We spend a lot of time talking to directors and administrators of organizations that are involved in fundraising efforts, and it’s a topic that we research continuously.
Many of you know that FansRaise is the world’s first (and only) platform built specifically for performing arts crowdfunding, but in this list we WILL NOT list “crowdfunding.”
Instead, we’re going to explore the many different methods that your organization could use to raise the money you need for the stuff you’d like to do.
We’ve organized this list into the following categories. Use these links to jump to each category:
Simple Fundraising Ideas
These fundraisers represent the most typical in that they’re mostly tried-n-true ways to raise money. It might not be a lot of money, but it’s all relative to the type of fundraiser you’re looking for.
No other fundraiser has led to more cash made in-between classes than the sneaky sales of M&Ms between classes.
A pretty solid option, but timely delivery is key (the clock is ticking).
Might we suggest a “dental floss” follow-up fundraiser?
Everyone has a box of assorted wrapping paper in a closet, and there’s a 100% chance it’s completely unsuitable for the gift you need to wrap.
Partnering with a local nursery with favorable pricing is key.
This retail affinity program is ubiquitous in certain regions of the United States.
Yes they weigh a METRIC TON, but these books can convert into cash for your group.
Lots of work, but there will be cookies.
Some groups time this well with the holidays, as having an extra pie or two is never a bad thing.
If it works for the 7 year old on your block, it can work for you too.
The ever-famous 50/50, where an arm’s length of tickets can be the gateway to untold riches. Consider a 50/50 at any event your organization runs (except maybe winter/spring concerts – check with your director).
Raffle tickets can work well for groups, but be sure to understand all of the factors like permits or taxes.
Not certain if there’s more to this than gathering up pennies from change dishes, car cup-holders, or couch cushions?
AmazonSmile won’t make you tons of money, but you’d be wise to encourage your constituents to link to your organization. Here’s a blog post exploring another side of AmazonSmile.
We all know very little ever reaches an oven.
Broad category that is a catch-all for a lot of junk food.
Auntie Annes Pretzels
Your favorite snack at the mall.
Start a parallel campaign for “potting soil”.
Logo “Swag” Gear
This is a tricky one, because on one hand you WANT EVERYONE wearing your gear, but should you also profit? It’s a tough question.
“We’ve kidnapped your PRINCIPAL – if you don’t raise $2,000 by the end of the week, you’ll never see him again.” Maybe this isn’t quite the incentive we had in mind…
Hot Dog Cart
May involve permits, and lots of foodservice gloves.
TP + Paper Products
Face it, you’re always about to run out of TP. You know it, and we know it.
Yes, July might have that really annoying kid’s photo featured, but it’s only 31 days.
Bake at Home Pizza Kits
These kits have come a long way since I was in high school marching band. Now they’re made of actual, edible food.
Come on – everyone needs another trunk magnet, right?
Mall Gift Wrapping
Staff a table during the mad Christmas rush at the local mall, and wrap gifts for free for a donation.
Advanced Fundraising Ideas
These methods represent activities that require slightly more resources to pull off well. In most cases they require a little more effort, but will most likely provide more upside.
We’ve heard of some programs that are relying on this seasonal household purchase that smells “stinky” when delivered, but looks so good.
Whether you sell pre-paid tickets for sandwiches, or you construct some sort of elaborate “assembly line” operation to make them yourself, this can work well for your group. Also, they are absolutely called “HOAGIES” – not grinders, sub sandwiches, or any other derivative…
Compile + Sell a Cookbook
This could be fun, but also time-intensive.
Local Business Sponsorship Packages
Put your booster parents’ skill sets to work and begin to reach out to the local and regional business community. In-kind donations can be as useful as cash, but building these relationships takes time, patience, and an understanding of real value (this blog post explains more).
Christmas Tree Disposal
Some areas struggle with discarded Christmas trees, so this could be a problem your organization solves.
Raffle an “Experience”
A ride in a jet plane, skydiving, race car on a test track, etc.
“Paca Poo” (Alpaca Manure)
No idea if this is possible, but it’s on the list, nevertheless. Read about it here.
Event Fundraising Ideas
Just what the title says – these events are designed to create a fundraiser out of a scheduled occasion on your calendar.
My junk, your junk, our junk.
If it’s big enough, it should draw a crowd.
Home-based Business Sale (Scentsy, Pampered Chef, etc)
If you can lock into a home sales vendor with ties to your organization and they promise a percentage of sales, this could be beneficial for all parties. Remember that your organization’s percentage is probably based on “1st orders” but the benefit to the vendor is additional add-on sales down the road.
Another follow-on fundraiser – sell Tums and Rolaids – but probably worth it for the trash-talking alone.
A couple of grills, some lighter fluid, and raw meat. What could go wrong?
Everything will be sticky afterwards, but so what?
Designer Bag BINGO
Pre-sell tickets, have attendees bring their own food, and then string those 5 magical letters together for a free bag. There may be upfront costs associated with the purchase of your giveaways, so be careful.
Have fun with this and ask all attendees to “wear white”. Anyone without red stains gets a free dessert.
Burger Bash or a Cookout
Another “bragging rights” event fundraiser that can be as useful for comedic entertainment as for money. Consider a judged burger competition a la’ “Chopped”.
Car washes won’t make you much money, but it is a way to begin to build relationships across your members or students, which in some ways might be more important. Also, we know of one prominent program in Indiana that sells pre-paid passes for a community car wash for a specific date. Less than 10% of the people that buy passes actually show up to the event.
A golf outing might be difficult to pull off, but if you partner with someone that understands the mechanics of putting on a charity tournament, this could work really well. Approach your local golf club to see if they can help point you in the right direction.
Mini Golf Tournament
…and if the PGA-type of golf event is too much, maybe mini golf is more your speed?
As like the golf outing above, you might want to reach out to race organizers in your area to see if they can help.
“Dancing with the Staff” Fundraiser
I’m not certain if this is for everyone, but you shouldn’t have a hard time getting kids to show up for the spectacle.
tied in with cook off, bake sale – A car show is a perfect excuse to tie in more than one of these events (also, don’t forget to run a 50/50).
Holds potential for huge financial gains, but very difficult to produce.
Note from CEO Brian:
“I spent several years with a band program in Southern New Jersey that relied on a week-long community carnival as their primary fundraiser.
It took months to plan, but the boosters documented every step and built a system that made it easy to handoff to new parents coming in.
They rented a large shopping center parking lot and brought in REAL RIDES. The event made low 6-figure revenue every year.”
Polar Plunge – Find a cold body of water in the winter or early spring – VOILA! Have plungers sign LOTS of medical waivers though.
Force everybody to a local restaurant (against their will) and get a percentage of the proceeds. What could be more fun?
Maybe get a small jazz ensemble to play along?
Auction a Date
Not going to touch this one with a 10 foot pole.
Blind bidding for auction items.
This could be a really fun activity for a younger age group. Involve your high school students and have them help run it.
“A Night In”
Movie, snacks, drinks – donations would/could be what people would spend for a night out.
A softball or even a kickball tournament (or cornhole, 3 on 3 basketball, or any other sports) would work well.
Crossing fingers for “pocket aces”.
If there was ever a question about WHO the biggest NERD is, this will uncover it.
You can also take bets on who will make the most gutterballs.
Who WOULDN’T pay $5 for 3 chances to dunk the BAND DIRECTOR?
Whenever this is scheduled, please let us know because we are inviting ourselves.
Food Truck Rodeo
Food trucks represent some of the most creative and deliciously satisfying food experiences you’ll ever find. Schedule a bunch of food trucks in consort with another type of event that might be compatible.
Celeb Chef Party
Find a local notable chef, and sell passes for a private table – see if they will donate the food/time and possibly offer coupon passes for a discount to help promote a new location or establishment.
Themed gift baskets filled with local business donations are easy to pull together.
Of course you might have to educate everyone on exactly what “Bocce” is.
Maybe it won’t be the scale of an “Ocean’s” movie, but still fun to try.
Crab Feast/Lobster Bake
Choose a crustacean, boil water and sell tickets.
This can be a TON of fun for your kids.
Not quite as popular as a couple of years ago – has everybody bought a mattress already?
Sports Event Outing
If you have a sports team in your vicinity, you might be able to negotiate a group block of deeply discounted tickets for a night at the game. You could probably offer a reduced admission (helps them fill empty cheap seats and increase concessions) and STILL make a little money.
Perhaps a little “hoity-toity” for some, but we’ve seen events in working class communities do really well
Align with a waste management company in your area to drive a recycling day for a small profit.
Similar to the Fashion Show above, this one comes with a ready-made audience of dress shoppers.
This can be a great way to engage with alumni.
“Celeb” Basketball/Softball Game
Have a minor B list local celebrity around? Maybe people will pay to see them miss a foul shot?
Duct Tape Principal or Band Director to a Wall
Because who wouldn’t donate to see human torture?
Performance Fundraising Ideas
These ideas are probably most suitable to performing arts ensembles and organizations as they involve some degree of public performance of some capacity.
Coordinate a “THON” (drum-a-thon, march-a-thon, etc)
Here at FansRaise, we often see highly successful campaigns that turn a THON into an online fundraiser. This blog post outlines how and why that can be highly effective.
If you have the ability to staff a local sports or entertainment venue’s concession operation, this can be a nice ongoing relationship to have.
Any excuse to put the kids onstage in front of people, and make a little bit of money in the process is probably a good thing for all involved.
Coffee + Dessert Bar
This is easy – perfect follow-on for any performance you do.
Host a Competition/Festival
Did you know that hosting a competition is generally one of the biggest (and only) fundraisers that most programs do?
Your program is surrounded with talent, so why not put it on display?
Battle of the Bands
Yes, you can make money off of all of those aspiring rappers and garage bands in your area.
Caroling/Playing for Cash
Small ensembles, quintets, trios strolling for donations at different times of the year is an easy one.
100% chance that someone will choose “Sweet Caroline” and “I Will Survive”.
Community Concert (Donation)
Yet another excuse to get together and play in front of an audience (who might donate a few bucks).
NOTE – be sure to add a sensible alternate fundraiser AT your event, such as a bake sale, 50/50, raffle drawing, etc.
These are fundraisers that involve some sort of cumulative activity to produce, and are probably a little more hands-on than most.
Though we’re not familiar with this approach, it looks like it requires envelopes.
There are charities that do nothing but repurpose shoes, and they’ll pay for them when you donate discarded shoes.
Who doesn’t like a good “swap meet?”
Ready to start your own?
If your performing arts ensemble needs help raising money—even after reading that list of 90 fundraising ideas—then FansRaise is for you.
We can help your staff or parent booster group set up a program-wide fundraising campaign.
And best of all: there’s nothing to sell.
How does it work? Glad you asked.
Download our guide to see it in action — The $10k Blueprint: How Ensembles are Raising Lost of Money Quickly.
You'll be glad you did! Good luck out there, and happy fundraising!