Serving Veterans, Military & Their Families

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TLS’ Top 10 Fundraising ideas, Easiest to Hardest


TLS is willing to work with all volunteers with solid fundraising ideas.

We ask that potential volunteer fundraisers submit a Fundraising Event Proposal. It
must be approved by TLS’ executive director before plans move forward.

Common threads among all fundraisers are:

  • Check with local authorities about any regulations that may apply to your proposed event.
  • Get organized and stay organized.
  • Set a fundraising goal.
  • Set a budget and stick to it.
  • Get advanced publicity.
  • Plan for disasters.
  • Don’t forget about cleanup.

TLS is willing to help you hammer out details. Following is a list of TLS’ top 10 fundraising ideas, easiest to hardest.

  1. CAN COLLECTIONS: TLS will supply the cans for this easy, straightforward way to raise funds. In some towns, you may need a permit to collect on the streets. If you want to collect on private property such as at a sporting event or in front of a store, ask first.
  2. SELL CANDY: This is a sweet way to raise money. Look into companies that supply chocolate bars, gourmet lollipops, caramels and other confections. If you’re not into sugary treats, think about selling popcorn, roasted nuts or beef jerky, a favorite of troops overseas.
  3. BAKE SALE: Get your church, school or social club involved. Select a leader, find volunteers and start baking but make sure not every one is donating apple pie. You will want an assortment of treats: cookies, cakes, cup cakes, brownies, breads, muffins, scones, etc. Presentation is everything. Organize your table well and use plain tablecloths so your baked goods stand out. Check with local health authorities about regulations such as what can and cannot be sold at a bake sale. For extra profits, think about selling hot chocolate on cold days or lemonade when it’s warm.
  4. SILENT AUCTION OR RAFFLE: You can hold a silent auction, a raffle or an auction/raffle with another event, such as a football game or community picnic. After you decided where and when you want to hold your event, check with government authorities and get proper permits. Although auctions and raffles are a favorite with church groups, they can be considered gambling.
  5. PANCAKE BREAKFAST OR SPAGHETTI DINNER: The scope of thinking for these tried-and-true fundraisers has to go beyond the menu. First, find a facility with a large space and a kitchen that your health department deems satisfactory. Then you’ll need plenty of volunteers, including servers and a chef with enough talent to run a kitchen that’s serving a crowd. To make your event super successful, think of extra activities that can bring in more profits: a silent auction, a 50-50 raffle, advertisements on placemats, local celebrities as waiters, donation buckets by the registers that explain the plight of disabled and disadvantaged veterans. See No. 4 for info about silent auctions and raffles.
  6. A SMALL-SCALE …-A-THON: “Thons” need plenty of in-advance planning because you have to rev up participants and give them plenty of time to gather pledges. In warm weather, you can hold events for bicyclists, walkers or kids who like to cartwheel or jump rope. “Thons” that can be held indoors include read-a-thons and bowl-a-thons. After you find and reserve an appropriate location, design your pledge card and start a publicity campaign to create a buzz to bring out a manageable crowd. Think about finding a sponsor for your “thon” and awarding small prizes for participants who bring in the most pledges or perform the most cart-wheels, etc. Let your imagination soar, which brings us to the next idea.
  7. KITE FLY: Kiting is a multigenerational activity. Every kid needs an adult to learn from and every adult needs a kid to teach. With this in mind, make sure that children are accompanied by a responsible adult, charge admission, hope for a pleasant breeze but plan for a rain date. Consider holding age-group contests for best home-made kite, highest-flying kite and all-round champion kite. Have an impartial judge so there are no resentments later. Sell pop, water and treats. Collect donations at booths that offer kite-flying instruction and kite-making tips. Kite flying is symbolic of hope and a fun way for a family to support a veteran.
  8. CAR WASH: This is a good event for teens that don’t mind getting wet and have plenty of energy to wash, dry and vacuum cars. Adults can organize the event by finding a suitable location along a busy road with access to water. Have at least two lines to wash cars and play upbeat music to make it enjoyable for the customers and teen volunteers. Keep shifts to two hours but plan to hold the wash for at least six. You’ll need: hoses, buckets, soap, sponges and plenty of dry towels. The amount of money you raise will depend on the weather. Saturdays work best.
  9. MOTORCYCLE RUN: Veterans frequently are motorcycle riders so this is a good match for TLS and its causes. Pick a date and decide on a route, preferably along scenic back roads. Plan to start around 11 a.m. and end at 6 p.m. at a restaurant where registered riders get a free buffet-style meal. Position volunteers with cell phones along the route in case of emergencies.
  10. CHRISTMAS CAROLING: Glee club, choirs and others who have talent can raise funds with little cost and a few rehearsals. If you go caroling door-to-door, tell the occupant that you are raising funds for TLS and give them a flyer about the agency and its programs. Politely ask permission to sing. If denied, quietly move on. If asked to stay, take a request. Singing groups also can print up flyers offering carol-grams and arrange to have a quartet deliver a few holiday songs at a relative’s or friend’s work place or door step. Fees for carol-grams will depend on your area but a rule of thumb is that you’ll get a better response asking for an uneven sum, i.e. $27 instead of $30.