Fundraising Ideas

 As long as there are groups for causes, ideals,     missions, visions and dreams there will be a need for a practical way of achieving these goals. This is especially the case with student run programs on college campuses such as alternative break programs. Money and how to get money to fund the mission of these programs will continue to be an issue.

Types of Fundraising

  1. Candy Sales
  2. Coupon Book Sales/Discount Cards
  3. Drive-in Movie Theatre
  4. Credit Card Application Booths
  5. Auctions
  6. Dinner & Candlelight & Music
  7. Donations/In-Kind Support
  8. Food
  9. Games of Chance
  10. Grants
  11. Holiday/Thematically
  12. Partnerships
  13. Self Sacrifice
  14. Tried and True
  15. Misc.


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Candy Sales

There are national and regional companies that already have products packaged to sell as a fundraiser. These companies have prizes and profits for the group developed into a system. Many campus groups already have some sort of pre-developed fundraiser, therefore, you may be competing with other groups as you offer similar products to the campus over and over. This might inspire product sells or it might make it more difficult.

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Coupon Book Sales/Discount Cards

Similar to candy sales, there are national and regional companies that offer discounts for products, entertainment and dinning. Again these companies have prizes for top salespeople and profits for the group developed into a system.

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Drive-in Movie Theatre

There are several campus activity groups which actually bring portable drive-in theatre equipment. You could charge a cover especially if student activities brings the group to campus.


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Credit Card Application Booths

Credit Card companies are always in search of new consumers. Many credit card companies set up booths during various campus/community events. They also provide opportunities for student groups to garner some money from this effort through donations or sign-up fees.  

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This type of auction could allow students to bid on the services of professors or professors bid on the services of students. This can be as varied as cleaning up the office, yard work or glorious database entry. Again, the money is 

Casino Night

You can have your own casino night by allowing individuals to gamble with monopoly money they receive for paying an entrance fee at the start of the evening. The "gamblers" will use this money to purchase prizes donated by the community. You can make this exciting by mixing up how the prizes are auctioned off. ("Big prizes" or "little prizes" may come up for auction at any time)

Date Auction

Just like the old datin' game. First you need several willing "dates". The dinner and movie could be donated by local businesses. The bidding could draw a bit of attention to your program through the school media as well as just plain ol' curious bystanders.

Individual Auction

This type of auction allows you to "sell" an individual for a specific purpose and amount of time. For example, someone might have to carry the books or clean the room of someone who purchased their services.

Silent Auction

A Silent Auction is where a group of individuals bid on items/prizes which have been gathered in the name of the organization and its mission. In order to be a bidder, participants will have to pay an entrance charge. The bidders acknowledge there bid through body language such as hand or head signals or through raising prepared placards. For this type of auction you will need someone to be a caller.



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Dinner & Candlelight & Music

Band Night

This is another way to connect with the campus and local community through providing a musical event and charging admission to it. This gives exposure to musical talent and helps to fund the alternative break program at the same time. Keep in mind that you need a big enough place to hold the event as well as an arrangement with campus activities to hold the event. One school's theme for an event such as this is "think globally...jam locally."

 Open Mic

This is a great way to build on the talents of your participants or the campus as a whole. Host a campus wide event on the lawn or in an auditorium where students can come and perform their specific talents such as poetry reading, gymnastic feats, acting, and musical numbers.

Poetry Night

Another way to draw on the talent of your campus, especially the English and Literature departments is to host a poetry reading night. Charge admission and perhaps even charge for snacks while folks get immersed in verse.

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Donations/In-Kind Support

Alumni Association

Often times by working with your college or university's alumni office volunteer efforts such as the alternative break program can have access to alumnus donations. Perhaps your office will allow your group to solicit alumnus directly or they may be able to include your program in their donation materials sent out to alumnus. Each school's office of Alumni Affairs has specific regulations and policies so it will be necessary to check into these procedures first.

Change Bottles/Penny Wars

This is plain and simple collecting change donations for your alternative break program. Have participants cut water bottles in half to collect that loose change. Perhaps having it site or issue related would draw out more donations from a specific portion of your campus.

Community Civic Clubs

Rotary, Elks, Masons, Optimists, Kiwanis, the Lions Club, and so on to see if they would be willing to give scholarships to individuals. As a way of thanking them, meet with them and tell them about your trip, and show them pictures or slides from your trip.

Individual Donation Slips

This type of fundraiser requires participants to be responsible for sending out brochures explaining the program with donation slips to friends and families. Providing donation options might add to the success of this program.

Letters to Faculty and Staff

Faculty and staff members are more often quite willing to donate their time and money to student groups on campus especially if they are affecting the community. Target the faculty and staff with letters detailing your program and allowing them to donate based on a variety of options such as site, issue and possibly even student. Definitely take the time to check with your campus office of giving to review any regulations there may be concerning this type of fundraising effort.

Places of Worship

Many times they are willing to help an individual to participate in such a trip. Also contact local churches and synagogues as they might also be willing to help. Showing the congregation a slide show as a way of thanks is also a good idea.

Student Government/Student Affairs

Being able to make a proposal for funding from the Student Affairs or Student Government Association of your campus can be a very important element of funding for your alternative break program. Sometimes being listed as an organization will allow your program to apply for funding through these avenues.

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Bagel & Coffee Morning

Have a campus/community breakfast where local businesses can donate the coffee and bagels or the alternative break program can purchase them for a minimal price. Host this breakfast for a small charge or donation. This event can also be site specific or issue related.


Create a cookbook from ASB participant and family recipes or perhaps include recipes specific to the region or community your alternative break program will be visiting. You could also include cooking instructions for large numbers of people in the recipe description. Charge a small amount to cover the development of the book as well as to provide profit for the ASB budget.

Donut Sale 

This is a great, quick way to make money on your campus as people stumble to class in the early morning. You can either develop a deal with the local donut shop or buy the donuts and sell them on campus. As a general warning don't get too many donuts because if you can't sell them they might go stale and you will be out some money.


At some schools it is possible to donate the money that would pay for your meals in your meal plan to a specific cause or group. Check with your meal plan office to see how you can develop a partnership.

Food Baskets

There are certain times during the year when students need a pick-me-up such as mid-terms and finals. Appealing to the good nature of parents through a mailing to send care packages to their son or daughter, you can collect the profits after purchasing the food for the care packages.

Hunger Banquet

This is a fundraising event in which a large portion of the campus can take part as well as provide some hands-on educational information. Individuals pay a certain amount of money and then are assigned a country status such as "developed" or "underdeveloped nations." Students eat according to the status they have been assigned. For example, a representative of an underdeveloped nation might eat rice while a representative of a developed nation might eat steak. Oxfam has specific information on how to organize a hunger banquet.

Lobster Sale

Another food related fundraising event involves the delivery of fresh lobster. Your program would be required to purchase the little critters up front, however, you could sell them through a dinner per/pound at a much higher price. It would be necessary to plan the other portions of the dinner in addition to both the location of dinner and uncooked lobster.


A thematic event in which you can invite a large part of the campus and charge admission for the tropical atmosphere and food.

Roast a Pig

Have a good ol' fashion pig roast over an open fire. Charge a specific amount of money to the campus community or ask for a donation. You have to find out where to get a whole pig.

Spaghetti Dinner

Plan a big dinner inviting large portions of the campus and community. Charge an admission or donation price. This can be a very profitable event due to the inexpensive preparation cost. Spaghetti is cheap!


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Games of Chance

Cow Pie Bingo

This is a great way to have fun on your campus. Usually part of a larger event, festival or carnival, cow pie bingo is a favorite. All you need to do is fence off an area where the beast will have a temporary stay. Then grid the area into squares. Sell the squares to individuals for a specific amount of money. When the cow does his or her business in the particular grid, the winning person gets to keep a portion of the money pot.


A raffle is a very basic fundraising technique that relies on selling tickets with the "bingo" chance of winning a prize or series of prizes. The prizes can be donated by local businesses or community members or the prize itself may be sharing in the cash pot created by the raffle tickets. A twist on this idea is to have participants sell a mandatory amount of tickets. * Due to issues of legality, check with your local and state officials as well as your school's policies before beginning a raffle project.


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Contact the airlines

To see if they would be willing to give you a discount for flying as a group because you're a service program or just because they like you.

Letters to Locals

Addressing local community businesses and companies is a powerful way to garner direct monetary and in-kind support. An effort such as this may require some training in developing letters of inquiry. An important element to include in letters to businesses is that the donation is tax deductible. In addition, make sure that you can provide them with a receipt for that donation. A twist on this idea is to allow businesses to adopt-a-site or issue for their donation.

Training to Write Letters for $-Raising

Enlisting the help of others on your campus and community to help train your advisory board or active participants in writing grants is a necessary element of your fundraising program. Writing grants and letters of inquiry have been successful for alternative break programs in the past. Sometimes it just takes some encouragement and training for individuals to ask for those bigger sums of money or in-kind donations. This is another way to partner with other groups on campus such as the campus office of Grants Management.

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Florist - Valentine's Days
Holidays are always great times to have fundraisers around. For example, during Valentine's Day work a deal with the local florist to sell carnations for campus members to send to other campus members. Remember that you will need someone to pick up the flowers, staff the booth where people write their messages, and people to deliver the carnations. Another twist on this holiday is to send out gummy worms with the theme "hooked on you".


Bookstore Sponsorship
Work with your local college bookstore or bookstores to have a day or series of days in which your alternative break program can receive a percentage of profits from sales. It is a great way to get your friends and fellow campus members to buy books on a specific day.

Business Partnership - Dance Place/Grocery Store

A great way to partner is with local businesses and companies through in-kind support or percentage of profit donation. For example, having a local dance club donate a specific amount of a cover charge for college night or ³students involved with service² night. Another example might be to have a percentage of certain products or a day's sales of a grocery store go to the alternative break program. They might also be able to donate food for your trip or help support the purchase of your t-shirts.

Partner with Another Grant Recipient

Oftentimes, there are opportunities to develop a grant partnership with other groups on campus that may be involved with your alternative break program's issues or sites. Always take note of what groups on your campus may have similar missions and goals so as to be aware of a possible sharing of resources.

T-Shirt Business Partner

Develop a partnership with local businesses to sponsor your t-shirts for some publicity on the shirt itself or in some other aspect of your alternative break program. It is a great way to give visual recognition to businesses working for the community. In addition, if your college or university's student identification can be used as a campus charge card you might persuade more students to invest initially.

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Self Sacrifice

Charge to wash student's laundry. Make sure you have enough participants and initial money to buy supplies.

Plasma Donation
Enough said...

Psychology experiments
Check with your school's psychology department about possible opportunities.

Sports Related

Charity Sporting Tournaments (baseball, basketball, volleyball, golf...)
Connect with the campus by providing a sporting tournament where you charge admission for participants. You could also work the concession stands for the event.

Final Basket/Shoot the Hoops Tournament
This is a great way to use your school's sporting program to earn some money for your alternative break program. Individuals can pay an entrance fee to have some sort of shooting contest during the half or end of a game.

Running Events
Appeal to the local running enthusiasts on your campus and in your community to be a part of a sponsorship race for your program. A unique twist might have the finish line be into a campus sporting facility at the end or beginning of a game. It is always a motivator to have thousands of people screaming and yelling for you.


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Tried and True

Bake Sale
The basic all-purpose fundraiser! First, you need to acquire baked goods through either participant cooks or local businesses or campus food services. Then you need to have booths in well-traveled areas of the campus. One suggestion that was offered was to have donations instead of prices because people are likely to donate more than pay a specific price for an item.

Car Wash
This dependable event places a bunch of people together to wash cars by hand. You could charge a specific amount or ask for donations. It is important to have this type of event in a well trafficked part of your community or campus. Sometimes local businesses will let you use their water sources. A twist on this idea is the "topless car wash". This is where you only wash convertibles or everything but the top of the car.

Garage Sale/Rummage Sale
This is a great way to get rid of old junk! Have participants dig into their dorm rooms or ask their family members to donate for the sale. This is also a great way to get faculty and staff involved with the program as they donate for the sale. It will be necessary to have the event in a well traveled area and have the appropriate amount of volunteers to staff the sale.


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Accounting & Taxes
Perhaps you can draw on the expertise of the participants in your program or appeal to your school's business department in general. You can have students with accounting and tax skills provide consultation for Federal and State taxes to the campus and community at a minimal charge.

"A" Thons
This is an event in which people pledge a certain amount of money for a specific cause or individual involved with the cause. Some examples include a Bowl "a" thon or a Walk –a-thon or a Jump-a-thon.

Business Inventory
Local businesses and companies will have times during the year in which they will need help with their inventory. This is a great way for a group to make some money in a short amount of time. There might also be departments or stores that are part of your campus that might provide this opportunity as well.

Campus Recycling - on-going through year
Another way to get involved on the campus is through the recycling program in existence or developing a program from scratch. It would probably require some part-time volunteers for part or all the year to clean out bins and take the recyclables to the local recycling plant. Because it might be a way to earn money throughout the year, this type of fundraiser could sustain efforts for pre and post break as well as the next year program. It is also a tremendous possibility to partner with other groups on campus or in the community.

Carnival/Opportunity Fair
Develop and plan a carnival which can be thematic , issue related or just a plain ol' carnival with clowns, face painting, games etc... This is also something you can do in partnership with a local community agency. You can charge an entrance fee for the Carnival.

Circus "Stupid Human Tricks"
This is a great way to bring David Letterman to your campus without having to pay outrageous prices for a speakers fee or even having him there in the first place. In the spirit of "stupid human tricks," invite members of your campus community to be part of a talent show where your alternative break program can charge for admission. Everyone can do a Stupid Human Trick.

Concessions/theme parks/clean-up facilities/staff campus events
This is a great way to use the community around you as well as your campus. Sometimes theme parks, concessions and clean-up opportunities are offered to the community in exchange for donation or payment. Check with local sporting facilitates, theme parks and your own campuses sporting program.

Dunkin' Booth/Photo Booth
You can rent these type of facilities or perhaps even have them donated for use. Then your alternative break program can collect the money or a percentage of the money based on the relationship developed with the rental company.

Face Painting
You can do this at carnivals or before sporting events to add to the spirit of those die-hard fans. Charging a minimal fee and enlisting the talent of program participants is a must for this type of fundraiser.

Greek Week - party proceeds
This might be another way to enlist help from the Greek community of your campus. During Greek Week have party proceeds or a portion of those proceeds go to funding the alternative break program. This might also be a way to develop a new partnership or recruit from a segment of the campus you might not have already drawn from. *Receiving money for fundraisers associated with alcohol might interfere with the policy of your alternative break program or school.

Green-Up Day
This is a day where ASB participants can work for the campus or faculty and staff of the campus to clean up yards, mow, rake and clean up trash for donations. This can be a campus-wide event in which the donations benefit the ASB Program. It might also be a great way to partner with environmental groups on the campus or in the community.

Jail and Bail
This event requires setting up a "jail cell" somewhere on your campus. The next step will be having campus members pay money to have people "arrested" and put in jail. Volunteer police persons will then take the suspect individual into custody. The "prisoner" then must come up with a pre-determined amount of bail money by using a telephone and the phone book. There are a number of twists you can put on this idea, however, one of the key facets to the success of this event is publicity.

King of Turkey Legs
This requires some enthusiastic participants. Both guys and gals can have pictures of their legs posted around the campus. Then people vote on who has the best "turkey legs" by making a donation. All entries will be placed in a central box from where the winner's name will be drawn. The winner could receive a pre-designated prize or part of the money pot accumulated from the donations.

Kiss the "animal"
This is a great way for students to donate money towards your alternative break program in the name of their favorite faculty or staff member. The individual with the most donations gets to kiss the "animal" whether that it is a pig, horse or the school mascot. This can initiate quite a bit of competition and stimulate the money to come rolling into your ASB program.

Mocktail Party
This can be a great way to connect with a discussion concerning the alcohol policy of your alternative break program as well as partner with your campus peer educators or BACCHUS representatives. At a mocktail party people get a chance to mix and partake of non-alcoholic beverages. This alternative experience/party is a great way to bring in the money as if people were paying for drinks. It is necessary to reserve space for this event, acquire the materials for the mocktails including glasses and utensils.

Money Tree
This is where a "tree" is set up in a well-trafficked part of the campus. A table is set up next to the tree where people can donate $1 to place a "homemade buck" on the tree. As the tree becomes more decorated people will be able to see an actual goal and be more motivated to donate money.

A non-event is just what it suggests: an event which will not happen. The first step is to print a fancy invitation about a formal black-tie event. After describing the fancy non-event then you can ask for a donation based on what individuals would have to do to get ready for the event. For example, attendees would have to buy a dress or rent a tux, get a haircut etc... Therefore, through making a donation they only have to pay a portion of what they would originally have to do in order to attend.

Paper Airplane Contest
A one time campus event where ASB participants and others from the campus create paper airplanes. Before the event ASB Participants collect pledges for there favorite paper airplane. You can have winners in different categories such as design, distance, and style in flight. You can charge an entry fee or have donations to support each participant.

Parking Cars for Events
Perhaps your campus or the community host events where cars need to be parked or where they need "staff" to usher vehicles into appropriate parking spots. Participants will earn money usually in an hourly or daily manner. Students can donate the money individually or the host of the parking can make payment to the alternative break program as a whole.

Shave your Head
Definitely a fundraiser for the willing and able. This type of activity requires people with hair , a lot of hair, or people that are vain about their hair. Then it takes your ultimate persuasion skills as an alternative break advocate to convince individuals to shave their head in public. Campus members make donations for the "potential head shavers" in a competitive manner. If you can get some professors involved it might be a way to really dig into the deepest depths of some college student and other faculty and staff member's pocket. The representative with the most donations must follow through with shaving his or her head in a public forum.

Twister Tournament
Knots, Knots and more human knots. This is basically a monster twister tournament in which teams post an entrance fee to see who can survive the tournament the longest. You definitely need a lot of twister games or a very talented art department. The materials for this can be created by the alternative break program at minimal cost. The winner of the tournament might get a portion of the total money pot or some other specifically designated prize.

A tuck-in is where campus members can donate or pay money to have Fraternity, Sorority or alternative break participants tuck them in and maybe even read them a bedtime story.

VW Car Show
For all the "deadheads" on your campus, or just regular VW fans, this is a great way to connect with not only your campus but the surrounding communities. Charging admission, hosting concessions and providing parking can be one way to win some dough for this sort of idea.


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