Five Rules for Out-of-the-Box Fundraising (Part 2)

Jun 2, 2015

Travel Notes

Rule Two: Create Strong Fundraising Partnerships With Local Businesses

Local businesses can be your strongest ally and partner in the fundraising arena. A common partnership looks like this: your group partners with a business (typically a restaurant) and takes a portion of an evening’s sales. The amount you receive on these types of partnerships is often very low (2-10% of net revenue), and your options for event dates are often limited to the location’s slowest evenings. With just a little creativity, there are many additional ways you can partner with local businesses.

Bowling Alley

Bowling nights offer a way in which you can raise funds through multiple avenues. Start with the typical partnership route of offering to pack the lanes for a night in exchange for a portion of the revenue. Then, to get the most out of the evening, ask other businesses to sponsor each lane of the bowling alley, and hold raffles or split the pot drawings (assuming you have the proper license for you area). You can even get friends and family to sponsor individual bowlers, and donate a set amount for each pin they knock down. Finally, bowl a strike for your group’s fundraising efforts by getting the word out to the school and community.

Retail Partner

You’ve likely sold items to students, teachers, and parents in the past, but it’s easy to expand your reach and potential profits. Find local businesses to partner with where you can sell simple items like T-shirts and hats that support your group. Take your efforts to the next level by selling original student artwork or repurposing those dusty old band uniforms into decorative pillows. There is minimal or no added cost to the retailer for selling your products, and it gives them an easy opportunity to help the community. With a strong partner, your group will likely be able to keep a very high percent of the revenue, if not 100%.


A silent or live auction is one of the easiest ways to raise money for your group. Many local businesses will be willing to partner by donating items to the cause in exchange for exposure. Then, draw people in, and get them bidding against each other! Many schools hold auctions in conjunction with banquets or concert events, but don’t rule out the possibility of also auctioning a few items at other school events such as football and basketball games.

These are just a few ways you can forge strong fundraising partnerships with local businesses. Remember, most local businesses want to support their schools and communities, but they won’t know you are looking for a partner if you don’t ask. For more fundraising ideas, take a look at the first post in this series, and watch for part three next month.

Back to Part 1 – Opportunities with 100% profit | Forward to Part 3 – Parents as allies

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