Fund Raising Ideas

Make money for your group or organization with these fun fund raising ideas: carnivals, street fairs, cow patty drops, and more!

Fundraising has become big business these days. As grant money and other forms of financial aid grow scarce, with competition growing more intense, some organizations have had to hire professionals to track down the much needed funds.

But what about the smaller, more community-based groups? With limited funding available, who wants to share a cut of the money pie with a professional fundraiser? Although an expert may locate and secure additional money, sometimes it's just not worth the added expense.

So, what can an organization do? There are many creative ideas floating around, which can bring in extra dollars, all while giving participants some fun at the same time.

Here are some ideas worth trying for a few extra dollars and loads of fun:

Carnivals and Street Fairs have been around for awhile. Whether a group hires out its carnival operation to professionals, for a cut of the proceeds, or decides to handle the whole thing on its own, there is a little money to be made. This is where creativity can really boost an event's proceeds. Have a dunking booth - participants buy a ball or two or three, and throw them at a target. When the target is hit, a person sitting on a platform above a tub of water gets dropped. This is especially fun if the person volunteering to sit on the dunking platform is a well-known public figure. Have rides for everyone, games for everyone to play, and by all means, have lots of aromatic and scrumptious foods for spur of the moment purchases.

Carefully choreographed runs and walks are also a common feature in many fundraising efforts, as are Pancake Breakfasts and Spaghetti Suppers. The food events are especially popular if you can sweet-talk local celebrities into volunteering some time to serve as waiters and waitresses, and cooks. It's usually good to have plenty of refreshments on hand at a walk or run, for participants and for observers, as well. And balloons and clowns add to the festive air, not to mention having some really upbeat music, provided by a local radio station doing a remote broadcast.

Cook-Off competitions are really a lot of fun. This is also a sure way to get the community charged up and rearing to get involved. If you can get a company to sponsor a team to participate, you can get the event highly charged. Decide on a specific food to be cooked - chili, catfish, pork, you name it, and it could be incorporated into a Cook-Off. Have other activities on hand the day of the actual cook-off, and usually the proceeds (or a percentage thereof) is gathered from the different entrants who sell their cook-off foods to the public. Having lively music and other forms of entertainment is also a major plus.

What about an Auction? Have local businesses and private citizens donate goods, and even services, then auction each item off to the highest bidder. Some groups have a silent version of this event, while others make it a wildly popular shouting match, as one person tries to outdo another. Make the items auctioned unique and interesting, and you will have lots of people lining up to make a bid or two.

How about a variation of the car wash - a pet wash? Gather volunteers and offer to wash people's pets for them. Dry them and fluff up and comb out hair, and you'll have happy owners, though the pets might have preferred to miss this particular event.

Have you ever attended a Cow Patty Drop? Have an area cordoned off from onlookers, and mark the area in numbered squares. People "bet" on different squares, trying to guess which square a cow might eventually leave its "mark." Enter the cow, well fed of course, and wait until she decides to, ur uhm, relieve herself. Whichever square becomes the unintended target wins a prize for the lucky better. Again, music and other entertainment will only add to this event.

An Ugliest Girl contest or Beauty Pageant is usually a lot of fun. In this particular beauty event, the ugliest is usually obtained by coaxing some of the men of the community to don feminine attire and put on the wildest airs, all to win the "Ugliest" title. This event is guaranteed to give everyone lots of laughs and a fun afternoon or evening. Offer prizes, and of course, a crown and scepter is in order! A variant of this event would be the Ugliest Pet contest. Not quite the same thing, but entertaining in its own right.

If you live close to a beach, how about hosting a sandcastle contest? This is an event where you can once again solicit entries from local businesses. Let them go all out, to see who can build the most fantastic sand structure the world has ever seen. Again, let the music be lively and entertaining, and an interesting master of ceremonies would be best. And don't forget some great food and other refreshments!

Whatever event you choose, whether it be a sale, cook-off, contest, or everything rolled into one, make your plans carefully -and well in advance! Have lots of volunteers on hand to keep things orderly and running smoothly. And, a golden rule of fundraising is this - never pay for anything you can get donated for free! After all, the goal of any fundraising event is to make money. If you spend the money up front on supplies, you have lost before your event has even begun.

And, of course, you want an event full of fun. The money will help whatever organization sponsors the event. But a ton of fun will ensure the popularity of future events, and make planning next year's event that much easier.

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