Creative Cancer Fundraising Ideas

Updated October 30, 2020
Fundraising money jar

You don't have to be the head of a large non-profit organization to be concerned about cancer fundraising ideas. Family and friends can help make the cancer journey easier for loved ones with cancer by helping them find sources of financial assistance, especially with cancer fundraiser ideas.

Why Cancer Fundraiser Ideas?

Upon being diagnosed with cancer, a person's life changes dramatically. Daily concerns have to take second place to completing all the tests, doctor visits, and paperwork that are needed in order to plan the cancer treatment. Once the treatment is started and a general plan is put into place, the patient's attention may turn to questions about finances.

While cancer treatment is expensive, it's not just the treatment that is costly. A cancer diagnosis can affect a family's finances in the following ways:

  • Lost wages from the individual diagnosed if the person is not able to work through treatment
  • Lost wages if the primary caregiver is not able to work while the person with cancer is getting treatment
  • Increased insurance premiums
  • Family members may incur travel costs getting back and forth to treatment
  • Individuals in treatment may need special food, comfort items and over-the-counter medications to help with side effects of treatment

All these costs come at a time when the family has neither the emotional energy nor the time to deal with additional financial stressors.

Cancer Funds From Organizations

If you are trying to put together some cancer fundraiser ideas, your first call should be to the American Cancer Society. The organization has a hotline that is staffed 24 hours a day as well as access to a comprehensive database of local, national, and international organizations that can help individuals with cancer.

Fundraisers for Diagnosis-Specific Organizations

The second call you should make is to any diagnosis-specific organizations. For example, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and the Susan G. Komen Foundation for breast cancer both have financial assistance programs that can help with co-pays, insurance premiums, and sometimes other treatment-related costs. Always make sure to check with any local chapters of these organizations and other cancer charities.

Person-Specific Cancer Fundraising Ideas

You can designate your fundraiser to benefit a specific cancer patient. This type of fundraiser personalizes the disease by putting a face to it, so people within your community can understand how personal cancer is.

Event Fundraisers for Cancer Patients

One of the most fun ways to raise funds for an individual is through a local event. The best way to ensure a good turn-out is to make the event dovetail with the interests of the person for whom you are fundraising. For example, if the cancer patient is a singer/songwriter, put together a musical concert and ask this or her singer/songwriter friends to donate their time to play at the event. If the person is an avid knitter, hold a knit-a-thon at a local community center. If the patient loves animals, hold an animal talent show. Don't confine your fundraising efforts to charging admission only. You can also hold a raffle or silent auction, sell refreshments, and get community organizations to advertise in the program.

Music Concert in the Park

If the time of year is right, you can hold a music concert in the park. Advertise it as a picnic under the stars and encourage families to attend and bring a quilt to spread out on the ground to enjoy their evening picnic.

Paint 'N Sip Event

Transform a school gym or local community center into a massive paint 'n sip event. Coordinate with an art supplier and/or a local Paint 'N Sip shop for discounted supplies to make your event more affordable for greater participation. You can coordinate the event with local art galleries, art supply shops, and vineyards to get everyone involved to ensure a successful event!

Pet Show

Host a pet show. You'll need specific animal categories and may find help in planning through animal shelters and pet stores.

Family Crafts Weekend

Stage an outdoor/indoor family crafts weekend. Set up at least three types of crafts for families to enjoy together. The more crafts you have available, the greater participation you'll have as families move from one craft arena to the next. Depending on the time of year, you may choose specific holiday theme, such as Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine's Day, and so on.

Street Festival

Hold a family-oriented street festival with local artisans setting up booths along with other vendors. Involve all the businesses and encourage them to participate with a booth to interact and introduce themselves to the local community.

Talent Contest Fundraising for Cancer Charities

Talent contests are great cancer fundraiser ideas. You can raise money for an individual cancer patient or to donate to a cancer-related charity.

children at talent contest

Musical Talent Contest

Stage a musical talent contest by dividing into categories, such as singers, individual musicians, and bands. Make sure you have a big enough venue and if the weather/season is right, you may decide an outdoor venue is better.

Variety Talent Contest

Have a non-specific variety talent contest. This type of talent contest is open to anyone wishing to showcase their specific talent. It can be a lot of fun for your community at large.

Choral Competition

A choral competition is always competitive and fun. Some categories you might establish could be for school age groups and church choirs. This will give you a wide variety of music to encourage greater participation.

Cake Decorating Contest for Cancer Fundraising

Hold an official cake decorating contest to raise money for cancer patients. You will need a facility that can provide support for this kind of contest, such as a commercial kitchen, bakery, school kitchen, or church kitchen. Contestants will gain supporters to finance their entry. You'll also want to get donations from various companies to sponsor the event. You will then sell tickets to the local community. All proceeds will go to help a specific cancer patient or a group of local cancer patients. You'll need to set a decorating theme and decide on the categories and type of prizes to be awarded. You'll need to recruit at least three professional bakers for your judges.

Dance Contest

You can choose the dance genre for your dance contest. This can be a contest like Dancing with the Stars, or you can hold a dance marathon where the winners aren't necessarily the best dancers, just the one with the most stamina to outlast the other dancers. You may decide an old-fashioned square dance contest is a good option.

Food Truck Cooking Contest

Host a regional food truck cooking contest. This event can be a lot of fun and a great way to introduce local food trucks to the community. If possible, get local bands to provide music and turn it into a weekend event.

Fishing Contest

If you live on a lake, river, or coastal area, host a fishing contest. This can be spread out over a weekend to allow for daily winners with the culmination of the top three winners at the end of the contest. You can get fishing companies involved to donate prizes. Entry fees and other funds collected can be distributed to individual cancer patients or a cancer organization or charity.

Benefit Ideas for Cancer Patients

A benefit for cancer patients can bring a community together and bring greater awareness of the needs of cancer patients. You can get women's civic organizations, such as The Association of Junior Leagues International, Inc, women's business organizations. and other organizations for men, such as the Lions Clubs International and Rotary International. You can partner with these and other community groups while finding business and corporate sponsors. Take advantage of public service announcements and get local schools involved.

Play Production

If there is a community theater, you may be able to find corporate sponsors to put on a play production as a benefit for cancer patients. You can involve schools for promotion as well as any local public service announcements.

Seven-Course Dinner

Get together with local chefs to host a formal seven-course dinner. You'll need musicians, such as violinists or other string instrument musicians, to provide dinner music. A lone pianist is a good possible musician for this event.

Christmas Open House Tour

Hold a Christmas open house tour. Many historic districts home owners open their Christmas decorated homes for public tours. You'll need to ensure each home owner has enough volunteers for one person to be assigned for each room within the home as a safety precaution.

Cancer Fundraiser Ideas for Crawls

A crawl is an event that progresses from one venue to the next. Some popular choices provide you a taste of local cuisine, beer, wines, art, and more.

People in art gallery

Art Gallery Crawl

If you live in a city with several art galleries, arrange for an art gallery crawl where patrons progress from one art gallery to another. You can donate all ticket sales to your cancer fund.

Pub Crawl

A pub crawl is an entertaining way to spend an evening. Sell tickets to be presented to participating pubs with one drink at each establishment included in the ticket sale.

Vineyard Crawl

If you live in a wine-producing region, organize the local vineyards for a vineyard crawl. Each vineyard should agree to offer one glass of wine to participants.

Cancer Raffle Ideas

Capitalize on regional culture and business for a unique cancer raffle. For example, if you live in a winery region, you can raffle off various regional wines.

Art Raffle

Hold an art raffle by itself or incorporate it as part of your art gallery crawl. Each participant can enter once for each piece offered by the participating galleries. Set the price of the raffle ticket and collect the monies to ensure it is all sent to the designated cancer charity.

Quilt Raffle

If you live in a community with local crafters, you may find a quilt raffle turns out to be a successful fundraiser. You can build around the raffle by offering quilting classes on a weekend or throughout the month leading up to the raffle.

Car Raffle

If you can get a car dealership to partner with various corporate sponsors, you can raffle a car. Give yourself plenty of time to sell a large number of tickets. Hold the drawing in the best public area or dealership and make sure local news is there to cover it.

Online Cancer Fundraising Ideas

A second easy way to help raise funds is through a website or blog. If your friend or family member is already chronicling his or her treatment journey on a personal website, suggest adding a link for readers to make direct donations and help set it up. If the blog is updated regularly and has substantial hits, it may even be able to find local businesses that would like to advertise on it. Banner ads are typically sold for a one-month period. If one or more businesses to commit to a six-month period, the person will have a reassuring promise of ongoing financial assistance.

Video call from home during lockdown

Musicians Online Concert

Livestream a music concert by charging for access to the live stream. You can ask big name musicians to participate or find local bands to donate their time for your online cancer fundraiser.

Meet the Author, Virtual Book Signing, and Interview

Another way to raise money for a cancer charity or individual cancer patient is to livestream an interview with a popular author. You can work with the author to giveaway a signed copy of their latest book for one of your door prize drawings. You will charge an attendance fee from attendees.

Magicians Online Performances

If you live in an entertainment area like Las Vegas, you can ask magicians to perform one trick. Video record each performance and then stream it online for a nominal fee or place it on YouTube and earn money for your cancer charity from the ads.

Online Classes for Cancer Fundraiser

You can set up online classes in various areas of interest. The instructors will donate their time to hold the classes. This can be recorded as simple instructions, such as how to can vegetables from your garden. You may get someone from your local Extension Service to teach a class or two. You can get a couple of organic gardeners to demonstrate best organic practices.

Change Jars

One extremely low-pressure way to raise small amounts of money is to provide change jars to friends and family. You can make these very simply by collecting plastic jars from family and friends (the size that peanut butter comes in is ideal). Decorate the jars with a photo of the person you are raising money for and a reminder that the jar can be filled with spare change at the end of the day. Pass these out to friends, family members, and neighbors and then come back to empty them a few weeks later. Take the responsibility of hauling the change down to the bank to have it converted into bills or a check. Nickels and dimes can really add up!

Cancer Fundraising Ideas for Dignity Above All

When a friend or family member has cancer, it can be tempting to immediately start fundraising efforts if you know they are going to be strapped for finances. Some people might feel embarrassed about accepting this kind of help. You can smooth the process by presenting the person with a few different cancer fundraiser ideas and let him or her choose one. This is a great way to involve the individual without having to engage in activities that are too energy-draining or taxing.

Creative Cancer Fundraising Ideas