1. Matching Gift Drive
Work with a local business or community group that is supportive. Ask them to match any funds you raise for a certain period of time. Once they agree, publicize their commitment to match and start raising money. Many of your supporters will be willing to donate if they know they could be doubling their donations to your cause!
Use this drive to inform your donors about how to get the most out of their giving. Send letters, post on social media, and write emails explaining how their matched funds will be used.
Matching gifts are an easy way to maximize the donations you are already receiving without asking supporters to donate more than once. Don’t forget the ‘Thank You’ notes!
2. T-Shirt Fundraiser
Selling custom t-shirts is not only a unique fundraising idea for your GSA but also a great marketing strategy for your group and what you stand for!
As a group, decide on a design. This could be done as a group, or you could put out a call for designs from members of the group and vote. Make sure the design conveys the mission of the GSA (some examples could include: colorful rainbow logos or tie-dye shirts, fun LGBTQ slogans, using the school mascot or logo in rainbow, etc.)! People will buy the shirts to remember and support your group and the fantastic work you’re doing.
Get the word out about your t-shirt fundraising campaign by featuring them in morning announcements, school posters, social media, and during passing times or lunch. Once you know how much it will cost to print each shirt, figure out how much you have to sell them for to make a 50% profit. For example:
Cost to print 1 shirt: $6
Cost to ship 1 shirt to you: $4
Total cost for 1 shirt: $10
X 50% = $5
Total cost to customer: $15
3. Start a Crowdfunding Campaign:
Chances are you’ve seen (and maybe even donated to) crowdfunding campaigns in the past like GoFundMe.
Crowdfunding campaigns allow you to collect small donations from a broad audience
To get started crowdfunding, set up a fundraising page explaining your mission through which people can make donations online. Explain what the funds will go to and how donations will make a positive impact for you or your group.
This biggest key to success with these types of fundraisers is promotion! Promote your crowdfunding campaign on social media, through email, through flyers, through text, in morning announcements, etc. and encourage your followers to share it! Set a realistic goal and start by donating to your own campaign. Studies show that supporters are more likely to donate to your fundraiser if they see you are invested in it as well.
Keep in mind that crowdfunding sites sometimes take awhile to cut a check to you, so plan accordingly with the timeline you have.
4. Host a Walk-A-Thon
A walk-a-thon is a unique fundraising event the whole family can enjoy.
Set up a walk-a-thon in your community. These are an easy and unique way to fund raise right in your neighborhood.
Decide Where to Walk
There are all kinds of places where you can stage your walk-a-thon: in a park, on a high school track, or even inside a mall.
Give Your Walk a Name
Coming up with a memorable name for the event is your best chance to let people know what your walk-a-thon is about.
Promote Your Event
You can’t exactly have a walk-a-thon unless there are people willing to walk. You don’t have to spend a lot to get the word out, especially if you network. Create a page for your walk on Facebook and ask friends to spread the word. You can send press releases to the local paper and distribute flyers in places where people who enjoy walking spend time, such as at the gym or in the park. You can even contact local TV and radio stations.
Each member of the group who is willing to walk (or you) should have a sponsorship form. Visit local businesses, community groups, family, friends, teachers, etc. and ask them to sponsor you per mile. For example: the form may look like:
Name of sponsor:
Amount per mile:
Number of miles they will sponsor:
The more sponsors you have, the more money you will raise. This is a great way to engage the community and fundraise quickly if you have a large GSA.
Hold the Walk-A-Thon
Hold the event on the day that you advertised, and have a volunteer keep track of how far you have walked. Afterwards, go back to the people on your sponsorship list and let them know how far you walked for your group!
5. Silent Auction
Host a silent auction to get local organizations involved in a fundraising event that is both unique and community-oriented.
Reach out to your local businesses to donate auction items. Try to incorporate things that will interest your supporters the most (think gift certificates, local art, movie tickets, gift baskets, etc.). Find a location that will let you set up tables and items for a few hours (a local coffee shop is a great option!).
Remember that the key to success is promotion! Promote the items, if there will be refreshments available, and what the funds will go to. Make sure your friends and family show up as well!
6. Battle of the Bands
Host a contest for the talented musicians in your community.
Bands will be excited to donate their time to a contest that showcases their talent and goes to a cause like safe and supportive schools for LGBTQ youth. A prize for the winner of the competition will incentivize them even further to get involved. Provide judges, or ask the audience to determine who has the best sound in town.
Ask a local company to host the event. They will appreciate the extra business, and you will have a perfect stage for your event! Ask for a small cover fee from the attendees and let the competition begin.
7. Car Wash
Put your spin on this classic fundraiser to make it unique and exciting!
Hold a car wash for your community. This is a classic fundraising event for school groups. You can make your car wash unique by adding your spin to the fundraiser (rainbow soap, dressed as unicorns, get creative!). Local grocery stores will often allow groups to take over part of their parking lot for the afternoon. Make posters and find enthusiastic volunteers to help promote your car wash that day, and make announcements in the community leading up to the car wash day!
All that’s necessary for this event are sponges, soap, and hands ready to work. Be sure to put your spin on it to make the car wash unique to you, the event you are raising money for, or the GSA.
8. Chili Cookoff
Invite members in your community to show off their best chili recipe!
People pride themselves on fantastic chili recipes. Challenge your neighbors, friends, family, and community members to a cookoff to find out who has the best chili in town. To determine the winners, you’ll need to assign staff members or volunteers as a panel of judges.
Require a registration fee for those who wish to enter into the competition. Don’t forget to provide a prize to the winner. You may choose to make this an annual event for the community to look forward to each year.
Remember that the key to success is promotion! Promote the competitors, how many chilis will be competing, what the prize is, and how much it costs to come and eat chili and what the funds will go to!
If chili isn’t your thing, barbeque is another classic option for this unique fundraising competition.
9. Host a Craft Fair
Get crafty! Show off your community’s crafting ability by selling their goods at a craft fair.
Selling the crafts of local artists is a great way to get the name of those artists to the community while promoting your organization. There are two ways to host a craft fair in your area.
The first option is to ask for donations from local artists, such as paintings, soap, candles, and other homemade goods. Then sell these goods to the community.
The second option is to gather tents and tables, then ask local artists to pay a fee to set up at the fair. They will sell their goods and spread their name while you fund raise.
Remember that the key to success is promotion! Promote the artists, what types of crafts and art will be there, if there is a cost to enter, and what the funds will go to!
10. Board Game Tournament
Bring out your old board games and hold a unique tournament fundraising competition.
If you’re not a board game person, ask volunteers to bring in their favorite board game. Whether it’s Monopoly, Battleship, Apples to Apples, Settlers of Catan, Risk, D&D, or Checkers, people will have a blast playing games and supporting your cause!
Have a lot of different options of games, require a small fee to register for the game night and watch the sign ups soar! Remember that the key to success is promotion! Promote the games, make sure there is some sort of refreshment or snack available (ask a local Casey’s to donate pizza for the evening!), how much it costs to come and what the funds will go to!
11. Video Game Tournament
Hosting a video game tournament is a unique fundraising idea that will gather all ages for a night of competition and fun!
Bring in your favorite video game console and some classic games such as Mario Kart, Super Smash Bros, Sonic, etc. Ask for a small fee to enter the competition, and let the games begin!
Offer a prize to the winner. This may be a new video game console, a gift certificate, or any number of game favorites.
Remember that the key to success is promotion! Promote the games, make sure there is some sort of refreshment or snack available (ask a local Casey’s to donate pizza for the evening!), how much it costs to come and what the funds will go to!
12. Potluck Dinner
Potluck dinners are a super easy way to bring people together for a night of great food and conversation.
Invite people to bring their favorite dish to the dinner. People love showing off family recipes to their community.
Charge a donation fee at the door and enjoy dinner! Potluck dinners are less expensive than eating out at a restaurant, plus you get to try all sorts of home-cooked food. From the donations to the delicious meal, everyone has something to enjoy at this unique fundraising event. Work with a local business, church, or community space to host the potluck, and make sure that you have enough dishes. Promote the event for at least one month beforehand.
13. Restaurant Giving Night
Partner with restaurants around your area for a restaurant giving night.
On these nights, a portion of the proceeds collected at the restaurant are allocated for your GSA or fundraiser. Once you have established the partnership, encourage your supporters to eat at that restaurant on the fundraising evening.
You support the restaurant with business while they help you with proceeds. Promote the partnership event on social media, your website, or with flyers around town!
14. Penny Wars
Penny wars are perfect unique fundraising idea for highly competitive teams and groups.
How do they work? Set up various jars with the names of competing teams or groups on them (MN Vikings vs. WI Green Bay Packers, Katy Perry vs. Lady Gaga, etc). If a donor places pennies or other coins in a jar, that team gets the point for each cent collected. However, if someone puts a dollar in a jar, it counts against 100 cents.
Encourage donors to put coins in their team’s jars while placing dollars in their competitor’s jars!
Divide people into teams to compete against one another in this friendly contest. Provide a prize for the winning team. This can be held during passing times, at lunch, in community spaces outside of school, and anywhere that you know that people frequent who would be interested in supporting a team.
15. Fundraising Letters
Sending physical letters to family, friends, businesses, and community groups is a great way to raise funds and find supporters for the GSA or your fundraising cause. Check out our examples of fundraising letters and tips & tricks for writing them here!
16. Donate Your Hobby
You already know how talented your community is, so why not put that talent to the test?
Try a donate your hobby fundraiser to raise money for your cause. In this kind of fundraiser, volunteers from the group or yourself advertise a hobby you enjoy, and supporters can donate a certain amount of money to have access to your or a GSA member’s hobby. This could be art lessons, piano lessons, carpentry, cooking, cleaning and organizing, etc.
17. Ramen Cook Off
There’s nothing like a good cook off to bring your whole community together! While we’ve all heard of BBQ cook offs or chili cook offs, why not give a ramen cook off a try?
Ramen cook offs are a great fundraising idea since there are so many ways to cook this yummy dish. Depending on the cooking styles of your supporters, you never know what you’re going to get!
Participants can sign up on your fundraising page and pay an entrance fee. Set aside some funding for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place prize winners out of this revenue.
18. Guessing Game
For a quick, cheap fundraising idea that will get your supporters excited to donate, set up guessing games across town. You’ll want to partner with local businesses or schools for this fundraising idea.
Guessing games can include filling a jar with jelly beans and encouraging people to guess how many are in the jar, or maybe even filling a tank with water and asking people to guess how many spoonfuls it would take to empty the tank.
When individuals make their guess, they’ll pay a small fee to enter the contest. Be sure to have a great prize ready for the winner!
By adding a competitive element to your fundraising efforts, you’ll encourage more people than ever to give back to your cause!
19. Movie Night
If you’re looking for an inexpensive idea for a fundraising event, why not give hosting a movie night a try?
Movie nights are fun and cheap fundraising ideas that bring your whole community together. All you need is a streaming service and a projector!
On the night of the event, you can project the movie onto a wall at your headquarters. You’ll sell tickets to this event beforehand, and sell popcorn or other snacks to attendees before the movie starts.
Since so many people already have a streaming service, finding the right movie for the event will be a breeze. You can even hold themed nights if you decide to host these regularly.
20. Donate Your Daily Coffee
A quick way to raise funds is to ask your supporters to donate what they would have spent on a cup of coffee at their favorite coffee shop to the GSA or to your cause.
Not only is this a very reasonable ask for most supporters, it is a confidence builder for members of the group who may need practice in making asks. Promote the fundraiser using fun coffee puns or nods to the GSA (for example: Exchange your cup of coffee for a cup of safe space! Donate to the GSA today!). Another way to approach this would be to make coffee and ask your supporters if they would be willing to donate what they would have spent on their coffee to the GSA in exchange for a free cup of coffee from you.
21. Ice Cream Social
Ice cream socials work well because they take little planning but yield dramatic fundraising results. All your team needs to do is purchase a variety of flavors and toppings to get started.
Invite your supporters to the ice cream social event and charge a small ticket price for admittance. Even better, have supporters invite friends and family to join them.
For an added fundraising boost, call on a local ice cream shop to sponsor the event and provide free ice cream supplies.
Be creative and have lots of different rainbow toppings and rename the ice-cream flavors with LGBTQ themes!
22. Penny Downpour!
This classic fundraising idea can still make a splash at your next fundraising event: Penny Downpour.
In a Penny Downpour fundraising game, a volunteer will stand with an upturned umbrella. Then, event attendees will toss pennies into the umbrella throughout the event.
When the umbrella finally gives way under the weight of the pennies, you’ve reached your goal! Not only is this idea fun for your supporters, but it’s truly east to set up and manage.
For an added fundraising incentive, offer a prize to the donor whose contribution breaks the umbrella. This will encourage donors to give as fast as possible as well as to give multiple times so they can have a better chance to win the game.
23. Gift Wrapping Fundraiser
Set up a gift-wrapping table in the lunch room, at the mall, or at a grocery store and ask for a donation per package wrapped. Group members can donate extra wrapping paper they have at home to save on expenses. People expect their gifts to be well-wrapped, so confirm that your volunteers have at least the minimum wrapping skills before starting. Grant some peace in the gift-buying rush by offering your services during the holidays.
24. Free-Throw Challenge
Invite the basketball team at your school (or high school or college team depending on the grade level you are in) to help you with this. This is a great way to involved other students who may not be aware of the GSA! Invite students, parents, teachers, and community members to put their skills to the test with a classic free-throw challenge. All you’ll need is some basketballs and hoops, but you may want to make it more interesting by having music, food and other games available. Winner could be awarded a prize or a trophy — or just pure, unadulterated community bragging rights. Make sure to coordinate a referee to monitor the challenge and declare a winner.
25. Paper Airplane Toss
Ask your school administration if you can partner with the physics or science department to make this a school-wide competition! Section off part of a parking lot (or gym or other open space) into squares. Put donated prizes into each area and sell registration forms that can be turned into paper airplanes. Participants can toss their paper airplanes to win the prizes. For those who want another go, they can keep buying more forms, and keep making more planes!
Just make sure you have a wide open space available and you’ve picked a day with great weather if you plan to do this outside!
26. Cornhole Tournament
An Iowa classic! Cornhole is the perfect game for the no frills, no pressure game of the summer, and is a great laid back activity to host during a BBQ or picnic. Determine the MVPs in your community with a laid-back tournament. You could charge a small entrance fee to the event with a cash or donated prize for the champion. Cornhole also just wouldn’t make sense without a cold drink in your hand, so be sure to have lemonade ready for sale!
27. Pancake Breakfast
A pancake breakfast is relatively easy to pull together and it provides your community with a chance to mingle. Work with the school, community space, or church to find a large space to host the breakfast. Buy some mix, some toppings, and get cooking! Hungry people don’t like to wait too long, so make sure you have volunteers who are able to help make sure that griddles are hot and ready to serve! Charge a fee for a plate of pancakes or a larger fee for all you can eat pancakes. Work with a local grocery store to see if you can get the supplies donated to make the pancakes and provide toppings and beverages.
28. Trivia Night
Tons of people already pay for trivia events, so leverage this interest by inviting them to pay an entrance fee to compete in trivia hosted by you or your GSA! Pick a theme of trivia that you know will get students and community members interested (for example: Disney Trivia, Netflix Trivia, GoT Triva, Friends Trivia, Geek Trivia, etc.). Be sure to take breaks and talk about what the funds are being raised for and how appreciative you are for those that came out to play. Have a themed prize for the winning team!
29. World Record Attempt Party
Make a list of world records you think your audience could break, and invite people to participate in doing so! Charge a small fee for the privilege. It might take some combing through the Guinness World Record Book to find one you can actually break, but this also a great way to engage new students in the GSA and what the group is all about, or collaborate with other extra-curricular groups. Once you have a plan in place, contact local news outlets to get press coverage and ask for more support!
30. Candy Grams
During holidays such as Valentine’s Day, St Patrick’s Day, Halloween, and winter holidays, students can pay to send a note and candy to another student. Make sure teachers and administrators are on board and let you know the best deliveries times that don’t disturb instruction.