Is it possible to hold a fundraiser without fees? And if so, do these no-cost fundraisers actually raise any money? The answer is yes — and we’re going to share some of our favorites. But before you jump into one of these fundraisers, there are a couple of things you should keep in mind.
First, any successful fundraiser will take some amount of real effort and passion. Even if you don’t pay any money, you should still be prepared to invest your time and energy.
Second, as with any fundraiser, it’s vital that you pick something that will excite and engage your unique community. Free is one factor — but it’s not the most important one.
With those thoughts in mind, here are 10 fundraisers with no fees and a record for success!
1. Silent Auction
A silent auction takes more work, but it can make a big impact on your bottom line. That’s because you’re collecting items for free and then auctioning them off for 100 percent of the profit.
How to do it: This fundraiser works best if you’re a networker. Ask local business owners to donate products or services to be auctioned. If you’re fundraising for an organization, ask a key donor if they would provide a larger item that will grab attention. The key is explaining your cause and how it will benefit from this auction.
Once you have the items, you can either set up the auction as an event or put it online. If you’re going online, you can use free programs like GalaBid or Bidding Owl. If you’re hosting an in-person event, you might consider adding some refreshments or free entertainment to make the evening extra special.
- If all your items are donated, you can earn a pure profit through this fundraiser.
- It’s a chance for local businesses to give back to the community.
- It can feel like you’re fundraising twice — once when you procure the items and once when you hold the actual auction.
- If you hold the auction in person, you’ll likely want some kind of refreshments or entertainment, which could cut into your profits.
2. Knickerbockers Portrait Fundraiser
A Knickerbockers portrait fundraiser costs nothing, provides beautiful portraits for participants and gives you 100 percent of the certificate sales.
How to do it: You connect with Knickerbockers and set a location and dates for a portrait weekend (church fellowship halls work great as a location). You then sell portrait certificates that entitle buyers to a portrait session and a basic package of prints. You keep all the money you collect. Then, you call buyers and schedule their appointments for the portrait weekend.
Knickerbockers photographers show up at the location of your choice, fully equipped with theme-specific gear and props. Two weeks later, they return with finished portraits for your participants to take home that day. Participants can also buy as many additional prints as they please.
- When you connect with Knickerbockers, they make it easy to set up your free fundraiser. They provide free, full-color program materials and walk with you through the entire process.
- You get to sell a product that buyers will truly cherish. Some families have multiple generations of Knickerbockers portraits on their walls!
- You can earn cash bonuses for meeting fundraising goals and booking on certain days. And that’s on top of keeping 100% of certificate sales.
- It’s risk-free because you pay nothing for materials. Knickerbockers sends a full studio to your location, with a talented photographer and uniquely-themed backgrounds and props.
- Setting up the portrait weekend takes a certain level of coordination. Your Knickerbockers consultant can give you tips on how to do this best.
3. Prom Dress Sale
This no-cost fundraiser helps your cause and helps underprivileged girls in your community. Plus, it’s a great way to clear out people’s closets.
How to do it: The trickiest part of this fundraiser is the advanced planning and storage required. After prom season, start spreading the word that you are collecting dresses for a fundraiser. If you can, post fliers at local high schools, put an announcement in your church bulletin and share about it on social media. Tell people when and where they can donate.
As the next prom season draws near, start putting out the word about your upcoming prom dress sale. Ask local stores to donate racks, and talk with your church or community center about letting you use a fellowship space. Make sure to get some high schoolers involved in this so you can know when most girls will be shopping for dresses and set the best dates for your sale.
- The dress sale itself is a service to your local community by providing affordable dresses to girls in need.
- Reusing dresses reduces waste in your community.
- It requires quite a bit of storage over the course of a year.
- Dress styles change quickly, so be mindful that no donations are too old.
4. Crowdfunding Campaign
Crowdfunding campaigns cost nothing to set up, which has made them very popular. To stand out, you need a compelling story and a large network.
How to do it: The most successful crowdfunding campaigns have a human story at the center. After you pick a crowdfunding platform (such as GoFundMe or Fundly), you’ll need to write an appeal that touches people’s hearts. If you’re raising funds for an individual, share their story and how this money will help them. If you’re raising funds for an organization, tell some of the stories of individuals touched by your group. Share how this fundraiser will impact them and people like them. Photos can also be a big help.
Once you’ve created your campaign, send it to everyone you know. Ask them to send it to everyone they know. If you’re a community organization, talk with your local newspaper to see if they’ll write a story and share the link to your campaign.
- Crowdfunding sites make their money through service fees, so you pay nothing.
- You can set up a crowdfunding campaign in a day.
- The average success rate of a crowdfunding campaign is just 22.4 percent. Most people who set up a campaign will not reach their goal.
- It can be hard to stand out among the millions of crowdfunding campaigns to be found online. Your story must be compelling in nature and told in a highly engaging way.
- Donors are asked or required to pay service fees to the site. This can cut into the amount of money people give.
5. Art Class
Add some artistic flair to your next fundraiser. You’ll provide a unique experience and have the chance to build friendly relationships with people in your community.
How to do it: Ask an artist in your group or in your community to teach a class on how to create a specific piece of art. The piece can be seasonal, themed to fit your cause or just a lovely piece you think people will enjoy creating. Talk with the teacher to see what supplies students will need. Then, go to your local crafting store to see how much those supplies will cost for each student. Set your class price so that it covers your supply costs and gives you profit for your cause.
The key to making this a fundraiser without fees is that you don’t buy your supplies until you close registration and have received people’s payments. That way, you don’t run the risk of buying too much. On the day of the class, make sure you reserve some time to tell people about the cause and how their donations will help. This is a great time to ask for additional donations.
- You get to create a unique, memorable experience for your donors.
- Participants get a fun keepsake from the event.
- You need to know someone who can teach the class and is willing to do so for free.
- Although participants pay for their supplies, going to the store and building the art kits can be a lot of legwork.
If you’re ready to start a fundraiser without fees or risks, give Knickerbockers a call at 1-800-332-1066. We’d love to hear about your cause and help you meet your goals!