If you are searching for expert guidance regarding how to raise as much money as humanly possible for your good cause, look no further – you have found your people. We have years of experience in navigating every imaginable charity pathway and have collated our top tips into this handy list of our Ultimate 27 Fundraising Ideas.
1. Silence is Golden.
A silent auction – (simply an auction that doesn’t require an auctioneer, bids are written on a piece of paper instead) has the potential to be a superb money-spinner, as well as being a thoroughly enjoyable night out. It’s also a way of allowing people to indulge in a guilt-free luxury shopping experience, whilst basking in the warm glow that altruism inevitably generates. The main challenge here is sourcing really amazing donated items/services. If you’re planning on approaching local businesses, have a (short, snappy) pitch prepared in which you persuasively outline the work your charity does. Once established, such contacts could prove invaluable for future fundraising efforts too. Find out more about running a successful silent auction.
2. Awesome Animals
A cliché it may be, but the oft quoted ‘we are a nation of animal lovers’ is certainly pertinent when it comes to persuading people to part with their hard-earned cash. There are so many ways to involve our furry friends in our fundraising efforts: think sponsored dog walk, kids pet art competition with an entry fee, holding a ‘Cruftseque’ competition, a whole school ‘dress as a pet’ day, pay-per-day doggie day-care – the possibilities are almost endless. If the charity closest to your heart cares for animals, this is the ideal route to take in order to raise as much as you can from like-minded people.
3. The World’s Your Oyster
Destination challenges are a very popular way of raising more sizable sums for your good cause. Whether you opt to work with orangutans in Indonesia, volunteer at a school in Madagascar or fancy hiking to Everest Base Camp, there are options for every taste. If such endeavours are not for you, turn to the students in your life. Encourage them to partake in a charity challenge after they finish their A Levels or during their gap year. By doing so, they can raise cash for your charity as well as gaining an impressive experience to list on their CV or UCAS application.
4. Food, Glorious Food
Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best. A school cake sale is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser, and if you plan it well, you could make a sizeable sum for your good cause. Pester power never presents as potently as it does in front of a table laden with tasty treats at 3pm on a Friday afternoon. Ask for donations both homemade and bought ahead of time, and set your prices high. Linking cup-cake themes into current playground crazes could boost your sales – Pinterest is your friend here.
5. Creative Crowdfunding
Crowdfunding campaigns are a very valuable way to raise funds online. Tell the story of your cause in compelling terms, and then share this far and wide, both on and offline line to encourage supporters to contribute. Set a realistic target and a timeframe within which to hit it, and ensure that your key message is communicated clearly and emotively.
6. Big Laughs
If your fundraising target is fairly modest, there’s no need to follow in the footsteps of Magellan or go or trekking in the foothills of the Himalayas in order to attract sponsorship from friends and family. Instead, use humour to generate interest. For example, if you have access to a (good-natured) hirsute man, persuade him to have his legs waxed in public in return for donations, or coax a teacher to bathe in a bath of beans.
7. Give it Up
Personal challenges that friends and family will emphasise with (giving up alcohol/chocolate/shaving or setting a weight loss target) can prove a very successful way to raise some cash for your good cause. The element of dedication required should generate some decent levels of sponsorship, particularly from your nearest and dearest. Sober October and Movember are perennially popular, but feel free to come up with your own unique take.
8. Cause Specific
If you are raising money to fight cancer, to take one example, you might offer to shave your head to show solidarity for those undergoing chemo. Or, if you (or your offspring) have long luscious locks there are a number of charities who will use a length of donated hair to make wigs for cancer patients.
9. Social Whirl
If you have a large following on social media, an online challenge is definitely worth considering. The phenomenal success of the ‘ice bucket challenge’ and to a lesser extent the ‘no-make up selfie challenge’ is well documented, so be creative and think outside the box to try to come up with a unique idea that will resonate with your particular online community.
If you work in an environment where the air regularly turns a delicate shade of Farrow & Ball blue, a swear jar is an ideal way to fundraise. 50p per infraction and you’ll be (literally) coining it in.
11. I Run, Therefore I Am
Running a marathon is the gold-standard physical challenge, largely because of the very high level of training and preparation required. Marathons are synonymous with charity fundraising right across the world, and so committing to run the required 26.2 miles is a very clear message to send to your supporters, aptly demonstrating your devotion to your cause.
12. Go Extreme
The brave of heart will find there are lots of ways to channel their ‘derring-do’ attitude into charity cash. There’s a massive range of activities available from feats of pure endurance (Iron Man Triathlon anyone?) to stunts that require a lifetime supply of adrenaline (skydiving). Extreme challenges of this nature tend to resonate keenly with supporters, who will donate partly out of sheer admiration for what you are proposing to do (and partly out of relief that they don’t have to do it).
13. Lady Luck
A raffle with a desirable prize/s is always a winner. You’ll have to do some groundwork in order to find items that will genuinely appeal to your supporters. Bespoke or high-value items will entice people to buy multiple tickets. Raffles are a great way to forge valuable contacts in the local community that can be exploited going forward. If you’re already holding a fundraising event in your school, church or elsewhere such as a firework night or barn dance, a raffle is a simple ‘bolt-on’ that should really boost your margins. Get a team together to patrol the event and sell tickets. Social events (particularly those involving alcohol) tend to breed endless supplies of good will, which can be easily converted into high ticket sales NB because a raffle is technically a form of gambling, you will need to ensure you follow the law to the letter.
14. Marvellous Mufty
A whole-school Mufty Day is a totally cost-free way of raising funds. Every child that wears his or her own clothes (or pyjamas, why not?) to school on a given day contributes a £1 for the privilege.
15. Raid the Dressing Up Box
Along the same lines why not organize a primary school ‘dress as a favourite TV/film character/alien/woodland creature day. Every owner of a primary-school aged child knows that kids love to compete in terms of the coolest/most impressive outfits – and this is the perfect outlet to let them express their creativity while raising money. If you can tie the theme into the curriculum, however spuriously, you’re far more likely to get school support.
16. Just Ask
In some rare cases, it’s sometimes enough to ask for donations – a case in point being high profile natural disasters such as famines or earthquakes, where fundraising pages often hit their target within hours of them going live. If you opt to go down this route, you’ll need to tell your cause story in emotive language designed to compel your audience to donate and be prepared to spread the word via social media.
17. Old School
There’s nothing wrong with the more-old-fashioned door to door ‘shake a tin’ approach to fundraising. However, to boost your collection, approach one (or more) friendly local business (a shop or hotel for example) and ask them to keep one of your collection tins on their counter. You could also circulate tins among your supporters to keep in their kitchen or hallway. It’s astonishing how quickly spare change that would otherwise end up languishing down the back of the sofa adds up.
18. Waste Not, Want Not
For a ‘slow and steady wins the race’ approach, think about setting up some recycling points at your school, church or charity headquarters. Everyday items such as cans, clothes/textiles, ink cartridges, mobile phones and stamps are all recyclable for profit.
19. Charity Cash in the Attic
It will come as no surprise to anyone who has ever driven anywhere on a Sunday morning in the UK that car boot sales are resoundingly popular. So, why not get together with some like-minded friends to see what hidden treasures you can unearth in your home to sell. You could also consider hiring a suitable space (large school car parks are a good bet) and running your own sale, charging per car. You will need to think about issues such as access and traffic flow if you opt to go down this route, your local council will be able to provide guidance.
20. Jolly Jumble
Similarly, jumble sales and bring-and-buy sales are consistently well attended, so long as you have a decent venue, a stack of trestle tables, a gang of volunteer pricers and sellers, a supply of carrier bags and lots of change. You can theme these to add interest.
21. Season Well
As the seasons change, so can your fundraising programme. Name any key event in the year and there will be a fundraising opportunity linked with it: Valentine’s Day card making, a Valentine Ball, Easter Egg Hunt, Easter Bonnet Competition, May Ball, Summer Fair, Halloween Party, Bonfire Night / Fireworks evening, Christmas cards, Christmas Fair.
22. Crafty Idea
Most schools boast some truly talented parent-crafters, and these are skills ripe to be exploited. Set up a regular craft morning after drop-off, with coffee on tap and plenty of cake, and chat as you create. Painting or decorating simple items such as plates, glasses or tealight holders to fit a given theme will build up a stock of items which can be sold at a school sale. The same approach can be taken at any organisation, whether that’s your local church group, Women’s Institute or if you should happen to be a Brown Owl in charge of a gaggle of gifted Guides.
23. Class Act
A leavers’ school year book (whether primary or secondary) is always wildly popular among students as they reach the end of their final year. These get passed around and signed, and are a keepsake that most students will treasure for a lifetime. Just be careful of your margins – prices quoted by professional yearbook companies tend to be pretty high, which could endanger your profit. Far better to use your network and seek out photographer/designer/copywriter parents who will offer their time for free. Talk to your local printer and, by offering to publicise their business on the school website and in the yearbook itself, you should be able to negotiate a decent price on the print run.
24. Principled Pay
Payroll Giving is an extremely flexible (and tax-free) way to donate regularly to your chosen good cause directly from your pay.
25. Glorious Gift Aid
Remember to remind your supporters that they may be eligible to claim Gift Aid. If they are a UK taxpayer, Gift Aid will increase the value of their charity donation by 25%.
26. Selling Skills
A charity skills auction is a fun way to get the most out of your supporter’s various talents. When raising money in this way, you can offer pretty much anything: a florist to make a bespoke wedding bouquet, a handyman for half a day, a teacher who will tutor for a set number of hours, a computer expert who will clear a cache of cookies – almost all of us have a skill that is useful to others. This is a wonderful way to boost community spirit while raising money for your good cause. Setting a realistic reserve is key here, as you don’t want to alienate your generous experts by letting their skills go to waste for too low a price.
27. Red Carpet
Organising a large, high profile charity event can be an awesome way to raise the big bucks and publicise your cause. That being said, there is an awful lot of planning involved (spreadsheet essential), and you should only go ahead if you are confident you have a support network large and affluent enough to support your event. Decide on how much you want to raise, then factor in all your costs. And remember, decent marketing is essential if you are to get your event off the ground.
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