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Directory of Fun and Unusual Fundraising Ideas

As a former High School Marching Band Geek I've been involved in a lot of fundraisers. In our day, we went door to door selling sausage and some kind of cheese product in a crock, magazine subscriptions, and ads for our football program. The marching band also had a booth at an annual arts and crafts show where we sold conch fritters and pigeon peas with rice (I grew up in South Florida). And every club I belonged to made me eat sell large quantities of candy bars.

Other extracurricular activities had their own signature fundraisers. The cheerleaders sold school spirit items. The dance/drill team did the flashier fundraisers, like cow patty bingo. Years of carwashes and standing in my band uniform outside of the grocery store selling my little heart out has left me fascinated by fundraisers...

Since my first Down Syndrome Buddy Walk in 2005, I've noticed that some fundraisers, like consignment sales, are regional. Others, like silent auctions, are pretty common. I've also noticed that the fundraisers for school extracurricular activities in our area are ridiculously expensive! How many $20 coupon books do you expect me to buy?

So, in an effort to give your non-profit, school, or organization's fundraising a happy little boost, I'm starting a search for fun and unusual fundraisers. When researching this directory I did discover that there are complete websites devoted to fundraising ideas so I am going to add those to the directory in case you really want to get deep into your fundraising research.

As always, leave a comment or email me if you want something added to a list, but SPAM WILL NOT BE PUBLISHED! If you have an personal interest in a fundraising suggestion (like you would get a commission or it's your company) just say so.

Directory of Fun and Unusual Fundraising Ideas

Auntie Anne's Pretzels like the kind you find in the mall. Who knew? I just looked at this quickly, I don't know if they have a gluten free product in their fundraising lineup.

BandAngels child friendly bandaids with biblical quotes about healing! Cute and very different!

Book and movie sales: Our local library has a book sale fundraiser a few times a year. Everything is used, and the majority of books, dvd's, and videos are donated for the sale and items are priced to sell. They have made as much as $2100 in 5 hours! Leftover items are donated to mission trips.

Consignment Sale I never heard of these until I moved to Tennessee. People tag and price their items, you sell them, they get a percentage of the profit and your organization gets a percentage of the profit. Some kind people even donate their items outright so you get 100% of the profit.

Dutch Country Soft Pretzels I will be reviewing their gluten free soft pretzel mix in September.

The Fundraising Network has links to all sorts of crazy fundraising ideas. It's a huge site.

Fundraising with Flowers - there are a lot of companies offering floral fundraisers. I've personally worked with Spring Hill/Breck's and they went out of their way to create a "Welcome to Holland" tulip bulb fundraiser just for our Down Syndrome Association. But their order forms did not include shipping fees so we lost a little money before we realized what was happening. Other than that, it was a good fundraising experience.

Gold purchasing: I just saw this for the first time the other day. Instead of taking your scrap gold to a shop, you donate it to a charity. The fundraiser I saw was part of another event, and they were advertising that a certified gold buyer would be present. Interesting, huh?

How to Be an Everyday Philanthropist: 330 Ways to Make a Difference in Your Home, Community, and World - At No Cost (Nicole Bouchard Boles, Workman Publishing) is a great source of inspirational giving ideas for the cash-poor.  Many of the ideas would make an unusual fundraiser that doesn't tap directly into the pockets of tapped out supporters.  (read my review here).

Independent Consultants: This would be an individual who sells something like Pampered Chef or Avon. As Independent Consultants, many can choose to give up part or all of their profits to create a fundraiser for your organization or cause. My cousin, Romi, is a Consultant for CookieLee Fashion Jewelry and enjoys the fundraising aspect of her business. These types of fundraisers can sometimes be done completely online, so your sales are not limited to your area.

iSafe Bags: iSafe Bags are backpacks, laptop bags, and messenger bags with built in personal security alarm systems. When your charity or organization refers someone to the iSafe Bags website, Inventive Concepts International and the iSafe Foundation will donate 20% of their purchase price back to your group! Inventive Concepts International will also donate $1.00 from each backpack or bag purchased through your charity or organization to a charity or foundation whose mission is to help families.

My Pillow Pets are adorable folding stuffed animals that can double as a pillow. They give your school or organization the choice of taking orders for your fundraiser or consigning the toys.

Oliver's Labels Fundraising Oliver's Labels has sponsored giveaways here on able2able in the past. They sell wash-proof labels for clothing, sippy cups, lunchboxes, shoes, etc. Oliver's Labels offers the Found-It Tracking System - the labels have a unique code that can be used to match the found item to you without having to put all your personal info on it.

Plastic Jungle Have you ever heard of a gift card fundraiser? Plastic Jungle is a site that lets people exchange or sell unwanted gift cards and they offer three ways for your group to use old gift cards to raise funds. 1. Supporters donate giftcards and your group mails them to Plastic Jungle. 2. People exchanging or selling giftcards on Plastic Jungle can opt to donate all or part of their proceeds to your group. 3. Donors have the option of donating gift cards through your group's website.

Poppin' Joe's Kettle Korn This is my new favorite fundraiser! Joe Steffy, the owner of this business, is a young man with Down Syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Epilepsy. Since my Clara-Bear has a dual diagnosis of DS and ASD, and, like Joe, is using AAC to bridge her communication deficits, I am so proud and excited to hear of individuals like Joe! Here is a link to Joe's inspirational story.

SweatShirt sells custom 54" x 84" blankets made from a wrinkle-free, pill-free, fade-free, sweatshirt material. You can also nominate charitable organizations to win a custom Sweatshirt blanket prize package through Spread Your Warmth! at the Sweatshirt Blanket Blog.

Sunny D Book Spree is more like a contest than a school fundraiser, but it still seemed worth including. The top 10 schools who send in the most Sunny D labels will win books for their school. When I checked, the leading school had only sent in 80 labels. Come on guys, you can do better than that!

TerraCycle is a green, eco-friendly fundraiser. You raise money for your school by sending them specific items like used Capri Sun pouches or used Ziploc brand sandwich bags. They recycle those items and sell them. There are links to their international partners on the home page.

Tickler Tags are interchangeable backpack tags that can be used to communicate after school plans, like activities and transportation to your school aged child. Click here for my review of Tickler Tags with some suggestions on how they can be used to help Special Needs children.

Yard Sale, Tag Sale, Garage Sale - whatever you call it, these can make your organization some quick $$$. My neighbor and a friend of hers just held a fundraising yard sale for a charity they supported and raised $500 in two days. They asked friends and families to donate items and advertised on Craig's List. Some local newspapers do not charge for yard sale ads. Make sure your ads and your signs state that this is a fundraising sale.

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  1. If you are looking for new School Fundraising Ideas consider Easy Fundraising Ideas. They have a very wide assortment of fundraisers that have been used successfully throughout the United States.

  2. Horse Racing Nights entertainment can help you with fundraising ideas and to raise money for your club, association or charity by holding a race night.
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