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Your baseball team needs new uniforms. The local youth group wants to go on a canoeing trip. And the local gymnastics club is trying to raise enough money to go to the national championships.

How do all of these clubs and teams find enough money?

Often, volunteers organize sales, activities and events to raise money. This is called fund-raising.

The types of fundraising events that can be thrown are only limited by one's imagination. Many fundraisers choose to run car washes, sell hot dogs and ice cream, or host bake sales. Others have garage sales, sell Christmas trees or organize charity events such as softball games and dances.

Fund-raising can be done for teams, associations and clubs, or for charities. Volunteers raise money for the homeless, animal shelters, people with diseases and for many other causes.

Fund-raising can be something you do on your own or with a group. Schools also fund-raise for worthwhile causes.

As a volunteer fund-raiser, you may work a few hours at a garage sale, raising money for a good cause. You may help organize a party or weekend retreat. Or you may be part of a much larger event, like a walkathon or marathon, registering participants, handing out water or directing traffic.

The reward for fund-raising comes after the money has been collected. It can be thrilling to see a needy child with a new toy, or watch a team compete in a championship thanks to the dollars you helped raise.

For volunteer fund-raiser Evette Winn in Georgia, seeing other people benefit from her work is very rewarding. "It makes you feel good to know you're helping to make a difference in another family's life," she says. "Since I've started focusing on this, I've grown in other areas and feel like such a better person."

A seven-year-old boy has a brain tumor. His condition requires weekly visits to a hospital nearly 100 miles from his hometown. His family can't afford to pay his medical bills. What will they do without the finances to help their child?

Volunteers like Winn can make all the difference. She is a friend of the family and is helping to raise money for the family. She says she just had to help. "When I learned that their son had a brain tumor, my heart went out to them," she says.

Initially, the family's church had organized a singing benefit, but it brought in only $600. This was before Winn rolled up her sleeves to help out.

"I felt like it could have been my child or my nephew," she says.

With some help, Winn organized a carnival that raised $2,500 in pledges.

"This is a family with four children," she says. "The parents are hard-working. The mother pulls 40 hours a week and the father 40 to 50 hours a week. The medical bills and weekly gas is taking a toll on the family."

Winn wants to ease some of their suffering, even though it means hard work for her, too. "It's hard work trying to organize something like this, and it's time-consuming," she says. But she says she is motivated. "They need me."

Jerome Bouvier is a top wheelchair tennis player. He has traveled around the world playing the sport, but he was sometimes disappointed by the tournaments held at home.

Now, he volunteers his time to make home tournaments more competitive. "I decided I was going to take on this tournament and combine work and a fun time to make it better," he says.

Bouvier is a substance abuse counselor. He is well known to many kids. He decided to enlist some of them to help fund-raise for the wheelchair tennis tournament. "A core group of kids was excited to take on the job of site set-up, transportation and fund-raising for gifts, prizes and giveaways."

He says their work has improved the tennis tournament. It has also helped the volunteers themselves. "It's amazing to watch young people express themselves when they're given the freedom and opportunity to help out," he says. "And it's also a lot of fun."

Beverley Hiscock volunteers at a rebound center for children and young adults. She also knows the value of volunteering. Currently, she's making pinatas and tie-dye T-shirts for the children to take home, but she's also involved in fund-raising events.

To raise money, the center holds an annual race, where sponsors purchase rubber ducks, and then float them down the river. The owner of the duck that crosses the finish line first wins. Whatever it takes, Hiscock is happy to help the children.

"I'm getting a lot out of this," she says. "I love working with the kids. It's a great thing to be able to do something for them." She has only one regret about the work. "There just aren't enough hours in a day. I'd love to be able to do more."

Part of volunteering is about how it makes you feel, according to Winn. "I must say, out of my accomplishments in life, this has made me feel better than anything I've ever done," she says.

How to Get Involved

Interested in raising a bit of cash for a good cause? There are a few ways to get started. First, assess the needs of your club, association or charity. Calculate the number of volunteers you'll need.

Do you have any special talents or resources that might come in handy? Are there others in your group who do? It may be that someone in your club has extra firewood that can be cut and sold for funds. Or perhaps you have a baker in the group who is willing to make a few trays of cookies for the cause.

Figure out how long it will take to raise the funds. Talk to adults about a location for your fund-raising event, or ask for tips and suggestions. Talk to your teacher and ask if the school might be interested in your fund-raising ideas.

Bouvier also suggests contacting community groups for donations. "Many have budgets set aside for things like this, and when they're youth-oriented they're glad to pitch in," he says.

Physical requirements will vary, depending on the fund-raising activity planned. Obviously, if part of your fund-raising scheme is to teach people to rock climb, then you will need to be in great physical shape. But if you're planning to sell books, the physical demands will be less. In short, with so many fund-raising ideas and options, there is sure to be something for everyone.


Association of Fundraising Professionals

Find lots of great tips and ideas on raising funds

A to Z Fundraising Ideas
Read a list of great fundraising ideas
Search for volunteer opportunities near you

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OCAP believes that financial literacy and understanding the financial aid process are critical aspects of college planning and student success. OCAP staff who work with students, parents, educators and community partners in the areas of personal finance education, state and federal financial aid, and student loan management do not provide financial, investment, legal, and/or tax advice. This website and all information provided is for general educational purposes only, and is not intended to be construed as financial, investment, legal, and/or tax advice.