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Fundraising Ideas

9 unique and easy fundraising ideas for small groups

Grab a few people and get ready to spring into action with these easy fundraising ideas for small groups. Many of them are free and all of them are simple to pull off with a small group of organizers.

Rachel Mills
September 10, 2020
Nerd Mr Butter

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Anthropologist Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Whether you’re fundraising with your nonprofit, PTA group, high school sports team, youth group, or a couple of family members, there are plenty of easy fundraising ideas for small groups to help you make a difference. Explore these nine tried-and-true fundraising campaigns:

1. Virtual telethon

Telethons have been around since 1949, and they’re still helping nonprofits raise millions of dollars today. They typically feature a large stage, big-name celebrities, a live audience, and a team of volunteers soliciting telephone donations.

By hosting a virtual telethon, small groups can get all the traditional telethon benefits without a huge time and money investment. Plan your entertainment — think talent shows, local legends, cooking demos, and dunk tanks — and then livestream the event to your website, Facebook, YouTube, and more. Your virtual attendees will donate to your fundraising page to “unlock” certain guests and exciting moments.

Whether it’s two hours or two days long, a virtual telethon is a fun and interactive fundraising event. Be sure to read our livestream fundraising best practices before you hit the airwaves.

2. Street food stand

Bring in donations with the sizzling smells and sweet treats from your street food stand. These pop-up shops are small-scale by nature and the perfect fundraiser idea if you have a limited number of volunteers.

Location is key. Place your tables, booth, or cart in a high-traffic area with hungry pedestrians. Local festivals or craft fairs may also donate a free space for your cause. A quick grocery store visit gives you all the ingredients you need to whip up classic street food affair:

  • Street tacos
  • Hot dogs
  • Stir-fry noodles
  • Dumplings
  • Ice cream
  • Churros

Don’t forget water bottles and soda to complete the meal. Use Givebutter to offer a variety of payment options like credit card, Apple Pay, Venmo, cash, and check.

3. Guest speaker event

A webinar or TED Talk-style event is one of the best easy fundraising ideas for small groups because your guest speakers are the star attraction. You can also livestream the event to expand your reach and raise more money.

Have your group members tap into their social networks and reach out to potential guests. The possibilities are endless. You can feature artisans, professors, authors, athletes, chefs, or business owners.

This is also a great fundraiser if you want to educate a wider audience about your specific cause, like climate change or poverty. Charge an event entry fee or sell tickets online for your virtual event.

4. Peer-to-peer fundraising campaign

Fist Bump GIF by theblock

Peer-to-peer fundraising multiplies each group member’s impact — and their friends, family, co-workers, and more. Each person has their donation page to raise money toward your overall fundraising goal.

They can come up with their own incentives for donors to give — they might pledge to run one mile for every $20 raised, for example.

They could also compete with others to raise the most money and win a big prize, like this Champaign County Humane Society challenge. Supporters pledged to walk their dogs and nap with their cats to raise funds, and team cat and team dog competed to see who could raise the most. T-shirts and pet goodie bags went to lower donation tiers, while the winning dog or cat got their picture on a local brewery’s fall beverage.

This is a good opportunity to partner with local businesses, like a winery or clothing store, to secure an exciting grand prize and spread the word.

5. Takeout to help out

What’s not to love about good eats for a good cause? Reach out to local restaurants and see if they can donate a portion of their proceeds to your campaign. Instead of cracking open the cookbook, your supporters simply eat and drink at participating restaurants. Many restaurants are willing to donate 10-20% back.

There are other ways to work with local eateries and support them at the same time. For instance, Take-Out to Help Out is a campaign we love that raises money to purchase meals from LGBTQ-owned businesses and delivers that food to nonprofits serving LGBTQ youth at risk of homelessness.

6. Mega movie marathon

Walk-a-thon? How about a watch-a-thon? (Yes, please.) A movie night is a surefire money-maker. Your attendees get a change of scenery from their living rooms, and they’ll invite friends for a memorable night out. Popular series like The Avengers, The Godfather, Star Wars, and Harry Potter work well. A quick social media poll will let you know what your community members want to watch (or re-watch).

If you opt for a marathon, be sure to provide plenty of food and drinks. You can even offer ticket bundles with small meals. (Grocery stores or restaurants may be willing to donate snacks.) Break up a long night with rounds of trivia or a costume competition. Not only will you raise a lot of money, but you’ll leave your moviegoers excited for your next fundraising event.

7. Yard sale

If you need easy fundraising ideas for small groups, you can’t go wrong with a yard sale or garage sale. Have your community members channel their inner Marie Kondo and drop off any items they no longer need. Organize all the clothes, home goods, books, technology — and that old karaoke machine — and set up your tag sale.

For instance, mark $5 goods with a blue tag, $7 goods with a yellow tag, and $10 goods with a red tag. Amp up your fundraising efforts by running a silent auction or selling raffle tickets for a big-ticket prize. This could be a rare vintage find or a brand-new item donated by a business.

8. Murder mystery escape

Sasheer Zamata Magnifying Glass GIF by Saturday Night Live

A classic “whodunnit” isn’t hard to organize and offers a thrilling, one-of-a-kind experience for your supporters. There are tons of free resources online, like this DIY murder mystery escape game print-out, with step-by-step instructions to set up and play. Typically, all you need is a small room, paper for clues, scary props, and a timer.

To raise money, charge a small fee per team member, or sell group tickets. You can market this as an all-ages group activity or a team-building venture for local businesses. If the event is a hit in your community, try out a scavenger hunt, obstacle course, and other adrenaline-filled challenges.

9. Costumed car wash

We’re not the first to feature a car wash on a list of easy fundraising ideas for small groups, but we do have a few unique ways you can change things up:

  • Go costume crazy. Pick a theme and sell it! Dress up as Disney characters, the Men in Black, grandmas, nerds, or ‘80s dancers. Cue up fitting music and arrange props, too.
  • Create an irresistible waiting area. Set up a mini bake sale with coffee and tea included to attract more patrons.
  • Add a bike wash, dog wash, etc. Not everyone has a car, so try catering to a different niche. You can wash bikes with the same tools you use for a car. For pets, simply switch out soap and towels for dog shampoo and hair dryers.

A car wash isn’t complete with big signs and a text-to-donate number for people who don’t have time to stop but want to support your cause.

Want more easy fundraising ideas for small groups?

Even if you’re fundraising with a small group, there’s power in numbers. At Givebutter, we know it only takes one dedicated changemaker to raise awareness, drive donations, and win support for a worthwhile cause.

It all begins with the right campaign. Keep reading to discover more individual, team, and nonprofit fundraising ideas:

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