Grab Their Attention! 5 Unique Fundraising Ideas

Grab Their Attention: 5 Unique Fundraising Ideas

We all know how it is. Fundraising can get boring, fast.

In the beginning, involvement with any organisation can be exciting and interesting, because it’s new. Then it gets old – and the fundraising, especially the endless, year-in and year-out kind, gets really old.

No one minds doing the work, but at a certain point the repetition gets to us. Unless it’s something super successful, there’s a limit to how often staff and volunteers will happily roll out the same old ideas over and over.

So, instead of selling more chocolates or holding another raffle, let’s take a look at some of the more unique fundraising ideas – ideas that will jolt everyone out of their usual boredom and get the blood pumping.

Here are five ideas guaranteed to get those creative juices going which will, in turn, get the money flowing! Keen for ideas specific to schools, charities or sports clubs? Discover more easy and exciting fundraising ideas now.

1. The Garage Sale Crash

Unique Fundraising Ideas - Garage Sale Crash

Garage sales and car boot sales are hardly original, but all you need is a little twist.

In most sales of this sort, people bring their unwanted items to a central location. But most people have entire storerooms filled with stuff that could be sold, if they only had the time and money to sort through it all.

So, bring a team to their home!

The team will ‘invade’ the home, inspect the items, sort through them (supervised off course!), price them then set up a ‘pop up’ store the next morning, with teams sent off to put up ‘garage sale’ announcements online, quickie flyers in the local community and let everyone know there’s a sale going on!

Alternatively, cart all the donated goods away and set up a massive garage sale in another location full of items supplied via other ‘Crashes’.

2. The Petting Zoo

Unique Fundraising Ideas - Petting Zoo

This one might seem unfair to some parents, but fundraising is a cut-throat business sometimes!

When your town has a local Show or a street party – or even just every weekend in the park – partner with your local animal shelter and veterinary doctor to have a group of adorable puppies and kitties and maybe the odd bunny or two – and then charge people for the privilege of petting them!

Every child in the general vicinity will be tugging on Mummy’s coat demanding a petting session.

You can charge extra for treats to feed the pets and, if they’re interested in adopting, the local shelter can have a representative there as well.

3. The Dollar Event

Unique Fundraising Ideas - Dollar Event

Brainstorm with all volunteers for things you could profitably offer for sale for just $1. Snacks, wrapped chocolates or lollies, garage-sale items, games for children, even people donating five minutes of their professional services – anything and everything that can be donated and sold.

Have an event where everything – every single item – is priced at $1, no exceptions.

Have some music in the air, and offer up $1 food items and drinks as well, and you have an event that people won’t be able to resist because, for just a few dollars, they can have a pretty good time.

The low price point will actually inspire people to spend more than they otherwise might. Psychology working in your favour – and a pretty fun time to boot!

4. Monetising Apathy Part 1: ‘Get Out of Volunteering’ Cards

Unique Fundraising Ideas - Get Out Of Volunteering Cards

One of the more controversial unique fundraising ideas is to turn your own volunteers’ worst qualities into money.

Not all volunteers in a fundraising situation are created equal (think corporate volunteers or board directors!). One way to handle lazy or malingering volunteers is to monetise their apathy and reluctance.

Very often, people who deal with raising funds for any sort of organisation, from schools to churches to charitable causes, imagine a perfect world where every parent or community member is motivated and willing to help out with the cause.

They always assume that all their ideas will be greeted with enthusiasm, and the calls for volunteers will generate a huge response from responsible, eager peers.

The reality, as many quickly discover, is very different: Many people, even people who will benefit from the fundraising whether directly or indirectly, either volunteer grudgingly and then spend more time dodging responsibilities than helping out – or duck you altogether, putting a lot of energy into avoiding any commitments.

Stop trying to force people to help out, and start monetising their apathy.

Every year it’s the same dance: You announce the new goals for raising money, you organise activities and you call for volunteers. The reliables show up promptly to help out, but you’re always a few hands short, so you have to start pressuring people to volunteer.

In the end, you get a few reluctant people to show up but they’re never much use, because they didn’t want to be there in the first place. Only social pressure made them come.

Instead, this year offer to spare people the pressure, the looks and comments, the cold shoulders.

Sell ‘get out of volunteering’ cards that will excuse people from putting in time and labour for your fundraising projects.

You could also give them stickers to put in windows or on doors announcing that they’ve been excused, so they don’t continue to get dirty looks.

5. Monetising Apathy Part 2: The Inverse Bidding War

Unique Fundraising Ideas - Inverse Bidding War

Another way to take your volunteers’ poor attitudes and turn them into positive cash flow for your project is to make all of the duties and projects associated with the campaign biddable items and let your volunteers bid for the jobs they want.

In every campaign there are jobs that people want – usually the more glamorous or traditionally ‘fun’ things – and jobs they don’t want – like cleaning up. Turn that to your advantage by opening every role up to bid instead of assigning them.

The less people want to do something, the more money it’s worth to them to avoid it, meaning that you can bring in a huge amount of cash by letting folks bid their way out of the scut work they hate.

This might seem like you’re cannibalising your own volunteer force in order to raise a little extra money, but the fact is your volunteers are there to support your cause already, and turning their apathy and desire to avoid the dirty jobs into money is just another way they can show their support!


Eli is Canvas Factory's resident blogger and social media buff. She has a passion for art, craft, design, fashion and photography. She loves to explore the joys and challenges of family life, relationships, motherhood and pet ownership. Eli finds it's more funny to poke fun at herself than others. She's travelled extensively and considers herself a citizen of the world.

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