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7 Cool Fundraising Ideas For Colleges

Author: Adie M.
fundraising ideas for colleges

There are many instances that may require college and other schooling institutions to raise funds. As a campus community, students, educators, and visitors share various facilities. For example, social and college clubs may need equipment or money for other activities. Or your college may seek to contribute to the surrounding external community or relevant charity causes.

Whatever the motivation, there are many fundraising ideas for colleges that can help you raise capital. 

7 Awesome Fundraising Ideas For Colleges

Here are some of the most effective and creative college fundraising ideas you can try to raise some money:

1. Back To Bakesale Basics

You can rarely go wrong with food, in general… But, students, in particular, LOVE a tasty treat. Tap into this unspoken truth by leveraging it as a college fundraising idea.

There are many ways to approach selling food. A simple one that is popular with many organizations is a bake sale. Gather a team to bake muffins, cakes, and pastries and set up stalls at a campus spot with a lot of foot traffic. 

You can pair the baked goods with breakfast foods (think croissants, bacon, eggs, and a hashbrown) and you’ve got an all-day breakfast fundraiser that people will love. According to the General Mills Foodservice, 79% of Americans eat breakfast foods more outside of ‘traditional’ breakfast time.

You can also consider having a campus food market with a reasonable entry fee and invite restaurants and food businesses in the community to set up stalls. Throw in some music, alcoholic drinks for those over 21+, and a grassy area. This can become a consistent way of raising funds that you can host regularly.

2. Sports Tournament/Challenge

Sports days are a wonderful way to rally your campus community and create excitement in one go. Everybody loves a good challenge and sports can be a great way to create awareness around your efforts to raise money. Build this hype by having sports days where dorms or departments can face off against each other. 

Your chosen sport will depend on your available resources (i.e.: budget, facilities, volunteers, and more). 

Some low-demand sports you can try include:

  • Pickleball
  • Walkathons
  • Marathons
  • Basketball
  • Dodgeball

Most of these just need a court or equipment that can be relatively easy to source for participants like balls or pickleball paddles. 

To make money from a sports day, you can sell tickets to participate and lower-priced tickets for supporters. Seek prize donations from local businesses to cut costs so that you can award the winners on the day. 

You may also combine the sports day with the food market option above, selling food and other refreshments on the day.

A donation page can also work with your sports day. Walkathon participants, for example, can do peer-to-peer fundraising by asking their social network to donate or ‘bet’ on their walk.

College scavenger hunt

3. Campus Scavenger Hunt

Another great fundraising idea for colleges that can involve campus members in competition is a scavenger hunt. 

Create a scavenger or treasure hunt (all in the same realm as The Amazing Race) where groups must collect prizes and complete challenges to win.

You can use the same tools like asking for prize donations, hosting group donation pages, and charging entry to maximize your profits.

4. Naming Competitions

Naming contests are another way to get the spirit of competition going. As you introduce new campus changes like spaces, benches, sports fields or courts, buildings, etc., you can auction off the chance to name them. 

The highest bidder can name the feature, an honor that they will always have the privilege of harking back to… Or at least until you decide to rename that item or site.

5. Virtual & In-person Auctions

Auctions, in general, are a very effective fundraising tool. Collect donations for auction items or sponsorship from businesses and reputable alumni. 

If you don’t receive a lot of donations and cannot afford to buy a great prize, you can also think creatively about what students may desire. Perhaps an auction to get a month’s free coffee from the campus cafe or maybe a designated campus parking spot?

When considering how or where to host the auction, you can go the in-person route or host it virtually. In-person events like fundraising galas can offer you multiple ways to make money, including tickets for the event. However, they can become an organizational struggle if you don’t have the resources. 

Comprehensive auction software can help you manage auction items, bids, and much more without any hassle. You can run your auction entirely online and set up payment portals to make bidding easier. 

Read more on how to choose the best auction software here.

6. Raffles

Raffles are similar to auctions as there is a desirable prize and entrants must pay to stand a chance of winning. However, raffles are randomized so the winner isn’t the highest bidder. The money will come pouring in if you have a fantastic, can’t-pass-up prize so that’s what you need to get right. 

And unlike auctions, which often have several auction items, you can focus all your attention on getting one main prize that everyone will want. An all-expenses paid trip or a new MacBook? It’s a high-risk, high-reward effort that can help you meet your fundraising goals.

7. Themed Nights

Costumes, games, movies, food – a themed night has a mix of ways you can raise money. You can open up a competition for best-dressed and sell merch like themed t-shirts or jewelry. 

Set up a karaoke spot or a rental booth and charge a small fee for people to sign up. Have themed drinks and foods for sale and arrange fun group games that people can participate in. 

Of course, not everything needs to have a fee if you’re ticketing the event but you can get creative with other ways to increase ‘donations’.

Themed party fundraiser for college

Final Thoughts

No matter which college fundraising idea you go for, you can combine it with digital fundraising platforms that will propel it further. Use crowdfunding. Set up donation pages or websites. And share details of your fundraising campaign on social media

Bringing your efforts online will help you reach more people and take your super-fabulous fundraiser to the next level.