The Five Rules for Out-of-the Box Fundraising (Part 1)

May 5, 2015

Travel Notes

One of the first things your parents will ask when you announce your next trip is “How will we pay for this?” Fundraising is often a part of this answer. Your options for fundraising are as varied as the trips you can take. Just like your trip, an ideal fundraiser is one that is customized to your group. When traditional methods like selling candy and gift wrap no longer work, it’s time to start thinking out-of-the-box.

Over the next few months, we will outline some “rules” your group should consider when fundraising for a trip. As you read these rules and the examples that go along with them, consider how you can leverage them with what makes your group unique, to maximize your fundraising efforts.

Rule One: Look for opportunities with 100% profit margins

To kick off the first of our five part series on the topic, we look at ways to maximize the return on your efforts, by focusing on methods that give you a 100% return on profits. You may even find that your group will have a little fun along the way.

Sponsored Car Wash

Sponsored events are a great way for students to raise money from friends and family. Though it is easy to apply this this idea to many different types of events, one of our favorites is the sponsored car wash. First students collect sponsorships from friends and family for each car they wash. If a student collects $5 per car from grandma, $7 per car from an uncle, and $3 per car from a neighbor, they would earn $15 per car washed. After washing just 10 cars, they would raise a relatively easy $150 to put toward their trip. The best part is that drivers get a free car wash (although it’s always okay to ask for donations as well).

Bus Seat Raffle

Everybody likes a little extra space on long bus rides. If your group will have extra seats on the motor coach, it’s easy to turn those into a little extra money for the program. Calculate how many extra seats you will have, and sell raffle tickets to students (who have already signed up to travel) for a chance at winning a pair of seats to themselves for the trip. Not only does this raise money for the group, but also allocates these extra seats in a fair manner.

School Market

Secure a large space in your school (such as a gym or lunchroom) to hold a weekend market. Get the word out to local businesses and artists about your sale, and sell spots for a small fee (say $50). If you want, you can get more creative and charge more for prime spots (near the entrance for example), sell concessions, or take a small cut (1-2%) of the day’s sales from each vendor. Both your group, and local businesses, come out ahead at the end of the day.


Every group has a story. Leverage yours on a crowdfunding site like IndieGoGo and GoFundMe. First, write a compelling and truthful story about your group, and why others should donate towards your trip. Then, get the word out to the community about your campaign through word of mouth, flyers, and social media. Be sure to also include what donors of different levels will receive in return. Some ideas include a postcard from the trip, a photo book or video of the trip, to even a private performance for big donors. The more creative you can be with your ideas, the more donors you are likely to receive.

These are some of our favorite examples of opportunities that will allow your group to keep 100% of what is earned, but remember, every group is different. To maximize your group’s potential, think about what other unique opportunities are available in your school and community. Contact us for more fundraising ideas, and to start planning your group’s next trip.

Forward to part 2 – Local business partners


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