Community & Current Events

10 easy ways to host a fundraiser in your community, office or home

10 easy ways to host a fundraiser in your community, office or home

Author: Canadian Living

Community & Current Events

10 easy ways to host a fundraiser in your community, office or home

Whether it's books for a literacy program, new uniforms for the local softball team or urgently needed funds for places such as Haiti and Africa when a disaster strikes, raising money for a needy cause is a good way to reach out and help others. The fundraising ideas listed here are low-cost (or no-cost), stress-free, fun and designed to boost people's awareness and community spirit – as well as raise funds for a good cause, of course.

Getting started:
Define the cause: Specify goals so everyone is on the same page.

Set the date/time-frame: Ensure people's availability and avoid conflicts with other events.

Choose a suitable venue -- if one is required.

Create a public relations/promotions committee to inform as many people as possible.

Assign tasks (determining who's doing what is always important).

Make sure the charity is legit! If money is being sent to an organization, visit the Better Business Bureau of Canada to double-check the legitimacy the non-profit group you're interested in.

Seed money: If your fundraiser requires some start-up money, consider asking for a few up-front donations from the head of your company, or from a few local businesses, for example.

Hidden costs: Before you do anything, brainstorm as a group for any unexpected costs.

Have fun! Getting together to raise money doesn't have to be boring.

10 fun ways to raise funds in your home, community or workplace:

1. Hold a street or neighbourhood garage sale
You're tired of looking at that Elvis bust next to the TV screen in the rec room. Don't throw it out -- it'll be snapped up before you can say, "Blue Suede Shoes" at a neighbourhood garage or street sale. Grab all of those (questionable) items and dust-laden keepsakes that are destined for the garbage – and put them out on a table at the end of your lane on a chosen Saturday morning in nice weather. Get all of your neighbours to do the same. Enlist the kids and teens to do the running around, like designing and distributing posters -- that can be their way of contributing.

All funds raised can go toward a cause of choice. For those neighbours who have nothing to sell, they can volunteer as 'runners' and errand helpers throughout the day, helping to put stuff out, minding the table and pitching in with end-of-day cleanup. A street potluck or BBQ would be a nice finishing touch.

Tip: If you're raising money for relief efforts to help victims, consider playing music of that culture throughout the day as a reminder of the reason that you've all gathered together.

Recommended for: Community/Neighbourhood.

Page 1 of 5 -- Discover how you can show off your talent to raise funds on page 2
2. Do-gooders get time off work
Our office is big on United Way fundraisers. One year our company was very generous and gave permission for people to "buy" an afternoon off work. Organizers, along with the participation of your Human Resources Department and Management Team, choose an appropriate donation which, when paid by the employee, gives them the afternoon off. Just think: time off work and you've helped a charity at the same time. Does it get any better?

Tip: If you're raising funds on a reasonably large scale for a specific not-for-profit, consider inviting a spokesperson from that organization to come and talk to the staff. It's an energizing way to launch the fundraising event.

Recommended for: Office/Workplace.

3. Sing for your supper - have talent, will travel
In every circle you'll find a few amateur singers, guitarists, aspiring magicians and other entertaining folk. You can easily develop a roster of such people in your community or office and "sell their services." It's a good idea to value everyone's "act" at the same rate, say, $40.

Craft a list with the volunteer entertainer's name, a brief description of their talent, dates when they can perform and distribute it by email or post notices in your coffee room, or around the neighbourhood. The "buyer" of each talent act donates the $40 to the kitty -- which goes to the charity or cause of choice. The "entertainer" performs magician tricks at your child's birthday party, or the aspiring musician and guitarist perform music during your dinner party, or the newly minded standup comedian performs for an hour at your Grandmother's birthday party, for instance.

Tip: Be sure to offer free transportation (and perhaps dinner) to the entertainers volunteering their time. And invite them to pass out leaflets or details of any of their upcoming performances.

Recommended for: Community/Neighbourhood, Office/Workplace or Home (Friends/Family).

Page 2 of 5 -- Learn how to sell your skills for money on page 3

4. My big fat wedding shower - the sequel
My Scottish friend Deirdre started a tradition a few years ago involving newly married couples (or people who've celebrated a significant anniversary), who've been feted with all kinds of wonderful gifts -- of which there are duplicates or they simply don't need. Deirdre received three toaster ovens when she got married so she sold two at her post-wedding-shower fundraiser and gave the money to charity -- all with the good wishes of the original donors.

This is also a great idea for those couples that celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary and wind up with three sets of silver-rimmed dishes. Instead of returning the gift, they sell it at a fundraiser and give the money to a needy charity. Choose someone's home, a date, invite anyone who's received a gift they really don't need, and have fun! The proceeds (or a percentage) can be given toward a charitable cause chosen by the organizer.

Recommended for:
Home (Friends/Family).

5. Domestic fair trade – your neighbourhood skills exchange
On any street in this country, you're going to find a mix of trained professionals and residents with specific talents. You get 10 to 15 friends and neighbours to state their special skill or talent for a household chore. It could be anything from hair cutting to wallpapering. As a group, you determine what is a fair value, as in contribution/donation, for various skills. You could agree to "sell" each skilled house call for $50. People buy each other's services - but the money goes to the charity you've all chosen.

For instance, Marg, a hairstylist by profession, could offer to cut hair for a family of four, while David, to offer something comparable, agrees to clean someone's driveway on four heavy-snow days. My cousin Peter and his wife, Kathy, once donated their babysitting services for two full days (not consecutive) which was purchased by Gerald, a handy painter, who in return offered to do two coats of paint in one room of someone's home. Each person pays $50 and enjoys the boost in community spirit at the same time.

This way, you not only raise funds for a good community cause -- but you get that long-awaited job done around the house. This could also be done as a silent auction, whereby each person lists their special skills on a sheet of paper during a wine-and-cheese party, and perspective buyers try to outbid each other.

Tip: If you feel it's a lot of work, by all means double up with one set of neighbours and offer joint services (such as garage cleaning).

Recommended for: Community/Neighbourhood.

Page 3 of 5 -- Find out how to raise money at the office on page 4

6. Loonies at lunch time! Swag, promotional gifts for just $1!
Many offices and business get their fair share of promotional items or, as we say in the industry, swag: Bottles of perfume, bottles of bubbly at Christmas, food baskets, picture frames, eco-friendly water bottles, fitness memberships, etc. Ask every department in your company to donate some of their "swag" and host a lunchtime sale. Charge a loonie for every item, no matter how big or small.

Hosting a bake sale in conjunction with this fundraiser works well – everyone is peckish at lunchtime!

Recommended for: Office/Workplace.

7. Fabulous six-course dinner delivered right to your very own dining room
The woman across the street donates her signature specialty, chocolate pecan pie, while the folks in the two house next door double up their efforts and jointly cook the duck a loran entree, you do the blueberry-maple-spinach salad (it's what you're known for), the Jones donate a tureen of their homemade carrot soup, Marco, who's an aspiring baker, produces melt-in-your mouth dinner rolls…together, you've got an amazing dinner-to-go! You write up a description of the fabulous dinner -- e-mail it to everyone and wait for the bids to start rolling in.

The work is shared, and everyone has fun doing what they do best. You choose a date that suits everyone, deliver the food piping hot to their home – and you corral a few guys to do the serving -- with bow-ties and name tags like "Hi. My Name is Gerald. I'm the auto-mechanic from the corner townhouse but tonight I'm your waiter for the evening."

Tip: If there are neighbours who'd like to help out but don't like to cook, ask them to contribute some of the ingredients -- or do your grocery shopping, or they could even come over and help with cleanup.

Recommended for:
Home (Friends/Family), Community/Neighbourhood.

8. Buy the book:
Is your bookshelf filled with new, nearly new or used books that you'll never get around to reading? Book sales are easy to organize and a great way to promote literacy as well as support a needy cause. You could do this in a boardroom or cafeteria at the office, in your home or even in your local community centre. Charge $1 for softcover, $2 for hardcover. Any unsold books go to a local organization such as a women's shelter or the local library or reading room in your community centre.

Tip: Ask if anyone knows a local author who will donate 30 minutes of his/her time to launch the book sale with a reading and signing.

Another option: If someone in your circle has a dramatic flare, invite them to do a reading of their choice.

Recommended for: Office/Workplace, Community/Neighbourhood, Home (Friends/Family).

Page 4 of 5 -- Learn how to get the kids involved on page 5

9. Just kidding around
Kids love raising money for charity -- and they're good at it, too. For instance, Kathryn Dorrell is very proud of her daughter, Olivia. The Grade 5 student and her classmates raised $200 in November for a very good cause. They collected bottle caps, decorated them and attached magnets so they could stick on refrigerator doors and other surfaces. They sold their artfully decorated bottle caps for a loonie or twoonie each at a local craft fair, and sent the proceeds to the Canadian Cancer Society.

"We always make an effort to point out to our children examples simple ways people are helping out others, so they realize it's something that they, too, can do," says Kathryn. "But it was wonderful to see that Liv and her friends had come up with this all on their own. Liv was so proud when she received a letter from the organization thanking her and her friends for their donation. We still have the letter up on a bulletin board in our kitchen reminding us, and Liv, of the effort that she made."

In January 2010, Kathryn's daughter and her classmates rallied again to raise funds for the Haiti Relief effort with a bake sale.

Tip: Talking to kids, perhaps watching a documentary or TV coverage, such as tsunami or Haiti relief depending what's current at the time, helps put the fundraising efforts into context for kids.

Recommended for: Community/Neighbourhood Schools.

10. The all-Canadian amateur variety show: This fundraiser is similar to # 3 but requires that your group finds a specific venue, which is why the workplace (think of those large boardrooms or cafeterias) is a good location for this effort. Just think, who wouldn't pay $5 to see the head of accounting do a solo at your office fundraiser? And what a treat to see the president tap-dance in the boardroom for a good cause. We did this in the office with a choral group sing-a-long (with lots of laughs) that also proved to be great at building team spirit.

Get the staff camera buff to capture photos of the entertainers during rehearsal. Send out a videoclip to all co-workers. You'll be guaranteed to fill the house!

Recommended for: Office/Workplace, which usually has a decent enough space. If an outside venue is required, and if you'd like to host an amateur variety night in your Community/Neighbourhood, consider asking local merchants or community centres to donate space.

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Community & Current Events

10 easy ways to host a fundraiser in your community, office or home