Non-profit organizations and charities depend on volunteer contributions to fund their activities.

Fundraising CashCredit:

Many times you will find an organization that touches your heart and you feel is worthy of your time and efforts.  If you get involved, you will probably be asked to help raise money to fund their programs and services.  This is called fundraising!  When you volunteer to help raise money for your organization you will face many obstacles.

Why are you raising money?  It is important to know exactly why you are raising money for your organization.  Oftentimes this will be obvious such as raising money to send the local high school band to the national competition but other times you will be fundraising for a non-profit that even though is well known, people aren’t sure what the money is used for.  Make sure you know where your contributions will go and what they will be used for.  

The first thing you must do is to set a goal for your fundraising.  Don’t be shy and timid in setting your goals.  How much money does your organization need?  When you set high goals you will find that you will raise high amounts of money.  If you think you can do it, you definitely will accomplish what you set out to do if you keep a positive attitude about doing it. 

You will also need to set a timeline for your fundraising.  How soon do you need the funds?  Is this an organization that can use the funds year around or are you raising money for a specific event or reason?  The earlier you get a start, the better!  By having a complete timeline and dates to meet specific goals you will have better success. 

Set up a team or committee to help you with your fundraising.  The key to successful fundraising is careful planning and good participation from your committee.  Choose individuals that you know you can depend on and that will be aggressive in their fundraising efforts.  You will want people who are responsible and will follow through with plans and decisions.  You also want to include people who have a good imagination when it comes to ideas for fundraising activities and who have a large social network.   The more people you can contact, the better your chances are when raising money so the more people you involve in your efforts the better your success.

What type of fundraising will you conduct?  This will depend on how much money you need to raise and how much time you have to do it.  Here are a few things to consider when deciding on your fundraising efforts.  One big event takes a lot of time and preparation but can reap big rewards if done successfully.  Usually a large event will involve a large committee and working out a lot of different logistical issues.  Smaller events, such as bake sales and car washes won’t reap as much money but don’t take a lot of advance preparation.  You might also consider individual fundraising.

As a committee, plan a brainstorming meeting to come up with ideas to raise money.  While brainstorming don’t discount any idea, no matter how ridiculous it might sound, as you might be able to build on it with other ideas.  Find something that your team or committee is excited or interested in such as golfing, bowling, cooking, etc.  Often you will find that by keeping it simple and fun you will have your best success. 


After you have a good base of ideas, decide on the best ones that will suit your group.  Discuss the merits of each idea and finalize by making a decision on what you will actually do.  No one wants to waste time with a lot of meetings so it is best to finalize your ideas immediately so you can set them into action.  You need an action plan once you decide what fundraisers you want to pursue. 

Large Event:  A large event will typically require a location, advance ticket sales, food and hosting.  You might also need sponsors to help underwrite the event which will help you make even more money but will also help save on your cash flow. 

Ideas for large events:

  • Sporting event such as a golf tournament or a basketball game,
  • Craft fair or scrapbooking day
  • Battle of the bands, night of music, community play
  • Events based on popular television shows such as American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, Survivor, The Bachelor, etc. 
  • Charity walk or run
  • Dinner and auction
  • Celebrity events – Harlem Globetrotters, Blue Angels
  • Pageant or Bid on a Date
  • Cookbooks
  • Haunted House
  • Parade of Homes show

Smaller Event:  A smaller event will not take as much planning but also won’t make as much money.  Quite often you will find that you will put a lot of time and effort into a smaller event and maybe even as many hours but won’t reap as much money.  The good thing about a smaller event is that it probably won’t take a large outlay of cash to get it going.

Ideas for smaller events:

  • Garage sale
  • Car wash
  • Baked food sale
  • Movie night at a local school
  • Raffle – quilt, baskets, etc
  • Pancake breakfast
  • Booth to sell items at a local event
  • Parking for a local event

Individuals:  There is power in numbers and many individuals are comfortable with raising money on their own.  Give each individual a fundraising goal to complete.  Make it fun by creating a competition between your team/committee members with small prizes for the winners.

Ideas for individuals:

  • Candy or cookie sales
  • Raffle tickets
  • Lemonade stand
  • Email campaign
  • Crafts, jewelry sales

 If you are planning an event you will need to advertise or no one will show up!  Contact your local newspapers and ask for a free write up about your organization and the event you are planning.  If they won’t donate space to you, write a letter to the editor.  Most television and radio stations have community calendars and will do early morning interviews to help promote your organization and event.

Fundraising tips:

  • Always check on local regulations before planning any fundraising event. 
  • Keep careful records of all contributions. 
  • Send thank you notes to sponsors and contributors.  A simple thank you will go a long way and might make it easier for you next year!
  • Always keep a positive and friendly attitude.

After your fundraising event, have an evaluation and assessment meeting to count money, say thank you to the committee, and to decide what worked and didn’t work in the event that you will be doing it again another year.

Commitment and passion:  The important words in raising money for your favorite charity or non-profit organization.