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Fundraising for Your Group
You'll have to try somewhere else

Back to the Skills Toolbox

There’s virtually an infinite number of ways to raise money. However, some fundraising strategies are more effective for students than others. When you begin to develop a fundraising plan, consider what personal connections, resources, and skills are available within your group's membership. For example, does your group have connections to many small business owners, who might be interested in sponsoring your campaign? Is someone in your group a member of a popular local band who they could convince to do a benefit concert? Does the group have any ties to the budget or appropriations committee of the student government that you could lobby for support?

When devising a fundraising plan, use your imagination to create fundraising initiatives that will be lucrative, fun, and will take advantage of the varied talents and skills that your membership has to offer. Also, if you intend to use multiple approaches to raise money, try to reach out to many different kinds of people in many different ways. Even low-income people will donate money to an organization that they care about. Even students.

Remember that the best things on campus are free - or at least cheap! The issue of funding often stands in the way of the biggest ambitions. Yet it need not be so. Raising funds for any organization requires a great amount of time and human resources, something that may be hard to gather at a campus full of busy students. Keep in mind that there are a vast number of events that can be conducted with very limited funding - or without any funding at all.

Fundraising Strategies 100 More Fundraising Ideas
Planning & Budgeting Resources
Fundraising Ideas  


Fundraising Strategies

These are several fundraising strategies commonly used by students. Use these ideas to help you get started, but don't limit yourself – assess your own group's possibilities and let your creativity flow!

Applying for Campus Money
Applying for organizational funding from your student government is often one of the easiest ways to raise money. The willingness and the ability of student governments to provide financial support to student organizations, of course, varies immensely depending on the type of institution. Some student governments are awash in money to distribute, whereas others can only afford to sponsor "all-campus" events and not individual organizations.

The first step towards receiving campus funding is to visit your student government and to find out their application procedures. Frequently, organizations need to submit a proposed budget outlining how they intend to use the requested funds. Try to anticipate all the financial needs you may encounter over the course of the school year. Be sure to include such expenses as copies for flyers and literature, materials for signs and banners, food and drinks for meetings and events, travel money to the national SfB conference, and stipends and travel money to bring speakers and organizing trainers to campus. Aim high in your estimates because budgetary committees often scale back funding requests. Remember that most schools will only give money to officially recognized clubs.

At the same time, don’t limit your scope to the main student government source. Reach out to other organizations and departments within your school (like a political science student association or women's rights organization) that may be willing to sponsor a particular event.

Hosting a Benefit Event
Benefit events are a great source of money because they are fun to plan and attend, can raise quite a bit of money, and can raise awareness of your campaign as well. When organizing any benefit event, be sure to lay out your goals. Obviously, you'll want to set a fundraising goal ($100, $500, $1,000), but you should also set awareness-raising and recruiting goals. And try your best to mix different types of music and activities so that your benefit appeals to people of all races and genders.

A benefit event does not need to be complicated or huge in order to be successful. It can be as grand or as simple as you want it to be.

Another super easy event idea is to just attach yourself to an event that is already being planned. If you know members of a band or hip-hop group that has a scheduled show, ask them if they would donate the proceeds to your campus group. Or simply ask if they would mind you making a quick pitch in the middle of their set and passing a box or two around the crowd.

If you have the time and resources to actually plan and execute a benefit concert or event, by all means, go for it! You’ll then have creative control; you can set it up to include short speeches as well as musical groups, you can decorate the event location however you like and you can organize the event as cheaply as possible to make the largest possible profit.

Getting Creative
Your group's fundraising potential is limited only by your collective creativity. Spend a little time at a meeting with some butcher paper and markers and brainstorm. Design tee-shirts, buttons, or other propaganda for your organization or current campaign, produce them cheaply (but make sure your materials don't come from sweatshops!), and sell them for $10. Sell services like raking or lawn mowing or car washing. Have a bake sale - get every member to donate a dessert.

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Planning & Budgeting

Planning for an event
Make a list of all the jobs that need to be done.
..........Confirm the room reservations, guest speakers, and entertainment.
..........Get a permit for food and merchandise sales.
..........Advertise in newspapers and send public service announcements to radio stations.
..........Have group members distribute and post flyers.
..........Reserve and confirm microphones, tables, VCR, and other equipment.
..........Photocopy information regarding the cases or actions to be presented, including general Bhopal literature.
..........Invite other organizations and their members.

Ask a volunteer to take responsibility for seeing that each task is completed.


For jobs that require more than one person, find a volunteer coordinator and as many workers as needed.


Assign deadline dates for each task.


Plan for “disasters.” Something will surely go wrong, so anticipate all the possible disruptions of the event (e.g. rain, not enough food, performers not showing up, etc.). Brainstorm a list of all the possible “disasters” and then brainstorm measures that can be taken as prevention or solution to each (e.g. “get indoor space in case of rain”).

A poor fundraising choice

As you create your fundraising plan, you should keep in mind the following:
..........Fun: Fundraising activities should be fun for the donors and for the members who have put it together. Activities that are a drag burn out your members and make people who give feel like they’ve been burned.
..........Simplicity: Keep it simple. The more bells and whistles you add to the plan, the more things can go wrong.
..........Potential Hazards: Beware of fundraising that requires large up-front investment, includes a high-risk of losing money, or could harm your group’s reputation if you fail to meet expectations. Explore options for reducing high-priced overhead items, such as getting food donated.
..........Involvement: Involve members and others in a positive way, without drawing time and resources from other necessary work.
..........Donor Appreciation: Make donors feel good about giving. Thank them and, when appropriate, do so publicly.
..........Other Events: Add fundraising to what your group is already doing. Consider how you can add a fundraising element to already planned actions and activities.
..........Celebration: Celebrate victories and achievements. Reward friends, allies, and hard-working group members.

Budgeting
Make a budget for your event and do your best to stick to it. In order to come up with your budget, make a list of all items that will involve some expense. Estimate the cost of each (call vendors to confirm estimates) and determine if any of the items could be donated. Total all costs, subtract donated items, and you have a budget.

A Note on Potential Hazards: When deciding how to raise funds, your group should consider factors such as the amount of money it will need to invest up-front and how much risk is involved. Events that require little investment and offer high returns include car washes, bake sales, raffles, flea markets, auctions, and canvassing/membership drives. Events such as dances or dinners require slightly more investment and more risk.

Fundraisers requiring high investment and high risk include bingo, selling big-ticket items such as Christmas trees, selling calendars (they only sell for a short period of time), races, walk-a-thons, and concerts. Many of these fundraisers not only require a large up-front investment, but are costly and time-consuming to organize and promote. While celebrity events such as concerts can be successful, you should carefully consider the monetary and time investments required to produce such an event.

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Fundraising Ideas

Raffles. Raffles are a fun and simple way to earn money. Ask local businesses to donate
prizes and sell tickets for a certain period of time. Some of the businesses that donated might also be willing to sell tickets. Incorporate the raffle into the group’s work by having the drawing during a special event.

“- A-Thons”. Draw-a-thons, dance-a-thons, skate-a-thons, etc. take a little extra organizing but can be extremely profitable. Try to collect pledges in advance. You can ask for a block pledge ($10 for the event) or agree to have a certain number of drawings, dance a certain number of hours, etc. and ask for payment up-front. Include a speaker or show a Bhopal-related movie during a draw-a-thon. Set up a “thermometer” poster that is updated frequently to indicate how close the group is to reaching its goals.

Benefit Meals. These can range in scope and price. A more elaborate benefit meal might be an Indian dinner, featuring food, music, and speakers from India. A more simple variation of this theme would be to hold a pancake breakfast or spaghetti dinner followed by a movie or speaker.

Concerts. Concerts can be fun, but need to be planned carefully because they can easily lose money. There are many ways to hold events with music, and the music you use can vary widely. Check to verify the musical tastes of your target audience before you arrange the music. Make the location fun. Consider holding the concert outdoors in a park during the summer or at popular venue, such as a bookstore, bar, or restaurant.

Find out more

Performances. Consider putting on performances either using group members or members of a local drama club or theatre as performers. Charge admission for the show and then sell refreshments and Bhopal merchandise. Also, be sure to have a table with information on Bhopal and your group at the show.

Levitate for Bhopal

Bowling for Bhopal. Get friends, professors, and family to sponsor your group in a bowlathon.

Walk or Run. Organize a Walk, Jog, Scoot, Bicycle or Levitate for Justice in Bhopal.

Sell Merchandise. Although the Bhopal campaign does have some merchandise available which you can sell to raise money, you may decide to make and sell your own items, such as recycled notebooks, buttons, candles, artistic creations or holiday gifts. For groups just starting out, it’s prudent to sell small-ticket items that don’t require a heavy overhead. Advice: for such small items, request donations and then give items away. For example, you might be able to sell buttons for 50 cents, but if you request a donation for that same pin, many people are likely to put a dollar or some larger amount into your collection jar.

No matter what you may choose to do, look at each fundraising expense and think about ways you can get those needs met for free or at a discount. Examples of in kind donations include food from a restaurant, printing from a printer, bowling from a bowler, and penguins from a penguiner. Always remember to thank donors (with a letter) and with free publicity if they don’t want to remain anonymous (e.g. an ad in your program or a letter to the editor after an event).

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One Hundred More Fundraising Ideas

One hundred at very least: raffles, bazaars, egg and spoon races, karaoke evenings, bring and buy sales, auctions of promises, sweepstakes, spelling competitions, dog and cat shows, pony rides, hoopla, cake stall, sell home made jams, ditto fruit wines, second hand book sale, run a marathon or a minithon, car boot sale, sponsored walk, scalextric racing, garage sale, tug-of-war, worst tie fine, swearing jar, donate a service, collecting tin in pub, celebrity auctions (ask them to donate a personal item or give an autograph), put on a play, singing contest, musical evening, archery contest, make Christmas cards, organize a Bhopal Day, publish your own poetry mag, have an art exhibition, vintage car rides, sponsored swim, face painting, fashion show, summer barbecue, trivia quiz, wishing well, chess tournament, stage a football match, meet-a-celebrity dinner (if you can persuade a celebrity, and if you happen to be a celebrity you could have a quick whip round among your mates), have an open day in your garden, plant sale, home-made lemonade stall, guess the weight of the cake (or vegetable marrow), animal bingo (mark out a field in numbered squares, sell correspondingly numbered tickets, let loose a cow, if she dungs in your square you win), barn dance, make and sell paper flowers, hire a band and organize a local gig, write and publish your own cook book, design a calendar, organize teams to wash cars, mow lawns, trim hedges, walk dogs and offer sundry other useful services, stage a talent show, hold a gurning championship (can't resist sticking in a pic for this one), have a sponsored haircut, shave off that beard for Bhopal, heck shave off your eyebrows, give a foot massage, polish shoes, pub crawl, fancy dress disco, manicure, lunchtime concert in the park, school play or concert, walk round Wales with a fridge (someone is actually doing this!). Here are a couple of websites with ideas: http://community.gospelcom.net/Brix?pageID=5276 ("Kidnap the senior pastor" and "Kiss the cow"!) and www.home.gil.com.au/~dnash/html/frameSet.htm, an Aussie site with some offbeat thoughts.

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Resources

..........• Try this wrap-around for your donation cans!
..........Request an educational resource
..........Handouts and fact sheets about Bhopal
..........Draft Media Advisory/Press Release
..........Bhopal Posters & Graphics
..........Draft advertising poster
..........• Draft Bhopal Quartersheets: One & Two
..........Survivor testimonials

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The international student campaign to hold Dow accountable for Bhopal, and its other toxic legacies around the world.
For more information about the campaign, or for problems regarding this website, contact
Shana Ortman, the US Coordinator for the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal.
Last updated: April 30, 2008

WE ALL LIVE IN BHOPAL

"The year 2003 was a special year in the history of the campaign for justice in Bhopal. It was the year when student and youth supporters from at least 30 campuses in the US and India took action against Dow Chemical or in support of the demands of the Bhopal survivors. As we enter the 20th year of the unfolding Bhopal disaster, we can, with your support, convey to Dow Chemical that the fight for justice in Bhopal is getting stronger and will continue till justice is done. We look forward to your continued support and good wishes, and hope that our joint struggle will pave the way for a just world free of the abuse of corporate power."

Signed/ Rasheeda Bi, Champa Devi Shukla
Bhopal Gas Affected Women Stationery Employees Union
International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal