Educational Fundraising Ideas for Universities

Organizing a fundraiser is a common way for college students, alumni associations, sports teams, sororities and fraternities and many other university groups to raise money to fund programs. Once a university group decides to host a fundraiser, the question becomes…what type of fundraiser?   One interesting theme for a university fundraising campaign would be to focus on education.  After all, students are paying money to develop their skills and expand their knowledge base. There are many ways to educate and inspire given the rich resources universities hold intellectually, while at the same time letting your donors know of your need for funds.

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Below are a few ideas to consider if you are interested in offering an educational fundraiser on campus.

  • Lecture Series:  Host a series of lectures on campus.  Invite an expert to speak about a specific topic each week, and be sure the topics relate to your cause. For example, if you are raising money to support your university sports programs, the first week could discuss the power of teams.  Successive weeks could focus on the powerful health benefits of exercise, the importance of nutrition, exercise physiology, the psychology of sports.  Other examples of interesting lecture series held by universities would be a music program offering education on the healing power of music; science programs offering public education on global warming and the environment; and art programs offering to teach painting or photography to its community.  Add an element of fun and “surprise” to your lecture series with a fundraising raffle. Lecture attendees could purchase raffle tickets for a chance to win great prizes such as gift certificates to restaurants, spas, boutiques, and sporting events.
  • Education through Community Service: Another excellent educational university fundraising idea is to host a fundraiser that strives to educate students about giving back to their community.  This is a lesson they will carry with them long after college.  Attending university is more than just learning new skills designed to help you get started down your career path, but college is also about learning life skills. This is the first time students experience what its like to work and live within a community, balancing time between schoolwork and social engagements.  And, learning to give back to the campus and community as a whole.  Holding a series of fundraising outings at nursing homes, homeless shelters, schools, community centers and conservation field sites will allow you to raise money for your cause, while informing donors of your important contributions to the community. You can offer various types of community services through hosting an event like a “serve-a-thon“.
  • Campus Gala Event: Consider hosting a guest speaker and gala event for your university fundraiser.  Guest can enjoy a fine-dining experience, as well as the opportunity to network and mingle with your constituents, while learning valuable information from a guest speaker, performance or short documentary.  Include a silent auction as part of your gala event.  Set up a table displaying one-of-a-kind donated items from local businesses, celebrities and influential community members.  Throughout the evening guests can bid on these items allowing your group to raise additional funds for your cause.
  • Educational Pledge Drive: A pledge drive could be held for your university that is unique to other pledge drives.  You could unite with several university departments in an attempt to raise funds to bring in more educational resources for the school.  Perhaps you are looking at expanding your library or purchasing new computers for classrooms.   When hosting a pledge event, the success of the fundraiser lies on the success of the participants. Using an online pledge software program allows students, faculty and staff to easily register for the event and collect online donations.  Each participant creates their own personalized pledge page where they upload a photo, explain their mission, track personal fundraising goals, and then reach out to their network of family, friends and associates to secure pledge donations.

Promoting your educational fundraiser

Regardless of what type of initiative you choose, you’ll want to be sure to promote your university fundraiser.  Create a fundraising website where you can provide more information to your constituents about your lecture series topics, educational activity, or pledge drive.  Your website offers easy online registration, and processes secure, online donations.  Often people may choose to donate to a cause by simply making a donation as opposed to attending an event.

Be sure to spread the word about your fundraiser by posting your fundraising website link on your university website, Facebook page and other social networking sites.  Send email announcements to your group’s database as well as your personal contacts.  Distribute press releases to college newspapers and look for opportunities to add your event to campus calendars.  Consider selling raffle tickets (or event tickets) in advance of the fundraising event by setting up a table at popular gathering places (i.e. sports games and campus bookstores).  Save money by reaching out to industry experts and asking them to donate their time as a guest lecturer, or approaching local businesses for donations for raffle or silent auction prizes.

For more fundraising guidelines, helpful tips and sample templates, visit our University Fundraising Resources.