Five Fundraisers that Are Fast, Frugal, Fun (and Maybe Funny)

Here are five ideas to try:

Hosting A House Party

With each person contributing under 10 hours and under $10, five volunteers for a small community group held a house party that netted about $5000.

Here’s how: The party host made invitations that she and the other four volunteers each mailed to 10 people. All five made follow-up phone calls to invitees to encourage their support of the event; many made reminder calls as well. Each volunteer brought an appetizer, dessert or beverage to the party.  A community leader served as a guest speaker, and with the host, made a brief request for donations, while the others passed donation baskets and envelopes. After, they sent personalized thank you notes to donors.

Note: Though finding a guest speaker helped draw people to this event, it is not necessary to successful turnout. In my experience, attendance at house parties depends more on how interesting or entertaining the event’s program is, and how diligently the “inviters” follow up personally (e.g., face-to-face or by phone) with the invitees. 

Additional information about throwing house parties can be found online, and in fundraising books and articles.

Gathering the silent auction items and raffle prizes you already have:

The board of a small community nonprofit hatched a last-minute plan to hold a silent auction at their open house, which was on the next day. They each gathered gifts they had received, but had not opened and did not intend to use. These would be their auction items. Before the open house, they outfitted a six-foot long table with a pretty tablecloth, the auction items, and bid sheets they had created. By the end of the event, a couple of hours later, they had raised over $1000.

What if you could collect your:
·         Unused holiday, wedding, shower, graduation, and other gifts,
·         Must-have purchases that you forgot about after buying them…

And what if you could collect similar unused items from:
·         Family members,
·         Neighbors,
·         Friends,
·         Other volunteers,
·         Newsletter recipients…

And what if you could use the collected items for an online fundraiser auction?

Or a silent auction (can be especially fruitful when it's before the holidays so that shoppers can buy holiday gifts) at places or events like:

· Schools (e.g. silent auction in the hallways/cafeteria)
· Benefit events?
· Performances?
· Your place of worship, after the weekly service?

Raffles for revelry as well as revenue

Here’s an example of how to hold a raffle when you’re short on raffle prizes: In conjunction with their singles’ benefit dance, a community group held an “evil ex” raffle. They asked benefit invitees to donate unwanted gifts from ex-girlfriends/boyfriends for use as raffle prizes. The array of items that materialized not only included great prizes (e.g. jewelry, art), but also served as a much-enjoyed form of entertainment. You can produce similar raffles with holiday gifts, wedding gifts, etc.

Note: Check your state gambling commission’s regulations before planning a raffle.

Reusing and recycling: Or, What do ink cartridges, flower bulbs and dental crowns have in common?

Here are examples of things you can turn into funds for your organization:

· Ink Cartridges that you collect at home and work; from friends, family, etc. and redeem for cash 

· Dental crowns: I know of a dentist who saves unwanted crowns after she extracts them, sells them to a refinery, and donates the proceeds to charity.

· Garden clippings: Try selling your extra bulbs, starts, flowers, etc. at places/events where large groups of people gather (e.g. your school, place of worship, neighborhood festival). Don’t forget to solicit plant starts from neighbors and other gardeners who might support your cause.

What else could you (and your fellow fundraisers) use to raise revenue? Old books (to sell to used book stores)? Old clothes (for consignment)?
Building your fundraiser around your organization's strengths, assets, resources, and opportunities

Remember the singles’ raffle? The party planners expected over 100 guests who were very supportive of their organization’s cause - and who also had very little discretionary income. Their guests’ financial limitations did not deter the planners from devising a way to put all that support to good use. Instead, they came up with the raffle idea as a way for cash-strapped guests to contribute to their cause.