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Going for creative gold: Creative, unusual fundraisers that make bankWhen fundraising is a part of your everyday job description, it can be difficult to continually conjure up fundraisers that deliver on both creativity and frugality. That’s why we’ve decided to go to work for you.We combed the web for the newest, most out-of-the-box ideas that have proven successful for a variety of nonprofit organizations. We’ve even included the links to each idea so you’re given a starting point for your own research if you’re interested. Here are our favorites – feel free to use them as inspiration!

Attention-grabbing quarter rally
On its website, the ARCH National Resource Center for Respite and Crisis Care Services shares a great fundraising idea that is sure to grab attention. Partnering with a local shopping mall, grocery store or large department store, place double-stick tape around the interior of the mall, stretching from one end to another. Keep it on the outskirts if possible, so it doesn’t collect too much dirt and debris. Then, for an entire day, invite shoppers to lay down a quarter on the tape to benefit your cause. If you have multiple causes, you can even section off different parts of the tape trail, so shoppers can choose where their donation will go.

Depending on the size of the venue, you will need a good number of volunteers staffing the quarter walk to answer questions, distribute information and ensure quarters and other donations stay put. Consider outfitting all helpers with logo’d, bright-colored Hanes® T-shirts and Name Badges so they stand out. This fundraiser is a great way to involve community members you may not otherwise reach, while simultaneously creating quite the sight and buzz!

“Dare” to give
During a University of Arizona’s Student Affairs fundraising challenge, the school’s Office of Financial Aid came up with a unique way to get students, faculty and staff involved. Here’s the gist: The Office’s employees submit “I dare you …” proposals for other employees, and each proposal is attached to a contribution jar. Then, at the fundraiser’s end, the proposals that generate the most dollars will be carried out. Some of the most quirky dares that were proposed? Challenging employees to perform Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” with gloves and a wig and challenging individuals to wear outrageous garb to work, including biking gear, a wedding dress and formal evening attire.

During the “I dare you…” challenge, spread the word across campus by giving each voter/donator who gives $1 or more a stand-out Bendeez Pen or Goofy Guy Pen. It’ll be sure to attract attention during class or work and draw even more people to your efforts. You could also adapt this for a community-wide promotion.

A man’s best friend
Fundraiserinsight.com offers a great idea for generating goodwill among employees of partnering organizations and raising money for your cause. Hold a “dog day” fundraiser wherein participating organizations allow their employees to bring their dog (or other pets, of course!) to work for a fee. All proceeds will go toward benefitting your organization or cause, while also spreading awareness. Fundraiser Insight advises to have a few rules though, such as dogs must be kept on leashes, should be up-to-date on shots and all doggy messes must be cleaned up.

For all those who participate, be sure to reward their donation by sending volunteers to each company to take digital photos of owners with their pets. At the end of the day, print out all the photos, insert them into imprinted Pet Photo Frames, and deliver them as a “thank you” to all participants. If you’re running short on time or volunteers, simply give out Portable Pet Dishes or Reflector ID Tags to show your gratitude!

“Go green” to get green
It has been said that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Take the lead from “TJ” of Fort Meyers, FL, who implemented a fundraiser that capitalized on the act of recycling. He and his civic organization found that they could turn cardboard into cash…as long as there was enough of it. Many businesses alone don’t produce enough cardboard to make recycling it on a price-per-pound basis worth their time or effort, but by combining many small firms’ cardboard together, TJ and his organization were able to reach their fundraising goal.

If your area has a similar program, whether it is cardboard, plastic, glass or another recyclable material, follow TJ’s footsteps. Put the names of participating companies on a “sponsors” page on your website for added publicity and reward them with a small, applicable gift like a Recycle Symbol-shaped Stress Reliever or a Recycled Cardboard Jotter.

When times are tough, sometimes stretching the creativity envelope can be your best bet in attracting donors to give to your cause. Hopefully, these ideas will inspire the next great fund-raising effort for your nonprofit organization!

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