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Fundraising Ideas

Paying for a wheelchair, wheelchair van, or other mobility products is often a burden on families who are already shouldering the costs of medical bills. 

Most people are very willing to help though! All you really need to do is ask.

But we know it can be hard to ask people for money, especially for yourself. Just remember that the people you’d be asking first—family and friends—are the people most likely to help you when you need it most. 

To reach people in your community and beyond, though, you’ll need to host some sort of fundraiser.

From online fundraising to real-life fundraising events and even a few things in between, there is no shortage of ways to raise money for your needs. Keep reading for 22 fundraising ideas and how to get started raising money.

Before You Start Raising Money

It’s easy to get excited about fundraising possibilities and jump into a fundraiser a little too quickly.

The first thing you should do is finalize what you’re raising money for. Having a concrete idea in mind will help you explain the point of your fundraiser to others and can act as inspiration if fundraising gets frustrating.

Do you need assistance purchasing a mobility product or converting your vehicle into a wheelchair-accessible one? Or do you need financial assistance with ongoing bills? If you or your loved one has had to take time off from work or is underemployed due to a disability or injury, it’s perfectly acceptable to raise funds to cover the lost salary.

Once you’ve decided on your cause, it’s next to decide on a fundraising goal. This goal should be practical—neither too big nor too small. Giant goals aren’t inherently bad, but they can seem to both donors and organizers. On the other hand, you want to make sure your fundraising goal will realistically cover the costs of your needs.

Finally, decide how much time you want to commit to fundraising. This can easily take the place of a full-time job or more (and it is a job for many people!). If you or your loved one can dedicate all their time to fundraising, that’s great. But for many people, that’s just not possible. With other responsibilities and commitments, most people can’t dedicate 40 or more hours per week to raising money.

And that’s where so many of these lower-effort fundraising ideas come in.

Online Fundraising

Raising money online can be as complicated or as simple as you want to make it. With so many options, at least one of these ideas will be perfect for you!

1. Start a GoFundMe page.

Crowdfunding campaigns are likely the first thing people think of when it comes to raising money online. It’s easy to share your fundraising page with your social media network, it’s easy for donors to donate money, and it’s easy for other people to GoFundMe is the most popular personal fundraising platform and is incredibly easy to set up.

To learn how to set up a GoFundMe donation page that really works, read our how-to guide here.

2. Create your own website.

GoFundMe is great for its specific purpose, but the template isn’t customizable. If you want to add a more personal element to your fundraising efforts, consider making your own website. Here, you can write about your story, your condition, and your needs. 

You can embed a donate button from PayPal to give visitors yet another avenue to donate. The easier you make it for people to donate, the more likely you are to raise money!

Websites are also an excellent place to share links and more information on various fundraising efforts and events. If you plan to raise funds over a long period of time, it may be worth putting an event calendar on your website.

You can easily create a website for free on SquarespaceWordPress, or Wix—no tech expertise needed.

3. Sell products online.

This is where some real creativity comes in! If you are skilled at any sort of craft, like sewing, drawing, woodworking—you name it—sell these items online. You can set up an Etsy shopfront for free. You can then direct people to your Etsy shop.

Keep in mind that Etsy charges $0.20 per item listing, a , and a processing fee of 3% and $0.25.

3a. Work with Etsy shop owners.

Like we said, you’ll be surprised by how many people will be willing to help out a good cause. If you have a good relationship with an Etsy seller (maybe you’ve bought from them before or it’s a friend of a friend), consider reaching out and asking them to donate a portion of their proceeds to your fundraiser for a month. This can be beneficial for them too: You can send your loved ones to their shop to purchase products, overall raising their bottom line

4. Sell bricks.

Yep, bricks! Work with a local business or your city hall to choose a piece of pavement that needs refinishing. Instead of replacing the pavement or sidewalk with concrete, replace it with engraved bricks people can buy! Fundraising Brick is a brick engraving company that works with charities and individuals on “Buy a Brick” campaigns. They will engrave the name and message of each donors’ choice into a brick that will last for decades.

5. Send out a fundraising newsletter.

When you first start a fundraiser, you might find that people are quick to donate right away. And that’s great! But as time goes on, your fundraising campaign might not be at the top of everyone’s minds. A fundraising newsletter that you send out via email can remind people on a regular basis of your fundraiser and why you’re doing this. Take the time to give shout outs and thanks to any volunteers and donors who are helping you reach your fundraising goal.

In-Person Fundraising Events

Growing your online presence to share your fundraiser is a great and sometimes underutilized method, but don’t forget the basics: fundraising events! Your options are only limited by your imagination, but to get you started, here are some of our favorite IRL fundraising ideas.

1. 5K, Marathon, or Walk-a-Thon

Having a race for a good cause is one of the most common fundraising events you’ll see. There are a few benefits to doing this:

  • Participants can wear fundraiser-branded t-shirts or paper signs to raise awareness.
  • It’ll be hard for people who aren’t participating to ignore dozens of people all running or walking in the same direction.
  • Participants can ask for sponsorships per mile or minute from their friends and family. Not only does this raise money for your cause, it gets the word out to more people!

2. Sports Tournament

There’s nothing like sporting events to bring people together. Softball, bowling, and golf tournaments are all very popular, and it’s easy to get people on board if they already play. You can split the entry fee with the venue—that is, if they don’t agree to donate the time and space to you! It can’t hurt to ask.

6. Car Wash

We all know what it’s like to keep forgetting to get a car wash, even when your car really needs it! Solve this problem and raise money with a car wash for cash. Recruit friends, family members, and volunteers to wash cars on a sunny day. Make flyers in the days leading up to the car wash and big signs for volunteers to hold on the streets . If you have a friend with a wheelchair-accessible van, ask them to bring it so people can see why you’re trying to raise money. As long as the big day you’ll likely get loads of cars coming in, which makes for easy fundraising.

3. Game Night

A game night is an easy way to get people involved who can’t or don’t want to play sports. Tabletop board game and video game tournaments are a fun way for people to spend an evening, with the added benefit of raising a lot of money. Sell tickets to the tournament and watch as the gamers pile in!

4. Bake Sales

Who doesn’t love a bake sale? Recruit some friends and family members to bake a batch of their best sweet treats (or just find some to pick up at the store). Then ask a local school, church, or other community organization if you can host a bake sale on or near their property. As community members walk by, they’ll no doubt be tempted by homemade goodies.

5. Charity Night at a Local Restaurant

It’s common for local businesses to get invested in charitable causes. It looks great in the eyes of the community and brings in extra business—it’s a no-brainer. It’s common for restaurants to donate a portion of the night’s proceeds. to local restaurant rather than large chain, which may have issues if you don’t own a nonprofit organization for your fundraising efforts.

6. Car Wash

We all know what it’s like to keep forgetting to get a car wash, even when your car really needs it! Solve this problem and raise money with a car wash for cash. Recruit friends, family members, and volunteers to wash cars on a sunny day. Make flyers in the days leading up to the car wash and big signs for volunteers to hold on the streets . If you have a friend with a wheelchair-accessible van, ask them to bring it so people can see why you’re trying to raise money. As long as the big day you’ll likely get loads of cars coming in, which makes for easy fundraising.

7. Group Yard Sale

While you can definitely have your own garage sale, it’s even better to combine forces with neighbors and friends to create a yard sale event. As long as everyone agrees to donate the same amount of proceeds (typically half or all), it’s a fair way of raising funds that also helps people get rid of old things they don’t need. Have each participant tell their family, friends, and coworkers to bring in extra customers!

8. Trivia Night

Trivia nights are a favorite pastime of bar-goers young and old, and charity trivia nights are one of the most popular types of fundraising events! Ask a local bar or event venue to donate time and space for your trivia night. You can make this event as involved or as simple as you wish. Write the questions yourself…or hire a professional trivia company. Offer snacks…or ask everyone to bring their own. Put up decorations…or go bare-bones. No matter what you do, a trivia night is always fun.

9. Raffle

The chance at winning a great prize in exchange for a small fee makes raffles attractive to even the most reticent of donors. Ask local stores, restaurants, and other businesses to donate products and events, then sell raffle tickets to pick . Because a raffle is so open-ended, you have tons of options when it comes to prizes:

  • Gift cards
  • Themed baskets (movie night, spa day, sports teams)
  • Concert or play tickets
  • Art from local artists

10. Chili Cook-Off

Create the best-tasting potluck anyone’s attended with a special chili cook-off. Invite members of the community as well as chefs from local restaurants to participate and increase the hype. Then, charge an entrance fee for people to sample each chili which will act as the fundraiser portion. You can make a simple voting form to declare the official winner.

11. Family Fun Day

Make fundraising a family-friendly activity with a field day at a local park. There’s no shortage of things you can do at a family fun day that will appeal to people of all ages:

  • Scavenger hunt
  • Obstacle course
  • Book sale
  • Talent show
  • Fashion show
  • Dress-up station with photography
  • Haunted house (around Halloween)
  • Pictures with Santa (around Christmas)

Charge admission for a day full of fun that also gets the word out!

12. Silent Auction

No matter what type of in-person fundraising event you hold, you should include a silent auction at the event. Much like you’d gather donations from local businesses for a raffle, silent auctions rely on the generosity of others. However, e willing to offer auction items in exchange for good publicity! In addition to the raffle items, consider adding these to your silent auction:

  • A night/weekend at a luxury hotel or resort
  • Sporting event tickets
  • Electronics, like a TV, iPad, Apple Watch, karaoke machine, etc.
  • Sports or music lessons
  • Maid service to clean up for a month
  • Signed memorabilia

On-Going Fundraising Ideas

It’s a good idea to do at least one fundraiser online and one in real life, but if you’re looking for more unique fundraising ideas, try something on-going to keep a steady revenue stream while you focus on other fundraising events.

1. Text-to-Give Campaign

Almost everyone has a smartphone these days, so make it easier to donate with a text-to-give campaign. These campaigns are best for big fundraising needs as they often take time and money to set up. Once you spread the word, all donors have to do is text a 5-digit number to send their donation through.

platforms will help you set up a text-to-give fundraising campaign, but keep in mind that if you are not a registered nonprofit, you may have to pay for the service. Check out Snowball (which has a free basic service!), OneCause, and Qgiv.

2. Envelope Fundraiser

Envelope fundraisers can be a great addition to an event fundraiser, like a trivia night, but if you have a connection to a church or store where you can set up a wall of envelopes, this could be an on-going fundraiser. Envelope fundraisers are very simple: Choose any number of envelopes (100 is common) and number each of them from 1 to 100. People passing by the wall can then choose the envelope that has the amount they wish to donate on it. As envelopes get taken and filled up, that will encourage more people to join in! Just be sure to have a trusted person nearby to watch over the envelopes.

3. Donation Card Wall

Around the holidays, you may see pieces of paper with people’s names on them at grocery stores and restaurants; when people donate a certain amount to the business’s chosen charity, they get to put their name on the paper and hang it up. Talk to a local business in your area to see if you can “sell” donation cards. Create a design and you’ll probably start to see donations roll in!

4. Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

Also known as P2P fundraising, peer-to-peer fundraising utilizes your social network’s social network! Ask each of your friends to tell five friends about your fundraiser, and to pass the word along to five of their friends. You can give them an easy link to your fundraising page or PayPal account to share with every person they tell about your cause. P2P fundraising is highly effective because of the personal, organic connection involved.

5. Donation Jars

Donation jars are definitely still a thing! Ask local businesses if you can solicit small donations at their check-out registers with a donation jar. Most people are eager to get rid of spare change, and this is a simple way to get a continuous stream of money. Be sure to decorate the donation jar so people stop and read why you’re raising money.

Need more fundraising ideas? Want to learn more about your financing options for wheelchair-accessible vehicles? Get in touch with the mobility specialists at United Access today. We have decades of experience helping people with disabilities regain mobility, independence, and freedom.