Top Fundraising Ideas for Churches, Youth Groups and Nonprofits

All charities exist on the generosity of others. An estimated $295 billion dollars was donated to charities in 2006. As a former nonprofit director, I have seen good organizations tremble at the thoughts of raising money. Yet, fundraising is how charities keep running and how small youth groups go on mission trips.

Mention fundraising to a group and you will inevitably hear horror stories of hours spent at a traffic light in the summer heat. Reactions may include nervousness about asking friends for money and the desire for a 'different' type of fundraiser.

A fun or exciting fundraiser is important. The more interesting it is, the more people who want to jump aboard. More people means the organization or group can raise more money.
But what about when your group is small or volunteer hours are limited?

These fundraising ideas are workable for groups of just about any size. The events can be done on a small scale or a large one. How big the event is will be determined by:

1. The amount you need to raise.
2. The size of your organization.
3. Number of volunteers
4. How much time each volunteer can give
5. Venue size and cost

Now that these considerations have been determined it's time to plan your event. The list below gives ideas that can be scaled to fit groups of any size. Which one will you choose?
  • Dinners
  • Car or tractor show
  • Live auction with refreshments
  • Antique appraisal fair
  • Restaurant meal night at a fast food, pizza or local restaurant
  • Crowdfunding
  • All day music event with concession
  • Yard, used book or bake sale
  • cookbook
  • Festival
  • Product or candy sales
  • Family pictures
  • Breakfast with a local celebrity, Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny (in season).
  • Teddy bear tea for all ages
  • Fashion show and luncheon
  • Car wash
  • Motorcycle rally
  • Bike ride or 5K Walk
  • Opportunity quilt
  • Golf or fishing tournament
  • Art or photo exhibit and sale
  • Craft fair
  • Traffic light donation campaign
Points to ponder:
Don't decide to hold a tournament, 5K run or put a memories or cookbook together the month before funds are needed. Some events can take months to plan. Only your group can decide whether to hold a large event that takes months to implement or a fairly quick fundraiser. There isn't any right or wrong answer. It's all matter of the five steps mentioned above.

Groups should look into the size and affordability of a venue after determining the fundraising goal. If you only want to raise a few hundred dollars, then a free street corner may be ideal for a bake sale, yard sale or lemonade stand. Raising more money might mean expanding the yard sale and moving it into a nearby parking lot or gum.

Job descriptions need to be written for key volunteers. The descriptions define tasks and make it clearer for everyone to understand what the others are doing. Volunteers should pitch in if asked to help in other areas. The idea is to work as a team to raise the funds that are needed.

Accessibility is important. Does the thought of carrying yard sale boxes up or down steps give you pause? Are you concerned about rolling boxes of books up a steep ramp? If so, then your customers will be too.

Cost is always a concern. Churches, stores and businesses may be willing to work with you. Always have an agreement well in advance of your fundraiser. It may be helpful to spell out the terms in writing and have everyone sign it. This gives you something to refer to later.

A written agreement may or may not be needed by small groups in a small venue. However: it is critical for organizations that are utilizing a large or costly space. When in doubt, write it out.
Insurance is always a concern. If needed, special event insurance can be purchased from most insurance companies. A number of companies sell it online. Always do your due diligence before purchasing insurance.