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Author: The USA Fundraising Team

We're people just like you with a passion for fundraising! Our mission is to provide you with the tools you need to succeed in all your fundraising efforts. That's why we bring you fresh new fundraising ideas, helpful tips, news and fundraising success stories.
4 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Creating Your Next Fundraiser

4 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Creating Your Next Fundraiser

common mistakes in setting goals (too many, too big, not specific, not written) - concept presented with sticky notes and white chalk handwriting on blackboard

Have you ever been in charge of a fundraiser that fizzled? Has your organization’s fundraising efforts fallen short of its goals? Unfortunately, this can happen with school and team fundraisers, but you can learn from the mistakes of others. If you’re brainstorming future fundraising ideas, beware of these common pitfalls.

Bad Timing

Selling products, such as holiday wreaths or discount coupons for theme parks and attractions, is a great way to make money for your organization, especially if you offer those products when they’re most likely to be used. Plan your campaigns so that products get delivered in time for the season, but not so early that the items themselves are not relevant at that particular point in time.

Poor Profit Margins

Unless you know you can sell many items, you might face challenges making money with products that offer less than 30 or 40 percent profit back to your organization. Look for higher profit margins to get the most from your fundraiser. Fundraisers like the Entertainment App comes with a 50% profit and Scratchcards can give you up to 90% profit.

Large Upfront Investment

Sometimes, small team fundraisers start with an upfront investment in product that the club may or may not be able to move, especially if the product hasn’t been sold before. If you want to keep a safe approach stick with order-takers, especially for smaller clubs.

Poor Value Proposition

Many people will pay a little more for products sold as fundraisers, because they understand they are supporting an organization they care about. However, getting people to buy items, even as fundraisers, that don’t show value can be challenging. Consider the people in the communities and neighborhoods you will be selling to and try to choose fundraising items that would be valuable to them. Listen to your customers! If you keep these four fundraising mistakes in mind when choosing your next idea, then you’ll have a higher chance of success. For more fundraising ideas, request a free fundraising guide.

4 Awesome DIY Fundraising Ideas

4 Awesome DIY Fundraising Ideas

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Fundraising ideas can come in all shapes and forms including the DIY variety. These DIY fundraisers that we’re about to tell you about are easy to set up and don’t cost too much money or require a lot of equipment. If you’re looking to set up a fundraiser all by yourself, we’ve got you covered with these four awesome ideas.

Curiosity Costs

This DIY fundraising idea is so simple you won’t believe that you didn’t think of it yourself. Find a bar or restaurant that will let you use it for a day or two, and put up signs above the TVs and tables that say “Y.C.J.C.Y.1.D.”. Eventually people will come around asking what the signs mean, and you’ll tell them that if they want to know it will cost a dollar. Once they pay, just hand them a slip of paper that says “your curiosity just cost you one dollar.” They might feel a little silly, but this is a deceptively clever way to raise money.

Weight Loss Challenge

Here’s another easy fundraising idea. Have people weigh in on the first day and give them a set amount of time to loss a predetermined number of pounds. On the final day you do another weigh in and the participants have to pay a certain amount for every pound they lost. Alternatively, you can have them look for sponsors willing to donate money to support them in their weight loss goal. The only thing you need for this is a scale to weigh your participants!

Text Donations Campaign

You’ve probably received random text messages on your smart phone before asking for donations. Well, why not do the same with a text message donations campaign?  Setting up an SMS donations drive is pretty easy and can be done for minimal cost.

Pumpkin Chucking

This is a great DIY fundraising idea for the Fall season. You’ll need to either build or rent a catapult from somewhere, but the general idea is you have people pay a fee to load their pumpkins into the device and launch them through the air. You’ll need to stage this event at a large outdoor area like a park because you’ll need a lot of space for the pumpkins to land. The same thing could be done with watermelons in the summer! This fundraising idea that is sure to be a good time for everyone.

Have you ever done a DIY fundraiser before? What did you do and how did you organize it? Tell us about it in the comments!

Top Online Fundraising Tools

Top Online Fundraising Tools

Whether you are fundraising for a school or a community organization, using online fundraising tools will add a new dimension to your fundraisers. You can use the Internet to collect donations, sell popular products, or even hold an online auction.

Here are three simple reasons your group should be fundraising online: your members can reach their supporters across the US, you can easily keep track of your fundraising progress, and your circle of support is no longer confined to your local community.

  • So where do you start? Here are our top recommendations for online fundraising.

1.  Online Magazine Fundraising

With about 4 subscriptions per household in the US, magazines remain one of the top product fundraisers. With 700 magazines to choose from – including Sports Illustrated, Oprah, Newsweek, and Better Homes and Gardens – everyone can find something they want.

eFundraising lets you do a complete fundraiser online, with your group’s own online magazine store personalized with your photo, information about your group, and your goal.

2. Online Auctions

Most of us have ordered something on eBay at some point, or at least know someone who has. But did you know that you can put the power of online auctions to work for your organization? Online auctions can be run on their own or in combination with an event.

CMarket is a company specializing in online fundraising auctions. CMarket will help you plan, promote, and hold your online auction, with years of online auction fundraising experience to ensure your success. With CMarket’s customized services, one elementary school alone raised $99,981.

 

3. Online Donations

It’s easy to collect donations online, whether you have a website or not. Here are some of the top online donation tools:

GiveForward: This is a brand new site and is my favorite online donation site so far, because the focus is on building a community of people who want to give, and people who need funds, matching the interests of both. Any group or individual can set up a fundraising profile in a category such as Education, Entrepreneurship, Community, Non-Profits, or Friends & Family. Anyone who joins can browse different fundraising profiles and make donations as small as $1.

As for your fundraising profile, on GiveForward, you can add videos, photos, and more, to show who you are (or what your organization is all about) and why people should give to your cause. And all this is Free!

A similar site to check out is MicroGiving .

  • FirstGiving: If you are raising money for a registered non-profit (check Guidestar to know if your organization is registered), you can set up a fundraising page on FirstGiving and add special FirstGiving badges to your Facebook, Myspace or blog pages.
  • ChipIn: ChipIn allows any group or individual to set up an online fundraising page and get fundraising badges – a good option if you are raising money for an individual or other cause that can’t be found on Guidestar.
  • Fundable: Similar to Chipin, anybody can create a fundraising page on Fundable for any cause or personal fundraiser. The difference with Fundable is that you set a goal, and if your goal is not reached, everyone gets their money back. All or nothing!
  • Your Social Network: Fundraising through Facebook, Twitter, and other social media tools is an important element of your online fundraiser (and is some cases, IS the online fundraiser). Watch for upcoming articles exploring social media fundraising success stories.

4. Online Grants for Schools

A special mention has to go to one of our favorite projects, DonorsChoose.org. Teachers submit proposals for their classroom projects, explaining what they need to raise money for.

We love this site because anyone can support what they feel is a deserving school project, from desperately needed learning aids to simple things like a carpet so that students can be comfortable during group activities.

When supporters read your story, they can use the tools on DonorsChoose.org to set challenges and promote your idea to their contacts through tell-a-friend tools and blog badges.

New Restaurant Gift Card Fundraiser Helps Supporters Save Money

New Restaurant Gift Card Fundraiser Helps Supporters Save Money

restaurant.com gift card - usa fundraising - Grilled vegetables and steak with salt on white table
Unique new fundraiser from Restaurant.com helps your supporters save money.

In these trying times, we all want to save money. Our favorite new fundraiser, the Restaurant.com Gift Card fundraiser, lets your supporters save money, giving them the chance to stretch their dollars while dining at local restaurants.

The new Restaurant.com fundraiser is very simple: a Restaurant.com gift card that your supporters can use to go on Restaurant.com, where they can redeem $50 worth of gift certificates from over 10,000 restaurants.

How Do Supporters Save Money?

Supporters buy the Restaurant.com fundraiser gift card for $20, and they get $50 of gift certificates on Restaurant.com! That means your supporters get two and a half times their money at the restaurant of their choice!

How Does It Work?

Your school, organization, or team orders cards for each person participating in the fundraiser to sell.

 You can start with as little as 10 cards (easy when each person should be able to sell at least 5 cards).

No Risk

If your group orders too many cards, you can even return the extras, as long as the cards are not damaged.

How to Get Started

To order cards or to get information to review with your group, call eFundraising toll-free at 1-866-891-0053.

5 Team Fundraisers that Show Your True Colors

5 Team Fundraisers that Show Your True Colors

Fundraising for sports teams
Check out these easy team fundraisers for sports!

At USA Fundraising, we often talk about dressing for success – wearing your group’s uniform, colors or clothing featuring a group logo when fundraising.  This bit of advice is especially true for sports teams.

But it doesn’t have to stop at a uniform.  You can also dress up your fundraising products in your team’s colors and logo!

Here are a few of our favorite team fundraisers that can be customized for your team:

Wristbands

This low cost fundraiser is easy to sell and often referred to as a “spirit” item because it promotes team spirit.  You can get them in a variety of colors and color combinations, and have your team name printed or embossed on the bands.

Check out Wristbands-Depot >>

Flip Flops

Another “spirit” item, flip flops are a favorite at high schools and colleges all across the country.  You can have them customized with your team colors, name and logo, and sell them at a low cost around your team’s school or community for some very nice profits.

Check out ePromos custom flip flops >>

 

The Online Magazine Fundraiser

A picture says a thousand words, and this online fundraiser lets you create a fundraising webpage complete with a team colors, your team’s story and a team photo!

It’s a free, family-friendly fundraiser run entirely online.  That means, no door-to-door, no collecting and counting cash, and no product to store or deliver.

Check out the Online Magazine Fundraiser >>

Scratchcards

Scratchcards are low cost, easy to handle and can really rake in the dollars at up to 90% profit.  They can also be customized with a team logo and message, and are available in a variety of sports designs including baseball, football, soccer, softball and many, many more..

Check out Scratchcards >>

Summer Block Party Fundraiser

Summer Block Party Fundraiser

summer block party fundraiser
A block party fundraiser is ideal for community organizations, neighborhood associations, and any other group offering services in a specific area. Get some tips on turning a neighborhood party into a fundraising opportunity.


A block party is a great chance for residents to learn about your organization, meet each other, improve the bonds in the community, and take a day to relax and have fun while spending little money. Make this a real community initiative by partnering with other local organizations serving the community so residents can find out about all the local resources available to them. Most importantly, make sure that the reason you are raising money is very clear, and is something that everyone in the neighborhood can get behind.

There are many great block party planning guides available on the internet, which include a planning timeline, ideas on organizing your planning committee, food safety tips, and more (see the link in the Resources section at the end). But how do you put a fundraising twist on this kind of event?

Here are four fundraising ideas to help you make your block party into a fundraising opportunity. Be sure to keep in mind your neighborhood demographics to be sure that everyone can afford to participate. If you are in a particularly low-income area, you might need to rely more heavily on sponsorship than on selling items at the event itself.

1. Food

The most popular element of a block party is the food, and the most popular food for a block party is barbecue of course! Ask for donations from a local grocery store for hot dogs and hamburgers to grill up, as well as soda, paper plates, napkins and cups. If you have a family restaurant or grill in your area, you might be able to get them to sponsor this part of the event as well. If your grocery store can’t supply drinks, you can approach soda companies for donations, or get the famous orange drink donated from your local McDonalds!

Always contact the manager directly to ask for donations, and arrange a meeting in person so they can learn more about your organization and the event you are planning. Most grocery stores are happy to get behind a community event like this, as it offers exposure to potential shoppers in the area and reinforces their relationship with current clients.

Be sure to provide a formal donation request letter with outlining who your organization is, what the event is for, and how much of each item you will need, as well as a brochure or other information on your organization, so they can see you are prepared in your planning – showing that you will be prepared for the event! If your organization serves the community, have the meeting there so they can see exactly how their support will help.

You can also set up a snack bar and sell fundraising products – snacks like candy bars, lollipops, and beef jerky that are specially priced for fundraising groups.

Even if you sell it at a low, affordable price, if you can get these products donated, you will be able to raise money by selling food and drink to your hungry neighbors. Allow your sponsors to display banners/signs, or hand out flyers, coupons, or other promotional pieces if they wish.

2. Raffles

Get prizes donated for a raffle and sell tickets throughout your event. This is a good way to get people to stick around too, since they will want to know if they won a prize! Step by Step Fundraising has a lot of great information on organizing fundraising raffles that you can use in your planning.

If you can’t get any prizes donated, go with a half-and-half where half of the money you raise by selling raffle tickets goes to your cause, and half goes to the raffle winner. When planning raffles, always be sure to check with your state laws, since some states have very specific rules about doing raffles and some states require a permit.

3. Sponsorship

In addition to donations for food or prizes, you can approach local businesses to sponsor your event, giving a donation in exchange for allowing them to promote their products or services at your event. Allow them to set up a table at the event or display a banner, and be sure to include their logo on your fundraising flyer and other fundraising event publicity. Follow the tips in #2 to get your sponsorship request prepared.

4. Bazaar

Expanding on the idea of having tables for sponsors, if you have the space and equipment available, why not have a bazaar/block sale area? While planning a bazaar or block sale can be a complete event in itself, if you have the resources to put this together, this adds a fun twist to your event, gives residents the chance to get rid of unneeded items, and is a great chance for local merchants to meet residents that may have never set foot in their store. Setting up a bazaar also offers a great opportunity for talented residents who don’t have a store to sell handmade arts and crafts.

Charge a set amount per table: if you have space for just 10 tables and charge $30 for each, that’s an extra $300 raised. Plus, get just one or two items from each of your tables and use them as prizes in your raffle.

A Few Planning Tips

– Know your Liability – In addition to local permits, be aware of liability issues. Work with your municipality to make sure you have the right liability coverage for your event.

– Have a Plan B (as in Bad weather!) – Try to partner with an organization that is well located in the area where you want to have your block party. If you have a community center in a local park, your block party could be a Day in the Park instead. If you work with an organization that has a facility where you want to hold your event, it will be easy to move activities inside in case of bad weather. Be sure to consider your plans for food: if you have to move inside, is there a kitchen or indoor grill available?

– Survey your Neighborhood – If this is your first community event, you may want to do a survey in advance to see what kind of activities your residents would be most excited about. This is a good way to reach out to your community in advance to get them excited about the event, recruit volunteers, and maybe even stumble across some hidden talent in your area that might want to provide some entertainment on your big day!

– Get Entertainment – Local radio stations will often help with community events by getting radio personalities out to host and DJ the event, and will help to promote the event over the radio.

– Promote your Fundraising Event – Get tips on publicity for your fundraiser, and learn how to create a fundraising flyer .

– Do a Post-party Evaluation – Get your planning committee together after the event to evaluate the event, and what you could improve for next year (yes, next year! These are the kind of events that will keep growing and residents will look forward to all year long)! Be sure to thank all of your sponsors, city officials, and partner organizations that helped make your event a success. Get ideas for thank you letters.

Block Party Planning Resources

– That’s The Spirit: Four Steps to a Great Summer Block Party

– Step by Step Fundraising: How to Organize a Fundraising Raffle

Go Green Fundraising

Go Green Fundraising

green eco-friendly fundraisers
3 exciting and successful fundraising ideas to help you and your group reach your goals while making a difference in your community and the environment.

Everyone’s going green these days with earth-friendly products, recyclable materials, reusable containers, and even low-emission cars.  So why not have a “Go Green Fundraiser” to raise funds, promote awareness, and teach kids and your community about earth-friendly practices!

What is a Go Green Fundraiser?  It’s pretty much any sale or event that promotes earth-conscious choices.  Here are some great ideas for your Go Green Fundraiser:

Adopt-a-Tree

An Adopt-a-Tree fundraiser is a great way to raise funds, teach children about the role trees play in our everyday lives, and do something meaningful for the environment.  Supporters adopt a tree for a pre-determined price.  You then hold a tree-planting ceremony for supporters to attend.  Supporters can help with the planting, and enjoy a fun-filled afternoon of games and refreshments.

Green Motion Marathon

Green motion means that participants can take part in your marathon using any type of transportation they wish, as long as their vehicle of choice is 100% earth-friendly.  That means bicycles, skateboards, rollerblades, your own 2 feet, or any other means of getting around that has a low impact on the earth.

Community Cleanup

One of the biggest pollution problems we have is littering!  City parks and other public gathering places are often full of trash and graffiti.  Raise funds by choosing a public area in need of a good cleanup, and get members of the community to sponsor your group.  You only need a few supplies, and lots of energy and dedication for this event.

Make your next fundraising campaign your ‘greenest’ yet with a  Go Green Fundraiser !

Fundraising on Facebook

Fundraising on Facebook

fundraise online with facebook
Facebook fundraising is an exciting new venture in the fundraising industry!  Find out how easy it is for you to start fundraising on Facebook.

John has invited you to join his fundraiser.  20 of your friends are already supporting John.  John is grateful to everyone who’s reached out in support of his cause!  John is so close to his fundraising goal!

Don’t you want to join John’s fundraiser now too?

If you’re one of the millions of people using Facebook, the above narrative is undoubtedly familiar to you.  In fact, you’re probably scanning your Facebook news feed right now in between reading fun and informative USA Fundraising articles.  You’re probably checking to see who has an event coming up, who’s posted new pictures, and if any of your friends have upcoming birthdays so you can be the first to post a “Happy Birthday” wall post!

Wouldn’t it be great if you could harness the power of this remarkably engaging (and slightly addictive) network for fundraising?  You can!  Using the “Groups” and “Events” applications, you can boost your fundraising results, and raise awareness about your organization.

Groups and Events

The Events and Groups applications are both automatically supplied for you by Facebook.  They can be found listed under your profile picture.

Setup is the same for both:

– Click on the application
– Fill in the required information and choose your preferences
– Click “Create Event/Group”
– Follow the steps to invite your Facebook friends to join your Group or Event

Choosing Between a Group and an Event

Events provide a date, time and location.  Events are temporary and are removed from Facebook once the event is over.  If you’re having a bake sale, dinner, auction or other one-time fundraiser, this is the ideal choice.

Groups are great for using Facebook to start a network for your organization.  Through your Facebook Group, you’ll be able to post updates about ongoing fundraisers and other group events and notices.

Using both is a great idea.  Create a Group, then use Events for your fundraisers and other events.  You can invite everyone in your Facebook Group to also join your Events and post updates about them on your Facebook Group page.

Using Your Group or Event to Promote Your Fundraiser

So you’ve created your Group, Event or both.  You’ve invited everyone you know, and many have joined.  Now it’s time to promote.

As the date of your fundraiser approaches, use the Event or Group tools to send reminder messages, and encourage everyone to participate or attend.  Provide information like news, goals you’ve reached and exciting fundraiser updates.  You can even post pictures or videos of your organization or from past events.

Using Your Group or Event to Promote an Online Fundraiser

Another great way to use these applications is to promote an online fundraiser.

Let’s use eFundraising’s online magazine fundraiser as an example.  When you register with MagFundraising, you get a free online magazine store with a unique URL exclusively for your organization.  You can post this URL on your Facebook Group page, and on your profile page and send emails to your Facebook contacts encouraging them to visit your online magazine store.  You can even create an Event for your online fundraiser and set a deadline for your goal to be reached.

Learn more about eFundraising >>

Using Fundraising Applications

There are a variety of applications on Facebook designed specifically for fundraising, such as the Causes application created by Project Agape.  These are primarily donation fundraisers, and are as easy to set up as the Groups and Events applications.

Why Facebook?

– Facebook makes it fast and easy to get the word out to an entire network of people.
– It’s a great addition to other promotion tactics like flyers, notices, letters, posters and emails.
– You can engage supporters and participants by adding photos or videos, and posting regular updates.
– Every time you change or update something, it will be posted in your friends’ news feeds for extra exposure.
– Friends can check in on your fundraiser to see the progress and see what other people are doing for the fundraiser, which could encourage them to participate.
– It’s a great way to share your fundraising experience with friends and family.

Think of John’s fundraiser at the beginning of this article.  Getting all those updates sure generated some interest, didn’t it?  You could have the same effect with your fundraiser!  Your friends will see that you’ve started something new.  They’ll want to join too and when they do, all of their friends will see that they’ve added something new and they’ll want to join in as well.

And all that hype isn’t just good for your bottom line – it’s also great for getting the word out about your organization!

Unique Ideas for Church Fundraising

Unique Ideas for Church Fundraising

unique church fundraising ideas
Here are some unique church fundraising ideas which will allow you to preach God’s word and fundraise at the same time!

Looking for some unique church fundraising ideas? Believe it or not, we’ve got a few that will get your congregation really anxious to start fundraising!

T-Shirts
How about a fundraiser that will help your church raise funds, and at the same time you will be able to pass on God’s message to people? Pretty neat, hun? Well you can do so with a t-shirt fundraiser. The average t-shirt is read around 3000 times before it’s thrown out; imagine how many people you can reach. There are t-shirts such as: Abreadcrumb & Fish, Isaiah 40:31, God’s Property, Thy Will be Done..and you can even personalize the t-shirt with your own church’s message. Check it out at GoodNewsClothing.com

Cookie Dough
What about a cookie dough fundraiser? It’s always great to have your fellow brothers and sisters pass by, you always want to stay close with those who share your beliefs. Not prepared for their surprise visit? No problem, you can just get some frozen cookie dough out of the freezer and in minutes serve some freshly baked cookies. These are great to serve after your bible studies, for your church bake sales, or just whenever you would like some great cookies to give you energy to do God’s will. Come on..try them..you’ll remember us!

Pumpkins & Prayer Rocks
We found some other great church fundraising ideas at FoodgrainsBank.ca  Of all the ones mentioned, these were our personal favorites:  Grow some  pumpkins in time for Halloween or Thanksgiving and sell them to your community members. We all use pumpkins at these times of the year!!! And the last one for today…prayer rocks! Get some children from your church to help a farmer pick up the stones before he seeds his field. Then, the children can paint the stones and glue prayers or scriptures on them. These prayer rocks can then in turn be sold to raise money for your church.

Happy Church Fundraising 🙂

Happy Fourth of July!

Happy Fourth of July!

American Flag
At USA Fundraising, we’d like to wish you a happy Fourth of July weekend!  We hope you enjoy a weekend full of fun and sun!

As a Fourth of July treat, we’re highlighting a few of our most popular posts of the summer so far:

Top 10 Summer Fundraisers

Our top 10 favorite ideas for summer fundraisers.

See all 10 summer fundraising ideas >>

Win Breast Cancer Fundraising Bracelets

You can win a supply of breast cancer awareness bracelets!  Use them to raise funds and awareness in your community.

Find out how to win breast cancer fundraiser bracelets >>

5 Team Fundraisers

For the sports fan fundraiser, five customizable fundraisers that raise funds and show of your team colors.

See all 5 team fundraisers >>