• Home
  • /
  • Blog
  • /
  • Simple and Low Cost Fundraisers You Can Run With Few Resources and Few Volunteers

The to-do list for running ‘traditional’ fundraisers like candy fundraisers, dances and special events, auctions, raffles and yard sales can be endless: buying and storing products for sale, producing and distributing flyers, making phone calls, keeping track of product inventory and sales, taking kids door to door, collecting money, working ticket booths, cleaning up after events, etc.

Although these fundraising ideas can raise a lot of money quickly, sometimes there may not be enough volunteers or financial resources to run these fundraisers, or maybe people are simply tired of them. If you currently don’t have the resources or volunteer base for a larger fundraising project, why not try one or all of the following simple, low key and low-cost fundraising ideas. These fundraising ideas are neither new nor exciting, but will over time turn into a steady source of income you won’t want to be without:

The ‘Bakeless’ Bake Sale

The bakeless bake sale was invented for the very purpose of bypassing all the work involved with ‘traditional’ fundraisers.

A bakeless bake sale means that you sell easily assembled baking mixes that your supporters can then prepare and bake themselves. For a great list of all kinds of baking and cooking mixes that you can easily and inexpensively put together yourself, like ‘Brownies in a Jar,’ visit RecipeLink.com.

A bakeless bake sale can also mean that instead of actually making, selling, or buying anything, would-be volunteers and supporters send in a check for the same amount they ‘would have’ spent on baking ingredients or raised, thereby circumventing the actual bake sale.


Cookie dough in canning jar


Fundraising Programs at Banks and Stores

Free ‘loyalty’ fundraisers at banks and stores are especially well-suited to large groups such as schools. These fundraisers require no or very little additional effort for volunteers or supporters, that is, beyond what they already do on a day to day basis: shopping for groceries, buying gas, etc.

Some banks offer programs where a small donation is deposited into a school’s account each time a supporter makes a purchase with their ATM card. The potential supporters usually sign up for the program through the bank in person, or the bank’s website. Once the sign-up is completed, everything is automated. All you need to do is provide your group’s contact info and wait for the check! The main challenge here is to get as many people as possible to sign up. This is a fundraiser that will not yield great results overnight, but with ongoing reminders in newsletters, e-mails and on your website, you will in time have a large supporter base that will generate ongoing income for your group.

Another loyalty program that can be lucrative in the long run is a store sponsored loyalty program. How it works: The store credits a small amount to your school account every time you, or any supporter, makes a purchase. Sales are either tracked with a loyalty or discount card (just about every larger grocery store offers one), or simply by telling the cashier at checkout which group to attribute the sale to. Check with larger grocery stores or variety stores in your area for current programs.

For any loyalty program, your goal is to get as many teachers, parents, grandparents and supporters as possible to sign up so the money accumulates faster and longer. This is a great fundraiser that can run all year long, year after year, without any further effort beyond signing up for the program.

Label Collection Fundraiser

Remember box tops? Well General Mills is still running this fundraiser and it’s as popular as ever.

Go to General Mill’s Box Tops for Education Program.
(Read more about running a Box Tops For Education Fundraiser.)


Another free fundraiser that almost runs itself is growing in popularity and involves recycling ink cartridges. With increasing awareness of pollution and its impact on the earth there is no better time for this excellent fundraiser. Millions of ink cartridges from homes and businesses are simply thrown away each year after the ink is used up. Rather than letting these cartridges go to waste and rot in landfills, why not recycle them and make money for your cause at the same time?

Get the word out to all your friends, relatives and businesses in your community to save their used cartridges for you instead of tossing them in the trash. As with the loyalty programs shown above, the inkjet cartridge recycling fundraiser works all year long. Plus, most places that take ink cartridges also offer a program to recycle cell phones.

What other recyclable items can you easily turn into money? You may generate a decent income with a bottles and cans recycling fundraiser, but this fundraiser usually requires quite a bit of effort and planning. If you do however already have recycling receptacles available, and/or volunteers to collect them and take them to a recycling facility, you may be able to plan this recycling fundraiser with minimal effort. (Interested in electronics recycling?)

Although these ideas may not earn money as quickly and are not as exciting as some of the ‘traditional’ fundraisers, they have the potential to earn substantial money over time without exhausting your volunteers or their wallets! (More fundraising ideas.)

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Subscribe to our newsletter

And receive fundraising ideas, how-to articles, and tips for a successful campaign!

Enter your email address below and follow the confirmation prompts. You will be able to unsubscribe at any time through a link in any emails.