Fundraising Ideas That Work

How to raise $500 to $5000 quickly for your school, church, sports, or public service charity.



It’s a good idea to have the fundraiser fit the need

Philip Copitch, Ph.D.


Dear Dr. Copitch,

I am a member of a small church that struggles to stay financially afloat. The families that make up our little church are constantly reaching deep into their pockets to help pay the bills.

This month the old school bus gave us a $1,100 surprise that we cannot afford. I need to put together a quick fundraiser so we can put the school bus back on the road.

The congregation is 200 families strong, but weary of being asked for money.



We need your help clipart

Great question PJ, I think I can help.

Earlier today I heard a story of a 7th grade boy who got caught plagiarizing a book report. For punishment, the student had to copy a sentence the teacher wrote on the board, one hundred times. The irony, that the punishment was to plagiarize the teacher’s sentence 100 times, was not lost on the student.

This brings me to an important rule for “emergency” and almost all other fundraisers: connect the request to some real need that the giver can easily and personally relate to.

The 3 rules of a quick fundraiser

Incorporate the easy to understand need directly into the the fundraiser.  If at all possible, put the need into the title of the fundraiser.

Make sure the donors get lots of wins for “buying into” the impromptu fundraiser.

Make the fundraiser Fun! Fun! Fun! And hopefully a self contained, easy to talk about, silly, happy, family event.

Lay hands on the bus to bring it back to life

What you will need for this fundraiser spectacular is the church parking lot, the ailing bus, and a lot of happy members of your community.

The fundraiser is simple, for a donation of $50 per adult and $10 per child (under 12) the givers of life to the bus get to lay their hands on the bus. Literally.

To be qualified to win, your hands can not leave the bus for any reason.

The bus revival is scheduled for 5 hours. Everyone that is still holding the bus after 5 hours gets their name put in a hat, three winners are drawn out of the hat by a church leader. If at any time during the 5 hour time limit, there are only 3 people with their hands still on the bus, all three get to put their names into the hat. By not waiting to the last person to have a single winner, you will save lots of time and aggravation. It is best to have the religious leader, or trusted fundraising chair be the all powerful judge.

 Winners pick their prize in the order their names are pulled out of the hat.  Please note it is best to let the first name pulled out of the hat, pick their choice of prize. It builds anticipation and makes each prize #1 for someone.

In a small community you probably can get a little help from the local TV station if there is time. This will bring in more donors.

The prizes the winners get to pick need to be good. In the $150 to $250 range. Such as a small flat screen television, an exercise treadmill, and round of golf. You may be able to get items donated or at a discount, but that is hard with an emergency fundraiser due to the time restraint.

The adults in the congregation understand the reality of the school bus problem. This fun fundraiser helps it hurt less to help, as participants enjoy some fun laughs and family time.

I know of groups that have gone to Costco or Walmart and found exciting items that were on sale that day. Remember, let the Item speak for its own value, you shouldn’t say what it cost to buy.

Don’t forget to encourage friends to buy a place at the bus for another friend.

Make the event silly and fun, have songs and music. Remember you are raising the bus from the dead, this will take some exciting energy.

The estimated income/expense report


32 adults at $50 each = $1600 (50 adults = $5000)

25 children at $10 each = $250 (parents and grandparents love the photo opportunity. If there is a member of your group with a really good digital camera, digital photo files can be emailed for a donation.)

Subtotal: $1850


TV = $229 (Check TV prices at Amazon)

Treadmill = $189 (Check Treadmill prices at Amazon)

Round of golf = $125

Subtotal = $543

Fundraiser total (without add-on fundraisers): $1850-$543=$1307

Add ons to almost any fundraiser

With a little bit of help you can get add-on donations for stuff like food sales, digital photos, and face painting.

If your group has a lot of younger children, swap out the treadmill for about $100 worth of legos. The little ones will be very excited (and tell their parents) about the huge windfall of legos that they really want. (FYI some legos cost thousands of dollars.)


Autism Speaks
The Watchery


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