Looking for creative fundraising ideas? You’ve come to the right place, pal. ☆ The spirit of giving has never been stronger. We’re out here standing up for our principles and our peers, advocating for ourselves and for others, exploring and executing new goals, and raising money for the causes we care about. What a time to be alive, and what a time to be a humanitarian!
While all this is welcome news, it also means that making your fundraising idea stick out is that much more of a challenge these days. Is there a mission you’ve been passionate about since childhood, or a cause that’s recently claimed a place in your heart? Raising funds to give back in some way—be it to your local library or to an international NGO powerhouse—is a noble action worthy of the best fundraising ideas out there.
You deserve to make your fundraiser a success, and we want to let you in on some of the most unique fundraising ideas so that your mission can get the attention (and the moolah) it deserves.
The most creative fundraising ideas we’ve got for you
We know how overwhelming it can be to build an idea, finance it, and spread the word. So we’re keeping you in mind with these suggestions. We’ve got some creative, some straightforward, some complicated, some effortless—and all filled with bountiful opportunities for your own personal touches and your ultimate success.
1. Fashion show
Calling all models! If you’ve got friends who like to be the center of attention, why not give them the opportunity to strut their stuff down the center of the stage? Make the cost free to yourself by asking local boutiques to borrow their clothes and showcase their brands, and charge for tickets at the door. Plus, there are so many ways you could spin this into even further unique fundraising ideas: get your friends to do an open mic night, a battle of the bands, or flip the script and make it a male beauty pageant. Show ‘em what you’ve got!
2. Puppies in the park
This fundraising idea has benefits all around, for man and man’s best friend alike. Locate a nearby animal shelter that’s willing to participate for the day, and sell tickets to folks looking to come pet some cuddly creatures. The costs will be minimal to you, and might even be beneficial to shelter workers who want to see their underloved animals get some extra affection. Everyone can enjoy a day with puppies where the largest expense will simply be compassion and love. Can we get an, aww.
3. Online fundraising
In-person fundraisers have innumerable benefits, from interpersonal interactions to promoting local businesses to collaboration amongst colleagues and friends. Strictly online fundraising campaigns have quite a few benefits, too. Personal fundraising sites such as FundMyTravel grant the opportunity for on-going fund collection, versus a one-time event, so you don’t have to stress about the turnout. Plus, it’s one of the best fundraising ideas because it gives you the chance to write out your story, spread it far and wide, tug on some heartstrings, and contribute towards your monetary goal quickly.
4. Car wash
Ok, ok, this isn’t topping the charts of creative fundraising ideas, but it’s a go-to for a reason—it’s cheap, and it works. Summer is the ideal time of year to be outside with a hose anyway, so why not make some money off of this essentially cost-free activity? Grab some soap, sponges, and give yourself a theme. How about…‘90s surf party, Bahamas beach blast, or modern pop? Play some music, decorate some signs, and raise some easy, fun money for that cause of yours.
5. Candy grams
These are a heartwarming way to raise money and spread some cheer surrounding any holiday season. You’ll be able to cheaply buy some goodies in bulk, and then sell them to gift-givers with a specialty note to their loved ones. Cinnamon hearts around Valentine’s day, gelt around Hanukkah, candy canes for Christmas, or something playful like bags of chocolate gold coins for St. Paddy’s. You can be serious or silly, but if your audience is down for your theme then you’ll be reaping the benefits in no time.
6. Paint night
This is one of those unique fundraising ideas that might be a bit more costly but still completely worth it. Wine and paint studios are popping up everywhere, so you might be able to convince one of them to rent their space to you for free, or at least at a discounted rate! More into DIY? Buy canvases, brushes, and paint in bulk, and charge a small entry fee. Better yet, gather your friends to sell their creations at a neighborhood sale afterwards and double your profits!
For as many cooking shows as are on television these days, you could contribute that many spin-offs to your own cooking shenanigans. Consider buying all of the ingredients and putting participants to the challenge of using them all. Or maybe you’d like your friends to independently buy and create their specialty dish that can be part of a paid neighborhood potluck or judging contest. Keep it simple with deserts or boast a three-course meal for outside parties to enjoy. The approach is yours—bon appetite!
This is amongst the best fundraising ideas for a few reasons. It can be hosted year-round, it can be a long-lasting campaign, and it can serve as an opportunity to promote local businesses and save you some cash. Businesses love to have their name associated with charity, so hit up restaurants for gift cards or your favorite shops for donated items. You can sell raffle tickets for a dollar or more, and rake in the benefits for your fundraiser. The winner will win the item, the business will win some clout, and you’ll win funding thanks to your successful strategizing. Win, win, win.
Take a base of innovation, a dash of personalization, an ounce of hard work, and voila, you’ve got one of the best fundraising ideas out there. Piecing together your own recipe book, either by collecting one from each of your friends, by giving away all your family secrets, or by finding some of your personal favorites, can make for a delectable fundraising idea. The cost is low (beyond binding the book—but you can go digital!) and you can sell these back amongst your friends, your family, or your colleagues. We suggest going for holiday themes and positioning this product as heartwarming and useful holiday gifts!
10. Board game tournament
This is one of those creative fundraising ideas that could be completely cost-free. If you’ve got a space to host and a bounty of board games, then make a big, competitive, lively night out of it! Even if your game supply is lacking, you might consider asking each one of your friends to contribute their favorite game, or you could keep it simple and stick to cards. Charge an entry fee, provide some snacks, create a dope party playlist, and let the games begin.
11. Penny wars
This one is fun and simple—especially if you’re in college dorms, have high school homerooms, or are part of a collaborative and energetic office environment! Create teams as you see fit, and challenge your housemates, classmates, or colleagues to create the most successful penny jar. Each penny is a point, and everything else is a negative. The competition will ramp up at no cost to you—other than those dollar bills you use to blast out your opponents’ scores.
12. Bake sale
Sometimes the most creative fundraising ideas are to keep the endeavor simple. Baked goods are never going to go out of style, but they’re also never going to get boring. This could be brownies at your school, or it could be croissants for a Bastille Day celebration (because, why not?). The undertaking and the expense is up to you, but don’t knock this fundraising idea until you try it. Truly, if there’s one surefire way to make your fundraiser a success, it’s tempting people with sugar.
Unique fundraising ideas will help you reach your goal!
You’re prepped with some key takeaways for how to produce a fundraising hit. You’ll want to keep the costs low (we’re trying to make money, not lose it!), you’ll want to involve family and friends (hello, what fun would this experience be without them?), and you’ll want to activate your community as much as possible (mutually beneficial—everyone wants to be associated with do-gooding!).
Of course, once you’ve landed the perfect fundraising idea for you and you’ve started to piece together the necessary components, you’re going to need to spread the word. Building a FundMyTravel page where your guests can see your story, keep track of the event details, and purchase their tickets is an absolute necessity that will kick your fundraiser into action. So don’t wait…get inspired and get going with one of these unique fundraising ideas!
This article was written by Samantha Harper. Samantha’s quest to learn about her family heritage in Prague ignited the travel flame within her. A Wisconsin native and Pitt alumna, Samantha’s insatiable appetite for the world led her into an International Relations master’s program in Italy. Still not feeling like she’d seen enough, she finagled her way into spending a summer in Spain and teaching for a year in Thailand. She is (temporarily) settled in Washington, D.C.