To raise funds for your Association’s projects and gatherings, use your creativity, think about the assets and resources available in your neighborhood. Pick a fundraiser that fits the resources you have available and allows you to keep the costs low.
Here are just a few ideas to get your group thinking about the options available.
- Solicit donations from small businesses, churches, synagogues or service clubs. If you are active in a church, business organization or service clubs, this can be very effective.
- Ask a local business or organization to sponsor a neighborhood event.
- Sell advertising in your neighborhood newsletter to local businesses or individuals in the neighborhood who have service or product to sell.
- Have five people host a casual dinner, coffee or “happy hour” in their home. Have each of them get 10 people to attend. After the meal or social time, spend 10 minutes talking about the neighborhood project and funding needs and ask each person if they are interested in donating talents, time, or money.
- Organize a holiday home tour. Sell tickets and allow people to visit 4-8 homes and see how they are decorated for the holidays. Each home could provide light refreshments.
- Have several people teach seminars about topics they know: knitting, organic gardening, organizing, cooking, dog grooming, web design, car maintenance. Charge a fee to attend.
- Have someone lead an educational hike or nature walk. Advertise the event in the newspaper to draw in people from the community. Ask participants for donations or a commitment to help organize another event.
- Organize a “service auction.” Have people identify their skills and talents and volunteer to provide services like childcare for a weekend, one day of housecleaning or yard work, house painting, etc. Have people bid on items and the service goes to the highest bidder.
- Have a neighborhood progressive dinner. Start at one person’s home for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, progress to the next person’s house for soup or salad, the next person’s for the main course and the last person’s for dessert. Either charge by the course or for the whole package. To make it extra special, have live music or entertainment at each site.
- Have a poker night. Charge an entrance fee and ask that every “pot” be split with funds coming back to the neighborhood. Individuals win and so does the neighborhood. You can charge extra for refreshments.
- Organize a neighborhood book sale. Collect books from everyone in the neighborhood (children’s books too) and then advertise the book sale. Take any unsold books and sell for cash at a used book sale.
- Have a neighborhood yard sale. Have everyone dig through their closets and garages and clean out useable but unwanted items. Make big signs advertising ‘neighborhood yard sale” and post on surrounding major streets. Have neighborhood members volunteer to work different jobs (pricing, sales, set-up, etc.).
- Put on a neighborhood bake sale. Have everyone bake their favorite goodies and then sell your treats to each other or after a neighborhood event such as a school sporting event or Sunday church.
- Collect unwanted but somewhat valuable items from neighbors to sell on Ebay. Old collectables, artwork, and unusual items all have value.
- Have people donate old cars. Work with an auto house that will give the proceeds back to the neighborhood. The individual who donated the car can get a tax deduction for the fair market value of the car only if you are organized as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
- If you have several artistic people, have them create unique crafty items for sale: Halloween costumes, Christmas wreaths, Easter baskets, personalized mailboxes, etc. Sell these items to neighbors or participate in a craft show.
- Ask a local business (or several) to donate a percentage (2-5%) of their sales for a certain day or week. Advertise widely to friends and neighbors and encourage them to shop and support that business and your neighborhood.
- Solicit small but new items form local businesses and have a neighborhood raffle. The more items the better! Sell tickets for $1 each, 12 for $10. Set a fundraising goal and don’t stop until you sell enough tickets!
- Have all the neighborhood restaurants donate gift certificates for dinner for two. Sell raffle tickets and either draw for each restaurant gift certificate or one big prize of “dinner out for a week.”
- Host a bingo night. Have a well-linked neighborhood personality be the caller.
- Create a neighborhood cookbook. Collect favorite recipes from everyone in the neighborhood. Sell the cookbook back to everyone in the neighborhood or at other neighborhood events.
- Organize a community concert. Have one or more talented musicians perform in the community center, school auditorium or church hall. Sell tickets. Have a desert reception or bake sale after the performance.
- Have an ice cream social. Ask everyone to being a different item such as cones, ice cream toppings, napkins, and beverages. Have people pay by the scoop. Have entertainment or ask a neighborhood kid to be the DJ.
- Create an ad book or business directory for businesses and services in your neighborhood. Sell advertisements to local businesses and individuals who may want to advertise to your neighbors. Encourage businesses to use coupons as a way of generating business. Print enough books to give one to every household in you neighborhood.
- Take family portraits of everyone in your neighborhood. Pick a nice outdoor location. Use a digital camera and allow people to place orders for different sized pictures. Sell the photos for 2-4 times the cost of getting them printed. Hand deliver the photo orders. Create a big photo display at a neighborhood-gathering place and invite everyone in the neighborhood to come and see the photos.
You’ve picked the perfect fundraising project. The next step is to think A-B-C-D-E!
Assemble your team. Think about the jobs that will need to be done and recruit folks that have the skills and enthusiasm to be successful. Give everyone a task or role.
Begin with a plan. Think about how much money you need to raise and what kinds of expenses will need to be incurred. How many people will need to participate and at what level to meet your goal?
Create a timeline. Start with the date of your event or end of your project in mind and work backwards. Come up with clear deadlines of when things will need to get done to stay on track.
Don’t forget the mission. Stay focused on why you are raising funds in the first place! Start every meeting or conversation with WHY you are raising this money and what will be accomplished with your successes. It’s NOT about the spaghetti dinner – it is about making your neighborhood a safer more enjoyable place to live!
Everyone have fun. CELEBRATE YOUR SUCCESSES! Set measurable goals along the way and pat yourselves on the back when the goals are met.
Remember to send thank you notes to people and businesses that support you in your fundraising endeavors. Include how much money you raised overall and what the money was used for. This reiterates your appreciation and improves the chances they will donate in the future.