10 Great Office Fundraiser Ideas

1. Create a Recipe Book

Everyone brings in a favorite family recipe which is then compiled into a single document, beautified, and published for resale.

To execute this fundraiser

Send around a sign-up sheet so you can get a feel for the kinds of dishes people would like to contribute. Have the sign-up sheet broken out into categories, such as Appetizers, Salads, Poultry, Pasta, Desserts—be creative. Be sure to include several blanks for ‘Other’ in case you forgot something. (Using categories here will also help you organize the recipe book later.) Make sure the sign-up sheet also describes the goal (this is part of a fundraiser,) the deadline for contributions and the reward for contributing (credits in the cookbook, bragging rights, a discount on the cookbook when it’s ready, etc.)

Once you have received enough recipes, compile them into your word-processing software. Apply a festive template, font-style and high-resolution pictures of the dishes for extra pizzazz.  Don’t forget to pass a draft around for additional suggestions and proofreading.

Finally, take the finished product to the local print-shop and have them printed. Hopefully, you allowed people to pre-order and pay ahead of time. (Tip: Include the option to do this with the sign-up sheet!) Pre-orders and “reserve your copy” reminders will help you pay printing costs and determine how many copies to print.

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2. Book Sale

Help employees purge clutter at home by encouraging them to dust off and donate their used books to a book sale. Sell the books at a discount and match them to new homes.

To hold this fundraiser

Most of us have books that have been sitting on our bookshelves, untouched for many years. Encourage teammates to bring in those books and donate them. Collect the books over the course of a week or two. On the day of the big sale, lay the books out to gain maximum exposure. Announce the beginning of the sale and let it go on for as long as you like. The length of your sale depends upon its popularity since someone must be available to provide answers about prices, make a change, etc.

Near the end of your sale, encourage people to revisit and benefit from a steep discount (buy one book, get a second book free, for example.) Your mission is to squeeze as much as you can out of the effort and reduce your inventory.

Once the sale is over, you have two choices: store the remaining books for another sale or donate them to the local library or city mission.

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3. Bake Sale

Give your baking teammates a chance to show their stuff by donating through a bake sale. Those who don’t bake can buy baked goods at the local grocery store and mark up the price to contribute to the fundraiser.

To hold this fundraiser

Open the sale just prior to lunchtime and make sure to broadcast a vivid reminder. No need to limit yourself to baked goods either.

You can do the same thing with:

  • Popcorn
  • Hot dogs
  • Bakery goods
  • Ice cream
  • Nachos

Twist: Have any gardeners on the team? Expand this concept to holding your own farmers’ market.

Twist: Host a pancake breakfast where organization leaders cook pancakes and fry up breakfast meats and potatoes for the crew. While this can be leveraged as a fundraiser, this is also a great idea for simple employee appreciation.

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4. Cook-Off Competition

Target a popular type of dish and have staff compete for high honors. Everyone pays to eat.

To hold this fundraiser

You’ll need a sign-up sheet for this one. Collect the names of would-be cooks and have employees RSVP to the dining event. Each cook prepares a full batch of their delectable dish and brings it in for the lunch rush. Collect employee money at the beginning of the food line. Each employee gets to try as many of the dishes as they like, but all employees are limited to a single vote. Tally the votes after the lunch rush and announce the winner!

Twist: Have team members prepare delicious lunches for auctioning off to co-workers.

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5. Announce a Jean Day

Have an office where the dress code is business casual or uniforms? As long as some structure is placed on this (i.e. no ripped jeans, no denim skirts above the knee—whatever is appropriate for your organization’s culture,) a jean day can be an easy, no-muss, no-fuss fundraiser for your office.

To conduct this fundraiser

Announce a Jean Day, where people can pay a small amount ($1-$3) to wear jeans.  Let people know what the money will go toward (i.e. a holiday party later in the year, a local charity, etc.) The likeliest day for this is usually a Friday when people are often relaxing into their weekends. Studies have shown, however, that holding a Jean Day on a Monday actually shows a boost in employee productivity. (No kidding.)

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6. Costume Contest

Get your teammates to show their true colors.

To hold this fundraiser

Charge a low entry fee for participants. Promise bragging rights and free lunch. (Yes, this eats into your revenues. Pun intended.) Since paying money to dress up in a silly outfit and be seen by your co-workers may be a deterrent, you’ll need the incentive of free food. Take pictures of this one and post everywhere. This one often accompanies other fundraisers, such as Executive Auction or Office Raffle/Silent Auction.

Themes might include:

  • Team Spirit Day
  • Halloween Day
  • St. Patrick’s Day
  • Argyle Day
  • 80’s Day

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7. Office Sports Competition

The game day takes on a whole new meaning when colleagues team up to create adventure courses throughout the office.

To conduct this fundraiser

Establish teams to create courses throughout the office. Charge a low entry fee to participate and win prizes and high acclaim.

Courses may include:

  • Putt-putt golf obstacle courses
  • Nerf basketball or ping pong ball trick-shot courses
  • Office Olympics, where mundane tasks are put to a race (make X number of photocopies, collated, 2-sided, stapled, then file X number of documents, then make X number of cold calls or customer service calls, mail cart slalom, etc.)
  • Foosball, air hockey or billiards competitions (if available)

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8. Office Raffle

Everyone can chip in and buy tickets. Just be sure to make the prizes enticing, otherwise, no one will see the value in playing.

To hold this fundraiser

This fundraiser is all about the prizes, so they had better be good. Lunch with the boss will only work if people actually like the boss, so tread carefully here. Buy your ticket rolls at any office supply store and leave raffle participants with little paper stubs of hope in exchange for their well-earned cash. While the possibilities are endless,

raffle prize ideas may include:

  • Wear jeans around the office for a day/week/month.
  • Get a full day off, with pay.
  • Lunch with the boss at a posh restaurant, on the boss’ tab.
  • Tickets to a sports game.
  • Gift cards for restaurants, spas, movie theaters, stores or gas stations.
  • A non-business trip, with lodging and meals covered.
  • Air miles.

Twist: A variation of this would be the silent auction, where prizes can be bid upon directly. This allows for greater diversity in prizes which broadens the appeal.

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9. Executive Auction

Participating executives line up for a pageant and the employees are able to bid on them once the dog and pony show is over. The executive purchased then has to do that employee’s job for a day.

To conduct this fundraiser

Set the starting bids on the executives. These minimum bids, when added together, will ideally surpass the fundraising goal so that everything else is cream. If your fundraiser’s goal is loftier, aim to achieve at least half with the opening bids.

For the auction stage, have the executives perform for the crowd to build the bidding frenzy. Use tasks that humanize and personalize the executives.

These segments may include:

  • Give an off-the-cuff speech for two minutes involving a funny memory
  • Tell what they would do if they were President of the World for a day
  • Dance to three very different 10-second music bites
  • Runway model
  • Spelling bee (See “Adult Spelling Bee“)
  • Talk about a personal goal or interest that doesn’t involve the office at all

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10. Pin the Tail on the Executive

Well, not really, but as the title implies, this fundraising tactic targets executive authority. The object is to inspire donations at the expense of a well-humored (and hopefully well-loved) executive or manager. People will pay dearly to see their higher-ups lowered to receiving public smirks and jeers with their slice of humble pie.

To execute this fundraiser

Set the office fundraising goal. Then set the incentive for meeting that goal.

If the goal is met, fundraising incentives for this strategy may include:

  • Wearing some ridiculous costume (keep it clean and present a picture of the costume ahead of time). The best costumes may ballerina animals, mythological creatures, team mascots, etc.
  • Shaving off beards or mustaches. (This only applies to the whiskered men.)
  • Wearing a competing college team’s uniform all day, singing the competing college’s fight song, or allowing staff to decorate the executive’s office with competing for college fanfare.
  • Executive matches the donations or a percentage of the donations for their team, floor, agency, etc.
  • An executive is ‘jailed’ until they reach their donation goals. (Read ”How to be Arrested for Fundraising”)

Twist: If the goal is NOT met, maybe the employees have to take on the same challenge?