20 of the Best Fundraising Ideas You Never Knew

Get ready to grow the success of your nonprofit fundraising with these unique fundraising ideas.Community organizations provide vital services to the people in their communities who depend on them for food, shelter or senior and youth programs. Every day across our country tens of thousands of incredible community group workers and volunteers help families and individuals during times that can be very trying and when people can be most vulnerable.

Everyday Shoes With Heart partners with community organizations that are seeking to make sure that they provide those they serve with everything they need. That is the reason why we’ve put together a list of the best fundraising ideas, which you never knew, that will help your group raise the money you need to keep doing the excellent work you do.

You can read through our entire list, or you can also navigate to skip to a few of the sections that may be of the most interest to you.

  1. Our Favorite Community Organization Fundraising Idea
  2. Unique Fundraising Ideas
  3. Successful Fundraising Event Ideas
  4. Other Successful Community Organization Fundraisers to Try

We know that community groups can have an especially tough time raising funds, which is why they have to get creative with their unique fundraising ideas for their essential programs.

Our favorite fundraising idea for community organizations is a shoe drive fundraiser.

Our Favorite Fundraising Idea

The most successful fundraising idea for community organizations is a shoe drive fundraiser.Shoe Drive Fundraiser

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A shoe drive fundraiser is one of the top fundraising ideas for community organizations because it offers an opportunity for people not to have to open their wallets. Instead, your supporters can help your group by giving you their gently worn, used and new shoes. Shoe drive fundraisers are quick fundraisers, which are fun, easy and engage the entire community in your cause!

When your community organization decides to do a shoe drive fundraiser, all you have to do is to partner with a proven and reputable shoe drive fundraising group like Shoes With Heart.

It’s very easy to get started. Here’s how it works:

  1. Sign up with a proven shoe drive fundraising group like Shoes With Heart.
  2. Plan how to achieve your goal with your dedicated coaching team.
  3. Get all of the collections and marketing materials you need to collect gently worn, used and new shoes and promote your fundraiser from Shoes With Heart.
  4. Ask your community––everyone––to support your cause by giving you their shoes. Remember, there’s no need to ask for money, so everyone can participate!
  5. When your shoe drive fundraiser is finished, the logistics team at Shoes With Heart will collect the shoes and issue you a check within 2 business days of receipt and processing at their international warehouse.

Why shoes? How can a shoe drive fundraiser be the best fundraising idea? That’s easy! First, you get a creative way to raise funds, which doesn’t require asking for money or selling unnecessary merchandise. Secondly, you provide your entire community a socially responsible way to get rid of the gently worn, used and new shoes they no longer want to have in their homes. Thirdly, a shoe drive fundraiser helps provide inventory for micro-entrepreneurs in developing nations who seek to create and build their own small businesses.

Take a look at how a shoe drive fundraiser works. It’s incredible how it works so smoothly. A shoe drive fundraiser is engaging, creative, fun and all-inclusive, which is so vital for community groups in need of broad support for their essential work. Think of how easy it is to place collection boxes around town that benefit your community organization. You’ll quickly find that you will have raised your goal when Shoes With Heart issues you a check for the shoes.

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Check out these great unique fundraising ideas.]

Unique Fundraising Ideas

Fundraising for community groups with a 5K race.5K Fundraiser

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Millennials and Generation Z have pushed society to focus more on the collective social good of communities. An excellent idea for community organizations that need to raise money for homeless shelters or domestic shelters is a 5K race in town because it allows your group to raise funds for the services you provide, and it also gets the entire community involved.

In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a 5K race being run in almost every city and town across the U.S., and it’s something that not only helps charities, but also enhances the overall wellness of the participants.

With a 5K race, you have the opportunity to help raise awareness for your cause, and raise money for it through the registration fees that participants will pay to be able to run or walk in the 5K.

Think about all of the additional opportunities you have to raise money for your group. You can sell custom t-shirts for the race. You can also ask for sponsors from local businesses and companies, who will have a chance to demonstrate leadership with corporate social responsibility. And, if you’re creative, you have the opportunity to collect many shoes, which will help you raise even more funds. All you have to do is have a collection box for a shoe drive fundraiser. Being creative and combining other fundraising opportunities will provide you with various ways to raise money from a 5K race.

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Bike relay race fundraisers are an excellent way for community organizations to get the whole community involved in fundraising.Bike Relay Race Fundraiser

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If one of your fundraising objectives is to get the broader community involved and aware of your brand, consider doing a bike relay race fundraiser. We know that people are looking for ways to stay healthy and in shape, and what more fun way to have friendly competition and a great family day than with a bike race fundraiser?

Find a location where you can have a bike relay race. Consider approaching a local high school or college that has an outdoor or indoor track appropriate for biking, which can make your relay race fun. Then, approach people on your database so you can recruit participants for the bike relay race. You should also recruit in your neighborhood through social media and local advertisement to join racing teams.

Promote your bike relay race fundraiser as a community-wide and family-friendly event. Perhaps get a few of your local bike stores to demonstrate social responsibility by providing prizes to your community organization fundraiser.

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A dance marathon is another excellent way to involve your entire community in a fun fundraiser that can also help people enjoy themselves and learn about your community organization.Dance Marathon Fundraiser

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People love music, and many people also enjoy dancing. If you think that an old-fashioned marathon is dated, think again. Community organizations continue to do dance marathons because they’re fun, and you can have teams compete against each other.

Participants for a dance marathon can dance for free, but all will have to find sponsors, which is how you raise money for your community organization. You can help your dancers obtain sponsors by allowing them to use individual fundraising pages with forms such as Donate.ly. As always, for this event to be widely attended, you want to promote it throughout your community using social media, flyers, and to your database through email.

The longer that your dancers stay dancing and competing, the more money that they will raise. The team that stays dancing the longest, wins and can get prizes, which are donated to your dance marathon by local businesses who also want to increase the exposure of their brand.

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Try out these fantastic and successful fundraising event ideas for your community organization.

Successful Fundraising Event Ideas

Unique fundraising ideas for community organizations, such as homeless and domestic shelters include sleep-out fundraisers.Sleep-Out Fundraiser

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When groups have to raise money for homelessness, one of the most unique fundraising ideas for community organizations is to do a sleep-out fundraiser. Many community groups spend each day helping the most vulnerable in our communities, including people who are homeless and people in need of safe shelters, including youth, LGBTQ and women and children.

Unfortunately, people in great need find themselves in high-risk situations, including having to sleep in the streets. Imagine spending one night, especially in the cold when the temperatures are cold and bitter, having to sleep outside.

When your community organization chooses to do a sleep-out fundraiser, you’re asking your supporters to spend a night out sleeping in the streets of your community. Your volunteers will then spend the time leading up to their night out on the streets asking their friends, families, and co-workers to sponsor them for a good cause. Additionally, community groups that do this type of fundraiser often ask the local media to cover this creative fundraising event because it’s a story of human interest. Local news channels and papers can report on a story of human interest, and community groups can gain exposure to help raise brand awareness and fundraising dollars.

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An excellent successful fundraising idea for community organizations is doing a gaming tournament fundraiser.Gaming Tournament Fundraiser

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If you’re seeking an excellent fundraising idea that will bring you a younger group of supporters, think about doing a gaming tournament fundraiser. A gaming fundraiser is a fabulous way to raise money for a serious cause, spread the word about the work you do, and engage youth in your community. As you know, the youth of today prefer to be involved with and get to see a community organization as opposed to giving money to a group they do not know. A gaming tournament fundraiser is an excellent way for you to open your doors and have young people and gamers get to know you.

If you decide to do a gaming for good tournament fundraiser, you have several ways to approach it. You have a choice of having participants who will pay a registration fee to bring their video games and compete against each other. While this may excite many gamers, you might find that some of your participants won’t know how to play the games of other people. Alternately, you can do a more traditional gaming tournament where everyone is playing the same game and going through each of the levels. Don’t forget to have people who attend pay a fee, and in the digital age, you can also live stream this event and ask online viewers to contribute to your cause.

Remember, a gaming tournament fundraiser is an excellent opportunity for an additional fundraiser. Ask your gaming participants and attendees to provide you with their unwanted shoes and place them in a collection box for an additional stream of revenue with a shoe drive fundraiser.

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Music is always a great way to get the spirits up of people in your community. That's the reason why a battle of the bands fundraiser is so much fun.Battle of the Bands Fundraiser

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If you have access to a community space in a school or neighborhood community center, a fantastic way to raise money that’s loads of fun is a battle of the bands fundraiser. A battle of the bands fundraiser offers you a way to get your entire community involved because, let’s face it, everyone loves to listen to music.

When you do a battle of the bands fundraiser, there are multiple ways you can raise money for your community group. First, you can charge people who attend an entrance fee. You can also raise money with battle of the bands fundraiser merch such as custom t-shirts for the event, posters, stickers and even perhaps tote bags and hats.

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Getting the men in your community to grow a beard and get sponsors is an excellent way to raise funds for your community group.Grow-a-Beard Fundraiser

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Many people know about Movember, but there’s no reason your community organization shouldn’t join in the fun. While the men in your community will take up the challenge of growing mustaches and beards, which as you know is very much in style, they can ask their families, friends, and co-workers to support them as they grow their ‘stache for a great cause like yours.

If your community organization happens to serve veterans and military people, a grow-a-beard fundraiser can work particularly well. When men participate in this fundraiser, you will promote it in your community, and you will ask the guys to do the same by getting as many sponsors as possible. Have fun with it and encourage men to post to social media and tag your group.

To help promote your fundraiser easily, you can have participants create individual donation pages donate.ly. If you would like to get kids and women involved in doing something themselves, then add a shoe drive fundraiser so they can collect shoes for your organization as well. You’ll be issued a check by a shoe drive fundraising partner for the shoes you collect.

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Community groups are creative when they do a reverse raffle fundraiser fundraiser.Reverse Raffle Fundraiser

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Most community groups that are successful understand that they have to develop creative ways to raise money. One of the most fun, unique fundraisers is a reverse raffle fundraiser. What is that? Well, we’re sure you probably know all about raffles where you sell raffle tickets for winning prizes.

A reverse raffle fundraiser, however, has a similar approach where you sell raffle tickets, but what makes this much more fun is that throughout the evening event, you will pull out numbers from a bowl. This time, the numbers you pull are not the winners. Instead, the person whose number is pulled from the bowl last is the winner.

Your supporters will appreciate the creativity and fun of a reverse raffle fundraiser because it’s counter-intuitive and will be sure to be an experience that everyone will enjoy. Try something new that we bet many organizations in your community haven’t thought about doing and be the talk of the town!

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Fundraising success can come to community raising money with events such as a board game tournament fundraiser, including a shoe drive fundraiser.Board Game Tournament Fundraiser

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If you happen to have a group of supporters who enjoy board games, then like the gaming tournament fundraiser, a board game tournament fundraiser offers a fun way to raise money and also promote friendly competition.

A board game tournament fundraiser is very easy to do, and all you have to do is get a space where you can have people play board games against each other. Create teams that will compete against each other in some of the top board games that people most enjoy, such as Monopoly, Battleship, Scrabble or Clue. Promote your event day through emails, social media, and flyers placed in community centers and ask local businesses to sponsor the tournament by providing prizes.

As with a gaming tournament, a board game tournament fundraiser is an excellent event where you can also have a collection box for shoes and combine this fun event with a shoe drive fundraiser.

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A karaoke fundraiser is an excellent fundraiser because people have fun, while they have the chance to sing and share the spotlight with your community organization.Karaoke Fundraiser

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If you’re not only looking to raise money but also want to engage your community in a way that brings many people together for good fun, then a karaoke fundraiser is a great way to raise money for your community organization. When you do a karaoke fundraiser, your group gets a chance to share the stage with lots of other people who also enjoy center stage.

A karaoke fundraiser is easy to do. You can ask a local bar to host it for you, which is great for them because this fundraiser helps them draw in patrons and show that they’re doing something good for the community by hosting the fundraiser. You can also see about a local school hosting or renting space to you for a small fee.

Raise money by selling tickets to your karaoke fundraiser. If you’re doing your fundraiser at a bar, ask the managers if a portion of the sales receipts that evening can be provided to your group. Often, you will find a local business give 5 or even 10 percent of their proceeds for a good charitable cause.

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Fundraising success for community groups can come with a movie night fundraiser that involved everyone who is a movie lover in your neighborhood.Movie Night Fundraiser

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Have you yet considered showing a film for a movie night fundraiser? Community organizations across the U.S. have had great success doing this type of fundraiser because there are several ways to raise money.

All you have to do is get an auditorium or venue that is suitable to screen a movie. Think about a local hall at a high school or university. Then, reach out to the major movie studios asking if they would allow you to screen their movies. Another approach is to work with a movie fundraising partner, such as Filmraiser, which will work with your group to help you show some of the latest movies.

And, don’t forget that once you’ve selected your movie and are promoting your movie night fundraiser, that you can make additional funds by selling candy and refreshments, having a babysitting service in a separate area of the building so parents can see a movie in peace, or collecting shoes with a combined shoe drive fundraiser.

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A book sale fundraiser is another excellent way to get your entire community involved in a fundraiser that people will enjoy when they purchase used books.Used Book Sale Fundraiser

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A used book sale fundraiser is an excellent way for community organizations to raise money because, again, it provides groups with a way to make a profit on something that people want.

Yes, we live in the digital age, but many people, particularly Gen-Xers and older generations still like the touch, feel, and yes, even smells of used or old books. Doing a used book sale fundraiser is straightforward. Just ask everyone in your database and community to clean out their bookshelves and storage areas of books they no longer want to read or keep. Then, designate a date when you will be selling them. You can serve as a pop-up “bookstore” where people can purchase used books for at discounted rates.

If you’re particularly crafty, you can also sell the books online, and people who purchase the books can pay for shipping to their home, or you can have them come and pick up the books within a week of purchase at your location.

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A DIY crafts fundraisers can be an excellent way to have fun, and get everyone involved in your community organization.DIY Craft Fundraiser

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People today are extremely busy, and often because of it, they are missing out in having a creative outlet that can bring them happiness and fun. One of the easiest and most fun fundraisers you can do is a DIY craft fundraiser. It’s is a very easy fundraiser to do, and you are limited only by your imagination.

All you need is to provide space for people to attend during a weekday evening or weekend afternoon. Perhaps you can offer the attendees canvases to paint or offer people a place where they can make clay mugs or bowls, which they can also paint. A great and inexpensive way to get this type of space is to ask a local community college or arts group to either provide you with their art room for free or a small fee.

Ask attendees to register and from that amount deduct any material costs so you can net the rest for fundraising dollars. Also, this is a great event to combine with a shoe drive fundraiser. All you have to do is ask people to bring their unwanted shoes and place them in a collection box for more fundraising dollars.

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Most communities have an Applebee's, and their flapjack fundraiser is an excellent way to partner with a local restaurant for your community organization.Applebee’s Flapjack Fundraiser

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They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and who doesn’t like having flapjacks? Did you know that Applebee’s flapjack fundraiser can help you raise money during breakfast?

Applebee’s will offer your community organization its restaurant facility during non-operating hours to help your community group raise money with a set menu. All you have to do is to promote your fundraiser, reserve a date and have a few volunteers to work as servers.

An Applebee’s flapjack fundraiser is an excellent and creative way for your community organization to raise money at a time of day when many need a good cup of coffee before they head to work. Help people get started in their day with a bountiful breakfast and a great cup of java!

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If your community organization knows of someone who likes to do garage sales or yard sales, a yard or garage sale fundraiser can bring you much-needed funding dollars.Yard Sale or Garage Sale Fundraiser

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If you know someone in your community who enjoys putting together yard sales or garage sales, then ask them to partner with you for a good cause. Alternately, if you’re someone who enjoys haggling about price, this may be the fundraiser for your community organization.

Ask the people on your database and in your community to donate to you all of the merchandise they do not want or need. Remember that one person’s garbage is another person’s treasure. Then, categorize and place prices on all of the merchandise. Promote your yard sale or garage sale fundraiser throughout your community with the use of flyers, emails, media articles, and through social media. On the day of the fundraiser, have your best sellers on the sales floor in your makeshift yard or garage, which could be a donated storage facility, yard, auditorium or large room. If you have a lot of items, you can do this fundraiser throughout an entire weekend.

Again, we always recommend combining fundraisers, such as a shoe drive fundraiser, as a way to make more money for your community organization.

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Try out these fantastic other successful community organization fundraisers.

Other Successful Community Organization Fundraisers to Try

Everyone wants to be thanked for something. Promote an appreciation card fundraiser where people pay you a little money to send out notes of appreciation for them.Appreciation Card Fundraiser

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Promote an appreciation card fundraiser where people pay you a little money to send out notes of appreciation for them.]

Spread a little love in your neighborhood through your community organization. Have a local artist create a special card for you and ask a printer to have them printed for you. See about the printer sponsoring the print job, or if you have a good laser printer, you can even print this out on card stock.

Then promote your appreciation card fundraiser throughout your community. Tell people to share the love, which not only demonstrates that you want to help spread goodness but will also impress your community with your thoughtfulness.

Sell the customized note cards for as little as a dollar or a few dollars, plus postage. Ask people who buy the appreciation cards what they want to say, where they want it sent and then send it to the recipient on their behalf. An appreciation card fundraiser is another way that you can increase visibility for your group throughout the year because it’s a fundraiser that can be promoted on an ongoing basis.

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Text-to-give fundraisers are simple because your donors simply have to text you a donation in response to a CTA.Text-to-Give Fundraiser

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If you’re looking to develop or have a significant presence on social media, one of the quickest ways to raise money is with a text-to-give fundraiser. Providers such as MobileCause allow your donors and supporters to quickly give you a donation using a credit or debit card that they have linked. You provide a shortcode, promote it using social networking platforms, emails and other promotional opportunities, such as direct mail, and people will have the chance to provide you with a secure donation using an easy donation form that they will complete ensuring that they contribute.

Think about it. What’s the one device that most people have on their person or close-by at any given time? Their cell phone, of course! Now, imagine your promoting your cause or telling a moving story, which compels your audience to participate in your text-to-give fundraiser.

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Successful community organizations understand that there’s a lot of money to be raised with a matching gift fundraiser.Matching Gift Fundraiser

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The most successful community organizations understand that a lot of corporate money can be given to their cause through matching gifts. In fact, it’s money that is often left on the table. Why? The answer is simple; many employees do not know that the companies where they work match their gifts by two or even three times. That’s a lot of extra cash for your organization.

According to the top leading provider of matching gift fundraising programs, Double the Donation, an estimated $4 billion to $7 billion goes unclaimed each year. Over 18 million people work for companies that provide matching gifts to designated nonprofits, and 65 percent of Fortune 500 companies offer matching gift programs.

So, what does it take to tap into the funds available in a matching gift fundraiser? All you have to do is to partner with a provider such as Double the Donation and promote matching gifts on your site and in other ways. All it takes is a little education for your supporters and community to understand that they can double or even triple their gift to your community organization.

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Successful community organizations have creative fundraising ideas, such as a head-shaving fundraiser where people can support your cause and also people who have cancer.Head-Shaving Fundraiser

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A head-shaving fundraiser is a double win for your community, and people have the opportunity to help two purposes at the same time. First, you can hold the event where participants volunteer to shave their heads and go bald for a good cause. To add to the creativity of the fundraiser, it’s always great to have high-profile community people join in on the fun of shaving their heads.

Participants ask the people they know to donate if they shave their head, which they will. Again, this is an excellent fundraiser to have those who will go bald, use individual fundraising pages Donate.ly. But what happens with the hair? Well, this is where the double win happens. There are organizations in need of the hair for cancer patients. If you’re curious about doing a head shaving fundraiser that will raise money for your community organization, but also support a cancer patient organization with the hair, take a look at a group such as Locks of Love that has been doing this work for people with cancer for many years.

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That’s what we got for you in this fantastic guide, and we’re going to keep on creating more resources so that you can discover unique fundraising ideas that you can do as stand-alone events, or in the combination of others, such as shoe drive fundraisers. Because of the opportunity to place a collection box at any event, a shoe drive fundraiser is one of the best and most creative fundraising ideas in the fundraising world!