As unbelievable as it sounds, even the best brownies get stale after a while. The same policy holds true for bake sales. A good fundraiser needs fresh energy – and at some point, common community events stop providing. With a little creativity and organization, an unusual fundraiser can garner attention and (hopefully!) benefit its cause. Check out the 4 ideas listed below for inspiration!

1) Pop-up Food Stand

People love food! Make a pot or five of soup or pasta, then let people know when and where you’ll be selling it. Make sure to choose a simple dish that a wide variety of people will enjoy – don’t choose anything that a picky child or grumpy grandfather might turn away.

2) Animal Cuddle-a-thon

Who doesn’t want to play with a puppy? Reach out to your local animal shelter and see if they might partner with your cause. Ask for a small donation from anyone who wants to cuddle with the animals; you’ll raise money for your cause, and some pets in need might find a home!

3) Massive Yard Sale

Reach out to the community and ask for gently used clothes and goods. People love a good bargain, especially if there are a wide swath of items to sort through.

4) Sports Tournament

Whether they admit it or not, everyone likes a bit of competition. A basketball or softball tournament can be the start of a fun day and successful fundraising campaign.

All of these ideas are well and good, but it’s important to keep in mind that no matter how original your idea is, it will inevitably fall flat if it isn’t properly planned and budgeted. When you begin sketching out your ideas, keep the following in mind:


Know your finances. Create a solid budget of how much you can allocate towards your prep costs: what you can afford to spend on ingredients or location, for example. It may also help to talk to your vendors and see if they can give you a deal on free or discounted goods.  

Have an achievable fundraising goal, and work towards it. If you’re fundraising in a small town, it would be illogical to expect a million-dollar return. Be practical, and but remember to take pride in what you achieve!


Set volunteer schedules well in advance, and make sure to lock in specific dates and times. It’s often too easy for a volunteer to agree to a vague time commitment, then realize days or even hours before the event that they double-booked themselves. Make sure that you settle such scheduling problems early, so no short-staffing issues occur during your event.


Be aware of your audience when you pick an event. For instance, it wouldn’t make much sense for a Girl Scout troop to host a pub crawl. Make sure that your fundraiser suits your organization! Not only will you attract more participants, but everyone involved will likely be more enthusiastic about the event itself.


It’s not enough to host a creative event – if no one knows it exists, it might as well be canceled! Make sure to put the word out through both online and print marketing hubs. Use Facebook and any applicable websites you control, and consider incorporating online donations into your real-world campaign! Don’t forget to reach out to your local paper and community bulletins; print sources engage offline community members and serve to remind those who may have glanced past your online promotions.


Don’t forget to say thank you! Your volunteers and sponsors worked hard to make your event a success. Send them a personal thank-you note to let them know how much you appreciate the time and effort they contributed to your cause.

Trevor Marca is an entrepreneur and marketing professional who specializes in bolstering community ties through print and digital media. For more on Trevor, visit his website.