Looking to raise some funds for your college club, sorority or fraternity? You’ve come to the right place.
We’ve listed here some of our favourite fundraising ideas as well as some practical tips to get you started. We’ve grouped them by categories to make it easier for you to navigate:
Let’s dive in!
Sales & Services
Selling items or fulfilling services is an easy way to fundraise.
1. Bake sale
Bake sales are a fundraising classic. Simply, get everyone on the team to bake something, and sell your masterpieces on campus.
But don’t limit yourselves to just cakes, cookies & muffins. Consider also selling some hot drinks and/or cold drinks depending on the time of year.
It can be tempting to buy ready-made goods, but you’ll make more money if you don’t. It also makes the bake sales more personal. The exception is hot drinks, as you probably don’t have the equipment.
It’s also important to remember that there is a hidden cost to bake sales (ingredients, time & electricity costs). Perhaps €10 per chef. If they’re happy to view this as their contribution to the fundraising, that’s great. Otherwise, you’ll want to reimburse them.
Most often, these bake sales are on a donation basis. This usually plays in the favour of the organisers as people are more generous than they would otherwise be.
Pro-tip: You’ll want to set up a stand at a strategic spot on campus but to boost your sales, it’s a good idea to also roam around. And don’t forget to go knocking on professors’ office doors.
2. Hot dog stand
Set-up a hot dog stand outside your campus stadium before the next match.
Depending on your campus, you might find it hard to get approval. Especially if your pop-up stand competes with a physical store. There isn’t much you can do. That’s just the nature of campus life.
You’re also going to have slightly higher upfront costs than if you were to host a bake sale, but your margins will also be higher.
Again, think beyond the hotdogs and the condiments. What drinks you can sell? Could you bring a cool box to also sell ice creams?
3. Car Washes
Wash cars to raise some money.
To make this work, you’re going to need a very visible stand with access to water. If you can’t get a good location, you’ll probably want to pass on this one.
It’s hard work but as a group activity, it can also be good fun.
4. Used Book sale
Collect used books and re-sell them on campus to make some fundraising money.
The difficult part of this process is getting books that people are will to give away for free but are still worth selling. Expect end up with a lot of unsold/unwanted books.
If you have some initial funds, you can also look into buying & reselling used textbooks. Just make sure the editions are the right ones.
5. Dorm vacuuming
Knock on other students’ dorm rooms and offer to vacuum their apartment for a tip.
Depending on your campus you might have a hard time getting the authorisation for this. Especially if no one on your team is a resident of that dorm.
Pro-tip: A lot of people won’t have any spare change, so consider using an app like Revolut. There is a small fee for business/organisation accounts but it’s worth it for the efficiency it brings to the process.
Get small local businesses to sponsor your fundraiser. This can be with donations, gift cards and/or free samples.
6. Donation jar
Very simple, place a donation jar at local businesses. Every week or so, drop by to collect the change. This is ideal if you’re raising money for a charity or altruistic cause.
Just be careful with coffee shops and restaurants as you might be “stealing” the waiters’ tips. Make sure you find a spot that makes everyone happy.
Ask local businesses to sponsor your raffle by donating gift cards and/or free samples. This is a win-win as they get to promote their business and you get free prizes to give away.
These are the perfect “mid-level” prizes but you’ll most likely still want to buy an attractive “main-prize”.
When it comes to selling tickets, there is no alternative to elbow grease. You’ll want to do it both door-to-door and at the event where the draw will happen.
Don’t forget to broadcast the raffle draw live on Facebook, or a similar platform, for the people who can’t attend in person.
Pro-tip: Have a prize for the member who sells the most tickets.
Competitions & tournaments
Plan competition for your fundraiser. Compared to other forms of fundraising, competitions are easy to plan and have a predictable income.
Pro-tip: If you plan a competition that requires subjectively choosing the winner (for example best painting), make it a random draw instead.
8. Sports competition
Plan a sports competition. Simply ask for a registration fee/donation. To increase donations, you’ll want to choose a multiplayer sport. For example indoor soccer or dodge ball.
The competition can either be played out over several weeks or just over a day or two. It will all depend on the number of players you have.
The only tricky part is booking the required space for all the events. With enough of a head start, this shouldn’t be too difficult.
Although it’s counterintuitive (and not entirely fair) it’s a good idea to skip the group stage and go directly to the knock-out rounds. You’re not running a World Cup. Just a fundraiser.
Set part of the proceeds aside to get a prize for the winning team.
Pro-tip: This is a great option if your club is looking for an annual re-occurring fundraiser.
9. E-sports competition
Similar to physical sports but entirely digital. The same rules apply.
You can choose either a game that’s played entirely online (for example league of legends) or a game where people need to be in the same room (for example Mario Kart).
The latter requires a technical set-up and the different games can’t be played at the same time. However, it’s more accessible to non-gamers. It all depends on what you want to do.
Pro-tip: With sports & e-sport competitions, only register complete teams. Leave the players to sort everything on their own.
10. Boardgame tournament
For a calmer competition, plan a board game tournament. You can choose a highly competitive game like chess, card games or classic board games like risk.
If you choose a game that’s likely to last multiple hours, you’ll want to spread out your competition over multiple days or choose a winner on a points basis.
Pro-tip: You’re likely going to have bought a few sets of these boards. However, you should be able to re-sell them online afterwards.
11. Capture the flag
A classic at my old university. We never played it out as a competition, rather as sporadic games throughout the year, but you could easily make it more official.
It’s very easy to organise as all you need is a field and two flags/scarfs. However, you can’t expect to charge a lot for people to join. Low reward but low effort.
12. Beer-pong tournament
This is a classic so we had to include it in the article. Be careful & drink responsibly!
The reality is that although it sounds fun, it’s usually overdone which makes it hard to stand out.
Classes & workshops
People are always looking to learn/try something new. Why not host a workshop for your fundraiser. It can be academic but it doesn’t have to be.
When it comes to classes, pricing is a bit of a balancing act. You want to make it affordable enough to be attractive yet expensive enough to generate some funds.
13. Dance class
Plan a dance class, and charge per head for attendance.
If you have expert dancers on your team, then you’re all set. Otherwise, consider booking dance teachers for the occasion. It will be a better learning experience for everyone & you’ll be supporting a local dance troupe.
If you’re based in Ireland, you can view pictures, prices and reviews for dance troupes directly on PartyWizz.
14. Advance excel workshop
This is a fundraiser I conducted when I was back in college. It sounds boring (and it is) but it’s an essential skill to have which makes it a very popular workshop to host.
Again, you’re going to need to find a teacher for the class. You should be able to find someone on campus that has the skillset and is willing to help. Otherwise, you can look for a tutor online.
Pro-tip: Being academic, we found we were able to charge a higher price point than for leisure workshops.
15. Networking workshop
Networking is another essential career skill. Why not learn about it at university?
Again, you should be able to find someone with the skill sets to help you out on campus. You can also look for people who deliver these workshops online. However, expect to pay a premium for these.
There are numerous activities you can plan & charge for attendance.
16. Music bingo
Music bingo is identical to regular bingo except that you complete your card with songs instead of numbers. It’s the ideal excuse for playing great (and terrible) songs.
Don’t forget to plan a prize for the winner. If you’re hosting your event in a restaurant this could be free dinner.
If you’re based in Ireland, you can book a music bingo entertainer directly through PartyWizz.
17. Movie marathon
Put on a themed movie marathon night (for example horror films, James Bond movies…). To make it special, get people to dress up to match the occasion.
To raise money for your fundraiser, sell drinks, popcorn & other snacks at the event.
This activity is best suited to smaller attendance (20ish) as everybody needs to be seated comfortably while being close enough to the screen.
Pro-tip: With movie marathons, you’ll find that majority of people give up around the third movie. You’ll want to make your sales before that.
To raise some money, why not host an event and charge a small fee at the entrance.
18. Themed party
This is an obvious one. Plan a themed party, with a cover to enter.
You’re going to need a venue. If you have to pay for it, it will offset your profits. Instead, see if you can use a room on campus or partner with the local pub/bar. They’ll often be happy to give you a room if they get to sell the drinks.
For some fun theme ideas, check out our separate article on adult party themes.
19. Buy-in Casino night
Hosting a casino night sounds very appealing but be very careful. Firstly, check what the local laws are & make sure you don’t end up with less money at the end of it.
For the reason, we recommend a buy-in basis (i.e you pay a set amount to get chips). At the end of the night, the winner gets to take home a prize.
20. Summer Barbecue
Summers at universities are usually quieter. There are fewer people but there are also fewer events competing for people attention. So why not plan a summer barbecue for people to attend?
Planning will be easier, people will be happy to have something to do and, as long as you get the numbers in, you’ll be able to raise some money for next year.
21. Karaoke night
Let everyone’s inner star loose by planning a karaoke night.
A Karaoke night will appeal to some while terrifying others.
All you need to set up karaoke is a screen, a projector, speakers and a microphone. You can find all the karaoke songs you need on YouTube by searching for “Karaoke + song name”.
Pro-tip: Make a list ahead of time so you’re not searching for ideas on the night.
If you don’t want to have anything to worry about, hire a karaoke entertainer to set up everything for you. You can find prices, pictures and reviews directly on PartyWizz.
22. Shows & Concerts
Why not go all out and put on a concert or a show? You could kick-off the evening by having local talent doing the opening before the professional act comes on.
For tips on booking a band, you can check out our separate article on the topic.
For shows, it could be a comedy show, a hypnosis show or a magic show.
Pro-tip: When hosting a fundraiser, it’s tempting to ask bands & entertainers to perform for free or for less money. Don’t always expect to get results from this. For them, doing a free/cheap show is expensive. It’s the preparation time & the travel cost plus the opportunity cost of not doing a paid show they could otherwise be doing.
If you’re based in Ireland, and you’re looking for variety acts, singers and bands, check out the PartyWizz website. You’ll find the best performers in the country.
23. Silly auction
A Silly Auction is a great way to get everyone to contribute.
Ask your members and/or guests to donate something to the charity auction. This could be anything from food to old playing cards… During the event, get someone to auction off the items.
As a variation, you can also “auction” skills. For example, an employee could host a Photoshop course and auction off the available seats. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Pro-tip: For this format to work well, you need an entertaining and engaging auctioneer.
A few more silly and unusual fundraising ideas for you to try out.
24. Pie smashing
Ok, this is a weird one which may or may not have been done at my old university.
Simply, collect money to get a cream pie smashed in your face… More often than not, your friends will happily donate money to smash a pie in your face!
Simply get a few pies and set a minimum purchase amount for each.
Note: This most works best for charity or altruistic fundraising as people feel better about spending money on something ridiculous if it’s for a good cause.
25. Brew your own beer
Raise money and in exchange, you’ll brew beers for the donors. You can either work with a local brewery or get a kit an do it yourself.
Although it can be a lot of fun to do, don’t expect a huge return on investment for this fundraiser. You also want to be careful when it comes to selling alcohol. Check your local legislation.
26. Pop-up Barber
Students are always happy to save money, so why not offer on-campus haircuts that are cheaper than barbershops?
It’s very straight forward, but you’ll need to train one or two people on your team to do basic haircuts. Initially, focus on just male haircuts as it’s easier. It’s a bit of work but, it can have massive a payoff.
Watch a few YouTube videos and practice a few cuts (which unfortunately requires sacrifices from the other team members) and you’ll be surprised at how quickly you’ll get the basics down.
You’ll never replace a professional barber but you don’t need to. Focus on the basics and before you know it you’ll have a long line of customers.
That’s a wrap
We hope you’ve found some of these ideas useful and you have a successful fundraiser.
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