Kick Off a Summer of Smiles With These Easy Fundraisers
Although you and your club members are out of school, there are still a lot of simple, quick and fun ways you can help Operation Smile’s patients receive their surgery and comprehensive care! Take it to the next level and consider combining two or three of these ideas to create an even more profitable event.
By Gabby Makar, Student Programs volunteer
Walk/bike/swim-a-thon: See if you can get donation pledges for participants to walk, bike, or swim a predetermined distance. Choose whichever version “-a-thon” you think your community members would enjoy most.
Eating contest: Get a local bakery or restaurant to sponsor or donate a couple boxes of doughnuts, pizzas, pies, etc. and have an eating contest! You could fundraise with this event by charging contestants a fee to enter, and then the winner can get a piece of the fundraised portion or another prize! Depending on how much food your sponsor is willing to donate and how many contestants you have, you could consider having a concession stand/table for those watching the event. If you have extra boxes of goods, sell the rest at this stand, along with water bottles. You could even try to have this as part of a larger summer fair or event in your community.
Outdoor yoga class: Set up an outdoor yoga event where people can pay a small fee to join. Provide water, snacks or baked goods donated by a parent or sponsor. You can do this in a park, at a field or anywhere else you’d like!
Car wash: Get a speaker, play some tunes and have fun with your club members spending a couple hours washing some cars. Consider asking your school, police or fire station if you could use their site as a car wash station.
Lemonade stand: This one is a classic idea that you can make your own. Consider making flavored lemonades, like blueberry or raspberry, and have a stand at the end of your driveway, a festival, fair, or a local sporting event. You can even combine this with our water bottle idea (see below!) and sell your homemade lemonade in bottles you designed yourself.
Tie-dye party: This could be as simple as buying a bunch of shirts and dye from a local craft store and charging individuals by shirt. You could also design your own Operation Smile shirt by putting a small logo in the corner of a white shirt. You can charge a certain amount for each shirt and then have buckets of dye set up ahead of time. See if your local craft store would be willing to donate some of these supplies to mitigate the cost of the event. Hold your event at your house or local park.
Yard sale fundraiser: Set up some tables outside and invite everyone you know to come sell belongings that are in good shape but they don’t use anymore. Share this event with everyone you know —your school, friends, and any other group you are a part of. All the proceeds made by this community yard sale can go to Operation Smile!
Trivia night: Host an Operation Smile trivia night and challenge families or friend groups to compete to see who knows the most about Operation Smile! Sell soft pretzels or other treats to fundraise.
Ice cream sundae social: Set up an ice cream sundae bar and charge individuals per bowl. You could also invite a speaker to talk about Operation Smile halfway through the event when most people already have their ice cream. Consider asking a local ice cream shop to provide the ice cream as a donation-in-kind to Operation Smile.
Beach or pool party: If you live near a beach (or a friend, parent, or community member is willing to host at their pool) this can be a really fun and easy summer fundraiser! If it is in a more private setting like someone’s home, sell tickets to enter. If it is at a beach or public pool, consider having some fun activities and concessions that can be used to fundraise. Individuals can pay a dollar to play cornhole, enter an eating contest, play water-balloon toss, so on.
Volleyball or kickball tournament: Volleyball and kickball are both very popular summer activities for friends and family. Consider hosting a tournament and charging each team a fee to enter or encouraging teams to find sponsors. The winning team can get a prize, such as Operation Smile T-shirts or prize money. Use a school volleyball net, or if someone offers their house with a volleyball net, that is also great. If you don’t have easy access to a volleyball net, hold a kickball tournament in a park or a school field, and set up markers for first, second, third and home base.
Climb for a cause: If you live near any walking or hiking trails, encourage participants to walk or climb it. Set up stations along the trail with water. Have participants fundraise by finding donors to make pledges based on how long it takes you to complete the trail or hike.
Greeting card fundraiser: Take advantage of International Friendship Day (which is the first Sunday in August) and sell your personally designed cards! These can be physical cards (or e-cards, in order to save money on resources) that are specially designed by an artistic club member.
Sunset Party: Invite everyone you know to watch the sunset and make it a party! Everyone is invited and you can set up some concession stands and sell food and drinks. The food and drinks can be as complicated or simple as you wish. You can have a barbecue and sell plates or sell baked goods donated by parents or other supporters.
Bake off or bake sale: Host a bakeoff where individuals bring their favorite homemade baked goods and have a panel of judges taste-test each one and choose a winner! The remainder of the baked goods can then be sold to spectators. The event can be turned into a huge bake sale with the profits going toward supporting Operation Smile’s patients.
Water bottle fundraiser: Design your own water bottles and sell them with different drinks, such as water or lemonade, inside. You can sell them at sporting events, festivals or some of the other events listed above!