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Fundraising Ideas for Teenagers

by Zora Hughes

Whether your are team mom for your teenager's cheer team or you lead a youth group of teens at your church, fundraising is often a crucial part of providing what the teen group needs. If your teen group needs to raise money, work with the teens to come up with ideas. While they might think of ideas that would appeal to teens, remind them that the best fundraisers will appeal to adults because they are the ones with the money. Keep in mind the cost of setting up a fundraiser and your community resources when choosing the right type of fundraiser.

Cleaning Fundraisers

A car wash is a classic and lucrative way for teens to raise money. The most important step for a successful car wash is to choose the ideal parking lot location, near a major shopping center, or close to a special event going on in town. Have the teens advertise heavily throughout the community during the weekend and week before the event. You should also have a few teens walking around holding large signs to advertise the event while it's going on. Another cleaning type of idea is to have the teens offer yard help services. Teens can advertise and go door-to-door offering to mow lawns, pick up sticks and paint fences for a good cause. Ask the homeowners for any donation they feel is appropriate.

Food Fundraisers

Food fundraisers are almost always a hit, especially when done right. Skip the bake sale and offer full-fledged fundraiser dinners. Keep menus simple so teens can prepare the food with adult supervision. For example, the teens could promote a $5 spaghetti dinner with a choice of sauces, salad and a roll. You'll need to work with a community center or high school to secure a location for the fundraiser. You could also have a culture dinner fundraiser, with the parents of teens preparing a dish native to their culture or a treasured family recipe. Another food fundraiser to consider is a cook-off. This is an ideal fundraiser to promote heavily among parents. Ensure that each teen at the high school, youth group or team gives their parents a flier to enter the cook-off for a fee. You can have themes like a mac-and-cheese cook-off, a chili cook-off, a cookie bake-off. You could also have a cupcake wars competition, with baking-savvy parents and teens pairing up racing to complete certain types of cupcakes.

Community Walk and Run

A walk and run gets the community active. Have the teens contact city officials to inquire about having a small walk/run in a park. You want to avoid trying to do a walk that would require streets to be shut down. Charge a minimum to enter the walk, and make it a few dollars less for children. You can also encourage people to raise more money by giving them a pledge support sheet when they sign up. If a person or individual raises a large amount, you can reward them with some sort of prize. Keep the walk and run fairly short, no more than a 5K so it appeals to people of all physical abilities.You can also include mini races before or after the main race, such as a 50-yard stroller dasher, a 10-yard baby crawl and children's 50- and 100-yard dash races.

Raffles and Auctions

Sell raffle tickets at team games, after church or after school and plan a huge raffle event where the winners are announced. Contact restaurants and businesses to see whether they would be willing to donate free dinner and services as raffle prizes. You can also have auctions for special experiences such as dinner at an exclusive restaurant, free tickets to an upcoming concert, or dinner with the mayor, if you can arrange it. These types of fundraisers typically require charisma and persistence to get businesses to offer services for free, so choose well-spoken, charismatic teens within your group to contact them.

About the Author

Based in Los Angeles, Zora Hughes has been writing travel, parenting, cooking and relationship articles since 2010. Her work includes writing city profiles for Groupon. She also writes screenplays and won the S. Randolph Playwriting Award in 2004. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in television writing/producing and a Master of Arts Management in entertainment media management, both from Columbia College.

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