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What is a mini fundraiser? It is a fundraiser that can be done quickly and generally doesn’t yield huge profits. So why hold one? Individually mini fundraisers may not yield large sums of income, but collectively these fundraisers can make quite a difference in your finances. Holding mini fundraisers throughout the year is a great way to earn much needed funds and at the same time continually raise awareness.. Another advantage is that many mini fundraisers can be held by single individuals and don’t require a large group effort. (More fundraising ideas.)

As you’re uncovering opportunities and gaining experience with these kind of fundraisers, be sure to record the information somewhere for the next set of volunteers to draw from. (Using swipe files…)


mini fundraiser


Rent a table at an event:

One of the easiest ways to have a mini fundraiser is to have a table or booth at an event. See if there are plans within your community for a carnival, race or other locally organized event this year. Your city or local government will have information on upcoming events and opportunities available to rent a table or space.

There may be restrictions on what you can sell, but that’s not a problem: you have to make sure whatever you decide to sell offers enough of a profit margin to make it worth your effort and the items you sell don’t conflict with the message of your cause. For example, if your cause has anything to do with the environment, or health, selling drinks in non-recyclable styrofoam cups would be an unwise choice. On the other hand, selling rulers or pencils made from recycled paper or denim would be a good fit.

If you need ideas, think of what would complement what others are selling at the event. That way you can eliminate or restrict competition for your items. It’s also important to find out what the demographic of the audience will be like and tailor your offerings accordingly.

Even if you’re not allowed to sell anything, consider setting up a table anyway. It may be worth having a presence to create a awareness for your cause, handing out free stuff customized with your group’s logo, or fliers with information of your cause and own upcoming event.

Preparing for this mini fundraiser: In order to take advantage of quickly arising opportunities, you need to have a foldout table, upright displays for current flyers, and a cash box ready to go. Depending on the product you will sell, identify sources were to get them quickly for this mini fundraiser: snacks and candy at a wholesale discount store, gift wrap also at wholesale stores or at craft stores etc. Having a supply of custom printed t-shirts at hand would be great, but may be too expensive for some groups. But how about pencils, or even cotton canvas bag and other supplies which can be bought fairly inexpensively through online sources and stocked?

Selling snacks year round:

Where could you set up a small display of snack bars and a gumball/bulk snack machine? If you have a suitable high traffic area, consider selling a selection of snacks, including chocolate and fairly healthy treats like nut and fruit bars, and even drinks. A strategically placed pistachio or small candy dispensing ‘gumball’ machine for example could yield $50 or more per week. Although this fundraiser counts on many small purchases and requires getting a display, once it’s set up this ongoing mini fundraiser only requires that the shelf or machine be periodically restocked. Be aware that many small snacks, nuts and candies pose a chocking hazard and should be handled with care around very young children. Also take into consideration that some people have allergies to nuts, especially peanuts.

Preparing for this mini fundraiser: Having some sort of display is necessary to keep things organized on a counter or a shelf. It doesn’t have to be expensive and can even consist of sturdy re-purposed office supplies. A good quality gumball machine that can also be used for other bulk snacks can be had for under $100. You may even consider investing in a vending machine, but the expense and upkeep may be to great if you have a small group. To restock shop at wholesale retail outlets, or take in-kind donations in the form of snacks and drinks for even greater profits.

Pet snapshots:

Even if you don’t run an animal related cause, taking pictures of family pets could be a lucrative mini fundraiser when piggybacked with another event. It’s important to have a photographer at the ready when an opportunity presents itself. You may even be able to get a photographer to donate part of his or her services in turn for displaying his or her name in your newsletters and on your website. Even if you’re not working with a professional photographer, make sure that the person you’re choosing has some skills in making the images look good: lighting, background and potentially props all need to be considered for a good picture.

But to make this truly a mini fundraiser, the pictures should be printed and sold on site. (Usually a ‘regular’ portrait fundraiser requires that you charge upfront and then schedule your supporters to have the images taken.) You’ll be able to take advantage of the spontaneity and even give people the choice to buy or not to buy the image, if you have a digital camera. If you make this an annual or otherwise recurring event, people will remember the great pictures they’ve received and will be likely to come back the next time.

Preparing for this mini fundraiser: Have available one or two photographers you’ve worked with before. When an opportunity comes up, make sure the photographer has flyers and information about your group that can be displayed at the event. The photographer needs to have a digital camera, a photo printer, possibly a laptop, a table, supplies like paper and ink and needs to be near a power source. A volunteer to help with set up etc. is also necessary.

50/50 Raffle:

Some groups hold a 50/50 raffle at every meeting they have in order to raise as much money as possible. This doesn’t have to be a public event. The idea is this: Sell raffle tickets at the door/at a booth of your event/meeting/gathering with the understanding that the winner will be drawn before the event is over. The winner gets 50% of all the money that is raised. The rest goes to the organization. All you really need is a roll of the double-sided raffle tickets. The winner must be present when the winning ticket is called.

Preparing for this mini fundraiser: In order to hold any kind of raffle, make sure you comply with local laws and get legal advice if necessary. This is the most important part to consider before you start. Other than that, all you need is tickets, a cash box and a volunteer to sell the tickets.

How many in the jar?

This is another mini fundraiser that’s easy to manage and perfect as an add-on to another fundraiser or an ongoing fundraiser. You fill a jar with something small (marbles, chocolates, etc) and sell tickets for a chance to guess how many are inside the jar. The longer you can leave the jar, the more money you’ll collect, so this one works best just sitting on the counter at your organization. Make sure participants fill out their full contact details when entering guesses. You can make the actual counting of the items another event and another opportunity to raise funds. There should be at least two or three volunteers counting at the event to make sure sure you get an accurate number.

Preparing for this mini fundraiser: This simple fundraiser may also require that you check your local laws first, to see if it falls under any complex gambling rules. Then all you need is a see through jar and something fun to fill it with. Make sure that whatever you use is small enough to present a challenge when guessing the amount, but large enough to make it possible to easily count it. You’ll also need some tickets to collect contact information. This may also be a great opportunity to add addresses to your e-mail list.

As you can see the opportunities for a mini fundraiser can be endless. They require some planning, but once they’re in place, running several mini fundraisers per year with some of them on an ongoing basis provides another opportunity to fill some of the holes in your group’s budget.

(Image: ŠiStockPhoto/PeterAlbrektsen, photo-dave)

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