There's a great cause and you'd love to raise money for it, but how do you go about doing it successfully? Whether it's raising money for much-needed supplies for families or soldiers, continuing medical research for life-threatening diseases, or keeping programs for children, and even animals, up and running, the right fundraiser, Major Gift Officer (MGO), can solve problems and help dreams come true.
Why Sell Products for Fundraising?
A long time ago, the Girl Scouts discovered that, while people are generous in supporting a good cause, they are even more generous in supporting a good cause if they get a little something in return. This is a crucial note when determining the best fundraising ideas for your organization.
Here are two examples of proposed fundraising:
Example 1: Would you like to donate $4 to the Chipmunk Summer Camp Program?
Example 2: Would you like to buy this super cool sport water bottle for $7? The profit of your purchase supports our Chipmunk Summer Camp Program. You get a great water bottle and the children in our camp will receive supplies for their camp experience.
Which example do you think will raise more funds? If you guessed Example 2, then you are correct. Not only will your donor provide funds for a worthy cause, but they also get to walk away with a cool fundraising product they will use. That product will also help spread awareness for the cause if you personalize it with your company's branding.
In this example, the sport water bottles can be imprinted with the camp logo and a fun saying, such as Thank You for Supporting the Chipmunks or I Love Chipmunks! Learning how to sell your product as a fundraiser just turned your campaign into a walking advertisement to attract more recognition and, hopefully, donors.
Sell What People Want and Will Use
So how do you decide what fundraising products to sell? One of the biggest things to consider when selection an item is to select products that people use. Maybe an umbrella or a sport bottle, but not some odd gadget that will never see the light of day. Here are a few things that will help you determine which promotional products will work best for your fundraiser:
1: Think About Your Target Market
When choosing your fundraising products to sell, you must first think about what your contributors want and need. You can observe the products they are currently using, choose a handful of contributors to survey to get the best fundraising products ideas, or just ask them what fundraising products they would actually buy and use. For example, if your donors are in the middle of rainy season, then opting for a custom umbrella is a smart choice. If it's a hot summer day, consider selling sport bottles filled with cool water to quench their thirst.
2: Think About Unique Fundraising Products
The last thing you want to do is try to sell a fundraising product that everyone else is already selling. Find your niche in the product market by choosing things to sell for charity that speak to your services. If you are an environmental group, you can sell items that speak to that, such as an Eco Cotton Business Tote Bag or Eco Custom Notebooks made from recycled cardboard.
3: Think About How You're Going to Sell It
Marketing for your fundraising will make or break your campaign. Think about how you will market your fundraising product and the type of excitement you can create with your marketing strategies. You'll want to make it easy for your fundraising participants to get the word out on your product and create a buzz.
4: Think About Your Bottom Line in a Smart Way
Just because you can potentially receive a lot of donations for your product doesn't mean you will. You need to find the best prices for your products while still maintaining the quality of the product. You also want to be sure your profit margin is in line with the overall price. It can't be too high because customers will not be excited to buy it and your overall numbers will crash. The right profit margin will lure customers and drive sales through the roof. We'll talk more about this in an upcoming section of this blog.
5: Think About Variety as the Spice of Life
Not everyone is going to love a pink sport bottle with a heart on it, but you can throw in a blue, black, yellow, or orange option to increase your potential audience and sell more fundraising products.
Where to Buy Fundraising Products to Sell
You should definitely look for these companies to assist you in choosing your fundraising products to sell. You should also look for companies that allow you to buy in bulk so you can get fundraising products wholesale. Another important factor in determining your fundraising products company is that they should be able to customize your product with your organization's name, logo, tagline, or all three. Personalized fundraising items will allow your donors to keep your organization in mind every time they utilize their purchased product.
At What Price Should You Sell?
Your profit margin is very important since the money you are making on these fundraising products is for a good cause. When you are selling products for fundraising, you must first find out how much your desired product will cost your organization and then figure out a good profit margin. We suggest charging double what you paid for your fundraising product. For example, if you find a sport bottle at the stores for $8, then you know you should find a promotional sport bottle for $4 and then charge $8 for it during your fundraiser. It's a comparable price to a sport bottle that people are buying anyway, but that has a profit margin to benefit your organization. It's what stores like Walmart and Target do anyway, but you're doing it for a good cause. Also, people are typically willing to pay a little extra than they normally would if the profit is going to a good cause, so you may even be able to sell that sport bottle for $9 or even $10. Bottom Line: Charge double what you paid for your fundraising product and make sure it aligns with the market. If you bought it for $2, then you can sell it for $4. If you bought it for $6, then you can sell it for $12. You get the idea.
Steps to Selling Products for Fundraising
Before we move on to cheap fundraising ideas or quick fundraising ideas for profit success, we have come up with simple steps that encompass the entire fundraising products campaign process:
- Set your starting budget
- Set your target buying price and target sale price
- Find options that hit your target price
- Let your team pick the final product
- Develop your art to be printed on the fundraising product
- Order the products (typical lead time will be 2 weeks)
- Train your volunteers on how to sell the product
- Distribute the products to the volunteers (you'll need to assign a manager the responsibility of allocating the product and tracking the sales and inventory.)
Top 10 Fundraising Products to Sell
There are a lot of different fundraising products to sell that will benefit your cause and provide an incentive for people to assist you in your efforts. We've covered a lot of items in this article, but here are our top 10 picks for fundraising products (in no particular order) that we think can fit just about any organization:
- Custom Notebooks and Journals
- Custom Blankets
- Custom Drinkware, including water bottles and wine glasses
- Houseware, such as bento boxes, glass containers, and kitchen accessories
- Tech gifts, such as Bluetooth speakers, power banks, and flash drives
- Custom Bags
- Candy, Cookies, and other food items
- Toys, such as stuffed animals and board games
- Health and Fitness products, such as activity trackers, yoga mats, and foam rollers
- Personal Care items, such as spa gift sets, lotion, and manicure sets
Fundraising Ideas for Churches
Churches are a central part of some communities and, if you are someone who works at a church or have seen the financial struggles they may encounter, you know how important it is to come up with great fundraising ideas for churches. Choosing a fundraising product for a church is important because you have instant access to your potential customers, but you don't want to burden them with multiple fundraisers. The best fundraising ideas for churches involve items that will have lasting appeal. We recommend custom discount cards that feature your church's name and contact information, as well as discounts for nearby restaurants. For churches located in a colder climate, you can also choose to sell custom blankets with your church's name on it or offer a fundraiser that allows people to purchase the blankets for the church to provide to homeless people seeking refuge from the cold. Other great fundraising ideas for churches include holding a ticketed dinner event, a garage sale that includes items donated to the church by their patrons, cookies, candy, pretzels, or any other food items packaged with the church's contact information on it, or any other fundraising idea that will benefit both the church and its community members. If you're looking for a product to sell as a church fundraiser that will have your church name on it, check out this list of our favorite.
Best Products to sell for Church Fundraisers
Fundraising Ideas for Schools
We've all seen the dreaded fundraising packets that our children lug behind them as they trot to the car or house. We've turned page after page of items that we can purchase to benefit their school and we've happily purchased them so the music department can get new recorders or the art department can get fresh paint. That being said, it would be great if fundraising ideas for schools offered products that we actually wanted, or even just experiences that help bring the community together. Festivals, movie nights, and community picnics are great ways to bring together the families that attend your school, and the school can benefit from selling popcorn, hot dogs, and drinks. But if you toss into the mix a great selection of products with your school logo, you're sales will climb. Consider a super cool teddy bear with your school logo, or a string backpack in your school colors with your logo proudly displayed. Keep in mind, all the proceeds will go to your school, so the community will be happy to buy the tumbler travel mug or blanket with the school logo.
Best Products to sell for School Fundraisers
Fundraising Ideas for Cancer Awareness
Cancer has touched the lives of many people and it's always a good idea to come up with great fundraising ideas for cancer awareness, research, and treatment. Many people have participated in Walk-A-Thons that benefit cancer research, but you can always take it a step further by including activity trackers or pedometers to keep the momentum going. You can also host yoga parties where, for a fee, participants will receive a customized yoga mat and a yoga session for a good cause. If you want the best fundraising ideas for cancer awareness that do not involve a physical element, then you can always sell custom bags, travel mugs, water bottles, notebooks/journals, or any other gifts with logo that will spread the word. Because pink has become the recognized color for cancer awareness, look for products that come in pink, or use a pink imprint on your custom item.
Best Products to sell for Cancer Awareness Fundraisers
Fundraising Ideas for Non-Profits
We can list hundreds of successful fundraising ideas for nonprofits and not even scratch the surface of the endless possibilities to raise money for your cause. From shoe drives where people bring in their gently used shoes to donate (the company will write you a check for your fundraising efforts!) and the plethora of food and beverage options you can sell to silent auctions, yard sales, cooking competitions, and many other events that bring in crowds and funding, there are so many ways you can get the community involved in your efforts. So how do you choose? The key to nonprofit fundraising ideas is to center your fundraiser on a product or service that relates to your cause. Animal shelters can raise money by selling stuffed animals with their logo, medical organizations can provide stress balls in the shape of a brain, a heart, or even a bear in a lab coat, libraries can use bookmarks, notebooks, and journals as great promotional gifts, and environmental organizations can gift flower seeds, reusable bottles, custom tote bags, and more to spread the word about saving our planet.
Best Products to sell for Non-Profit Fundraisers
Unique Fundraising Ideas
Aside from some of the ideas that we have already mentioned, there are more unique fundraising ideas that can get you on the road to fundraising success. Used book sales will help rid your home of books you no longer need, community cookbook challenges provide an opportunity for residents to donate recipes to put in a cookbook that your organization can then sell, golf, cornhole, and bowling tournaments are sure to draw a crowd, and board game and video game contests will let you raise money while provide a community experience for children and adults alike. You can also always have fun things to sell for fundraisers when you pay attention to what is trending in the market at that time. Remember the fidget spinner craze? Fundraising organizations were quick to jump on that trend to sell a product that people were buying in droves anyway.
Best Unique Fundraiser Products
A Long History of Selling Products for Fundraising
The idea of raising money for a good cause dates back centuries. Foundations for Fundraising' by Redmond Mullin depicts a story in detail about the fundraising efforts that helped rebuild the Troyes Cathedral around 1400. This book also includes various references to many fundraising efforts by different religions. Of course, it wasn't called fundraising back then: It was just something people did when someone in their community needed help.
The idea of national, professional fundraising didn't evolve until the early 1900's when Charles Sumner Ward and Frank L. Pierce created a system that allowed them to reach out to donors to help raise the funds needed to build a YMCA in Washington, D.C. This helped launch service and product fundraising companies that would allow associations to draw in people to bring donations and help a cause. A few of the original non-profit organizations to utilize fundraising include the YMCA, the Salvation Army, and the National Jewish Welfare Board.
Possibly one of the most popular fundraisers of all time is the annual fundraiser to raise money for the Girls Scouts of America. Girl Scouts have been raising money with their cookie fundraisers for more than 100 years, starting in 1917, bringing delicious morsels of sweet goodness to their donors and financial stability to their organization.
Following the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S., Americans began organizing their efforts and streamlining their processes for raising money for a specific cause in the 1970's. This is when the government created the Tax Reform Act with Section 501(c)3 in the United States to allow charitable organizations to offer tax exemptions to their donors. This created a surge in applications and organized fundraising skyrocketed. The government had just created a simple way for organizations to attract more donors and raise even more funds for their cause.
From then on, service and product fundraising companies, as well as non-profit organizations, have utilized professional fundraising to raise money for their causes, services, and products. NPR, the independent, nonprofit media organization, uses fundraising products to increase their financial stability and continue creating a more informed public through its network of member stations that make local stories national, national stories local, and global stories personal.
The Humane Society of the United States, founded in 1954, raises money to maintain its status as the nation's most effective animal protection organization and does so with advertising, events, and fundraising products that increases their brand reach with repeated exposure to new potential donors. St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, founded in 1962, gets the attention of donors everywhere with their mission of leading the way the world understands, treats, and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Additionally, many non-profit organizations utilize selling products for fundraising as their sole source of donations. Schools, for example, host fundraisers to raise money and help supplement supplies, seminars, and other necessary tools to increase their ability to teach our youth. These fundraisers include selling Otis Spunkmeyer Cookie Dough, Charleston Wrap, The Popcorn Factory, and other products to provide donors with a treat while still managing to raise money for the school.
Whether you're looking for fundraising ideas for your non-profit or fundraising ideas for individuals, you can always find a service, event, or product that will be unique to your cause and will allow you to receive charitable donations. Just remember, some of these ideas are big money fundraising ideas and will require a bit of start-up capital to get organized, but if you choose your service or products carefully, you will undoubtedly make your money back, and then some.