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Top 5 Fundraising Ideas: How to Raise Money for Your Local Charity

I am a great believer in grassroots and local charities. They are often the unsung heroes, but yet most local charities do some amazing work

How can you increase fundraising and increase donations for your local charity?

How can you increase fundraising and increase donations for your local charity?

Raising money and asking for donations for a local charity is a very rewarding experience. I have been involved with local fundraising for many years, and I know that local community charities fill a vital function.

It's great to be able to help large national or international charities, but local grassroots charities, such as animal shelters, often need all the help they can get. Raising donations and funds for local charities is becoming more and more popular as people see the results in their community. Larger national and international charities often raise funds by taking out expensive magazine and television adverts, but local grassroots charities do not have the funds to promote themselves on such a large scale.

Sometimes it is not all about asking for money. There are many ways to increase the resources of your local charity without simply asking for money! Events—getting together with friends and other supporters of the charity—will often help to boost the charity’s funds and can potentially raise a lot of money.

Coming up with new ideas for organizing events can, however, be very hard work and take up a lot of your time. I thought I would share with you some of my tried and tested fundraising ideas which I have often used to help local charities.

My Five Best Tips for Raising Money for Your Local Charity

  1. Thrift store
  2. Open Day
  3. Fundraising Walk
  4. Fashion Show
  5. Fun Dog Show
Open a thrift store to raise funds for your local charity

Open a thrift store to raise funds for your local charity

1. Open a Thrift Store

Why not open a thrift store for your charity? Everybody I know is trying as hard as they can to look after their money, and many people are once again using thrift stores, or as they are often called in the UK or Europe, charity stores.

At the moment there are plenty of business units vacant, and you should be able to negotiate a good deal with a potential landlord.

There are many upsides to opening a thrift store for your chosen charity:

  1. it can provide a regular income so your charity has money coming in every week.
  2. It promotes the charity. A well-positioned thrift shop will create awareness of the organization that runs it.
  3. Thrift stores are often seen as a community store and become very important in local communities.

Finding stock for your thrift store is not that difficult. To kick it off, you need to put the word out and ask friends and family plus charity supporters to donate unwanted items such as clothing and items for the home. Clothes, books, housewares, and small pieces of furniture are very popular thrift store goods.

Contact a local radio station and also a local newspaper and see if you can persuade them to launch an appeal for your store. Most local radio stations and newspapers are only too happy to help as it gives them a bit of publicity as well. This is a really good way of making sure there is always stock for the store.

Once you have a good collection of stuff to sell, you need to think about staffing the store and when you start looking around your local community I am sure you will meet many people who are keen to donate a few hours a week. A good team is important to make sure the store runs well.

At the moment, our thrift store raises about $500 a week after expenses for our local animal shelter, which is called SCAN.

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An open day can raise a lot of money for a charity.

An open day can raise a lot of money for a charity.

2. Organize an Open Day

Open days (also called "open houses") are always very popular. Open days give the charity an excellent opportunity to promote itself and let the local community know about all the good work it does. Surprisingly even in smaller communities there may be individuals who are not aware of the charity and what it does.

Take this opportunity to tell visitors about new and ongoing projects, and most importantly of all, tell them how much money it costs to run the charity and how it benefits the local community.

10 Fundraising Ideas for Your Open Day

  1. Bake sale: There is nothing like a homemade cake or pie.
  2. Barbeque: Have a barbeque with lots of easy-to-eat things like hamburgers and hotdogs. Try not to charge too much, rather choose to make a small profit on each item but sell a lot.
  3. Raffle: Ask a local business to sponsor a good quality prize or a couple of good prizes. Sell raffle tickets to visitors.
  4. Tombola: A tombola is a great way to raise money. Ask for donations of small prizes and ask a lively fun person to take the stand. The more prizes the better – everybody likes to win something.
  5. Plant stall: Plants are very popular as well. Ask around for donations from local gardeners and don’t forget the local garden club. I am sure they would love to help.
  6. Games: Games such as “Name the Teddie” are always popular will the younger visitors.
  7. Sell a pitch: If your charity has plenty of space available, why not sell a pitch? Local vendors can open booths, or why not organize a small antiques market. Pitches can be sold at $10, and if you have twenty vendors, your charity has another $200 in the bank which it did not have before.
  8. Balloon Race: Selling balloons is a fun way of organizing a prize draw. Offer a small cash prize and let the balloons go at the end of the day. Don’t forget to set an end date for the competition, and remember to take visitors' phone numbers and emails so you can contact them to let them know which balloon has gone the furthest.
  9. Ask a band to play: Local artists often like to promote themselves at fundraising events.
  10. Craft stalls: These are very popular. Your charity may have supporters who are craft-minded and would like to donate some of their items.
Organize a sponsored walk for your charity

Organize a sponsored walk for your charity

3. Sponsored Walks

Sponsored activities such as walks, spinning marathons, bike rides or aerobics classes may sound a bit old-fashioned but they are very popular. One local charity raised a staggering $800 in just under two hours when they organized a sponsored walk.

Sponsored walks are easy to organize once you know what to do. Remember to plan the route well so people with different capabilities can join in. Make sure the walk is on a flat and even surface if possible, as wheelchair and mobility scooter users tend to love to participate.

Organize forms which participants can download from the charity's web site, or pick up from volunteers or a central location. Local businesses often like to help by making sponsorship forms available.

To make your walk or event even more fun, come up with some prizes, such as the fastest walker, best funny dress or the fastest wheelchair user.

Why not organize a fashion show?

Why not organize a fashion show?

4. Fun Fashion Show

This is not a serious event, just a fun experience, and it's a fantastic way of promoting the charity’s thrift store. It does take a bit of organization but can raise a great deal of money. The last fashion show I organized raised $1200 in an afternoon, so it was certainly worth putting together.

Ideas on How to Put Together Your Fashion Show:

  • Do you have an amateur DJ in your supporter’s team? Fortunately, we do, and he put together some great music that even went with the clothes.
  • Find a venue. Civic halls and centers are great for fashion shows but you may want to ask a local hotel or event center. Often they are happy to let a charity use a venue providing they can keep a bar or a restaurant open so your visitors spend money on their premises.
  • Check out the clothing stock in the store. You may have some really nice pieces so put them to one side.
  • Ask for volunteers. In my experience people love this and I often end up turning volunteers away.
  • Sell the clothes at the show. Display the clothes and accessories nicely and ask a good salesperson to take charge of the stand.

Above all, remember to make the event fun and shoot a video which can be put on YouTube afterwards. This makes another nice addition to promoting the charity.

A fun dog show is a good way of raising money for your charity

A fun dog show is a good way of raising money for your charity

5. Fun Dog Show

Pedigree dog shows are great but you can hardly say they are fun. The truth is that many people do not have pedigree dogs but they have some beautiful cross breeds of which they are equally proud.

Categories at a fun dog show vary widely, but here are some ideas:

  • Waggiest Tail
  • Biggest Ears
  • Saddest Eyes
  • Best Trickster
  • Dog Looking Most Like Its Owner
  • Longest Tail
  • Shortest Tail
  • Scruffiest Dog
  • Best Dressed Dog
  • Fluffiest Coat

Ask a small entrance fee under each category and give every doggie a number. Don’t forget to award a first, second and third place in each group. Also remember that prize ribbons and certificates are just as important at fun dog shows as at pedigree dog shows.

Other Ideas for Fundraising

  • Car Wash
  • Soccer Match
  • Yard Sales
  • Collection Boxes
  • Quiz Nights
  • Garden Parties

Important Points to Remember for Your Event

Make Sure Your Location Has Enough:Make Sure to Use Your Space EfficientlyMake Sure to Tell Visitors About:


Variety of events

Your charity's new projects


Enough volunteers

The cost of new projects


Flow of foot traffic

How your charity spends its money

Different charities

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2014 Annie Messeri

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