A compilation of fundraising ideas and information that were helpful to us

Early after the Navigator’s diagnosis, our family began the process of getting a service dog. We had several months of fundraising invested when we learned the organization we were working with was filing for bankruptcy and all the work we had done was lost.

It was an emotional set-back and I never really quite recovered, which is why I appreciate the good advice in this article about how to get an autism service dog.

When we were fundraising, we were frequently asked about the methods we used or had heard about, so I pulled together this compilation of fundraising ideas and information that we came across.

I know this is not even remotely a complete list but it is a good place to start for others looking to fundraise to support autistic needs.

What Worked For Us

Our most successful fundraising came in the form of garage sales. We did a couple of things that help bring in the funds.

First, the sales were multi-family. This means that there was simply more stuff for people to choose from to buy.

Next, we had someone selling who really knew how to find things at the swap meet, clean them up, and then sell them for a profit at the garage sale. There were a lot of profits from sales like that.

We also had a sign that the sale was for fundraising ($.99 poster board and a sharpie) and a donation box for people to put their change into.

Finally, we bought candy bars from Costco at $.50 a piece and sold them for $1.00 each.

Our next best source of funds were direct donations from family and friends. Our service dog organization had PayPal donations set up.

Folks also sent funds to us and we forwarded the funds to the organization.

Fundraising through selling a t-shirt on Teespring was also successful for us. As described on the website:

You design a product and sell it. The sales money pays for the production of your design and we ship it to all of your buyers.

My brother-in-law designed a beautiful picture which was very popular.

It was also an opportunity for folks to donate funds through buying a large number of t-shirts. 

I have learned of another t-shirt website, like Teespring. It is called Bonfire Funds, and it appears to have the same kind of set-up as Teespring.

Other Fundraising Ideas

We were considering raising funds by collected used shoes. There is an organization that will pay $.40 per pound for gently used shoes, which they then turn around and re-purpose them by “creating Microenterprise opportunities” in disadvantaged countries. They provide all of the materials, and suggestions for planning out the shoe collection campaign.

The catch? You need to collect at least 300 pairs of shoes. However, that results in approximately $2,500, so it could be worth it. Check out Funds2Orgs for more information.

Crowd-funding is an increasingly dynamic means of raising funds. It brings together a large group of people who each donate a small amount and the funds are raised through the number of donators. The donators can be people known to those raising the funds or could be strangers from around the world moved by the need.

For personal fundraising for needs (as opposed to funds for creating something like a flying car), the most popular crowd-funding site appears to be GoFundMe. The site features, for example, campaigns for medical expenses for children, for helping a young woman afford college, and care of abandoned dogs.

For other crowd-funding sites, here is a list of crowd-funding sites by traffic data.

Other suggested fundraising events included things such as car washes (where volunteers wash cars and all the proceeds go to the need); restaurant dinner nights (where a restaurant donates profits from a designated day); charity golf tournaments; and other similar events. 

This website has a list of fundraising ideas from which folks can pick those that they like the best.

Last but not least, if someone has a creative gift – is a great baker, is crafty, makes beautiful jewelry – fundraising through sale of goods might make sense.

What fund raising ideas have you heard about or used?