Get Active With These 5 Fundraisers

These ideas totally put the “fun” in “fundraiser” and make for a great way to kick off the new school year (especially in places where the weather’s still warm!).

By Gabby Makar, Student Programs volunteer

1. Dodgeball tournament

This can be a really fun way to raise money and can be done in many different ways! You can charge teams a given fee to enter the tournament and then additionally charge spectators for snacks and drinks. You can easily set up a boundary line separating two competing teams or just use a school field or court, the mid-field line or half court line being your boundary. 

Depending on how many teams or competitors you think you will have, you can also consider offering first, second, or third place prizes. Ask a few local shops in your town if they would be willing to donate a prize or a few prizes for your event. Another way you could arrange this fundraiser is by charging individuals a fee and running the game with no boundary lines across all school fields or a larger area. The last one to get hit with a dodgeball wins!

This tournament concept can be applied to any sport (volleyball, soccer, etc.) that you think your members and community would enjoy!

2. 5K or a bike-a-thon

In order for many patients to reach the hospital site where Operation Smile provides surgeries, many have to travel a great distance and their families often sacrifice a great deal. By hosting a distance-based event, you can encourage individuals to run or bike your event in solidarity with patients who work so hard to reach their surgery. 

Have contestants submit a registration fee to enter your 5K (this can also easily be converted to a color run) or bike-a-thon. Make sure your registration fee will cover all your event costs and will leave room to earn some extra money to donate to Operation Smile. Since local parks usually ask for insurance and have other restrictions, consider holding your event on your school campus, maybe using a cross country trail. Consider providing T-shirts, bracelets, or fun goody bags for all participants. You can also give out Operation Smile fliers or thank you notes to participants as well. Another option is to include prizes for winners or create a raffle for all participants. Know your audience; if you think they would be more likely to participate if there is more incentive to win, include some first-, second- and third-place prizes! If you think your group is just there to walk the 5K and enjoy time with their friends, then maybe consider doing a raffle so everyone can have a chance to win a prize!

3. Step-counter challenge

Challenge contestants to try and walk the most steps over the course of their week or a certain day. Consider asking individuals to give pledge donations. Ask them for $0.50 for every 10,000 steps or discuss with them to find a price that they are comfortable giving. Keep in mind that pledge donations will depend upon your event’s level of engagement and participation. Another option is charging individuals a given fee to enter the challenge.

Participants can use a Fitbit, step-counting watches or an app on their phone to track their steps. Award a prize or prizes for the participants with the most steps at the end of the week or day. Depending on how many people join in your event, you could consider awarding a Fitbit, Apple Watch or other step-counting device for first place.

4. Relay race or field day

A relay race is a fun way for people to work collaboratively with their friends and unite in solidarity against other competing groups. Charge groups a given fee to enter. Relay races can be set up with as many activities as you like and you can pick and choose activities that your peers would be interested in joining in. A relay race can be completely customizable depending upon where you wish to hold your event, what resources are available to you, and how much you have available to spend. Consider hosting the event in a park or on your school fields. One example would be for the first part of the relay to be a run. Then the runner taps the next team member, who might be tasked with completing the next leg of the race while cartwheeling. Finally, that participant could pass it off to the final team member who has to make a basket. There are tons of activity options you could make part of your customized relay race, such as partner wheelbarrow, grapevine, ultra-high skipping, egg on a spoon, hop on one foot, potato sack, speed walking, and more. Choose a number of activities that suit your team sizes and participation situation. The winning team could be awarded a medal, trophy or other prize. 

Another option would be to simplify the continuous relay race into a game day with various relay-race games, each for a prize or points. You can either treat this like a carnival where you charge individuals to play different games, or you could turn this into a team competition. You can still charge teams to enter, but host several events like a water balloon toss or a game of knockout. If a team does well in a competition, they can have points added to their overall score. For example, if a team gets first place in an event, say they get 15 points. Second place could get 10, and third place would get five. At the end of the day, announce which team has the highest overall score and award them a prize!

5. Water balloon challenge

Every participant joins in by providing an entry fee of a donation to join, and the coordinator of the game (likely your Operation Smile club) assigns each competitor another individual they must try to hit with a water balloon to knock them out of the game. If you succeed, you will now take their intended target as your next target. If your target sees you coming and gets you with their water balloon first, it allows them a game freeze time of five minutes to run away. 

You can play this game on a field or open area at a designated time. Everyone picks a person out of a hat, goes into their own location on the field, opens up the piece of paper to discover their target and then runs around trying to get them out. To create a direct correlation, you can give everyone an hour for round one. You can provide the winner with a prize!