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Fundraising Ideas for Community Organizations

written by: W. A. Swan•edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom•updated: 6/29/2010

For small community service organizations, funding is always high priority. Fundraising events help achieve most funding goals. Ideas for fundraising events can be hard to come by, especially original ideas. Here are three of the best fundraising ideas for you to try.

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    Use free press releases in local newspapers or community slots available on local radio and cable channels. Announce the event with a photo op of the main location, the organization heads and the community supporters or beneficiaries. Several fundrasing ideas for small community service organizations can be carried out with little cost as long as there is adequate planning. Keep the idea simple and small enough so that you do not need to search for volunteers.

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    Contests

    Contests are always popular fundraising ideas for small community service organizations. Keep the contest relatively simple and low maintenance. Gather gift certificates for prizes from local businesses. You don't need many prizes, but they should be considered to be of worth to much of the community. Prizes from restaurants, gas stations, movie passes, discounts and gift baskets always work well. Ideas for these events can include guessing the amount of items in a glass jar, promotional drawings and cook-offs. Charge a minimal entry fee to get lots of entries, such as $1 per entry. While this may seem a small amount, it can build up quickly with people entering more than once to win.

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    Sales and Auctions

    Sales and auctions are other fundraising ideas for small community service organizations. Again, keep the sale or auction simple and gather prizes or items from the local community. Donations can be accepted, but make sure they are usable and useful. If you get unusual items, highlight those in your advertising to attract attention to the event. Auctions and lotteries can be held using $1 per entry to win and people should be present when the prizes are handed out. Book sales are the usual event for libraries but if you add an auction of rare or unusual books or related items you can draw a larger crowd. Have a large variety of items when doing this method as people will want to browse around before they purchase anything. Find ways to interject fun and comedy into the event and it will be remembered the following year. Bake sales can work, but avoid store bought items or limit them to only half of the available stock because these spoil quickly and can turn away potential buyers as they assume they can get the same item from the store.

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    Wine and Cheese Tasting

    This is a fundraising idea that has worked for many community service organizations. The Sayre Public Library in Sayre, Pennsylvania uses this event successfully each year to bring in revenue for their operating budget. Have the event indoors during the early evening. Include wine from local wineries and cheese from local farmers or cheese makers if you have those nearby. Local businesses are always looking for ways to promote their products. Get a musical group to play at the event for entertainment. This can be either formal or semi-formal and needs to be in a centralized location suitable for such an event. Libraries, public theaters, and museums can hold this event right on the premises to highlight their mission. If you have no permanent location, partner up with the local Elks, Sons of Italy, Masons or other civic group who have their own facilities. Charge a minimal amount for entry (around $5 per person). Consider inviting local politicians and community leaders to the event. This always draws large crowds as both the community leaders and the public see this as a way to interact with each other.

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    If you have additional fundraising ideas for small community service organizations, feel free to leave them in the comments section below. What ever ideas you choose to use, be certain to devote ample time to marketing the event, to ensure success!