Fundraising for Small Groups Newsletter

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December 16, 2018

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Easy Fundraisers
by Kimberly Reynolds

Everybody wants an easy fundraiser. The problem is that you also want results.

So, how do you get the best results from an easy fundraiser?

Three things to consider:

  1. Effort
  2. Resources
  3. Duration

An easy fundraiser shouldn't take a lot of effort, but let's be honest. It is going to take SOME effort.

The level of effort is often directly proportional to the size of your group's monetary goal, but not always. That's why you are considering an easy fundraiser in the first place - you're looking for less effort, not more.

Resources are always a problem in small group fundraising. You can never have too many volunteers and you usually never have enough. For an easy fundraiser, you want programs that don't require an excessive time commitment from a large number of people.

You want either a single weekend only activity or a program that takes only a small amount of time each week. It's easier to get people to help with something that doesn't require more than a two-hour commitment from them. Conserve your resources with an easy fundraiser and you'll have more to draw on later when you really need help.

Duration is important. An easy fundraiser that lasts more than a single weekend should not require a lot of attention to keep it productive. Those that only last a single weekend shouldn't require a tremendous amount of prep time.

So, what easy fundraisers take only a little effort, few resources, and have the right duration?

Some simple ones to put together are:

  1. Printer cartridge recycling program
  2. Onsite or Online Yard Sale
  3. Seasonal Specialty Item Sale

A recycling program for collecting used printer cartridges costs nothing to put together. All collection boxes and shipping needs are covered by the supplier.

Your effort involves finding businesses to participate in the program, leaving pre-labeled boxes with a site representative, and providing directions on calling UPS to pick up a full box. A used cartridge is worth between $1 and $20, depending on the popularity of the printer and the cost of a new cartridge. Many businesses encourage recycling efforts. For good prospects, check with the leasing manager of large office buildings that house multiple companies.

Another good location is an electronics store or office supply retailer. Customers often bring in their old cartridge when shopping for a replacement. You are doing the retailer a service by providing them with an environmentally safe way to dispose of these leftovers.

A good recycling program will cover a couple of dozen sites and not require much work after the initial placement. Over time, working this many sites can produce a considerable amount of funds for your group.

A big yard sale is another easy fundraiser to pull off. It's short in duration, usually just a Saturday sale with some prep time the night before. Choose a nice high-visibility location like a school or church parking lot. Advertise in the local paper and put up signs for the cagey veterans who troll around on Saturday mornings looking for bargains.

Group your items together by category - kids clothes, tools, toys, books, pictures, music, etc. Place general price signs around items instead of pricing everything individually. For example, "$5-$10 Tools" or "Books: $1-$3" are signs that allow people to haggle and help you avoid putting on hundreds of price stickers.

Resources are needed most for helping to sell. Recruit outgoing types who can be enthusiastic about these odds and ends. Make it a fun time with some helium balloons for small children and have coffee/doughnuts available for adults.

By grouping items together from multiple households, you create a bigger draw as well as a bigger workforce. If you attract enough shoppers along with enough donations, you can raise as much as $500 per participating household.

A variation on the yard sale fundraiser is to sell the items online. The best place to sell large quantities of lower-priced items is on You'll get more for books, music, and consumer electronics that way.

Keep it in mind as a way to get better results on some items or as an easier fundraiser to do for very small groups. You'll need to spend some time creating the listings and having online pictures posted seems to help with higher-priced items. All in all, it's an easy fundraiser that produces results.

The third type of easy fundraiser is a weekend specialty sale of a seasonal item. Examples would be a Pumpkin Patch sale, a Christmas Tree sale, a Spring Flower Bulb fiesta, and so on. This involves an effort similar to having a large yard sale.

You'll need a high-traffic location and some advance publicity. Your goal is to capture seasonal sales from the general public as well as those from within your group.

Avoid stretching these sales over more than one weekend or you'll run into resource issues. Make it quick and keep it fun. Setup on a Friday, sell hard on Saturday, and wrap it up by Sunday afternoon.

Make arrangements ahead of time with your supplier about how to handle left over items. Source pumpkins from the local Farmer's Market, Christmas trees from grower's associations, and flower bulbs from national suppliers.

Be sure to price everything competitively and offer great customer service. For Christmas trees, have able bodies standing by to tie them down on vehicles. For pumpkins, help place them in the trunk. The easier you make it for customers, the more you'll net for your group.

Putting together an easy fundraiser isn't hard. It does take some effort and it does require resources, but nothing too difficult. Give your group a helping hand by taking it easy.

Copyright 2002 - Kimberly Reynolds

Editor's Note:

Kimberly Reynolds is the author of Fundraising Success and the "web mistress" of She brings a high-powered background to the fundraising arena, including a dozen years of sales experience with Dell and Cisco Systems.

Her book, Fundraising Success, is packed with powerful tips that are guaranteed to boost your group's results. Kimberly focuses on helping schools, churches, and youth sports groups by providing event ideas and advice on organizational techniques.

Visit her website,, and discover some easy ways to help your group.

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