Guide to Funding: Ideas for Community Fundraising

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Voluntary Action Centre, Kingsland Square, St. Mary Street, Southampton, Hants, SO14 1NW

Phone: 023 8022 8291 Fax: 023 8022 2929 Website:

SVS Guide to Funding: Ideas for Community Fundraising

This factsheet is part of a series of four guides on funding. The other factsheets are

  • SVS Guide to Funding: an Overview;

  • SVS Guide to Funding: Sources and

  • SVS Guide to Funding: Making Applications.

The aim of this factsheet is to describe some of the methods of directly raising money for your group and the most effective ways of achieving your financial goals. It is not a comprehensive guide: there are some excellent ‘ideas’ books, some of which are listed at the end of this guide.

Your group will be run by a group of volunteers who may call themselves trustees, management committee or committee. It is their responsibility to ensure that the organisation is managed well and in accordance with its aims as laid out in the Governing Document, often called a Constitution. Please see SVS Guide to Roles and responsibilities of the committee for further information.
Part of the responsibility of those running the group is to ensure that there are sufficient funds to carry out the work of the group. Groups are advised to raise money from a number of sources, so that if one source dries up the whole organisation is not put at risk. Please see SVS Guides to Funding listed at the top of the page. One element of ‘keeping the money coming in’ may be to directly fundraise for it. The benefit of raising money yourselves include:-

  • You can decide what to fundraise for and spend the money as you wish ( as long as you spend the money as you described to your members and supporters, ie if you hold an event to fundraise for new chairs, the money must be spent on chairs)

  • No application forms

  • Not having to fit your project into any grant criterion

  • Only doing the monitoring and evaluating which is of direct benefit to your group

  • Is one way of demonstrating to other funders that you are prepared to put effort onto raising the money you need

  • may be the only way to fund trips or other things that are not a priority for other funders

Additional benefits might include

  • Team building within the committee and some of the extended membership- raising money this way can be fun!

  • Raising the profile of your organisation locally

    • Which might lead to attracting new members and/ or Committee members

Before you begin

In order to persuade others to give up their precious time in fundraising you need to know:-

  • What you need money for

  • How much money is needed

  • When it is needed

  • What happens if you don’t get it.

Communication and planning, as well as enthusiasm and passion, are key to successful community fundraising. You will not persuade people to get involved and support you if you are not clear about what you want and why.

Raising funds yourself falls into two categories:

  1. Earned income

  2. Community fundraising

a) Earned Income

Earned income falls into two categories:

  1. Income earned from members/users. Many interest or support groups charge a membership fee and / or subscriptions to cover e.g. refreshments, running costs, hall hire and insurance.

  2. Income earned from sale of service to the public. Some groups find it easier to 'earn' income rather than put on fundraising events, or earn income as part of their funding ‘mix’.

Many arts groups earn a considerable proportion of their total income from box office or ticket sales. A theatre group or choir may raise money towards hall hire, music hire, costume hire, public liability insurance and licences by putting on a performance and charging people to see it.

For further information on ‘things to consider’ when holding an event, such as a performance please see SVS Guide to holding an event
Some organisations sell services, publications or products. An Association for the deaf may sell the services of interpreters for sign language; a history group may sell publications on local history they have researched. A gardening club may sell plants or one of their members may give talks to other clubs for a fee.
Charity Law dictates that only a proportion of income can be raised through trading. There are Inland Revenue rules about how much of this income may be tax free. For more information see the Charity Commission website or Charity Commission leaflet cc35 Trustees, trading and tax. If you are thinking of trading in a significant way, however, get specialist tax and legal advice from an appropriately qualified person. Record who you took advice from, and the advice given in your committee minutes.

Earned income: Performances

Concerts, shows and performances e.g.

    • Gospel

    • Jazz

    • Open mic night

    • Organ recital

    • Choral

    • Festival

    • Play

  • Sell tickets in advance

  • Sell refreshments

  • Can be fun :Team build

  • Raise community profile

  • Inform people of how much the event cost to put on as well as thanking them for attending

  • Take photos of event- remember to get signed parental permission if children involved, and send to local press

  • Remember SVS mailing for publicising success,

  • CIS for promoting family events

  • Community News in local paper, parish magazines and websites, Southampton echo website

  • SCC website events pages

b)Community fundraising

Community Fundraising includes all money that the group raises through events and other activities. Some categories of fundraising activity are listed below. See SVS Guide to Holding an event for information on practical considerations and laws and licences you may need to consider before holding your event.

Simple ideas can often be the best: try something in your local community hall: if you do it as a joint venture with the community centre, then they will have public liability insurance, you can both provide people to run the event and can share in the proceeds

Games in the Community Hall

  • Countdown

  • Board Games-

scrabble, monopoly, ludo,

chinese chequers tournaments;

Whole families can play:-

pick-up sticks, Jenga, dominoes

beetle drive, memory games, coppit,

  • Card games

    • Snap, rummy, whist etc

  • get people making the longest word they can from a group of letters or anagram solving

  • Provide as many games as you can, people can bring their own too. Set the games up at tables laid out around the room with chairs round them.

  • Be prepared to explain how to play the games: maybe allocate a person to each table/ two tables. State this in the publicity ‘Don’t worry if you don’t know how to play ludo: there will be someone to help!’

  • People pay an entrance fee which can either include a buffet meal or you can have food for them to buy on the night. Be careful not to include alcohol in ticket prices for food etc as this would breach licensing but soft drinks can be included

  • Sell tickets in advance as well as on the door.

  • Welcome people at the door, thank them when they leave.

  • Run a small raffle at the event

Fetes/ Fayres

  • Tombola (don’t leave tins and jars in the sun: have them under cover and check their expiry / best before dates for current validity)

  • Splat the rat

  • Wellie tossing

  • China breaking

  • Pick a prickle (make a hedgehog from clay or playdough- use blunted cocktail sticks/ matchsticks dipped in paint as prickles). Use three colours- if people have a high chance of winning something (even 5p) they’ll keep having another go!)

  • Guess the weight of the cake

  • Name the doll/teddy

  • How many buttons in a jar?

  • Cocoanut shy

  • Giant Connect 4

  • Quoits / Hoop the Bottle ( using large fizzy drink bottles)

  • Hoop-la

  • Bric a brac (second hand good as new and not so new, non food and clothing items)

  • Plant stall

  • Games can be purchased from, but many can be made very cheaply

  • 1st Leisure 01202 525223

  • Happy Hire 01202 525266 both hire games like Giant Connect 4. Based in Bournemouth. About £55 for 2 games when I phoned.

  • If you are holding the event in the open air, approach scouts etc to hire marquees and tents. For money for their funds they may erect their tent

  • Public liability insurance is a must-

  • Consider wet weather insurance

  • Event insurance

Event games

  • Lucky dip nail bar

  • Bubble Wrap mow down

  • Put your hands through two collars and pay for 2 ‘nail artists’ to paint your nails using colour and humour.

  • Like tug of war, but a long strip of bubble wrap. Approach department stores or picture framers and ask them to donate the wrap. Competitors have to race to pop all the bubbles on their side of the strip. Do a risk assessment. It may be safer to have

  • Parents/grandparents and tots

  • families

  • 4yrs-8yrs

  • 8yrs-13yrs

  • Men

  • Women with heels

  • Over 65yrs

  • Wheelchair users

You could have parallel competitions or heats!

Fundraising Activities

  • Duck race

  • Pooh sticks (stick coloured electrical tape in strips round the sticks so you know whose is whose!)

  • Sport matches

    • Cricket

    • Football

    • Rounders

  • Get landowners permission.

  • People pay to play and watch. Sell tickets in advance. Consider providing a good tea in the ticket price

Film Nights

  • A Charity called The Dorset Film Company- Moviola will show films in your hall. You promote the event, sell tickets. They take £150 or 75% of ticket sales whichever is the greater. They need a minimum of 60 people. Minimum ticket price £5. (in 2008)

  • You make money on refreshments, ice creams.

    • Try and get an email list going, makes publicity easier

    • You book the date(s) first and firm up the film(s) later


  • Tel. +44(0)1935 872 607

Earned income: Sponsorship

  • Sponsorship

    • bike rides- could be how slowly complete the course.

    • Treasure hunts. You organise the event and charge people to enter. Could be historically linked to church, school, community hall or local area

    • Scavenger hunts

    • Runs/ marathons

    • Matchbox challenge. Sponsorship for each item fitted into the matchbox

    • Jam jar challenge

    • Poetry learning- and then have a recital

    • For children

      • Leap frog

      • Reading books

      • Pram push

  • Be inventive

  • Try linking to your cause ie skip for playground equipment, planting up containers / taking cuttings for a garden

  • Sponsorship – just giving website- start with family and friends (set the rate). Personalise your page.

  • only for registered charities. Your charity can register


  • give tips on making the most from using the site

  • Ensure your event doesn’t clash with another one in the local area

  • Give plenty of notice of event

  • Take photos of winners and send to press to publicise your cause, say thank you and share the amount raised

Raffles and Lotteries

Under the Gambling Act 2005 a lottery is described as a ‘distribution of prizes by chance’ telephone 0121 230 6666. Under the Act there are three categories of lottery:-

  1. Small event (one-off event) do not need to register. Most raffles run by voluntary and community groups fit into this category.

No more than £100 may be spent on expenses for the event (ie tickets)

Consider holding a raffle as part of your fundraising event- but limit the number of prizes so that the raffle doesn’t detract from the event. A ‘sealed raffle’ is particularly suited to dances, fashion shows and comedy evenings. See below for how to run one.

  1. Private lotteries- held by and for a defined group of people do not usually need to register. Sweepstakes or draws held in the workplace or raffles held as part of a dance do not need to register.

You can use cloakroom tickets if they are sold and drawn at the event

  1. Society Lotteries with proceeds in a single lottery or cumulatively over the year over a certain amount may need to register with the Gambling Commission. Lotteries or scratch cards may need to register if substantial amounts are raised.

Type ‘raffle tickets ’into google for specialist printers of raffle tickets

One method for a sealed raffle

With these 1:4 odds this raffle made £1000
Have 40 prizes value £15-£100.

  • You may need to do car boot sales etc to raise money to buy some prizes.

  • Offer supporters who cannot attend your event an opportunity to buy and donate a raffle prize instead.

  • Approach local business for prizes.

  • Don’t forget to thank people who donate prizes and let them know how much you raised.

  • Don’t forget to publicise business’ who have donated prizes at the event

Write the name of each prize on a piece of paper.

Do this four times (so if you have a printer as a prize, then four pieces of paper will say ’printer’).
Have 160 tickets placed in 160 envelopes

Have four prize draw words. (i.e. football, tennis, cricket, rugby (make them appropriate to your organisation))

In each envelope place one of four prize words and one of the pieces of paper with the name of a prize, put blank pieces of paper in the rest.

Two thirds of the envelopes will have a prize draw word (i.e. ‘football’) and a blank piece of paper

Now four envelopes will have the words ‘case of wine’ written, but only one will have the word ‘football’ and ‘case of wine’.
Sell envelopes at £5 each.

  • Divide your envelopes so that ¼ can be kept back i.e. all those with the word ’cricket’.

  • You must sell all the envelopes to make the money and you will have very unhappy punters if two of them are claiming the same prize or a prize goes unclaimed.

  • Once you have sold the original ¾ then you can decide whether to release the final quarter of envelopes.

Draw one of the prize words
People know instantly whether and what they have won.

People collect their prize.

Race nights

  • Dog Race Night

  • Horse Race Night

  • Buy from

Reid Street, Christchurch BH23 2BT. 01202 489361 (dog racing £12.76 + 30 races ( in July 2008)
Google ‘dog race night’ Have useful advice on running the night.

You do not need to register with the Gambling Commission

Fashion Shows

  • Contact local art or design college, students may help out, dressing, coaching and finding models in return for their designs being showcased.

  • Approach local clothing retailers. They get exposure and feel good factor. You sell tickets and get funds. You might both promote the event

  • Remember to have clothes for all sizes, shapes and ages

Dances etc

  • Dance

  • Disco

  • Ball

  • Book your venue and advertise in plenty of time

  • Try a closed raffle at the event (see handout)

  • Consider an Auction. Make sure you have a good auctioneer. 9 good prizes is usually more than sufficient- don’t overshadow the dance

  • Research food costs- maybe have boxes of chocolates on the table instead of puddings

  • If you have access to mini-buses, and volunteer drivers, offer them to take people home

  • Don’t be greedy. Make sure people have a good night out: they will spend more and be willing to support you again

5: Further Help
How small groups can raise big funds by Jessica Ruston. ISBN 97819054 1023-1
Need to know Fundraising? By Michael Norton ISBN 978-0-00-724665-6

For further information contact Southampton Voluntary Services (SVS)

Telephone 02380 228291 and ask for a development worker from the VSST (Voluntary sector Support team) or


SVS does not represent or guarantee that the information on this briefing is accurate, complete or up to date. SVS does not accept liability for any loss, damage or inconvenience due to the use of; or the inability to use any information contained in this briefing. Visitors who use this briefing and rely on any information do so at their own risk.

Reviewer: Auran Sood, Funding and Fundraising Development Worker

promoting voluntary action
Reg. Charity No. 1068350 Company No. 3515397 Limited

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