We contacted several groups who have traveled with the National Relief Network many times, and here are some fundraising ideas that have worked best for them:
1. Caledonia High School–Caledonia, MI (10 trips with NRN)
a. Letter writing to family, friends, and community members
b. Making a presentation at family church and asking for one Sunday’s collection to be given to alternative break
c. Since Caledonia HS has incorporated an NRN trip into their school culture, students know that a trip will always be available, so many students begin saving as a freshman so that they may go on a trip during their junior or senior year.
d. Ask main office what fundraising opportunities are available for the year (pizza, candy, wrapping paper) and sell these products. Because of the work involved in this option, it is often a last resort.
2. Mary, Queen of Apostles, Catholic Church–Sand Lake, MI (8 trips with NRN)
a. Spaghetti Dinner
b. Silent Auction
c. Rummage Sale during town’s 4th of July Carnival
* each of these activities always raises over $1000 each time.
3. Bishop Miege Catholic High Schools–Shawnee Mission, KS (8 trips with NRN)
a. Leaf Raking (a fall fundraiser)–a flyer is inserted into local church bulletins describing the upcoming disaster relief trip and asking parishioners to request a student leaf raker. The students rake the leaves and receive a donation toward their trip.
b. Making a presentation at family church and asking for one Sunday’s collection to be given to the disaster relief trip.
c. Bishop Miege has organized pancake breakfasts and sold coupon books in the past. Both fundraisers are quite successful.
4. St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church–Brighton, MI (6 trips with NRN)
a. Tin Can Raffle: Students donate services (baby-sitting, lawn mowing, house cleaning, etc.) and gather donations from local businesses. Each item to be raffled off receives a tin can. People buy raffle tickets and place tickets in the item cans. Then a drawing is held. St. Mary Magdalen holds this event at their annual Parish Picnic, and it usually raises over $1000.
b. Monthly Bottle/Can Drive. Donations dropped off at church.
c. Spud Night (Potato Bar). Lots of work but profitable. A committee is formed and gets donations of food, advertises the event, and sets up. This is another version of the spaghetti dinner. Students wear NRN shirts and mingle about the room, telling diners about past and upcoming trips.
5. St. Joseph’s Catholic Church–Dexter, MI (6 trips with NRN)
a. Sell Dearborn Spiral Sliced Ham at Easter & Christmas every year
b. Sell $20 discount/coupon card for local business–Main Street Motors–a few weeks out of the year. Main Street Motors gives all proceeds back to church.
c. Youth have sold Little Caesar’s Pizzas in the past, but sometimes the amount of work put in is more than the money raised.
More Fundraising Ideas
• Letter - writing to friends and relatives (use NRN sponsorship form or NRN sample letter as a template). Always include a self-addressed stamped envelope so donors can send donation to you. Send thank-you note immediately after receiving donation.
• Submit Press Release to local paper (use NRN sample press release as a template). Include fundraising request information.
• Community Night Out–many restaurants, local and franchise, are willing to donate a percentage of one night’s profits if school or church group do the advertising (e.g. Pizza Hut, Noodles & Co., Fazolis)
• Raffles–find local businesses to donate goods to raffle off to school/church community.
• Approach local businesses, preferably where you already shop, for pledges.
• Solicit Alumni (works best for college students).
• Car Washes
• Garage/Yard Sales–advertise it as a charity fundraiser.
• Create a twist on the fundraising thermometer idea. Post a map of the United States somewhere central. Put a picture on your town and one on the destination of your NRN trip. Tell people your fundraising goal. Divide this goal by the number of miles needed to travel. For example, a group of 35 students will cost $14,000 and the trip will be 800 miles. So for every mile, you roughly need to raise about $2. Create a bus-shaped token that will move a mile along the route every time a $2 donation is given. When the bus gets close to the destination, use this as an incentive to ask for donations one more time (idea submitted by Margaret Callaghan, Youth Director at St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church)
Media Outlets to Explore:
• Local Newspapers
• Local Cable Stations
Alternative Break How-To Guides (includes Fundraising Ideas)
(Universities Rebuilding America)
Scroll down page to Toolkit for Organizing Group Service Trips to Gulf Coast Region
Click on toolkit link