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  • Writer's pictureNicci Smith

12 (Not too Complicated) Fundraising Ideas to Get You Started

Updated: Jun 24, 2022

Fundraising is by far the scariest thing I’ve ever done in my entire life. Okay, so perhaps a slight exaggeration, but it can be a little daunting. Raising funds for an organization or a mission trip can seem overwhelming but with the right attitude and the right methods, it can be a lot of fun too. Here are a few of my favorite fundraising ideas to get you started!

#1 Support Letters

This is probably one of the most humbling fundraising experiences because asking other people to support your mission trip or your cause can be very uncomfortable. It often leaves you feeling exposed and vulnerable. I think that’s why it’s such an important first stop on the fundraising trail. This fundraiser may not provide much of a return, but the heart process involved makes it worth it.

For tips on how to write an amazing support letter, check out this blog post.

#2 Envelopes

This is a fun and super-easy way to raise some funds and get a lot of people involved. The way this one works is by simply taking envelopes and numbering them 1-100. You then tape the envelopes to a wall or lay them out on a table. You then ask people to pick an envelope and commit to giving the amount that is written on the envelope. (So, if they pick the envelope with the number 8 on it, they would place $8.00 in the envelope.) If all envelopes are taken and filled, you raise a total of $5050!!

To make this more fun, you can decorate the envelopes or put photos on them. *Bonus - there are also several digital envelope options available if you don’t want to do the cash version!

#3 The Sub-Sandwich

This is an ideal fundraiser for the Super-Bowl or farmers right before harvest if you’re in a rural community. For this fundraiser, you’re simply making and selling sub-sandwiches. Here are a few tips to help this fundraiser go smoothly:

  1. Have the sandwiches pre-ordered and prepaid. Start offering them about a month in advance so you have plenty of time to get a decent amount of orders.

  2. Have the sandwich elements donated. Try to get as much bread, meat, and cheese donated as possible. If everyone in your group can donate it’ll leave more funds for the cause.

  3. Leave off the condiments. Purchase condiment packets instead and include them with the subs.

  4. Gather all supplies and people the morning of delivery and create an assembly line. This will make the prep time go really fast. (And it allows for your group to spend time together!!)

  5. Have people pick up their subs instead of delivering them if at all possible.

#4 Rummage Sale/Book Sale

Everyone has stuff lying around their home that they don’t need or want anymore. Many people are dropping them off at Goodwill or another thrift store, so ask them to donate them to your cause instead! I’m not going to lie - this fundraiser is ALOT of work, but it has the potential to be very profitable.

To make the sale process a little easier, I’ve found it’s helpful to price categories instead of individual items. i.e. all movies are $1, all children's books are $.50, etc. Don’t forget that this is a sale for used items so price appropriately. Placing a jar at the checkout area for donations is always a good idea!

Here are a few tips for this fundraising idea:

  1. Have a specific drop-off location and a specific date that items should be donated. This will be helpful when it comes time to price and set things up.

  2. Add a table with some bake sale items and beverages near the checkout. Who doesn't love a homemade chocolate chip cookie and fresh lemonade after some intense rummage sale shopping?

  3. Have cashier shifts so everyone can take a turn.

  4. Have a designated tidy-up person. Rummage sale tables can get messy, so having someone designated to walk around and tidy up is helpful!

  5. Don't overprice. I know it was mentioned before, but people attend rummage sales to find a deal. If they wanted to spend a bunch of money, they would buy it new.

  6. Post images of your Mission Trip destination around the sale floor and the check-out table. Talk about the trip and make sure people know that is why you're doing the rummage sale.

#5 Car Wash

It’s a classic and it’s worth a shot. Gather your supplies and make some signs. Make sure you pick a busy area, but not a super busy time of day. People on their way to or from work will not want to stop for a carwash. If you choose a super hot day, make sure your work in shifts to let everyone take a break and refresh!

#6 Local Restaurant Fund Raisers

Many restaurants participate in fundraisers that drive traffic to their location and give your organization a portion of the proceeds. Find out if there are any in your area that currently offer this as an option. If not, call your favorite restaurant and see if they would be willing to try it out. Make sure you give plenty of notice so families can plan and budget accordingly!

Here are a few restaurants that offer fund-raising options:

#7 Mystery Dinner Theater

If you have some people in your group that love to be the center of attention, this may be right up your alley. Plan a simple three-course meal and sell tickets in advance. There are a plethora of scripts available on the interwebs or, if you’re super motivated, you could write one up yourself. These are so much fun if it’s something you’re into.

#8 Spare Change

Ask people to check their couches and cars for spare change. You can send an inexpensive “piggy bank” home with them and ask them to bring it back in by a certain date.

#9 Sell All the Swag

People love the swag and you can order or make t-shirts, candles, coffee mugs, and stickers for relatively inexpensive. Set up shop near the entrance of the church or school and sell your little heart out. This method does require upfront costs, but you could also put together a preorder option to eliminate those costs.

#10 Offer Services for a Cause

Babysitting, raking leaves, shoveling snow, etc. Any of these services could be offered in exchange for a donation to your cause. You’ll have to decide if you want to do this on a donation basis or if you want to have set fees for each service. There are pros and cons to both options.

#11 Parent’s Night Out

This is a great option for late November/Early December! Gather up enough volunteers to keep all the kiddos busy and offer a parent’s night out. You will have to decide if you’ll charge per family or per child and take into consideration any costs that might be involved such as food and entertainment.

Here are a few tips for this fundraiser:

  1. Have a pre-registration. This will ensure that you are prepared for the number of children you'll have in attendance.

  2. Determine if you'll be providing dinner and/or snacks. You can always do something simple, like mac n' cheese and chicken nuggets. If you won't be providing either, be sure to have parents bring a sac dinner and snacks for their kiddos.

  3. Have plenty of activities planned to keep the kiddos busy.

  4. End the evening with a movie and popcorn.

#12 Raffle

Hold a good ol’ raffle!! Ask friends and family if they have any goods or services they could donate. A lot of small business owners jump at the opportunity to support a worthy cause and it gets their name out there as well. (Think photographers, hairdressers, masseuses, etc.) Local golf courses, bowling alleys, and restaurants may be willing to donate as well so don’t hesitate to ask!

Fundraising isn’t just about raising money, it’s also about team building. Whether you’re raising funds for a non-profit or a mission trip, getting to know your team and learning how to work together is all a part of the planning and the implementation of the fundraising process. It can be a ton of fun working with each other and learning more about one another.

What fundraising ideas would you add to this list? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

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