You know that money is a valuable resource — that’s why you’re raising funds for a good cause. But time is an important resource, too. Fortunately, planning and running a successful fundraiser doesn’t have to take weeks or months. With the right idea, you could launch a campaign within a few hours of reading this article.
Check out our list of quick fundraising ideas that provide big results with a small time investment.
11 quick fundraising ideas
Here are 11 grab-and-go campaign ideas that work for fundraising teams of any size.
1. How-to workshop
Receiving a gift in exchange for a donation is nice, but getting hands-on with a craft can be just as rewarding. Put together an activity workshop that interests your target supporters. Charge admission for your groovy tie-dye event, cooking class, or book-binding workshop.
You can easily turn workshops into a virtual event over Facebook Live or Zoom. This event works because it’s adaptable — anyone with a skill to share can lead the class. You can also reach out to local artists or chefs, like Kitchen Rodeo did for their popular cooking series. Workshops are a fast and simple way to raise money while having a little DIY fun.
2. Viral video challenge
Classic YouTube videos like “Charlie bit my finger” are just seconds long, but they rack up views quickly because they’re fun and easy to share. That makes a viral video challenge the perfect quick fundraising idea.
Capture some of this internet magic for your campaign. Challenge your community members to recreate their favorite viral video moments and post them to your most popular social media channels.
Most importantly, participants have to nominate three others to post within 24 hours. Anyone who doesn’t join in must make an online donation. (Of course, you can encourage supporters to make a donation when they participate, too.) Come up with a unique hashtag and you may even get your campaign trending on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.
3. Raise some dough
Here’s your excuse to close the cookbook. A Krispy Kreme doughnut fundraiser is a great example of a quick and stress-free moneymaker. Krispy Kreme sells its doughnuts at a discounted price to individuals and groups raising money for a good cause. The program is open to most types of for-profit and nonprofit organizations, including the following groups:
- Charitable organizations
- Educational institutions
- Religious groups
- Sports teams
You can place your order ahead of time or take pre-order sales online and then purchase doughnuts with your funds. Krispy Kreme estimates that organizations can make a 50-60% profit with these goodies.
If you’re holding a traditional in-person bake sale, be sure to place your table or booth in a high-traffic area. Offering complimentary coffee with each purchase or donation could seal the deal for passersby. Don't forget your digital donation jar!
4. Corporate matching gifts
This fundraising campaign is a time-saver because many companies already offer corporate matching gift programs. With corporate matching gifts, when an employee makes a donation, they ask their company to make an equal or greater donation.
Some companies match the amount at a 1:1 ratio, but some go above and beyond, offering a 2:1 or 3:1 match. Some of the legwork is already done, but you’ll still need to mobilize your community members. Reach out via social media, email, or phone and ask them to donate and then submit a match request to their employer. This is a great way to raise a lot of money without asking your supporters to dig deeper into their own pockets.
5. Bar or restaurant crawl
If you’re looking for a unique fundraising idea, you can sell tickets to your own bar or restaurant crawl. It’s an effective fundraiser as well as a community social event, so you ultimately tap into a much wider audience.
Plan a short, walkable route between noteworthy local restaurants or bars. Tie the event together under one concept, like a taco crawl or an Irish pub crawl. Contact the businesses in advance so they’re prepared for a large group. You can also ask them to donate the night’s proceeds to your fundraiser.
Boost the camaraderie by selling funny crawl T-shirts, water bottles, fanny packs, and other merchandise. Other patrons may even get curious and ask to donate once they learn about your cause. Make it easy by having text-to-donate and Venmo options ready for the big day.
6. Board game night
A game night fundraiser is fun, flexible, and easy to put together. You host an in-person or livestream event, and supporters simply pick their player and have a blast.
If you’re hosting an in-person event, pick a venue, select a variety of four-player games, and set them up at different stations. Ask community members to lend their favorite games for the night to cut costs. Monopoly, Battleship, Clue, and Catan are all popular. (These board games are available online, too.) Raise funds by charging an entry fee for each participant.
Gamify the night even more by incorporating an envelope fundraiser, a common game at silent auctions. Hand attendees an envelope when they arrive and ask them to place $1 to $10 inside (if they’re willing). Have them write their name on their envelope and place it inside a raffle box.
At the end of the night, pick someone to draw one envelope from the box. The winner gets a gift card worth 10 times the amount inside — a prize worth $10 to $100. With this bonus game, you add excitement and get extra donations for your cause at the same time.
The key to raising money quickly is simplicity, and a walk-a-thon may be one of the most uncomplicated fundraising ideas out there. All you need is a route, a fundraising page, a group of supporters, and some water bottles. You can keep the walk-a-thon to the local neighborhood, or plot a path that’s significant to your cause. For instance, if you’re raising money for team uniforms, take participants through the local park where the baseball diamond is.
There are tons of ways to add some flair to this fundraiser. Make it a neon night run, a color run, or build an obstacle course at the end of the route. Your donors don’t even have to share the same ZIP code to join in. See what we mean with this creative virtual 5K.
8. Trivia night
Restaurants and bars are also great locations to host a trivia night. This fundraiser works best when you think up a crowd-pleasing theme and challenging questions. The category options are endless. Just make sure you don’t pick an obscure topic that has most people scrambling for their smartphones or scratching their heads.
Encourage people to register as teams, but instead of selling tickets, you can add a twist. Ask team members to engage in [peer-to-peer fundraising](https://givebutter.com/blog/what-is-peer-to-peer-fundraising#:~:text=Start your team fundraiser… now,fundraising pages and giving amounts) — raising money from individual donation pages — to cover their team entrance fee. For extra money, sell raffle tickets for a theme-related prize at the end of the night. You can even open up karaoke or another fun event following trivia.
9. Shoe drive
We've got to give it up for an old fundraising classic. The shoe drive fundraiser has stuck around for so long because it’s straightforward and virtually cost-free.
Kick off this quick fundraising idea by asking your community members to donate gently worn or newly purchased pairs of shoes. Set up a convenient collection box or pick up donations from homes and local businesses. Other great sources of shoes include Facebook Marketplace, clothing exchange groups, and online listing sites like Craigslist.
When you’re ready, organizations like Funds2Orgs collect the shoes and mail a check to you within 48 hours. Hit your fundraising goals in no time with a shoe drive.
10. Photo contest
Run a short photo contest for an inexpensive, all-ages fundraiser. This event idea is adaptable to any time of year and works well for individuals or groups.
For example, challenge family members to snap and submit their funniest Christmas card picture during the holiday season. Alternatively, align your contest with a quirky national holiday like Kazoo Day. You can also make it a serious competition among local photographers, with separate divisions organized by experience.
Charge a contest entry fee and ask community members to vote by making a small donation. You can even turn the top photos into a special prize, like a deck of cards or a calendar.
11. Give $5, grab 5 friends
This easy fundraiser turns donating into a virtual game of tag over social media. Ask your supporters to donate at least $5 to your cause. Then, each donor has to tag at least five people via social media, whether it’s their friends, family, or co-workers. Each person that gets tagged has to match that $5 gift to your campaign — and then tag five others.
This idea is extremely scalable. Experiment with increasing the gift and challenge to $10 and 10 people or $20 and 20 people for a true crowdfunding campaign. Keep in mind that most people won’t have experience asking for donations. So, help your supporters tag with confidence by creating a compelling message to include with their posts.
Time to fundraise 📢 🕖
Fundraising events like galas, battle of the bands, telethons, and talent shows are exciting, but require to-the-minute planning and a large time commitment. Luckily, you’ve now got 11 quick and easy fundraising ideas in your back pocket.
Quick and simple campaigns need a free and user-friendly fundraising platform like Givebutter. We offer solutions for everyone from student groups and sports teams to companies and nonprofits. See if we’re a match for your next fundraiser — it’ll be time well spent!
Rachel is a fundraising and marketing consultant for nonprofits whose aspiration since she was 16-years-old is simply this: help others, help others.