15 Unique College Fundraising Ideas

Check out our list of 15 creative college fundraising ideas to help inspire you as you plan your next event or campaign!
College Fundraising Ideas

After using Anedot:

About the guest:

As a college fundraising coordinator, you are in a key position to secure the resources needed to achieve your institution’s mission and goals.

Whether you are raising money for athletics, student affairs, building renovations, or something else, you understand the importance of fundraising to help make your college exceptional.

As you plan your fundraising efforts, keep in mind that college fundraising isn’t just about raising money.

It is also an opportunity for both you (and the students you work with) to learn practical skills that will benefit you personally and professionally.

Fundraising requires countless practical skills (think persuasion, ingenuity, organization, budgeting… the list goes on).

So while raising money for your group, team, or club, you also get to learn a handful of new skills that will help you excel in the future. Sounds like a double win to me!

Get creative with college fundraising ideas

Get creative with college fundraising ideas

Sometimes, of course, fundraising can feel… not so fun.

Higher education fundraising can be a lot of work, and it’s easy to wish we had immediate access to all the funds we needed, so we didn’t have to raise money in the first place. 

One of the best ways to help fundraising live up to its “fun” namesake is to get creative!

If your college fundraising event is unique and innovative, you will see increased engagement and greater buzz around your cause.

Plus, people will more likely remember your event, making your job much easier the next time!

To help get those brainstorming juices flowing, I’ve compiled a list of 15 creative college fundraising ideas to help inspire you as you plan your next event or campaign!

1. Resale fashion show

College fundraising ideas - resale fashion show

This is a great way to fundraise for your cause and promote sustainable fashion!

Assign students as designers, and commission them to create mini fashion lines featuring thrifted clothing.

Then, charge admission to your resale fashion show and sell clothing items at the end of the night for extra funds!

2. Gaming tournament

College fundraising ideas - gaming tournament

Whether you choose Call of Duty, Super Smash Bros, or FIFA, hosting a gaming tournament is a great way to make money off of something that college students are probably doing anyway.

(Bonus points if you play The Last of Us and serve up some stuffed mushrooms. If you know, you know.) 

3. Succulent sale

College fundraising ideas - succulent sale

Plants are a great way to make a dorm room feel less like a dorm room – especially if the plants are low maintenance!

You can buy succulents in bulk and then pot them yourself to sell or an upcharge, or you can connect with a local plant store to collect donations. 

4. Volleyball tournament

College fundraising ideas - volleyball tournament

A volleyball tournament is a great way to bring students, professors, and community members together, all while raising money for your cause!

You can make money from this event by charging an entry fee for each team and selling concessions on the day of the tournament.

To encourage registrations, make sure to offer prizes for the winning teams.

5. Coffee sale

College fundraising ideas - coffee sale

Coffee is a hot commodity on college campuses, which means that a coffee sale is sure to be a successful college fundraiser!

Simply borrow an espresso machine, recruit your barista friends, and set up a booth on campus to dish out the caffeinated goods.

Make sure to have a donation jar, of course! Trust me, your sleep-deprived college friends will thank you!

→ Learn how to maximize your university's social media marketing strategy with these 14 tips!

6. Trivia night

College fundraising ideas - trivia night

Trivia nights have become incredibly popular in recent years, and they can also make a memorable college fundraiser!

This fundraising idea works particularly well if you partner with a local brewery or coffee shop.

Simply pick a topic (think sports, history, pop culture, or even The Office), and text your friends’ knowledge while making money for your cause!

7. Pies and fries

College fundraising ideas - pies and fries

I stole the idea for this event from my sister, who was in charge of student events at her college.

She connected with a local restaurant and offered everyone in her student body the opportunity to get a mini pie shake and mini fry on a Saturday night in October.

Her student government team made a lot of money for future student events, and the restaurant was thrilled with the traffic!

Reach out to local frozen yogurt, bagel, and coffee shops to see if they are open to fundraising partnerships.

You would be surprised how many restaurants already have fundraising deals in place!

8. Art auction

College fundraising ideas - art auction

To pull off this college fundraiser, you will need to commission students to create art pieces.

Then, find space on campus (or an external venue), and feature the art pieces with suggested bidding minimums.

Art fundraisers tend to be incredibly fruitful, and this is an excellent way to showcase local talent while generating funds!

9. Sock sales 

College fundraising ideas - sock sales

Selling cool socks is a creative and memorable way to raise funds for your cause.

Look for socks that are colorful and fun, and customize the socks by putting your organization’s slogan or logo to make them more personalized. 

10. Donation-based master class

College fundraising ideas - donation-based master classes

This fundraising idea is perfect for a college campus.

Recruit your favorite professor (or show off your recently accrued knowledge!) and host a master class on any topic that may be of interest to the public (think psychology, history, art… you name it).

You’ll be surprised at the donations you can pull in from an educational event!

→ Learn about the five ways schools and universities can use QR codes in higher education marketing!

11. Smash room

College fundraising ideas - smash room

Smash rooms have become incredibly popular in recent years due to their stress-relieving reputation.

A smash room is a place where people can smash, break, and destroy objects such as glasses, plates, and electronics in a controlled environment.

To pull off this college fundraiser, gather materials that can be easily smashed and broken, and look for a safe space to host the event.

(You may want to consider partnering with a local business that already has the setup!) 

12. Athlete’s cookbook

College fundraising ideas - athlete's cookbook

If you are hosting a college fundraiser for your sports team or athletic department, an athlete’s cookbook is a great way to raise money.

Ask athletes to submit their favorite nutritious recipes, and then hire a graphic designer to compile the recipes into an attractive, printable book.

You can sell the cookbook on campus or online. I recommend selling them at athletic events to draw in donors who are already fans of your college sports teams!

13. Battle of the bands

College fundraising ideas - battle of the bands

Concerts are a lucrative way to raise money for a club, team, or other cause.

Host your own “battle of the bands” event featuring local bands or artists, and let the crowd decide the winner!

You can also sell food and beverages to raise additional funds. 

14. Speed dating

College fundraising ideas - speed dating

If your college fundraiser happens to be around Valentine’s Day, speed dating is an excellent option!

During this event, attendees are paired up for short intervals of time – typically about five minutes– to have the opportunity to get to know each other before moving on to the next person.

15. Host a charity walk or run

College fundraising ideas - host a charity walk or run

5k races are a popular and effective fundraising event for a good reason!

Choose a location, set a date, and begin recruiting runners and walkers. You can either charge a race entry fee or invite people to participate in exchange for donations.

You can also create themes such as costume run or color run. 

→ Boost your university fundraising efforts by creating a positive online giving experience. Check out our list of our favorite university online giving experiences!

Get the support you need!

Get all the support you need for college fundraising ideas

College fundraising is a powerful tool for you to help achieve your institution’s mission and goals while becoming a more confident and creative leader.

Looking for more support as you embark on your fundraising journey?

Anedot offers countless fundraising solutions to support you as you learn and grow. 

80 Community Service Ideas for Nonprofits Guide

80 Community Service Ideas for Nonprofits

Get the rest of the 80 community ideas for nonprofits by downloading our free guide below!
Download Free Guide
→ Increase generosity and giving with Anedot's free online giving for ministries.
→ Increase generosity and giving with Anedot's free online giving for churches.
→ Learn more about Anedot's nonprofit fundraising software!
Discover the Anedot advantage - Demo CTA Horizontal
→ Read testimonials of why 30,000+ organizations and millions of donors love Anedot, or get a demo today!
→ Read testimonials of why 25,000+ organizations and millions of donors love Anedot, or get a demo today!
→ Read testimonials of why 25,000+ organizations and millions of donors love Anedot, or request a consultation call today!
Nonprofit Pulse AdNonprofit Pulse Ad

Show notes:


How to Attract a New Corporate Partner in Less Than 30 Days

Learn how to how to attract a new corporate partner in less than 30 days with a simple 3 step process and an effective email template for outreach.
Watch the Webinar
Recession-proof Your Church Guide Cover
Recession-proof Your Church Guide Cover

How to Listen and Capture Powerful Stories to Grow Your Nonprofit

Learn how to grow your nonprofit in 2024 by listening and capturing more stories of impact.
Watch the Webinar
10 Things You Can Do For Your Ministry Staff

10 Things You Can Do For Your Ministry Staff (When You Can’t Give A Raise)

Download our guide to learn 10 actionable strategies that you can implement to show your team you appreciate them, even when you can't give them a raise.
Download Guide

Church Giving Checklist (Best Practices to Grow Church Giving)

Download our guide to learn the essential strategies and best practices needed to increase giving and generosity in your church.
Download Guide
Church Giving Checklist Guide Cover
Recession-proof Your Church Guide Cover

7 Ways to Recession-proof Your Church

Download our 18-page guide to learn how to prepare your church for a possible recession in 2023 and beyond.
Download Guide

Get updates on Anedot's best content

Drop your email and get tips delivered to your inbox every month!