11 Tried-and-True Fundraising Ideas for Individuals in Need

Updated January 17, 2022
Teen girls setting up for a second hand clothing sale for charity

Hosting a fundraiser can be a great way to help people who are in need. Whether you're looking to help a friend, relative, neighbor, or co-worker, there are a lot of fundraising ideas to consider. From virtual fundraisers that people can contribute to without leaving home, to in-person events or item sales, it's definitely possible to raise money for individuals who are facing unexpected financial difficulties or dealing with a tragedy.

Crowdfunding Campaign

Setting up a crowdfunding campaign is a good way to quickly raise money for individuals. Other types of fundraisers take a lot of planning and require time to promote, but a crowdfunding campaign can be set up via GoFundMe in just a few minutes. For that reason, this option is particularly good for unexpected circumstances, such as needing donations to pay for funeral expenses after an unexpected death, or to meet basic needs after a fire or tornado. Crowdfunding campaigns also work well when there is a need to raise money over a long period of time, such as to help someone cover the costs of ongoing and expensive medical treatments that aren't covered by health insurance.

Amazon Wish List

In situations where donations in the form of products (rather than money) are helpful, using an Amazon Wish List can be a great way to get items to people in need. You'd simply need to find out what they need and where they can receive shipments, then set up an Amazon Wish List on their behalf. Share the link with your contacts and others who might be interested, such as via a neighborhood or community-specific Facebook page. Explain the situation so people will know why they are being asked to contribute, and encourage them to share the link. This is a great way to send necessities like food, clothing, household goods, and personal care items to people in need, as well as toys for kids whose families may not be able to afford such items.

Direct Sales Fundraiser

Reach out to a direct sales representative in your local area and ask if they would be open to helping you raise money for a deserving person or family. If you will host an in-person or online party to sell their wares, chances are, they'll agree to donate a portion of the profits from your event to the individual(s) for whom you are trying to raise money. Reach out to local independent representatives who work with candle party companies like Scentsy, direct sales skincare lines like Mary Kay, and other home party companies, such as Pampered Chef or Tastefully Simple. They'll probably find the opportunity to gain new customers while helping someone in need to be appealing.

Yard Sale Fundraiser

Yard Sale Fundraiser

A yard sale can be a terrific way to raise money for individuals in need, particularly if you can get donated items from others who also want to help. Set a date for the garage sale and put the word out that you're looking for items to sell. Choose a few drop-off dates and timeframes so that people who want to share their unwanted items can leave them at your house (or another location where the sale will be held). Recruit some volunteers to help before, during, and after the sale. Come up with a simple pricing plan, such as charging the same amount for certain types of items or color-coded dots for each price point. Promote the sale via social media, word of mouth, and signs. Specify that proceeds will be used to help a local person in need.

Restaurant Night Fundraiser

Local restaurants are sometimes willing to host special fundraising nights to help raise money for a good cause. Reach out to the manager or owner of a locally owned restaurant and explain the situation of the person you're trying to help. They may be willing to donate a percentage of profits on a specific day to people who come in and say that they're there for the fundraiser for that person. These events tend to be scheduled during timeframes that are typically slow at the restaurant. The idea is for the fundraising organizer to encourage people to come in during that time, resulting in a win-win for the business (increased traffic and sales) and the cause (money raised).

Food Truck Fundraiser

As an alternative to a restaurant night, reach out to owners of local food trucks to see if they'd be willing to participate in a fundraiser. This is a particularly good option if you're seeking to raise money for a neighbor, co-worker, or church member. The food trucks could be set up in the person's neighborhood or in the parking lot of the business where the person works or the church to which they belong. That way, it'll be really convenient for people who personally know the individual who needs help to support the fundraiser. It also helps the food truck owners, as they'll be able to introduce their tasty treats to new customers who might not otherwise be aware of what they have to offer.

Virtual Trivia Fundraiser

Hosting a virtual trivia night is a fun way to combine raising money for a good cause with an evening of virtual entertainment from the comfort of home. Assign a trivia master who is responsible for coming up with trivia questions and answers, as well as running the game via Zoom (or another platform). Set a maximum number of players and an entry fee (which will be donated), then reach out to your contacts via social media, inviting them to play. Encourage them to share, so that even more people will have an opportunity to participate. If you end up with an enthusiastic group, you may want to host a monthly game. Let participants nominate individuals in need and vote at the end of each game to choose who will benefit from the next one.

Seedling Fundraiser

If you've got a green thumb and are getting ready for gardening season, consider offering any extra plant starts you have to your local contacts in exchange for a small donation that will be given to an individual or family. If you, like most gardeners, start so many seeds that you end up with extra seedlings, this is a super-cheap fundraising option, since you'll be using what you already have to raise money for someone who needs financial help. Even if you start a few packets of seeds just for this purpose, your investment will be minimal. Tell your friends and family, and spread the word via social media to help generate interest. Chances are, a lot of people will love the idea of getting plant starts from a socially conscious local gardener.

Gift Basket Raffle

Gift Basket Raffle

Gather donations from local businesses, individuals, or small groups (such as church committees, neighborhood associations, work teams, etc.) that are willing to help with a fundraiser. Assemble the items into a few nice gift baskets, then sell raffle tickets that provide supporters with an opportunity to win one of the baskets. You can use this raffle ticket template to quickly and easily create the tickets to sell, then recruit volunteers to help sell the tickets and orchestrate the drawing. Consider doing the drawing via Facebook Live so that ticket holders will be able to know who won each of the baskets.

Boxed Meal Sale

If you have help and a place to prepare and serve meal plates or boxed to-go meals, a fish fry, barbecue dinner, or another type of meal sale can be a great way to raise money for someone who is in need. If you have a lot of help, you may even want to include a fundraising cookoff as part of the event. Take preorders to make sure you have the right amount of food. You may be able to get some or all of the ingredients donated. If not, you'll need to be able to pay for supplies upfront, then get reimbursed for expenses before donating the profits to the person or family the fundraiser is being held to support. Schedule the event far enough in advance to spread the word via social media and guerilla marketing strategies.

Bake Sale

Hosting a bake sale is another great way to raise money for individuals who are in need. This is a particularly good option when a group wants to raise money for one of their own, such as when a church member or co-worker experiences a tragedy or other type of unexpected loss. This fundraiser simply involves having group members who want to help make and donate baked goods, which are then sold to others as a way to raise money to support their colleague who is in need of financial assistance. In a workplace, the sale could be held before or after work or during the lunch hour. For a church fundraiser, goodies could be set up for sale where people will see them as they leave services.

Making a Difference for Individuals in Need

When it comes to raising money for people who are in need, no amount is too small (or too large!). Of course, it's natural to want to be able to contribute enough to really make an impact. If your goal is to raise a significant sum, you may need to host more than one fundraiser. For example, you could combine a raffle with a bake sale or boxed meal sale. For even more options, explore some other clever fundraising ideas, such as these fun games to raise money in an office or a selection of kid-friendly fundraising ideas. No matter what you decide to do, spreading the word to promote the fundraiser and encouraging people to donate generously will be important keys to your success.

11 Tried-and-True Fundraising Ideas for Individuals in Need