Fundraising Ideas for Charities
Fundraising for charities and organisations is crucial if they are to survive and continue to provide assistance to causes that need outside help. The trouble is that parting people from their hard earned money is not always easy, and the charities need to constantly come up with new and exciting fundraising events, preferably with minimal costs, and set up in such a way that the general public are happy to part with their money, safe in the knowledge it is all going to a good cause.
Much of the time fundraising does tend to largely consist of sponsored events, which is fine, although it can become a little bit frustrating for the people such as work colleagues, family, and friends who are constantly being asked if they will sponsor you to do 'such and such' an event or perform 'such and such' a feat, e.g. a bungee jump, a swim marathon etc. This is not to say sponsored events are a bad idea though, and they can work incredibly well if they are promoted well through places such as Facebook and Twitter.
This article aims to suggest various ways to raise funds for charities through all sorts of events, including sponsored activities, but also including other more unusual ideas that might make it far easier to get the money flowing in without the general public feeling they are being 'hounded' into parting with it.
Let's start with the obvious and probably most common method used to raise money for charity, the sponsored event. This usually consists of some kind of endurance based challenge, and the person performing the challenge will be sponsored in increments according to how far or how successful they are at the challenge in question. Just some ideas for a sponsored event include:
A sponsored swim. The person is usually sponsored for how far they can swim in terms of lengths of a swimming pool, per mile for attempting to swim a body of water like the English Channel, or even for swimming underwater without coming up for air.
A sponsored walk/run. The person or people get sponsored per mile/kilometre for walking or running a specific distance.
A sponsored parachute jump/bungee jump etc. Quite often these seem to be chosen because the person going through with the action has already got a fear of heights, therefore the challenge and the fear they are overcoming in order to raise the money makes it that much harder for them to achieve the goal.
A sponsored beard cut. Anyone with a significant beard is fair game for this type of sponsored event. Lots of their friends and relatives will sponsor the person to cut off their beard at some kind of public event. Most of the men sporting such beards don't mind cutting them off in the aid of a good cause, and they know that the beard will soon grow back again.
A sponsored 24 hour 8 ball pool marathon . For this you need quite a few participants, ideally split up into groups over several pool tables or more. Each person gets sponsors based on the amount of balls they will pot over the 24 hour period. Each team member plays their shots, and if they pot a ball they can keep going until they miss. Their ball total is written down and then the next player in the team goes up on the same basis. When the balls run out they are re-racked and the player carries on until they too miss a shot, (the break is a free shot so they don't have to pot a ball). Of course your overall score will also be determined by how well everyone else in your team plays, as that will determine how much time you spend on the table with a chance of potting more balls. This really does work well as a fundraiser, and I took part in one some years ago during which time we raised enough money to buy a lady with multiple sclerosis an electric buggy to get around on.
A sponsored silence. This is an old idea, but a good one, especially for children (or should I say their parents). The details are fairly obvious, as the children get sponsored for every hour they stay quiet.
A sponsored diet. Why not have a sponsored diet! It is a great incentive for overweight people to lose weight, or even for underweight people to gain weight. The individuals can be sponsored per pound lost or gained over a set period of time.
Garage or Boot Sales etc
Garage sales and boot sales can be done several ways in order to make money for charity.The obvious way is to get lots of people to sell their unwanted stuff at one of these types of sales, but instead of keeping the money from the sales made for themselves, the money is donated to the charity in question.
Another way these sales can make money is by charging people a fixed amount per car to sell their unwanted possessions at a car boot sale. They get to keep the money they get from the sales of their stuff, but the fee they paid to take part in the boot sale goes directly to the charity.
Bring and Buy sales work extremely well, mainly because in theory the volume of things being sold never drops. Each person brings something or some things they no longer want, then they buy something or some things they do want. The money raised continues to go up, and the choice of things to buy is ever changing. Anything not sold by the end of the event acts as a great starting point for the next event.
Meat, Fish or Vegetable Draws
These are weekly events here in Guernsey within local pubs and bars, usually on a Friday and/or Saturday night. When they are done here the usual format is that the proceeds raised pay for the meat etc included in the draw, but of course for a charity you would try to persuade the local butcher, fishmonger or greengrocer to donate their surplus produce for free in aid of the cause. You could approach a number of butchers etc if you wanted to, and then spread the word that there is going to be a big food draw at [insert location] on [insert date and time] in aid of [insert cause].
For an event like this you are looking to raise quite a bit of money so the best bet is to use raffle/cloakroom tickets to sell to the customers. On a smaller scale it can be done using two sets of playing cards, (one to sell and one for the actual draw).
The rest is easy, simply display the produce in a prominent place in the bar shortly before the draw so people can see how many prizes there are and what sort of quality the goods are. Then get a few volunteers to go around the room selling the tickets to the customers for about a pound each. Once all the tickets have been sold, the other half of each ticket can be folded up and placed in a bucket for the draw itself. The first ticket is drawn by a randomly selected person, then the winner of that draw chooses the prize they want from the table of goods. This same person is then asked to draw the next ticket from the bucket, and so on until no prizes are left.
Pretty much the same principle as the grocery draws, although of course you don't have to attend a location such as a bar or pub when the draw takes place (unless you want to make it a public event in order to include other mini-events that will encourage people to part with more money for the cause). Most local shops will donate prizes for a raffle if the cause is a good one, but even if you struggle to find donated prizes, as long as you sell enough tickets that you can invest a percentage of the money back into prizes you should find this a good way to raise money.
Usually race nights consist of videos of minor horse races that the people attending can bet on. The profits the 'bookmaker' achieves obviously go to the charity. You might need to check with local authorities as to if you need any kind of special gambling license for an event that involves betting, although this may be determined by the maximum bet allowed per person per race.
Another fun idea is to organise a similar race night, the difference being you make it snail racing or cockroach racing. The organisers need to create a racetrack of some description, preferably with segregated lanes to avoid the contestants wandering off course. The customers can even bring their own snails or cockroaches.
A third way of doing this is through an event like ferret racing, and in this case it is usually performed through drainpipes with various transparent sections in them so you can see which ferrets are in the lead. The ferrets love this activity, as to them it is much like going through a rabbit warren.
A Car Wash
This is a great fundraiser for schools to get involved in. The children are more than happy to get involved in slopping soap suds over people's cars and washing it off with buckets or water or hosepipes, plus if you charge £5 or so per car the money quickly mounts up for the cause, and the children are also very good at 'convincing' their parents, grandparents etc to come along and get their car washed.
A Slave Auction
Not as bad as it sounds. Get volunteers to agree to be a 'slave' for an hour, an afternoon, a day etc. Once you have a sufficient quantity of slaves, you can organise the auction and invite loads of people along to it, preferably including a few successful local businessmen and women. The slaves that are 'won' in the auction may end up performing a number of tasks for the winning bidder, usually based upon their skills, e.g. a carpenter might put up some shelves, a chef might cook a nice meal, a gardener might do some digging etc. If you can get a decent local venue like a hotel you can even arrange for a meal to be included and charge a fee per ticket to attend the auction. If the hotel will offer a discount because it is for charity even better, but if not try to make sure you will at least make some profit off the event's tickets as well as the actual auction proceeds.
Sell your Hair
Human hair is in high demand for real hair wigs, and therefore companies that make wigs will pay a premium for real human hair. This type of fundraiser is especially good for a Cancer charity, as many of the ultimate wearers of such wigs are people who have lost their hair as a result of Cancer treatments. Whether you make this a public event or not depends on how you want to promote it, but I would suggest getting a local newspaper and radio station to publicise the event in advance, and say you are looking for volunteers willing to have their hair cut off on the day, (the longer the hair the better.) All going well you should receive a good response from people willing to 'donate' their hair to the charity, i.e. revenue made from the sale of their hair goes to the cause. You can bet that if the event is made a public one, with each person attending on the day to get their hair cut in front of an audience, then the media coverage will be excellent and will generate more interest for the charity you are fundraising for.
Pay to Sing Karaoke Night
I went to one of these a couple of years ago and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised as to how well it went. Most people who enjoy singing on Karaoke are desperate for their turn to sing to come around again, and they are certainly willing to pay a pound or two a time for each song they get to sing (put in a collection box when they go up to the microphone to sing). If you can persuade a karaoke host to offer their services and their equipment for free one night, then you are guaranteed a profit if there is any interest in karaoke where you live. You can use your imagination to expand on this idea by getting the audience to 'bid' on who they want to sing next, or what they want the song choice to be (offer options to bid on as not all singers can sing all songs, or even know them otherwise). These kinds of events are usually held in a bar or pub because many singers need the 'Dutch courage' of the alcohol before they feel comfortable singing in front of an audience.
A Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger hunts are good fun, but they also offer an excellent fundraising opportunity. Get local businesses such as hotels, restaurants and shops to donate the prizes, then charge an entrance fee for taking part. If every car/team is charged £10 (for example) the money soon adds up, and the costs are only the time it takes to approach the local businesses for prizes such as free meals or overnight stays, as well as the time taken to produce fliers and ask local radio and newspapers to mention the event. The list of items required in the scavenger hunt should include a couple of very tricky items to narrow down the amount of people who will be in a race to finish first, e.g. a jar of homemade jam or a vicar's collar etc.
A 24 Hour Fast
My parents did this to support a third world charity. The idea is the participants go for 24 hours (or more if they prefer), without eating anything. During this time they only allow themselves water. The money they would have spent on food normally is then donated the charity, and if they really want to factor it in, the cost of the electric or gas they would have used to cook the food they would have eaten, plus the cleaning up afterwards. This essentially means the donation to the charity costs nothing at all to the fundraisers.
Start an Online Fundraiser
Unfortunately not everyone will be able to make your fundraising events but thankfully almost everyone is connected via social networks. Therefore, you should also start an online fundraiser on a site such as Go Get Funding and share it across Facebook and Twitter. That will give everyone ample opportunity to donate. But remember, you need to clearly define the need for fundraising and the benefit that the donations will bring. Offering thoughtful rewards in exchange for donations is a good way to drive more pledges.