Did you know that the Girl Scouts of America sell some 200 million boxes of cookies during each selling season? That’s a lot of Thin Mints! While the Girl Scouts pretty much have a lock on sweet treats, there are still plenty of great fundraising ideas

If you have been tasked with spearheading the fundraising efforts for your school, church, club, or organization, read on for three of the most popular ways to put some money in your coffers!

Serve Up a Delicious Dinner
After a long week at work, running errands, and shuttling the kids to and fro, there aren’t many people who would pass up the opportunity to grab a delicious dinner and support a great cause at the same time. Even the most avid home chefs need a night off once in a while! That’s what makes nutritious meals such a great fundraising option.

There are essentially two ways to raise money by serving dinner. If you have the necessary facilities — an industrial kitchen and a dining room or other large space where you can set up tables and chairs — then a sit-down dinner is possible. 

Some of the classic choices for a fundraising meal include an all-you-can-eat spaghetti dinner, a ham dinner with all the fixings, or a chicken BBQ. Recruit volunteers from your organization to donate homemade pies or cakes for dessert, as well as to cook, serve, and clean up at the event. You will also need someone who has a membership to a bulk-buying club, like BJ’s or Costco, to do the shopping. If your organization is a nonprofit, contact local grocery stores to see if they offer a discount for such events.

Offering meals on a takeout basis is your other option. It’s more convenient – for both you and your supporters! You can even partner with local restaurants to provide the same delicious food they serve, and for a reasonable price. That way, you won’t even need to cook or clean a dining space. Just hand over the takeout meals and receive money in return! 

It is a good idea to encourage pre-sales for a takeout meal event, perhaps by charging a little less per meal, but be sure to have plenty of food on hand for impulse eaters, too. You’re bound to get some last-minute orders or even walk-in traffic, particularly if the delectable scent of your meals wafts into the neighborhood.

Cozy Up To an Apparel Fundraiser
There’s a reason that organizations turn to apparel, time and again, when they need to raise funds. Whether you choose t-shirts, polo shirts, long-sleeve Ts, hoodies, or fleece pullovers, apparel is always a popular choice. Your members, supporters, and even people in the community will want to show their pride by purchasing and wearing a shirt emblazoned with your organization’s name, slogan, and logo.

To save money and maximize your profits, buy a large quantity of Gildan hoodies and do the screenprinting yourself. You can even hold a t-shirt design contest, and use the winning design(s) on your shirts and sweats. 

If you are selling the items in conjunction with an event, such as a 5K, a concert or play, or a reunion, offer a new design each year. That will increase the appeal of your apparel, since participants will want to collect every design. Of course, evergreen designs that consist only of your organization’s name and logo will sell well, too.

Either way, make sure to choose high-quality garments and provide a wide range of sizes, as well as several different colors to choose from.

Help Them Deck the Halls
During the holiday season, many people get into the spirit of generosity, making Christmas ornaments, décor, gift wrap, and accessories a super way for your club or church to make some bank. 

Themed Christmas ornaments are always a good choice. Let’s say that your organization is a local choir; why not offer ornaments shaped like music notes, sheet music, or singing angels? Or you can appeal to a broader audience by offering scented candles (think pine, eggnog, spiced gingerbread, or peppermint scent), wrapping paper, or even fresh pine wreaths or mistletoe sprigs bound with beautiful ribbon and ready to hang.

Just as with the food fundraiser, you will need some volunteers to help assemble your wreaths or mistletoe, if you opt for the DIY route. One essential element if you want to sell ornaments, décor, or gift wrap? An online ordering system that’s easy and secure. 

Final Thoughts
Another important tip to remember when coordinating a fundraiser is to plan ahead. If you are selling apparel or holiday décor, it may take several weeks for your order to be fulfilled and shipped from a wholesaler, plus another week or so to distribute items to all of your customers. 

While it’s always smart to choose goods or services that have proved to be successful – for your organization or for others – in the past, you should also know that for the most part, community members will be happy to support your cause and participate in your fundraiser. If they receive a delicious meal, a beautiful Christmas tree ornament, or a sofy, snuggly hoodie into the bargain, so much the better!

What fundraisers have you supported in the past? What’s the most unusual fundraising sale you’ve ever heard about? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!