6 Ways to Fundraise (Other than Running a Marathon)

The Boston Marathon, sidelined as it was by the explosion, and the London Marathon have just taken place, and there are many Race for Life and other charity run events. In fact, it seems that a lot of people run races to raise money for charity, to the extent that almost all fundraising on TV except for Comic Relief is by running.

Of course, not everybody is capable of running a race, even if the thing incapacitating them is the fact that they hate running. There are at least six other ways to fundraise for your chosen charity or cause…

1 Make things, sell things

A classic bake sale is good for people who are good at baking, and other make-and-sell options exist for other people. For one, why does it have to be cakes at a bake sale? In fact, any kinds of food can be made and sold in exactly the same way as a bake sale, or as a meal event.

Clothes are another obvious thing to make, and knitting, crochet and sewing are well known make-your-own-clothes techniques. Fabric paints or pens, and other printing techniques make it astonishingly easy, and can be made in designs relating to the charity or cause. On top of that, badge, sticker and magnets makers exist, and can similarly be used well by people new to design and craft.

Cards, artwork and jewellery are all things people would be happy to buy, can be related to the charity or cause, and have plenty of guides and tools to help with their design and creation. In fact, the possibilities are endless; if you make it and sell it, it’s something you can make and sell.

2 Shave or grow some hair

A classic fundraiser for cancer is shaving your head, as it reflects that people getting chemotherapy often lose their hair. Of course, shaving your head is quite a commitment, and cutting long hair short can also be a great fundraising action. A drastic haircut can also be related to many causes, and hair can be donated to wig making charities.

Humans don’t only grow hair on the heads; men, who don’t tend to, can shave body hair to raise money. Similar to this, someone with impressive or signature facial hair might shave it off in the same way. These could be related to many causes, as well.

From shaving moustaches to growing them; ‘Movember’ is a campaign to raise money for testicular cancer, having grown from the less-exclusionary No Shave November. Growing facial or body hair can be related to many causes, and can be enjoyable, too.

3 Gambling

No, not you, silly! You can’t raise money by gambling the money you do have, that’s an established fact, accepted by all but deluded of gamblers. No, just as the dealer, casino or house always wins, you can run some sort of gambling game. Sticking with a casino feel, if you know the rules to any casino-type games you can be dealer, and often make quite a profit for your chosen charity or cause. Classic games that just need cards, and chips if you’d like, include various versions of poker, 21 or blackjack, and baccarat.

But don’t be put off by the word gambling, even if your charity or cause is connected to a religious group or children. Gambling isn’t always casino-like, and forms of gambling include raffles, bingo and guess-the-weight/name/amount games are seemingly exempt from moral prohibition.

The point of running a game of this sort is that the odds are both worth the risk for players, and guarantee a profit for you. In charity settings, therefore, people are happier to play higher risk games and to lose; their bet is a donation, and the game is for fun.

4 Show off a skill

Ideas like making and selling things involve skills, but there are almost as many types of skill as there are people. If you have a performance skill such as acting or dance, a performance is a great fundraiser. Making a video can include performance, scriptwriting and music skills, as well as filming and editing.

Those are still creative skills, and any skill can be used to raise money. Simple skills like skipping or ‘keepy-uppies’ can be made into sponsored challenges, which children can take part in, or even world record attempts!

A skill isn’t just something you’re good at doing, it’s often something you’re good at being. A classic example of a quality you might have is bravery; a classic brave fundraiser is sky diving! The main thing about showing off a skill is that you pick something that you’re good at, and that makes your action more impressive, and can even make donations feel more like paying to see your skill.

5 Make a fool of yourself

The only thing you need to be able to do for this one is laugh at yourself. People are happy to encourage friends and family to make fools of themselves, and if they see how willing you are to be the joke, they’ll know the charity or cause you’re fundraising for must mean a lot to you.

A nice easy idea is to dress up as something silly; maybe go to work dressed as Spiderman or take pictures of yourself around town in your pyjamas. Sitting in a bath full of beans is quite classic, and anything with an ‘icky’ factor works just as well, if you’re willing. You could even go as far as something you’ve seen on a gameshow like I’m a Celebrity… if you wanted!

Other ways to make a fool of yourself as a fundraiser are simple; just as showing off a skill is doing something that you’re good at, you can choose to ‘show off’ something that you have no skill for. For example, a person with no rhythm or dance skill doing a dance performance would certainly count as making a fool of themself!

6 Throw a party

If you can keep the prices down, and have a way to advertise (such as an organisation, or social media like facebook and twitter) then throwing a party can raise a fair amount through ticket sales and donations. To add to the money you raise, you can include any other fundraising idea as part of it, or as the theme itself.

As well as having a theme, throwing a party doesn’t necessarily mean a typical party; you could have a dinner, or an auction, such as date auctions, or even a fundraiser day, where the main attraction is the fundraising events. What kind of event it is, thinking of it as a party helps with the organisation; it’s easy to forget about decorations or invitations, but they let people know that you’ve put the effort in.

With an event, you have a date and time; people know when you’re throwing the party, and won’t want to know why you haven’t done it yet, or why they’ve missed it. It also means that, unlike some other ideas, you have to choose a date or deadline, which gives you a timeline to prepare in. It can be easy to have good intentions and a good idea, but procrastinate or let life get in the way and never really get it done.

If you’re fundraising for a charity or cause, or just thinking about it, good luck!

Do Not Do This Cool Thing

A lot of anti smoking and campaigns and no to drugs campaigns actually make things worse. Many adverts show people succumbing to peer pressure and smoking or taking drugs in realistic, everyday situations. Coupled with the way that forbidding something often makes people more likely to do it, out of rebellion or just by putting the idea in their heads, these campaigns often end up saying, “Do not do this cool thing.”

One non-drug example is war; it has been said that it’s impossible to make an anti-war film. The hyper-realistic war games and films don’t seem to put people off by showing the horrors of battle, and war-based video games are incredibly popular, whether the enemies are Nazis and zombies, or the player is.

There was a digital piracy prevention advert which backfired spectacularly in this respect. Not only did the pirate imagery bring cool villain pirates from films such as Pirates of the Caribbean to mind, the evil imagery seemed over the top, and statements such as “You wouldn’t steal a car!” successfully compared physical theft to piracy – and caused internet speculation about how cool it would be to illegally download supercars.

Many stories have trouble creating realistic villains, as all but the ugliest villain whose actions invariably lead to failure are the favourite character of somebody. There is not a vampire story since Dracula which didn’t concede that even evil vampires who are trying to kill you are cool and sexy, or give up entirely on portraying them as villains. No matter how many Harry Potter fans have Order of the Phoenix tattoos, a good percentage have Dark Mark tattoos. In fact, many films’ intended villains are taken by many to be the hero of the piece, including the destructive terrorist Tyler Durden of Fight Club, the same-as-the-government-villains V of V for Vendetta and even the mad Scientist Frank n Furter of The Rocky Horror Picture Show (itself making a mockery of science fiction b movies, and loved by many fans of those films, and many who have never even seen them.)

This effect even happens when people avoid showing the thing they are trying to condemn. As long as positive media exists, the message just becomes Do Not Do That Cool Thing. When celebrities who live lives of excess enjoy great success, and surround themselves with expensive things and beautiful people, even an equally famous person who tries to promote cleaner, more virtuous behaviour seems a lot less exciting and fun in comparison.

The only anti-drug speech that I’ve ever thought truly fulfilled its aim was told to my class at school by an ex drug addict; his tales hardly included any effects of the actual drug taking at all.