saw their paintings displayed all over the town. Sent in from Frederika Johns.

9. Selling and Sponsoring Projects

If your school or church has a structure that needs repairing how about getting people and businesses to sponsor parts of it, for example, a metre of footpath repair at the cost of £50 per metre. The sponsor receives a certificate with a grid reference so you can go and stand on your metre.

You can also develop a memorandum programme where you could buy metres of footpath repair and put a photo, poem or whatever in the In Memorandum book; some of the cheques we got were in the thousands! This idea also negates the need for having park benches everywhere that need constant maintenance. Sent in from Frederika Johns.

10. Sponsored Activities

An annual, school-wide walkathon, done by the students. We live in San Francisco, so it takes place on a morning in Golden Gate Park. Each student is expected to get pledges totalling at least £200. This year they exceeded last year's total, and the amount was about £163,000. It also gives the kids a feeling of contribution on the part of their own efforts. Sent in from Caitlin Morgan.

Whatever school, church or charity you need money for we hope these fundraising ideas give you some inspiration.

Mix and Match Your Activities For Impact

Some of the above ideas can feed into one another. For example, you can have an auction during a summer ball, or during a break in a race night.

Rather than just having a cake sale or BBQ, have an entire event that covers many activities. The more that's happening, the more money people will spend.

At the end of your fundraising activity, make sure you publish a profit and loss account for each project. That way you can see what types of ideas raise the most money and use that knowledge when you repeat the experiences next time.