Fundraiser Essay


In case you need some inspiration to get the creative juices flowing, here are some of our favorite fundraising ideas:


Restaurant Fundraiser:

Many local restaurants will be more than happy to host a fundraising night for you. In coordination with the restaurant, you select an evening when a portion of the proceeds will go towards your fundraising. It is usually around 10%. You advertise the date and time of the event and try to pack the restaurant with as many supporters as possible. The restaurant will usually receive a boost in customers and you will get a cut of the money, so it’s a win-win.


Keep an eye out around town for signs advertising restaurant fundraisers to get an idea of which local establishments may be willing to help out. Also check with teammates and friends to see if anyone has a connection that may help you out, and remember that usually locally owned restaurants are more likely to host a fundraising night than chain restaurants.


Make sure to specify with the restaurant in advance if you will be receiving a portion of all of the proceeds from the night, or if you will only get a portion from the customers who mention your fundraiser. If it’s the latter, you’ll want to make sure everyone who attends knows to let their server know that they’re part of the fundraiser!



Coupon Book:

An easy product to sell both at events or door-to-door is a coupon book. Ask local businesses to donate discounts on their goods or services. Try to keep in mind what your target customer might like to receive a discount on and pursue those businesses first. Examples might include restaurants, salons, sporting goods stores, and gift shops.


You will probably find that small, local shops are more likely to offer discounts, but that shouldn’t stop you from requesting coupons from larger franchises in your area. Ask to speak with the manager, be professional and polite, and you may be surprised at the generosity you receive.


Print all the coupons off together into a small coupon book. Make sure it is reasonably sized so that it can be easily carried in a purse or small backpack. Sell the coupon books at a set price and advertise their potential savings. Or, for a simpler option, you can find ready-made coupon books available for fundraisers online here. Make sure to check that your coupon books are specific to your region before ordering.



50/50 Raffle:

Sometimes people will be more willing to spend money for the chance at a big payoff than they are for a small purchase. A 50/50 raffle gives them that chance, it’s exciting, and it’s easy to coordinate.


Here’s how it works. Raffle tickets are sold at a set price, though sometimes they can be purchased at a discount if you sell them in a bundle. For example, you might say that tickets are $5 each, but that buyers can receive a discount if they purchase five for $20. At the end of the raffle a winner is randomly drawn from all tickets purchased. The winner receives 50% of the funds raised, while the organization keeps the other 50% for their fundraising.


This is a good choice if you will be hosting an event or restaurant night, since the drawing can be a dramatic part of the evening.



Selling Food or Products:

This is the most classic fundraiser and it comes in many forms. It could be a bake sale or a cookout at a popular event with high attendance, such as a sports game or school dance. Or you could set up a stand at these events to sell homemade or personalized products such as t-shirts or photo calendars.


In addition to stands, you can also sell specialty foods or products through door-to-door sales. Sometimes you can get a local store or restaurant to contribute. For example, a pizza shop that sells frozen pizzas might sell you a large bulk order at a discounted price and allow you to resell them individually for more money. It’s usually best to negotiate your rate on the bulk order, then take individual orders and collect money as you’re selling, and deliver the product after you’ve collected all orders. This way, you won’t end up with a huge amount of leftover products.



Silent Auction:

This is another way of using local generosity to your advantage. Seek donations from local stores and families to put together an auction. Large items can be auctioned off on their own, while smaller items might be grouped into baskets by category.


Popular basket themes might include Movie Night featuring an iTunes gift card and a variety of movie snacks, Spa Night featuring a home pedicure kit, nail polish and gourmet bath products, or Night Out featuring gift cards to a bowling alley or arcade and a local restaurant. Another fun item is a scratch ticket board where parents have purchased and donated scratch tickets (unscratched of course!), which are then raffled off as a set.


You may choose to hold your silent auction as an actual event with live bids recorded on a clipboard beside each item, or you may choose to host it online through a website. There are several choices for hosting through a website which can make your job easier and allow you to accept bids by credit card. The tradeoff, though, is that online auction hosts will often take a small portion of your proceeds to offset their costs. One popular online option can be found here.



Service Raffle:

You might also find success in raffling off services that your group can offer. This could be just about anything, depending on your talents. It might be a backyard clean up day including lawn mowing, gardening, weeding, and junk removal. It could be a night of live music performed by your band or a photography session or painted portrait.


Whatever your special talents are, there is probably some demand for them, and the people who are willing to support your cause will most likely appreciate your talents too. Sell raffle tickets for the chance to receive your services, then draw a winner randomly.


Once you’ve chosen which fundraising ideas to pursue, you can focus in on a target audience. If you’ll be hosting an event, your audience will generally be interested parties such as parents, members of your school community, and other supporters from your area such as coaches and tutors. Generally, anyone who you might consider inviting to support you at other school events should be on the guest list for a fundraising event.


If you’re selling a product or raffling off something, you may have even more luck reaching out to the general public. People are usually more willing to donate money when asked face-to-face, so consider going door-to-door or setting up a table in an area with heavy foot traffic. Also consider reaching out to neighbors, relatives, and parents’ co-workers.


Finally, provide incentives for your team members to support the fundraising efforts. Set goals by providing each participant with a set number of raffle tickets or products to sell. Create some friendly competition by offering a prize to the top seller or to all participants who meet a certain threshold.


Fundraising can be an intimidating task to undertake. Many students will initially feel uneasy at the idea of asking others for money. But with a little creativity most will find that offering something in exchange for a donor’s time and generosity is a rewarding and mutually beneficial experience. Through thorough budget planning, careful brainstorming and thoughtful selection of fundraising activities, you’ll have the money you need to pursue your activities in no time. Not to mention, it is a great experience to include on your college application!


To find out more about how to highlight your experiences in fundraising on your college application, check out CollegeVine’s advice on How To Write About Extracurriculars. Or, if you’re a senior who’s unsure if you should take on a fundraising project right now, check out our Dos and Don’ts of Joining New Extracurriculars Your Senior Year.

It seems obvious why fundraising is important: to raise funds for needed items, services and programs. Yet, raising funds has so many other benefits besides the obvious.

Often, budgets get cut, or less than ideal family situations mean that children have to go without things or activities that their classmates receive, and later life opportunities may be diminished because of it. There are, unfortunately, needs of great variety all around us, and fundraising will most likely be an aspect of our lives for generations to come. But raising funds for a cause has a lot more benefits than taking care of an obvious monetary need.

Unexpected benefits

Fundraising is important for a variety of other reasons as well. For example, it allows the children or other recipients of the funds (or what they purchase) to feel some pride of ownership. In many cases, the beneficiaries of funds that are raised are able to feel not as if they have received ‘charity,’ but as if they have actually earned the item or experience that the funds have provided. What better way to help a person to feel empowered than to allow them to help raise the funds needed for a cause that will benefit them? (Read about persistence in fundraising.)

Fundraising can make a huge impact

In the growing pressure from government to “do more with less,” it is unfortunately true that the way that many schools and communities are doing this is to cut out the programs that they deem as not being essential. This often means that many childhood experiences will be lost as well. Field trips to see the capital, to perhaps stand for the first time inside a museum, or to attend their first play or concert, would be lost without many fundraising programs. On top of that art programs at the schools themselves, like music, theater and visual arts, are often the first area where cuts are made.

This has a much greater impact on society than one might realize at the time. For example, it’s been tested and proven many times, that children who receive music instruction have better academic skills than children who don’t. And what about the sense of accomplishment and raised self esteem that being creative can bring?

Learn to help others

Fundraising is one aspect of engaging children in civic minded activities from a young age. It creates awareness in a young person that they are part of a community, and that this position entails a certain amount of responsibility and also self empowerment. When they are raising funds for other segments of society, it teaches them to appreciate what they have and to understand that they have the ability, even from a young age, to help others.

It is a fact that children who participate in civic or public service from a young age are more likely to carry on with that type of work into adulthood. On the other hand, if young people are being helped by others who are doing fundraising for a cause that affects them, they understand that there are people who care about them outside of their immediate circle. This can help them to have a greater sense of self-esteem and self-worth, which can lead to better life choices overall.



As hard and frustrating as raising funds can be at times, let’s not forget the huge impact it can make for generations to come!

On that note, we wish you great success and good luck with your next fundraising campaign!

To help you plan for your next fundraiser, start by setting clear goals, and read about tips for choosing the right fundraiser.

This article has been updated from a previous version.

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