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Easy Fundraising Events for Non-Profit Organizations

Updated on May 6, 2012

FUNdraising really can be fun!

Selecting a card for our poker road rally.
Selecting a card for our poker road rally. | Source

American Cancer Society Fundraising

Every year my family and I participate in the American Cancer Society Relay for Life event. I don't think that there is anyone whose life has not been touched in some way by cancer. It is a 24 hour event and is based on the premise that 'cancer doesn't sleep.' Our team is not large (about 10 members) but we managed to raise about $6000 last year. So how did we do it? Well, I'd love to say that it was easy, but that would be a lie. However, I will share with you that after the five years that our team has been around, we have learned how to get the most bang for our buck! These fundraising ideas are not exclusive to the American Cancer Society. They can be used for any charitable or non-profit organization.

Charity Fundraising Ideas

There are many ways to raise funds for charities or non-profit organizations. Some of them are very obvious and you will find to be common for many people to do. Here are some of the more known fundraisers.

  • Hold a bottle drive. If you live in a state where there is a deposit on plastic or aluminum cans, this is an easy way for many people to participate and help out your organization.
  • Host a car wash. Find a location that is large enough to hold several cars and will be willing to allow you to use their water. A school or church parking lot is great for this.
  • Sell Candy. Selling candy is pretty easy but the percentage of profits is not so great. It's a pretty easy one for kids to do.
  • Solicit donations. The old fashioned, just ask is still very effective. Even in the downtrodden economy, many people are still willing to give a little something.
  • Sell coupon books. Many schools and youth groups sell coupon books. They are great for local businesses because it generates business for them and the groups get a percentage of each coupon book sale.

Fundraising During a Charity Event

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Grace is getting her air brush tatoo!Here it is!My nephew is selling bracelets.  Each color symbolizes a different type of cancer.Grace is getting her nails done for part of her princess makeover.Getting your hair done is completed with a crown!Here are come of our little 'princesses!'
Grace is getting her air brush tatoo!
Grace is getting her air brush tatoo! | Source
Here it is!
Here it is! | Source
My nephew is selling bracelets.  Each color symbolizes a different type of cancer.
My nephew is selling bracelets. Each color symbolizes a different type of cancer. | Source
Grace is getting her nails done for part of her princess makeover.
Grace is getting her nails done for part of her princess makeover. | Source
Getting your hair done is completed with a crown!
Getting your hair done is completed with a crown! | Source
Here are come of our little 'princesses!'
Here are come of our little 'princesses!' | Source

Holding a Road Rally

There are two types of road rallies that you can host. Both involve charging a team to participate, (we charged $50 per team with any number of members allowed per team). The traditional road rally is a race to collect certain objects first. The team that successfully claims all of the items and returns to the end point first, wins.

We held a poker road rally. There was no race to the finish. Instead, teams went to four designated locations to pick up a card that was place in an envelope. They were encouraged to have a coffee, dessert, or an appetizer at each place in order to thank the establishment for allowing us to use their place. However, this certainly wasn't required. The fifth place was the final destination and each team had to arrive by 9:30 to show their hands. If you wanted try to improve your hand before showing the hand, you could "purchase" up to two additional cards for $5 each. In the end, the team with the best hand won half the pot. This was our first year doing this and not only was it great fun but we were able to raise a few hundred dollars.

Fun and Easy Fundraising Ideas

Here are some of the fundraisers that we have done that have generated larger amounts of money that were not too much work.

  1. Host a Road Rally. Road rallies can be lots of fun. They are not very hard to put together and can generate a great deal of money for your organization. Charge a team price and the team in the end who wins splits the pot with the fundraising organization. The more teams that participate, the bigger the pot!
  2. Home Sales Show. I was stunned at not only how easy this was but how successful it ended up being. I hosted a Lia Sophia Jewelry show and raised $386 in just one evening! All I had to to do was invite some friends over for some appetizers and drinks. I made sure that they knew that it was a cancer fundraiser so they were prepared to spend some money! Instead of taking the hostess gifts in jewelry, I had the money donated to our team. It was a win win for everyone. My guests had a lovely evening out and walked away with beautiful jewelry and I raised money for our team.
  3. Charity Poker Rooms. We have several charity poker rooms in our area that offer their site as a place to hold a 'legal' poker fundraiser for non-profit organizations. You have to have a special license which is easy to get in most cases. I have heard of school organizations raising thousands of dollars for a cause in just one day. Unfortunately we were not able to do this because the ACS is a national foundation and it was not doable under Michigan law.
  4. Special Day at School. I offer the opportunity to have my school participate in raising funds for my Relay for Life team. We are a uniform school so on a given day, students are able to donate $1 and dress out of uniform. The kids love it and it is a quick way to make some money. Last year we raised $422 with very little effort. Another idea could include a "hats off to cancer" day where each child can wear a hat.
  5. Bowling Event. Bowling alleys are great venues for a fundraiser. It is a fun family activity and doesn't take up more than a couple hours of your time. We usually raise a couple hundred dollars for a small bowling event.
  6. Restaurants. Many restaurants will allow you to host a fundraiser at their establishment. Any customer that mentions the fundraiser automatically has a percentage of their bill donated to that cause. It is usually between certain hours of the day and includes a food bill only. Check with your local restaurants to see if they will offer something like that for you.

Fundraisers During a Charity Event

There are many things that you can do during a charity event. I'm speaking from experience participating in the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life Event. Here are some of the things that our team has done or that other teams during the 24 hour walk have set up in order to raise money for their team.

  1. Sell Food: Many of the teams set up a variety of food options for both walkers and for those who are just visiting the event. Items can range from baked goods, grilled hot dogs and sausage, chips, bottled water or pop, and even ice cream.
  2. Bounce Houses: Rent a bounce house (some places may even donate one) and charge kids to jump. An example could be $2 for a half hour or $10 for all day.
  3. Princess Make-overs: We did this for the first time last year and it was a much bigger success than we could have imagined. We charged each princess $5. They got their nails painted, hair done, and received a tiara for their makeover. It was great fun for all!
  4. Sell Plants: Our walk is right around the time that people like to start planting their flowers. One team sells flowers as part of their fundraising efforts.
  5. Sell Jewelry: Every year we make bracelets using plastic pony beads. We create a bracelet for each type of cancer. We also make multi-colored bracelets to represent all cancers. They are always a big seller for us.
  6. Host Games or Contests or crafts: Set up carnival type games or crafts. Charge a flat fee for each activity. It's a great way to keep kids busy that day!
  7. Air Brush Tatoos: This is another idea that we use each year. Someone on our team knows a person who donates his machine to us. Team members switch off to air brush tatoos to customers. We charge $3 for small ones and $5 for larger ones. It cleans house!
  8. Gift Baskets: Many team members ask local businesses to donate gift cards or merchandise for us to put together gift baskets. We use these during a silent auction that is held at our Relay Event. We have also raffled some off during bowling fundraisers. Since all of the items are donated, there is no cost other than time for us.

What ever way that you decide to raise money for your special event or organization, I wish you luck! It can be exhausting but is also exhilarating! Knowing that you have done something do make a difference in someone else's life is a great motivator. Happy fundraising!


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    • cardelean profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Michigan

      Thanks, glad you liked it! ;)

    • cardelean profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Michigan

      Thank you incomeguru. We try to make it fun! Nothing that's worth anything is ever a piece of cake, but the efforts are always worth it. Thanks so much for stopping by and God Bless you too.

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 

      6 years ago from North Carolina

      Cara-well presented hub with a wealth of great fundraising ideas. Cool!

    • incomeguru profile image

      Oyewole Folarin 

      6 years ago from Lagos

      With all these ideas listed, you have made fundraising interesting. Folks finding fundraising for NGOs too tough will now see how easy and fun it could be. Thanks and God bless.

    • cardelean profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Michigan

      Yes, the first one is like a scavenger hunt. We enjoyed the poker one because there wasn't much preparation for us. You had some great ideas as well. Unfortunately some of those ideas would be great at the actual event but the wine tasting is a no no. They are very strict about alcohol and tobacco products because of the link to cancer. Glad you enjoyed this one and thanks for your share and votes.

    • cardelean profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Michigan

      (There was a little drinking in there too K9 but of course we didn't ENCOURAGE that!) The option to buy was a nice little twist at the end. Thanks for stopping by.

    • cardelean profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Michigan

      Me too teaches12345! And candy and Thanks so much for stopping by and I'm glad you found something new!

    • cardelean profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Michigan

      I'd love to hear more about how it is an online event. That sounds like it would be really neat. Thanks for your feedback Teresa.

    • cardelean profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Michigan

      I'm not sure that our small team could pull off a telethon but maybe we can put on our list to aspire too! I really appreciate your visit and comment DzyMsLizzy!

    • cardelean profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Michigan

      We had girls of all ages participate and we didn't really expect that. :) Thanks so much for your visit, votes up and share Stephanie.

    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 

      6 years ago from Illinois

      Great ideas here, Cara! Fundraising is hard work and it isn't easy to come up with profitable, easy events.

      There is a board member for the farm who LOVES to do garage sales and we'll be having our 3rd annual this year. I HATE having garage sales!! To me, they are a lot of work, even though we made about $1,200 the first year (but not nearly as much the 2nd). We had a wine tasting event in March which I hope will be a repeat event and we made about $800+ and it was a LOT more fun than the garage sale and a lot less work in my opinion.

      The farm had its open house today and this year I had a woman there who sells handwoven baskets from a company called Blessing Baskets. They're made by women overseas who are given a FAIR wage. She split the profits of her sales with us today and although I was grateful for the check, it was quite small ($43, which means she didn't earn much in sales for her 2 hours either).

      I love the idea of the poker road rally (but then, I love cards anyway). I'll have to see what IL says about the 'legal' poker rooms. So on the first road rally - is it like a scavenger hunt for adults then? I always loved scavenger hunts.

      Didn't mean to go on....great hub, good ideas, voted up, useful and shared.

    • K9keystrokes profile image

      India Arnold 

      6 years ago from Northern, California

      Another top quality article! Great ideas, my favorite is the road and driving! What a fun idea! Great way to increase the donations by having the optional "buy" a better hand aspect.


    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      6 years ago

      I have bought many a coupon book from students raising money for their club or school. They were worth every cent paid as the discounts do save money. I love the bowling idea and it's one that is new to me. Great suggestions. Voted up!

    • Teresa Coppens profile image

      Teresa Coppens 

      6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I'm on the board of directors for our local learning disabilities organization. We are in the middle of collecting for our annual silent auction. It is now soley an on-line event and is quite successful! Great hub Cara. It always feels good to give and more importantly help out a great organization in need!

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 

      6 years ago from Oakley, CA

      These are great ideas....silent auctions are great at pulling in the can go as big or as small as you want. You can even televise the event and pull in phone bids, if you have a local cable-access TV station in your area, and hold a mini "telethon."

      I've helped run such events in the past, and you're right--it is exhausting but also exhilarating and gratifying.

      Voted up, interesting, useful and shared.

    • Stephanie Henkel profile image

      Stephanie Henkel 

      6 years ago from USA

      These sound like great fund raising ideas that would be great fun for kids and adults alike. Our local school participates in the Relay for Life and various groups do use some of these ideas. I love the Princess Make-over idea! I can see many girls of all ages finding this a really fun activity. Nice hub, voted up and shared!


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