Boosting profits

If the profit you make is the measure of success at your fundraising event, how can you push it that little bit further?

purse with money

Image: BananaStock/

Interval games

You've kept your overheads to a minimum, so how can you eke out a bit more profit at your event? By running some games in the break! Not only will they provide a cash benefit, but should offer an opportunity for fun, too. Advise participants to bring along some extra cash, and decide which idea might best suit the event and the audience.

  • Heads or tails is quick, popular, and fun for family events. Charge players 50p to join in and have your quizmaster flip a coin, at which point participants must choose either heads – where they need to make bunny ears – or tails, where they make a tail with their hands. Those that get it wrong must sit down. Play resumes until there's one person left standing – they win half the cash as a prize.
  • Roll a £1 is ideal for an adults-only fundraisers. Mark a clear start line about five metres away from a bottle of (preferably donated) whisky or Prosecco, then get people to roll a £1 coin towards it. The coin that comes the closest is the winner.
  • £50 grids can be used at almost any event, from quizzes to summer fairs. Either use 100 blank squares, or print a map of your catchment area and overlay a grid of squares. Seal a £50 note in an envelope. Players pay £1 to play, and write their name and contact details in their chosen square. Use the last two digits of the £50 note's serial number to reveal the winning square.

Silent auction/ bidding wall

Forget charging £1 for a strip of raffle tickets, where people often win a prize they didn't really want. A silent auction can bring in a much bigger profit, with supporters only bidding for the items they're interested in. Plus, prizes can be more varied, and it practically runs itself on the night!

A silent auction gives people the chance, during an event, to view the items available and see what takes their fancy. People can also revisit bidding sheets to outbid others before the auction closes. When seeking prizes, be creative – from a boiler service to karate lessons or theatre tickets.

Aim for a minimum of 10 high-quality prizes and consider how best to display these. Bidders write their contact details and bid under each prize. When the bidding ends, announce the winners. Cultivate your donors by sending out 'thank you' letters, detailing how much the event raised and how this has contributed towards your goal.

Secure sponsorship

Approach local companies and other supporters to seek sponsorship for a specific event (or elements of your event) in exchange for publicity: by donating prizes for a raffle or auction; purchasing a piece of equipment; or advertising in an event programme.

Talk to the business initially about the areas of need, rather than money – this will capture their attention before you raise the matter of cost. Don't simply ask for £50 to cover a small project – find out how much money they have available, and start discussions there!

Think about which businesses or sole traders in your area would want to advertise to parents – forget a simple stroll up the high street to ask for sponsorship – plumbers, electricians and solicitors rarely get asked for donations, yet are often keen to help! Align the type of business to the project – if fundraising for your school gardening club, a local landscaping firm might cover the cost of plants and equipment in exchange for a plaque outside the school's garden area.

Buying and selling smart

You can often negotiate prices, or limit delivery charges, by buying in bulk. Factor your purchasing requirements for the year into your fundraising strategy – for prizes on stalls, disposables such as napkins, etc. Then appoint one person to manage the job of buying stock for all your fundraising events.

If purchasing products from a wholesaler, run your numbers to assess what to charge to make a reasonable profit and which items can be stored for future events. Leftover stock can be a real profit killer, so check whether your supplier offers a sale or return deal on unopened packs of non-perishables.

Assess which products sell well at different events or at certain times of year. Employ rigorous stock control procedures, check best-before dates on perishables regularly, and document any stock that is allocated to an upcoming event, as well as what might need topping up and by when.

Make use of your assets

Consider the resources and contacts you already have. Many companies in the UK offer employees the chance to boost their fundraising efforts by matching the money they raise. This is usually around £500 per activity.

Ask parents to investigate whether their employers operate, or are interested in running a match funding scheme. A quick Internet search will also give you a list of organisations that have been known to match fund, so this may be a good way to identify employers in your local area that parents can approach.

Look to the community for savings, too, as many assets can often be borrowed. Other schools or community groups may be willing to lend you equipment or facilities depending on the type of event. If running a sports-themed fundraiser, for instance, ask whether a local gym would be happy to provide equipment such as rowing machines in exchange for marketing.


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