17 Cheap Fundraising Ideas With Big Returns

Sometimes the best fundraising events are those that require little more than ingenuity and enthusiasm. We've curated a collection of low cost fundraisers that prove you don't need deep pockets to make a meaningful impact. From creative community initiatives to simple yet effective events that involve little more than bringing people in your community together, we've categorized and rated each idea to help you find the perfect fit for your organization, ensuring that every dollar raised goes directly toward your cause.

Fundraiser Categories

  • Cheap Fundraising Ideas for Schools: Events involving students, learning, and classrooms.
  • Cheap Fundraising Ideas for Churches: Events involving a broader audience and suitable for all ages.
  • Cheap Fundraising Ideas for Charities: Events involving an audience that may not know one another and may be spread out geographically, but are connected by a common cause.
  • Cheap Fundraising Ideas for Sports Teams: Events hosted by a sports team for their fans and local community.

Factors Considered for Ranking

  • Fundraising Potential: How much money can the fundraiser generate, net of event costs?
  • Time Requirement: How many volunteer hours are necessary for planning, organizing, and executing the fundraiser?
  • Community Value: Does the fundraiser help to foster and enrich your community and brand?
  • Overall Enjoyment: Do participants look forward to the event and are excited to take part?

Fundraisers Analyzed

(Note: The estimates provided for revenue, costs, and volunteer hours are approximate and can vary depending on the school or organization. These figures are based on the author's experiences and discussions with other organizations.)

Math-A-Thon

Cheap Fundraising Ideas for Schools

6.0
Overall Score
Fundraising Potential
7
Time Requirement
6
Community Value
5
Overall Enjoyment
6

A Math-A-Thon is a cheap and educational fundraising idea where students solve math problems or puzzles to raise money for their school. Participants solicit donations from friends and family, extending the fundraising efforts beyond the school community, which not only enhances financial support but also fosters a sense of community engagement. Schools can host Math-A-Thons at no upfront cost by utilizing ForOurSchool.org, which offers online math games aligned with the math curriculum taught by most schools, making it accessible and engaging for students.

Duration: 2 weeks
Suggested Dates: Spring
Est. Revenue: $20,000
Est. Cost: $250
Volunteer Hours: 5
Platform: ForOurSchool.org

Book Exchange

Cheap Fundraising Ideas for Schools

4.5
Overall Score
Fundraising Potential
4
Time Requirement
5
Community Value
5
Overall Enjoyment
4

A Book Exchange is a cheap and easy fundraising idea where students and faculty donate gently used books. The event is open to anyone in the community to then purchase these books at a nominal cost. This event encourages reading, promotes recycling of books, and fosters a sense of community that extends beyond the school community.

Duration: 2 days
Suggested Dates: Spring
Est. Revenue: $3,000
Est. Cost: $0
Volunteer Hours: 8

Car Wash

Cheap Fundraising Ideas for Schools

6.0
Overall Score
Fundraising Potential
4
Time Requirement
9
Community Value
4
Overall Enjoyment
7

A Car Wash is a cheap and fun fundraising idea where students, parents, and volunteers wash cars for a fee. It's a fantastic way to raise funds for your school while also fostering teamwork and community spirit.

Duration: 4 hours
Suggested Dates: Spring
Est. Revenue: $2,000
Est. Cost: $100
Volunteer Hours: 4

Art Auction

Cheap Fundraising Ideas for Schools

5.0
Overall Score
Fundraising Potential
5
Time Requirement
5
Community Value
5
Overall Enjoyment
5

An Art Auction is a creative fundraising idea where students, teachers, and local artists donate artwork to be auctioned off to the highest bidder. This event not only raises funds but also celebrates creativity and showcases the talents within the school community. This auction can be live and coordinated with a gala event, or silent and managed online.

Duration: 2 weeks
Suggested Dates: Winter
Est. Revenue: $3,000
Est. Cost: $1,000
Volunteer Hours: 10

Hosted Dinners

Cheap Fundraising Ideas for Churches

7.0
Overall Score
Fundraising Potential
6
Time Requirement
6
Community Value
8
Overall Enjoyment
8

A Hosted Dinner fundraiser is a unique and fun fundraising idea where congregants open their homes to host dinners or gatherings for groups of fellow members. This initiative fosters community bonds in an intimate setting while raising funds to support church programs and outreach efforts. By sharing meals and fellowship, participants not only contribute to the financial well-being of the church but also strengthen their connections with one another.

Duration: 4 hours
Suggested Dates: Fall
Est. Revenue: $4,000
Est. Cost: $400
Volunteer Hours: 6

Community Yard Sale

Cheap Fundraising Ideas for Churches

5.3
Overall Score
Fundraising Potential
3
Time Requirement
7
Community Value
6
Overall Enjoyment
5

A Community Yard Sale is a fun fundraising idea where individuals from the local community come together to sell their gently used items. The church would host the event and retain a portion of the sales. This event provides an opportunity for neighbors to declutter their homes while supporting a good cause. With the lively atmosphere and variety of goods available, the Community Yard Sale becomes not only a fundraising event but also a social gathering that strengthens community ties.

Duration: 4 hours
Suggested Dates: Spring
Est. Revenue: $1,500
Est. Cost: $50
Volunteer Hours: 8

Verse-A-Thon

Cheap Fundraising Ideas for Churches

5.8
Overall Score
Fundraising Potential
5
Time Requirement
6
Community Value
6
Overall Enjoyment
6

A Verse-A-Thon, or Scripture-A-Thon, is a spiritual fundraising idea where participants read as many Bible verses or chapters as they can within a designated time frame. Participants seek sponsors to donate a certain amount for each verse or chapter read, with the funds raised going toward church initiatives. By coming together to honor their faith through the reading of sacred texts, participants not only contribute to the fundraising efforts but also experience a sense of unity and reverence within the community.

Duration: 2 weeks
Suggested Dates: Winter
Est. Revenue: $4,000
Est. Cost: $400
Volunteer Hours: 8

Holiday Gift-Wrapping Service

Cheap Fundraising Ideas for Churches

4.5
Overall Score
Fundraising Potential
3
Time Requirement
7
Community Value
4
Overall Enjoyment
4

A Holiday Gift-Wrapping Service is a fun fundraising idea where volunteers from a church or community group offer to wrap gifts for a fee during the holiday season or special occasions. This service not only saves time for busy shoppers but also provides an opportunity for personalized and professional-looking gift wrapping. With festive decorations and cheerful volunteers, the gift-wrapping service adds a touch of joy to the gift-giving experience while raising funds for worthy causes.

Duration: 4 hours
Suggested Dates: Winter
Est. Revenue: $1,500
Est. Cost: $300
Volunteer Hours: 6

Faith-Based Workshop

Cheap Fundraising Ideas for Churches

5.3
Overall Score
Fundraising Potential
6
Time Requirement
3
Community Value
7
Overall Enjoyment
5

A Faith-Based Workshop is an educational fundraising idea where members of a church or religious organization host workshops or seminars centered around topics relevant to faith and spirituality. These workshops could cover subjects such as prayer, meditation, religious history, or ethical teachings. Participants pay a registration fee to attend, with proceeds going towards funding church programs or charitable initiatives. By offering opportunities for spiritual growth and learning, while also raising funds, Faith-Based Workshops serve as an enriching educational experience for the community.

Duration: 6 hour
Suggested Dates: Fall
Est. Revenue: $4,000
Est. Cost: $750
Volunteer Hours: 15

50/50 Raffle

Cheap Fundraising Ideas for Charities

4.0
Overall Score
Fundraising Potential
4
Time Requirement
10
Community Value
1
Overall Enjoyment
1

A 50/50 Raffle is an easy and profitable fundraising idea where participants purchase raffle tickets for a chance to win half of the total proceeds collected, with the other half going towards supporting the church. This straightforward fundraising method requires minimal setup and can yield significant profits, as it appeals to a wide range of participants who are eager to support the cause while also having a chance to win a cash prize.

Duration: 4 hours
Suggested Dates: Fall
Est. Revenue: $2,000
Est. Cost: $0
Volunteer Hours: 4

Virtual 5K Race

Cheap Fundraising Ideas for Charities

4.5
Overall Score
Fundraising Potential
2
Time Requirement
10
Community Value
2
Overall Enjoyment
4

A Virtual 5K Race is a cheap and easy fundraising idea that allows participants nationwide to run, walk, or jog at their own pace and location while supporting a charitable cause. Participants sign up and pay a registration fee to receive a downloadable race bib and finisher certificate. By engaging people of all fitness levels and geographic locations, this virtual event offers a convenient way to raise funds and promote community involvement in a fun and active way.

Duration: 2 hours
Suggested Dates: Fall
Est. Revenue: $1,000
Est. Cost: $20
Volunteer Hours: 4

Virtual Concert

Cheap Fundraising Ideas for Charities

6.0
Overall Score
Fundraising Potential
4
Time Requirement
8
Community Value
5
Overall Enjoyment
7

A virtual concert is a great online fundraising idea that brings together performers and audiences from all over the country for a memorable musical experience while supporting a charitable cause. Through live-streamed performances or pre-recorded videos, participants can enjoy the talents of musicians, bands, or performers while making donations to the charity. With minimal logistical requirements and the ability to reach a wide audience online, a virtual concert offers an effective and engaging way to raise funds and promote the mission of the charity.

Duration: 2 hours
Suggested Dates: Winter
Est. Revenue: $2,000
Est. Cost: $0
Volunteer Hours: 6

Fan Gear Swap

Cheap Fundraising Ideas for Sports Teams

4.8
Overall Score
Fundraising Potential
3
Time Requirement
7
Community Value
5
Overall Enjoyment
4

A Fan Gear Swap is an easy fundraising idea where young fans can exchange or purchase clothing or gear related to the team's sport. Participants bring gently used items such as jerseys, hats, or equipment to swap with others. The team can charge an entry fee as well as sell items related to their team. This event not only raises funds for the team but also encourages community engagement and teamwork among young athletes and fans.

Duration: 3 hour
Suggested Dates: Fall
Est. Revenue: $1,500
Est. Cost: $200
Volunteer Hours: 8

Fitness Challenge

Cheap Fundraising Ideas for Sports Teams

5.0
Overall Score
Fundraising Potential
5
Time Requirement
6
Community Value
3
Overall Enjoyment
6

A Fitness Challenge is a fun fundraising ideawhere team members and supporters pledge to complete a certain number of workouts or physical activities. Participants collect pledges or donations for each milestone reached, with the funds raised supporting the team's training and development. This event promotes health and wellness while also supporting the team.

Duration: 2 weeks
Suggested Dates: Fall
Est. Revenue: $4,000
Est. Cost: $400
Volunteer Hours: 8

Sell-A-Square

Cheap Fundraising Ideas for Sports Teams

4.5
Overall Score
Fundraising Potential
2
Time Requirement
10
Community Value
2
Overall Enjoyment
4

A Sell-A-Square event can be an easy and virtual fundraising idea where participants purchase squares in a digital grid for a chance to win prizes. Once all squares are sold, a random number generator selects the winning squares, and prizes are awarded accordingly. Sell-A-Square events can be tied to a big game the team is playing in or to a nationwide sporting event, such the Superbowl, with each number representing the ones digit of the score for each team.

Duration: 1 week
Suggested Dates: Winter
Est. Revenue: $1,000
Est. Cost: $500
Volunteer Hours: 3

Sports Tournament

Cheap Fundraising Ideas for Sports Teams

5.5
Overall Score
Fundraising Potential
4
Time Requirement
5
Community Value
6
Overall Enjoyment
7

Hosting a Sports Tournament, such as a basketball, soccer, or volleyball tournament, is a great fundraising idea that brings together athletes and sports enthusiasts for friendly competition while raising funds for the team. The team can charge registration fees to participate and spectators can also contribute by purchasing tickets or concessions. This event not only promotes physical activity and teamwork but also generates excitement and community spirit.

Duration: 6 hour
Suggested Dates: Fall
Est. Revenue: $2,000
Est. Cost: $200
Volunteer Hours: 12

Sports Clinic

Cheap Fundraising Ideas for Sports Teams

6.3
Overall Score
Fundraising Potential
4
Time Requirement
9
Community Value
6
Overall Enjoyment
6

A Sports Clinic is a low-cost fundraising idea where participants pay a registration fee to receive coaching and training from skilled athletes or coaches. This fundraiser not only raises funds but also provides valuable learning opportunities for participants while promoting fitness and skill development within the community.

Duration: 3 hour
Suggested Dates: Fall
Est. Revenue: $2,000
Est. Cost: $0
Volunteer Hours: 6
© 2024, made with ❤️ by A PS107 Parent