How to raise money for causes close to your family’s heart
Involving children in fundraising and philanthropy teaches them “first-hand the power of teamwork, the impact they can have on their community, and the rewards of giving time, talent, and treasure,” explains the Bohemian Foundation, a Colorado-based family foundation.
Children of all ages can benefit from giving and serving their communities. Providing philanthropic opportunities for youth helps build their moral judgement, sense of civic responsibility, and relationships with their community members.
Family fundraising dates to the birth of Girl Scout Cookies in 1917. The delicious Thin Mints, Samoas, and Tagalongs that we know and love, emerged from the kitchens of Girl Scout members and their mothers who made cookies out of their homes to fund troop activities. In the 1920s and 30s, Girl Scouts around the country made simple sugar cookies according to Florence E. Neil’s cookie recipe.
Although girls and their mothers no longer bake cookies together for the annual fundraiser, they still work together using their marketing and business skills to support their local councils.
Cookie sales continue over a century later not just because of their success in funding troop activities, but because they teach valuable life lessons. According to Girl Scouts of the United States, cookie sales “[help] the next generation of entrepreneurs [to] get an important taste of what it takes to be successful: teamwork, planning, and a positive outlook.”
Today, Girl Scout Cookies represent just one of the many ways that children can fundraise with their parents for important causes while gaining first-hand experience with goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills, and business ethics.
Kids support animal shelters, schools, nonprofits, faith communities, youth activities, and other kids in need by working together with their families. Learn how school fundraising helps develop life skills in students.
Get kids in the spirit of giving while having fun, learning about money, helping others, and spending time with the family by hosting a fundraising event. Use our family fundraising ideas to organize a successful fundraiser and transform the lives of individuals in need.
Here are our top 10 fundraising ideas to do with your family:
1. Support your Favorite Cause with ShopRaise
Looking for an easy fundraising activity that requires no solicitation and fits into a busy family’s schedule? Look no further than ShopRaise, an app that lets you turn everyday shopping into support for your favorite cause at no additional cost. Earn up to 10% for your designated school, team, club, or charitable organization when you shop from nearly 1,000 retailers.
Teaching your children about philanthropy and community involvement has never been easier. Get started today by learning more and downloading the app.
2. Sell Custom Designed T-shirts
Show off your family’s creativity, raise awareness of a pressing cause, and secure funds for your project with t-shirt sales. With technology innovations, the t-shirt fundraisers of your childhood are a thing of the past.
Companies like Bonfire offer free online platforms where anyone can sell and buy custom products without the hassle of payment processing, order fulfillment, or customer service.
3. Plan a Trivia Night
“Trivia nights are a perfect and educational way to get kids involved with your next fundraising event,” says Funds2Orgs. Host the trivia night at your house, community center, or local restaurant and charge admission for guests to participate.
Some restaurants sponsor regular trivia nights to benefit various organizations and even provide the quizmaster at no cost; just ask the owner to get your cause on the schedule. To get attendees excited and maximize ticket sales, pick a trending pop culture theme that both kids and adults love. A trivia night can easily go virtual to keep everyone safe and healthy.
4. Text-to-give with Snowball
Text-to-give is one of the easiest and fastest ways to fundraise with your family. Multiply your impact by asking each family member to open the contact list in their phone. Because most people always carry their phone with them, text-to-give can reach potential donors anywhere, anytime.
Consider signing up with Snowball, an all-in-one fundraising platform that includes a mobile giving service, to capture more donations with less room for user error.
5. Organize a Scavenger Hunt
Get all the kids in the neighborhood involved with a themed scavenger hunt. Individuals, pairs, or family teams can participate for a set fee and compete for a chance to win great prizes. Ask local businesses and artists for prize donations in exchange for promoting their brand.
Looking to take your scavenger hunt to a new level? Check out what made the United Way of Greater Austin’s scavenger hunt so successful!
6. Host a DIY Carnival
School and community fundraisers are one of the best ways to foster team spirit, raise money, and strengthen relationships. Kids can help with designing the stations, giving out prizes, selling tickets, and staffing activities depending on their age.
Keep the event easy with classic backyard carnival games like ring toss, balloon pop, cake walk, soda toss, duck pond, ball toss, and more. Repurpose old household items or purchase items for cheap at the dollar store to keep expenses low. A DIY carnival is a great summer or fall activity that allows for social distancing outdoors.
7. Run a School Penny War
A penny war represents the ultimate classic school fundraiser. PTO Today loves that “in addition to netting some substantial cash quickly, a penny war fundraiser builds spirit and promotes friendly competition—not to mention encourages lots of student participation.”
Encourage the whole family to participate by repurposing and decorating large containers for the drive, distributing collection containers, finding and collecting spare change, publicizing the event, and counting contributions. Here’s a complete guide on how to host a penny war.
8. Plan a Neighborhood Field Day
Raise awareness for your cause while getting the community outdoors with a neighborhood field day. Crowd pleasing games include a three-legged race, water balloon toss, sports tournaments, freeze tag, egg race, and sack run.
Charge a standard entrance fee or sell tickets for various activities. Make even more money by selling concessions and other merchandise. Be sure to reserve the park in advance to avoid bumping up against a birthday party or soccer practice.
9. Participate in Box Tops for Education
Do you remember cutting the Box Tops logo from your cereal boxes and storing the cardboard clippings in a sandwich bag to take to school? The Box Tops for Education of our childhood has grown up.
Now, students and families can scan their store receipt, find participating products, and instantly add cash to their school’s earnings online. From playground equipment to library books, your school can use this money to help teachers and students get the supplies they need.
10. Enroll in a Grocery Fundraising Program
If your family needs a low-key fundraising idea, consider signing up for a grocery store fundraising program. Start by checking out the website of the largest grocery retailers in your area.
Be sure to do your research thoroughly, since a lot of retailers are changing their programs after supply chain issues in the past year. Your kids can help decide which organization or school to designate as the beneficiary by researching causes close to their hearts.
Sponsor a School Fundraiser
Take the lead on fundraising for your student’s school group or PTA by partnering with Big Fundraising Ideas (BFI). Since 1999, BFI has helped schools nationwide raise millions with better products, more exciting prizes, and timely service.
Get your kids involved by asking them to help choose from the 40 unique catalog fundraisers and numerous incentives that they think their peers will love. Kids can also help with designing custom products like tumblers or sports gear. Visit BFI’s school fundraising resources for parent’s page for more information.
Coaching your children through organizing and hosting one of these fundraisers can teach leadership skills and confidence for a lifetime. Give your child an entrepreneurial edge and instill the importance of helping others by fundraising together as a family.
Not sure which cause to support with your family fundraiser? Check out ShopRaise’s list of over 400,000 charities, faith communities, teams, schools, clubs, and individuals seeking donations.
Author: Clay Boggess
Clay Boggess has been designing fundraising programs for schools and various nonprofit organizations throughout the US since 1999. He works with administrators, teachers, as well as outside support entities such as PTA's and PTO’s. Clay is a Senior Consultant at Big Fundraising Ideas.