I’m involved in two churches, one of which is routinely struggling financially, and has been for years now, and I volunteer with a Boy Scout troop, Troop 4, in Houston, Texas, one of the oldest continuously-running scout troops in the state.
In both settings, I’ve been faced with the question of “how can this group raise funds for a project we want to do”?
Here are a few ideas I’ve found can often be effective:
-Get a good deal on a wholesale batch of items and divvy them up into individual items and sell them at a small per-item markup, through the young people in your group… the classic examples are cookies and candy bars. I’m not a big fan of $10-$25 premium items because my church and scout troop are in a low-income neighborhood. I like to price the sale items low, yet still be able to raise some margin of cash from them. This can add up.
-Work. There’s not really a more common way to raise cash than simply to work for it. The work may be making items to sell, as in a bake sale or arts/crafts sale, or offering the group’s services for a day cleaning up trash or doing some form of hard work. The boys in our scout troop don’t pay “dues” like other troops. Instead, they earn their keep through work. It may not be glamorous, but it is definitely effective.
-Group garage sale. Everybody brings in a pile of old stuff they don’t want to keep and the group holds a large-scale garage sale to raise money for the group. I figure every family has something they can afford to clear out.
-Crafts Fair. It can work, but it takes work to do well. Basically, this is the same as the garage sale concept except only art items and handmade items can be sold… and usually all the people who bothered to make the art and handmade stuff get to keep a percentage of whatever sales they make. In effect, the churh is doing the same thing that art galleries do.
-Miniature Golf/Family Fun Center. The idea is that if your organization is a non-profit, you can register a time slot at a minigolf course or “family fun center” (the sort with go-karts, arcades, bowling, etc) and your organization gets a fraction of whatever ticket sales are made during that timeframe… this is typically free to do. Have everyonein your organization call their friends and gather a big party crowd to show up there on that day. I’ve seen some places that offer up to 50% of the total ticket sales for the day to non-profits that sign up.
-Dinner and a show. $10-15 per ticket for a dinner and a scripted live stage performance. Sell the tickets a week in advance of the dinner/show so you don’t lose money by making a big dinner with nobody showing up.
-Recycling. It’s not much but it can raise something.
-Silent Auction. You collect a bunch of items (baked goods, art pieces) and auction them all off.
-Car Wash. You offer to wash peoples’ cars for a small price. Another similar concept: mowing lawns.
-Game Tournament. Set up a multiplayer game of some kind. Charge a dollar per person to enter the tournament, and then have the group play the game, round after round, until it’s down to one winner. Give the winner a prize of some value, roughly equal to half the value of the total ticket sales. This is a bit like a fifty-fifty raffle except it lasts longer, is more fun, and skill is a factor in who gets the prize.
There you have it: Ten ideas. Go use them to raise funds for your non-profit organization. Just remember that you usually will need to publicize them locally for them to work well.