This fact sheet includes a list of fundraising events which
have been successfully implemented by other crisis nursery or
respite care programs. These events are examples of both short
and long-term activities which may be an additional source of
income for your local program.
Helpful Hints for Successful Fundraising Events
- Fundraising events need to coincide with the geographic
location in which they occur. Rural areas will not be
able to successfully implement large fundraising events
because of lack of people and money.
- Tailor fundraising events to the interests of your
- Be on guard for groups, businesses or organizations that
want to do fund raisers for your cause. Make sure you
know up front how much staff time they will require and
how much money they plan on making. Too many programs
have gotten "caught" with intense staff
involvement and little money for their efforts.
- Be selective when choosing individuals to represent or
support your cause. Choose individuals who represent a
sincere interest and positive publicity.
- Make sure to limit the number of fundraising events to a maximum
of three large events per year. The community may
become weary of contributing to your cause if the
fundraising events become too frequent.
- Include volunteers who will supplement staff efforts.
"Quarter" Rally (People Power: 15-20 / Cost: $200 /
Planning Time: 2 months)
Ask a local shopping mall to sponsor a "quarter"
rally. This event is very popular and can generate lots of money
depending on the size of the mall. Double-stick tape is placed
around the interior of the mall from one end to the other.
Shoppers are asked to lay down a quarter for a certain cause
(e.g. respite care services). It helps to have a lot of publicity
with this event such as a radio station broadcasting live and
special giveaways from the mall. This event will need a lot of
coordination and volunteers to "man" different points
on the "quarter walk". It is a lot of fun and
definitely gets a large percentage of the community involved.
Community Auction (People Power: 2-6 / Cost: $500 / Planning
Time: 2 months)
Sponsor a community auction. Items can be donated by local
individuals (e.g. artists), stores, or organizations. Include
some expensive items to attract buyers. Collecting the items or
services will take the most time. A community auction can be
combined with another event such as an annual festival, a dance,
or a celebrity golf tournament.
Corporate Request (People Power: 1-2 / Cost: $50 / Planning
Time: 1 month)
Corporations with which you have a good relationship are
sources of small amounts of money for emergency purposes. Top
level managers often have up to $1000 in discretionary funds
which they can release without internal approval.
Mystery Party (People Power: 12 / Cost: $500 / Planning Time:
This scavenger hunt party is a very popular event and a lot of
fun for the donors. Parties can be held in private homes or at a
public site. Food for the event is donated by local stores and
companies. Games can be purchased or donated and participants may
pay up to $50.00 per person.
Run, Walk or Bikeathon (People Power: 6-24 / Cost: $1,000 /
Planning Time: 8 months)
This takes quite a bit of time to organize depending on the
size of the event (length of the area, number of participants,
etc.). Promotion is the biggest cost and an essential component
of the event. The better the advertising, the larger the number
of participants. Participants pre-register and obtain pledges
before the event. Encourage groups or clubs to participate since
they would represent a significant number of people. This event
will also increase the visibility of your organization throughout
the community. Prizes for competitors can be donated (cash or
goods) by community organizations who will also enjoy greater
visibility by becoming a donor. Remember, this event is
Pledging (People Power: 12-24 / Cost: $600 / Planning Time: 6
Individual donations typically compose 80% of support for
non-profits in the United. States. An accurate list of potential
donors and staff (e.g. volunteers) to solicit donations needs to
be created before beginning this event. Pledges can be for one
time only or on a time payment plan. Time plans must be billed.
This event helps increase community ownership for your program.
Raffle (People Power: 6-24 / Cost: $300 / Planning Time: 6
Prizes are donated by local business or individuals (e.g.
artists). Large ticket items are necessary to attract sufficient
support. Selling tickets can be time-consuming. However, donated
prizes can be given to ticket sellers for the greatest number of
tickets sold. It is important to time this event so that it does
not overlap with other community raffle events. Sometimes
organizations combine their efforts to support a larger event.
Please check raffle laws in your state before beginning to play
Paid Advertisements (People Power: 1-3 / Cost: $500 /
Planning Time: ongoing)
Local businesses can pay to advertise their goods and services
in your newsletter or other project publications. Promotion and
solicitation is necessary to start this event.
Golf Tournament (People Power: 24 + / Cost: $6,000 / Planning
Time: 12 months)
Celebrity golf tournaments can be very successful especially
if you include a dinner and dance as part of the event. It may
take more than one tournament before you see substantial profits.
Often a golf course gives a cut in fees for purchase of gifts in
their pro shop.Celebrities need to be recruited far in advance
for the event. Golfers may pay large fees for the privilege of
playing with a celebrity. An event of this type needs a strong
community base, underwriters, wealthy donors and buyers, and a
very professional team of volunteers. This event may also include
a raffle or auction.
Fountains (People Power: 1-6 / Cost: $200 / Planning Time: 2
Check with local malls or restaurants that have wishing well
fountains. Most of these places donate the pennies, dimes and
nickels to charity. It would be nice to get a local radio station
to publicize this event. For one week, ask that all the money be
put into designated fountains across the city and go to a
specified charity or program. This will give the program
"free" publicity with very little staff time required.
A city-wide effort of all wishing fountains could generate $4,000
to $8,000 for a one to two week promotion.
Celebrity Waiters (People Power: 10 / Cost: $500 / Planning
Time: 6 months)
Well-known people from the local community can be recruited to
be waiters for a dinner event during one evening. Corporate
groups are encouraged to attend. Prices at the restaurant are the
same as usual. All tips go to your project. Regular wait staff
are also asked to donate their tips. Other volunteered amenities
include flower sellers, entertainment and photographers.
Wish List (People Power: 2-3 / Cost: $200 / Planning Time: 2
Publish you own "wish list" for your agency birthday
party or some other special event. The wish list can be sent to
businesses, past donors, and other community organizations. Items
and cash can be donated to the program.
Buses and Supermarkets (People Power: 2 / Cost: $200 /
Planning Time: 4 months)
Ask a local grocery company to print your logo or message on
their brown grocery bags for one month. This is not a direct
fundraising activity, but it does generate a lot of publicity and
some funds. It would be great to coordinate this activity with
some other fund raiser from your organization.In addition, have
the mayor or county commissioner designate a certain week or
month as respite care or crisis nursery "week." You
will get a proclamation which brings publicity. During this week,
you may also have the Transit company put "free" signs
on the back of their buses promoting respite or crisis nursery
care. Most large metropolitan transit authorities will have some
type of community service activity. In San Antonio, non-profits
may have "free" bus signs for one week per year.
Rock-a-Thons (People Power: 2 / Cost: $100 / Planning Time: 2
Have local day care centers or some other children's group to
raise money through "rock-a-thons" rocking in rocking
chairs. This works very well in small communities and gets
"kids helping kids." In one town of 2,000 people, the
local day care center raised over $6,000 for the Heart Institute
by rocking in rocking chairs in the town square on a Saturday. It
is amazing what children can do for other children.
Black Tie Bowling (People Power: 20-30 / Cost: $5,000 /
Planning Time: 9-12 months)
Have a bowling alley sponsor a "black tie" bowling
event. This can take on many dimensions and really get the
community involved. The bowling alley is closed to the general
public for the evening. Each participant dresses in a "black
tie" costume from the waist up, and in any style of their
choosing from the waist down. Teams are organized. The sponsor
can charge $40 per person, which includes two drinks and a buffet
meal. Prizes are donated for the best costume, worst bowler, best
bowler, etc. You may also have a team competition and get
businesses to sponsor certain bowling lanes. Ask media to attend.
It is a very festive affair. You can make about $10-15,000 for
this event, but it requires a lot of staff and volunteer time.
High School Volunteers (People Power: 2 / Cost: 0 / Planning
Time: 3 months)
In addition to children's groups, invite high school students
to become involved in your program. They can hold car washes,
bake sales, etc., for you. Get a pizza parlor to donate a number
of pizzas and sodas and throw an appreciation party for the
teenage volunteers once a year. Begin with one high school. These
students can then become volunteers in your many fundraising
activities, such as the "Quarter Walk."
Percentage of Business Profits (People Power: 1 / Cost: $50 /
Planning Time: 2 months)
Check with various businesses to see if they will give part of
their profits to your program. For example, a local photographer
may give her sitting fee of $5.00 to the program around Mother's
Day. This event produces small amounts of money, but every little
bit helps. These activities require little extra work. Your local
high school volunteers can disseminate flyers to advertise the
Clifton, Robert L. & Dahms, Alan M. (1980). Grassroots
Administration: A Handbook for Staff and Directors of Small
Community-Based Social Service Agencies. Prospect Heights,
IL: Waveland Press.
Gelatt, James P. (1991). Managing Nonprofit Organizations
in the 21st Century. Phoenix, AZ: The Oryx Press.
Margolin, Judith B. (Ed.). (1991). Foundation Fundamentals:
A Guide for Grantseekers, 4th ed. The Foundation Center.
Setterberg, Fred & Schulman, Kary. (1985). Beyond
Profit: The Complete Guide to Managing the Nonprofit
Organization. New York: Harper and Row.
Seymour, Harold J. (1988). Designs for Fund-Raising,
2nd ed. Rockville, MD: Fund-Raising Institute.
ARCH Factsheet Number 10, May, 1992
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This fact sheet was produced by the ARCH National
Resource Center for Respite and Crisis Care Services
funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services, Administration for Children and Families,
Administration on Children, Youth and Families,
Children's BureauCooperative Agreement No. 90-CN-0121
under contract with the North Carolina Department of
Human Resources, Mental Health/ Developmental
Disabilities/Substance Abuse Services, Child and Family
Services Branch of Mental Health Services, Raleigh, North
The contents of this publication do not
necessarily reflect the views or policies of the funders,
nor does mention of trade names, commercial products or
organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services.