I have been a professional fundraiser for more than 30 years now, and I am asked the same question, in different forms, countless times. "What can we do to raise money?"
Typically, this question comes because of an emergency situation – like we have no money, and need to do something, anything, to get cash rolling in.
The ideas also need to be engaging enough to get people involved, and get them involved quickly.
Well, in this edition of the Five Minute Fundraiser, I’ll give you 10 ideas you can use right away to bring in money.
1. Channel Your Inner Master Chef
As nod to cooking reality TV shows, try rounding up supporters and “foodies” around a friendly culinary competition. Contestants create their best dishes with a specific ingredient, or other criteria, and people pay to taste and cast their votes. This is a win-win for everyone, unless the chef can’t cook – but then it adds a bit of drama and fun.
2. Arrange a Scavenger Hunt
Organize a scavenger hunt and send participants all around town. Charge a registration fee and offer extra tips and hints for different donation amounts.
3. Conduct an Indoor Golf Tournament
If you have the facilities, this idea is one that will get lots of attention, and you'll have lots of fun doing it. Create an indoor mini-golf course throughout your building. You can have as many holes as you'd like, up to eighteen; perhaps one hole for each floor or corridor. Use the natural layout of the hallways, and rooms. Create obstacles of furniture, which also serve to direct traffic in a specific pattern. If you can't get hold of actual golf putters -make your own out of stick or broom handle and a butter knife lashed together. Just like a real golf tournament, have participants pay an entry fee -$5, $10 -anything the market will bear. You can easily create and sell hole sponsorships as well - every person in your organization is a potential advertiser. Charge extra for sponsorships: create packages that include foursomes and advertising. If you'd like, create an ad book out of 8" x 11" sheets of photocopied paper and charge additionally for advertising. Give-aways could include office supplies or materials - a calculator or stapler - anything cheap. Give a special prize for a hole in one on a particularly challenging hole. The comparisons with a real tournament are endless.
4. Give It Up for a Cause
To demonstrate how the smallest donation can make a big difference, ask fundraisers to give up a daily beverage (like from their favorite Starbucks ) or meal and donate the money to your worthwhile cause instead. Intensify the appeal by asking supporters to participate for a certain number of days or encouraging them to meet a personal fundraising goal.
5. Host a Video Fundraising Festival
Host a video festival and have participants enter their own unique productions. If you have a You-Tube account, you can even turn it into a contest, where attendees can give $5 in order to cast votes for their favorite films.
6. Have a Hairless Fundraiser
In this one, participants simply pledge to shave their heads (or long-lasting beards) in exchange for donation. Many cancer organizations like this one because it helps donors empathize with their patients.
7. Hold a Trash Art Auction
This quick fundraising idea isn’t just for the eco-friendly, but for all creative types. Enlist local artists to create some avant-garde masterpieces out of recyclables or other waste products, and auction off the pieces. You can raise quite a bit in a small amount of time with the right audience.
8. Host a Quizbowl
Host a “quiz game” night and charge an entrance fee for attendees. Group people into different teams to see who can gain bragging rights and raise the most money!
9. Run the Race with a Different Face
Host a costumed race where people dress up in alignment with a pop culture phenomenon, whether it’s zombies, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Hunger Games, or another theme. With all the different options to choose from, this quick fundraising idea never gets old.
10. Conduct a Dodgeball Tournament
This simple idea only requires a little space and a soft ball. Ask each team to fundraise a certain amount to participate in the tournament and to come geared up for some serious dodging.
I hope these ideas are helpful as you try to raise money for your cause.