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A Dozen Cool Fundraising Ideas::cool fundraiser ideas::non-profit fundraisers

Updated on December 27, 2011

Cool fundraising ideas follow!

So, you want cool fundraising ideas? Non-profit groups are always scrambling to isolate good fund raisers to fill their coffers to allow for projects to go forward. A successful fund raiser will excite you and give you the energy to last between times of low money in your bank accounts. Most everyone will donate to charity in some way during the year, either to a church or other non-profit group, so there is plenty of opportunities out there for success.

In the following I will document fundraising strategies, cool fundraising ideas and easy fundraising ideas, both for individual fundraising and group fundraising. Some of these are unusual fundraising ideas, but rest assured they have been proven over and over again. Many of these are easy fundraising ideas guaranteed to be great non profit fundraising ideas. There is no end to the potential fundraising ideas, as any method can be tried, depending on whether you have a group fundraiser or just some off the wall fund raising idea.

Everyone looks for the easy ways to raise money, which anyone with fundrasing experience will tell you is an oxymoron. Fun fundraising ideas make the job a little less burdensome, but there is still plenty of hard work required. Fundraising activities ideas require lots of planning, sometimes lots of equipment and usually always lots of bodies. You must be able to properly coordinate all this or your cool fudnraising ideas will flop before they can fly.

Fund raising can be a tiring affair, with long hours and frustrating complications like weather or regulations getting in your way. Do not despair for I have multiple easy fundraising ideas to help you overcome these impediments. These are guaranteed ways to supplement the non profit fundraising ideas you are already working so hard to complete. Fundraising for non profit organizations is probably the most frequent application of these fundrasing ideas.

My wife and I became fund raising pros while members of our church Relay For Life team. Church fund raising is a delicate balance as some people feel like you are compromising values. We were not about anything other than trying to provide the funds to battle cancer, so our fund raisers were generally very successful.

Our team was the first in our county to raise $10,000! We continued and raised that much for five consecutive years. Our fundraising activities were varied, but with time we learned which fundraising strategies were the best. In our last year of this effort we set another high water mark for fund raiser success as we collected $15,000 for the Relay For Life cause.

Fund raising is not for the faint of heart. You must be willing to try any fundraising idea. You will see numerous online fundraising tips, which may or may not work in your area. Be sure to notice what is going on around you and do not hesitate to consult fund raising consultants in your area.

Charity fundraising is fulfilling in that you know your efforts will go for a good cause. Otherwise you may just feel like another employee of an organization just trying to squeeze more blood out of a turnip. Successful fund raisers will leave you and those contributing feeling as though they have done a positive thing.

Flock of flamingoes

This was a unique idea promoted by a local Baptist Church a decade or so ago that was a monumental success. The premise is this: There is a quantity of flamingos that mysteriously show up in the yard of a home or the front of a business. The lucky recipient then has been said to have been “flocked”. There was no warning of course, but there was some anticipation by those following this as they wondered where they would see the familiar pink herd next.

One of the things that made this even more effective was the involvement of a local radio station. Every morning they would provide a “flock watch” and people would call in as they saw the newest location to report it so all could drive by and see the show. There was a huge buzz in the community, which of course fueled the idea as more people became familiar.

There was also an option to buy “flamingo insurance” to prevent the act. This fee would assure you would not wake up to a yard full of pink plastic birds. I do not know exactly how long this insurance covered you, but know some people were determined not to be among those who had the birds.

A word of caution though, this involved sneaking around in people’s yards at all hours and could have potentially been dangerous or unlawful. If you choose to pursue this idea, check with your local law enforcement to let them know what it is about. This may prevent unhappiness with the authorities.


Selling boxed lunches


In the hectic world we all inhabit, there is less opportunities to prepare a delicious meal for our lunches. Fund raisers can jump into this void with freshly prepared box lunches to sell for a modest price. There are all kinds of possible foods that will work in this idea. Basically it is just a matter of getting the food ready I time to deliver during the lunch hour.

As my wife pointed out over our years of fund raising, people are more willing to hand over money when you offer them something instead of just begging the dollars. This is especially true with this option because people are spending money for their lunch anyway, so you’re fund raising gives them a chance to help out while filling their tummies.

Selling food at the event


We had a 24 hour time period at the Relay for Life events to generate more cash. At our peak we would cash in with food sales the day of the event to the tune of $2,000! This was by far the best of anyone at the event. We did this by offering more than just the normal hot dogs or hamburgers, which are a dime a dozen at festivals and fairs.

Our biggest sellers were Philly Cheese Steak sandwiches, hot potato soup and Hot Fudge cake. Over the years people built up an appetite for this knowing we were going to provide it and our business was always brisk.

Have you tried any of these fund raising ideas?

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Selling food at an auction


There are auctions in our area nearly every week. Most of these sales do not have anyone with food for sale. If you can partner with an auctioneer you can make a tidy sum selling simple food to the people attending the sale who want to settle their rumbling guts.

Again, the risk is handling the food so it is safe and fresh. People will not take a chance on food if they do not know you or suspect there may be a danger.

Selling fruit


The high school I graduated from and the same my son is in now has a band fund raiser where they sell fruit. Everyone wants to have great citrus products for the holidays, so we find this to be a very dependable fund raising method. With the fruit supply company you get a certain percentage of the selling price.

Yard Sales/Garage Sales/Rummage Sales


We have had massive success with yard sales. Of course it is usually with the benefit of a great location, good weather and items donated from the members of a church. The more items you have the better. Also, you need a dependable source of labor for set up, pricing and clean up after the sale.

People are always seeking bargains. Why not get that junk cluttering your home or out building out of your way while making some money for your charitable organization? Some people would give us more than we asked simply because they believed in our cause.

Gospel Singing


Don’t exclude musical events from the sphere of ideas for your fund raising events. People will attend and donate to your cause if you have musicians they know or are interested in.  If you can get a name entertainer your chances for success are better, but even local names can produce a crowd worth your time.

You can either charge admission or take an offering of donations. With the admission you are guaranteeing a certain amount per head, but may limit the generosity of someone really committed to your cause.

Bingo supplies for fundraising


For a couple of decades my local volunteer rescue squad would hold an annual bingo night at the local high school. The crowds were massive as people loved to play this game. Many of the local businesses gladly donated items to use as the prizes, which helped to draw the crowd.

I know of a fire department that has Bingo every Friday night to keep their equipment up to date. At the present they have no engine older than a 1999 model, which is unusual for an all volunteer force. Their method is to have a set prize for their games with a jackpot for the end, all of which is arranged from a portion of their bingo card sales for the evening.

 Also, my son's band booster organization tried this a few months ago, with local businesses donating items to use as the bingo prizes including gift certificates and merchandise. In order to be successful with this idea you must have someone willing to pound the pavement and leverage their relationship with business owners in your community.

Womanless Beauty Pageant


You can stop laughing now, at least until I explain the concept. I am sure all of us know some man we would love to see try to wear a dress. People will pay good money for this pleasure. It is one of the most fun things you could experience for the money.

Some would say putting beauty and womanless together is an oxymoron. That is kind of the point in doing it this way. What is scary is seeing some man so dolled up you begin to wonder where reality stops and fantasy begins.

More books on fund raising

Providing wait staff for a local restaurant


There is a pizza restaurant near me that has a fund raiser every Monday to allow groups the chance to raise money. The group will sell $10 tickets, which the purchaser can use to pay for their meal. The fund raisers get half, the restaurant the other half. This way, even if the people who buy your tickets don’t show up you cash in on the $5 half of your effort.

Also, since you are waiting the tables, you get whatever tips are involved. Usually our group would do $1000 for about 3-4 hours work. It was difficult to get that type of return for a similar amount of time doing anything else.

Bake Sales


There is always an appetite for fresh baked goods. The trouble with this idea is finding a location with sufficient traffic to get your goods sold. Some businesses will allow charitable groups to set up at their entrances, which will provide a suitable amount of potential patrons.



We have some amusement parks nearby that will donate one day passes to charitable organizations. Since they are well known, there is quite an interest in a raffle for these items. The tickets are valued at about $65-$85 and a $1 or $2 ticket will sell quite easily.

You can charge more, but people are more likely to buy multiple $1 tickets than one large priced ticket. The local county fair offers a new vehicle every year, but the ticket for this is a flat $100, which if you win the automobile is a great trade.

Try these ideas!

 There are many ideas above that have proven quite successful for us over the years. Undoubtedly there are this many more possible ways to up your fundraising success. Try anything you can think of so people will embrace the new ideas.

Cookie Dough Fundraiser

 Everyone loves sweets, so this is a no-brainer. There are multiple companies involved in the production of cookie dough in all the favorite flavors to be sold as a fundraising tool. Frozen cookie dough fundraisers are one of the standard ways in which schools bring in extra monies to do the things their local school boards cannot find funds to support.

Cookie dough fundraisers are always successful, because nearly everyone will pay for a tub of frozen cookie dough that can easily be spooned out, popped into the oven and baked into cookies within minutes. Of the food fundraisers this may be one of the easiest, at least on the consumer's side of the equation. 


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    • profile image

      Y Battle-Felton 

      6 years ago

      I really like the idea of a group providing wait staff as a charity event. It's creative.

      I'm looking for fundraising ideas for my own project but if I get involved with a group effort--I will certainly re-visit this hub.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      We did the womanless pageant and it went great.We used high school boys who were sponserd. The girls and woman did the wigs, make-up, underwear and dresses so they all looked great. In fact they were more beautiful than the ladies in the audience. We did talent, evening gown, and lingerie events. Most money we have ever raised

    • Reves-diary profile image


      6 years ago from Dhaka

      Thanks for your awesome ideas for raising funds. Hope this is going to help us when we face some sort of casualties.

    • Dobson profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Virginia

      Keeley - I think these ideas will help you succeed in wringing more money out of potential supporters wallets. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • Keeley Shea profile image

      Keeley Shea 

      6 years ago from Norwich, CT

      Thank you for writing this hub! I was just nominated fundraising chairperson of a Little League organization! EEK! Some of these ideas are great! Thanks!

    • Dobson profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Virginia

      Judie - Food is one of our best fund raisers at an event. The key is to fins a low cost food to sell that everyone will want to buy. also, selling baked goods is a great way to raise funds. Especially on a weekend as your event will be people like to have desserts for the weekend.

    • profile image

      judie bryan 

      7 years ago

      Our arie the faternal order of the eagles are having our 2nd breast cancer fund raising event on the 29th of this month we are a new arie in rural central florida, but everything collected goes to the cure. I myself had breast cancer now 2 mammgrams later still clean. I never thought to go to churches for help do you think this is a good idea? Like I said we are new to this the food is supplied and we are having an auction, any help I know it is a short time away but I would appreciate your comments. Thank you Go for the Cure

    • profile image

      Scott Dalinger 

      7 years ago

      Great article Dobson. You hit the nail on the head with the restaurants, its a great no-risk way to raise funds.


    • Dobson profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Virginia

      jp - Thanks for the tip. Thanks also fro reading and commenting.

    • jponiato profile image


      7 years ago from Mid-Michigan

      Thanks for all the great suggestions. Also, check out the Warrior Dash - they will donate $1000 to any group that will help them with their events.

    • Dobson profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Virginia

      BC - Thanks for the great comments. The womanless beauty contest is a hilarious way to get people to share their cash!

    • BaseCharity profile image


      7 years ago from

      These are some pretty unique ideas, especially the womanless beauty pageant!

    • Dobson profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Virginia

      miss_jkim - Thanks for the kind words and I hope your fundraising efforts get a boost from some of the ideas in this hub.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • miss_jkim profile image


      8 years ago


      I start by applauding your involvement with Relay for Life. I have been involved with this worthwhile organization for the past 10 years.

      Living in a small rural town gives us a bit of a challenge when it comes to fundraisers. I love the flock of flamingos and getting the local radio station involved. We did something similar a couple of years ago with a purple toilet, decorated with a beautiful flower arrangement. Unfortunately it was not well received, but I think the flamingos just might work.

      I am presently writing a hub about fundraisers and I will provide a link to yours. After all, we are all raising money to extinguish cancer.

    • Dobson profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Virginia

      Dorsi - The womanless beauty pagent is a hoot. I will admit that I took part in it one year at our Relay for Life event. Thank God I was not a pretty woman! Although I do take much too long to walk through the women's shoes these days!

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • Dobson profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Virginia

      Amber - These are tried and true strategies that always delivered sizable results for us. I would rather recommend something I know will work than just philosophise about a theory with no actual idea if it will bear fruit.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • Dorsi profile image

      Dorsi Diaz 

      8 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area

      Great ideas but I have to say I'm stuck on the mens dressing up pageant. I somehow can't get the idea of my pastor wearing that WOULD BE WORTH PAYING FOR!! Now if I can only convince the guys that this would be a great fundraiser...hmmm....

    • Amber Allen profile image

      Amber Allen 

      8 years ago

      Hi Dobson

      You've got some really novel fundraising ideas here. Great hub.


    • Dobson profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Virginia

      It is said often it is best to write about what you know and this is something I have quite a bit of practical experience with.

      Hello,hello you are defining what a follower truly should be. You read, consider the thoughts and comment accordingly. I hope you have related icons in your Accolades section!

      Thanks for your continuing support of my passion!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      8 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for such great and many suggestions.

    • Dobson profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Virginia

      drbj - It was a hoot wondering where the flamingoes would "land" mext. People got really excited and into it.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      8 years ago from south Florida

      Great fund-raising ideas, Dobson.

      Thanks for sharing them. I am particularly enamored of the flock of flamingos. They would be a natural here in Florida.

      Plastic alligators might also work but on second thought, they could be too realistic. Scratch the gators.


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