When it comes to ideas for fundraisers and causes for youth groups,
17-year-old Megan has an outstanding story that can be adapted by others.
Megan lives near Seattle, Washington and decided she wanted to help the homeless on the streets. She founded “Megan’s Mission” to hand-deliver fleece blankets, scarves, hats, socks and gloves directly to the homeless. With each delivery, she tells them she’s praying for them.
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Megan's story draws tears and cheers: The various news stories about her mission state how touched the recipients are, sometimes even breaking down in tears and seeing Megan as an angel. She and a group of others including her parents purchase fleece in bulk, then sew the items as a group activity. Once completed, they fill a wagon with the items and head to downtown Seattle to directly deliver the items. Adults are involved in the delivery, so safety is addressed.
Megan’s ideas for fundraisers
Megan's main fundraiser started out as selling hot chocolate, apple cider and cookies during the Christmas holidays in a neighborhood where the neighbors are all known to lavishly decorate the outside of their homes with lights. The neighborhood always draws a crowd that drives through rather slowly. So Megan sets up her stand and offers holiday goodies, with the drivers aware it’s a fundraiser for the homeless. She earns hundreds of dollars this way, sometimes getting large tips.
This allows Megan’s group to buy fleece in bulk to make the blankets, scarves and hats, and to purchase quantities of gloves and socks.
fundraising idea makes enough money to also donate $100 a month to
Firstplace, a school for homeless and at-risk kids; Childhaven, which
helps drug babies and small children; Union Gospel Mission, a homeless
shelter; and she gives $600 a year to Fusion, an organization that helps
women with children affected by domestic violence.
Another of her ideas for fundraisers happened when she got a little more well-known. She now also sells colorful silicon bracelets for $2 each with “Megan’s Mission” stamped on them.
Eventually, yet another idea for fundraisers came about. Megan spent much time in hospitals growing up. So she has written two children’s books about being a child in a hospital, and growing up different, the profits of both which will go to further good causes including Shriner Hospital where children are treated at no cost to their parents.
She now has a website,
which helps with her various fundraising projects.
Megan’s model of causes and ideas for fundraisers is successful in more than one way
- It involves innovative ideas for fundraisers that build on each other over time. Starting with tried and true hands-on homemade selling when her mission wasn’t well known. Then expanding the fundraising and learning how to buy customized items in bulk to sell for a profit to further support her cause.
- Only after the mission was well-known enough for a web site and more media coverage, and she had more experience in the world of charity, she used that wisdom to learn about publishing and how to publish for a profit that further funded her causes.
This re-enforces delayed gratification, perseverance, and earning one’s place in the world step by step.
- So, just like in the real world of commerce: Start with something everyone already actually wants before the brand or mission is well-known. Once well-known, cash in on the brand or mission and earn with products (like the bracelets) that reflect it.
- Megan and her group actually see the expressions and faces of the people who receive her goods. The sense of being a valued community citizen sinks in deep. They go out into the community and feel themselves making a difference in others’ lives.
Adapting Megan’s ideas for your fundraisers
Selling the homemade: Location and timing are so important, as in the warm holiday goodies she sold in a safe location where many people were passing through. Other ideas for fundraisers I’ve seen that meet these criteria include a group of girls who sold lemonade and slices of seedless watermelon during the summer in a popular city jogging park, and kids selling houseplants at a home product store.
Selling customized items and self-published books: Places like our affiliate Zazzle allow you to design custom items like caps, mugs, and T-shirts, and self-publish books with no money upfront, selling them from an online store where each one is made only when someone places and pays for an order. These are best for when customers will order your products online.
However, “make-on-demand” has to cover its own overhead. Prices for each object are not low bulk prices, and you have to mark up their prices enough to make a profit yourself, making the final price somewhat higher.
The other alternative is
outright buying your customized product at low bulk prices, and having
to store them and hope they sell enough to profit. For this, there are
many “customized fundraisers” to shop through. There are also
well-established publishers of fundraising books and calendars. Most
concentrate on cookbooks as fundraisers. If your group’s mission
or project gets better known, you might find artists and printers
donating services towards your cause.
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