10 Creative Fundraising ideas for Students in US Universities 

three volunteers donating items - Fundraising ideas for students

Looking for creative ways to fund your next charity project or personal need as a university student in the U.S.? Find out the top creative fundraising ideas for college and university students in the U.S. as you read on.

Life at the university comes with unique challenges. This could be personal funding issues or the need to fund a particular project for charity or extracurricular activities. Even though you attend a university in the U.S states with the lowest cost of living, the need for additional funding for students can never be overemphasized. 

Whatever your purpose for conducting a fundraiser as a student, you can find the best fundraising ideas for both college and university students in the U.S. here. In this article, we will discuss top creative fundraising ideas tailored to university students to help you achieve your goals.

But first, before we go deep, what is fundraising and why is it important to students? Let’s find out.

What is the Main Purpose of Fundraising?

According to Wikipedia, A fundraising event (also called a fundraiser) is an event or campaign whose primary purpose is to raise money for a cause, charity or non-profit organization.

This fundraiser could be for a personal purpose—Say you need to raise some money for your tuition fees or important books. However, it could be for a more general interest—As with a charity fundraiser or to promote the services of a particular university club.  

Whatever the case or purpose, the objective of running a fundraiser is to fund a project using the resources sourced from an audience of interest. 

Other primary purpose for a fundraiser for university students in the U. S could include::

  • For Financial support
  • Sustainability of a project or a cause 
  • Implementation of a project 
  • Expansion and growth 
  • Emergency and relief effort (Charity)
  • Collaboration and community building

These are just the general reasons behind most fundraisers you may embark on in school. However, getting people to donate money for a need is not very a simple task. It requires setting excellent strategy, marketing plans, strong data analysis and relationship building.

But, for a start, you need to set SMART goals. Next, choose the best fundraiser type for your project. Once that is achieved, you want to create a working plan according to your goals, then choose a platform for the fundraiser. Add the final touches by creating promotional materials and seeking advice from friends or organizations with excellent reputations. 

Conducting a  fundraising activity as a student in the U.S. could take a lot of work and planning, which can  be overwhelming. But with a list of top fundraising ideas to pick from, you could pick a plan within your strength and focus. Let’s take a deeper dive into these creative ideas.

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Top Creative Fundraising ideas for Students – Fund your next project

Choosing the best fundraising plan for your next school project  can be tiring. But here is a list of the top creative fundraising ideas to help fund your next personal project. 

  1. Local Restaurant Partnership
  2. T-shirt Fundraiser
  3. Peer-to-peer fundraising
  4. Have a Bake sales
  5. Conduct a Design Challenge
  6. Crowdfunding
  7. Write Letters
  8. Host a cooking compition
  9. Online Auction
  10. Tutoring Session
  11. Donations

1. Local Restaurant Partnership

This is a great and easy way to fund your project and raise even more awareness — How? Do you know you can get paid for inviting your friends and colleagues in school to come eat at a restaurant? Absolutely true.

Here is how it works: Most restaurants  offer a percentage to you when you partner with them to create awareness about their brand. They give you a discount for providing a specified number of customers to their outlets. At the end, you get your share of the day’s proceeds.

So, you can work in partnership with the manager of such a restaurant and invite your friends and supporters to come eat at the restaurant. This not only gives you money for your project but also helps raise awareness of your project.

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2. T-shirt Fundraiser – Fundraising ideas for Students

T-shirt fundraiser is one of the most used fund-raising activities by many college and university students. Creating and designing t-shirts is a great way to raise funds both for your personal project.

A T-shirt fundraiser is unique when you have to promote a particular campaign — Say an orphanage home or an environmental project. In this type of fundraiser, you raise money through sales made on every designed  t-shirt. Contributors or supporters of such projects usually get something in return for their support.

3. Peer-to-peer fundraising

Peer-to-peer fundraiser is one of the oldest and most popular fundraising ideas in recent years. It is a seamless and flexible technique for raising awareness and support online. Peer-to-peer fundraising typically involves the employment of volunteers to create awareness for your project via their pages. These volunteers then promote to their network and friends online. 

This may require you to invest some amount of money because you may have to work with a fundraising platform like Fundly and Better world to access qualified volunteers. 

4. Conduct a Design Challenge

Design challenge is another fun and creative fundraising idea for students in U.S universities. It offers the opportunity for students belonging to larger universities’ associations or groups to leverage these groups to their advantage. This offers a great and easy way to raise funds for a project with the best custom design gotten from a challenge. 

To do this, ask supporters – Your friends or colleagues – to submit nice custom t-shirt designs for an event or project. Then choose a winner or ask people to vote their favorite through your social media platforms. Once you have a winning design, you could order more t-shire and batch to create the design for your supporters to buy.

5. Have a Bake sales – Fundraising ideas for Students

Conducting a pot-log kind of fundraising where you invite your supporters to have a meal with you is a great way to stimulate the act of giving. Food is always a great incentive to get supporters’ donations.

Hence, you could host a community gathering with special recipes where you take a fee for entry or collaborate with fellow students to bake and sell different recipes. Whichever way, try to tweak the event in such a way that you can achieve your intentions in the most positive way.

6. Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is another unique way of fundraising. With it, you can tap into your social networks and seek empathy for your next projects. This is a dominant method of raising funds because it combines the power of social media in convening your story.

With this, you can create videos, tell your story uniquely and share it across your social media pages, e.g. on Facebook, twitter and Instagram. This method is effective because you can tag your friends and be sure that your message will be seen by a large crowd. 

7. Write Letters – Fundraising ideas for Students

The good old act of letter writing is also another way to raise funds for your personal project. As before, writing letters helps you express your desires and reasons for seeking support. With letters, you have the privilege of addressing peculiar concerns that have compelled you to seek for funding and even submit such letters directly to sponsors, supporters and friends.

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However, never use a generic letter when writing for this cause. Be specific and detailed as possible as you would when writing a cover letter for a job. Make sure you make the letter as personal as possible and please, always include the first name of the recipient. Moreover, in your letter, ensure to include a personal note addressing your supporters to send in checks. It is more appropriate to ask for checks than cash.

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CV writing services

8. Host a Cooking Competition

Here is another great way you can  raise funds for your personal project as a student. Invite your friends and family for a fun night, with local chef competition, where you eat together and raise funds.

For this event, no need to invite international chefs, you could ask volunteers to participate in the event by cooking anything they want. Then at the end, your friends and family members get to vote for their favorite dish.

At the end, the best chef goes home with some trophy while everyone in the building gets to eat the meal and make some contribution to support the event.

9. Online Auction

Another way to raise funds for your projects as a university or college student is through conducting interest sales. You can create a free website where you sell specific items of interest to your colleagues. Then, share the links to groups and indicate why it’s important for them to buy from you. 

Also, you could buy things from local shop owners or big manufacturers at a lesser price and resell via your online stores. 

10. Tutoring Session

Want a great fundraising idea for your next project? Offering tutoring sessions to a group of colleagues in school can help you achieve this. You could run this for a semester or two and keep raising funds till you need your needs. 

Also,there is a need for many promotions to achieve this. You can go the old school way, draw a write up and paste it on the general notice board, make a flier and share to groups. 

11. Donations

Last but not the least, is donations. Do not underestimate what you can get with donations. Donations are one popular way of fundraising for either charity work or a personal need. Get companies to fund your project by seeking sponsorship and scholarships. You can apply directly if it’s for  personal need or if you belong to a group or organization, write a letter and get it stamped. This is a quick and great idea for fundraisers.

Conclusion Creative Fundraising ideas for Students

Fundraising, for whatever purpose, is not an impossible task. As a university student in the U.S, you can leverage the student environment to raise funds for your project or needs by applying any of the aforementioned fundraising ideas in this article. If you need help, there are several fundraising agencies and platforms you can collaborate with to get it done.Nothing is impossible if you have the right plans.


How do I get People to donate money to me?

People ‌will only work with those who they perceive as transparent and genuine. If you make your intentions known and follow the right source, you will get the attention you see.

To get people to donate money to you, do these;

  • Be transparent and share your story in all honesty
  • Be specific in the action you want people to take, e.g, should they send a check or send cash?
  • Create a sense of urgency in your outreach campaign
  • Make it easy to donate—If you want a transfer, provide the details. if check, let them know how to reach you
  • Use text messages and emails to your advantage
  • Show gratitude to your donors no matter the amount you receive.

How to conduct a successful fundraiser?

To conduct a successful fundraiser, you must have a defined plan and be keen to follow-ups and match details. These steps will help you:

  • Set SMART Goals
  • Choose the best type of fundraiser for your event or project
  • Create a plan on how to coordinate the event
  • Make the process of giving or donation easy
  • Choose a credible platform for your event
  • Create good promotional materials for your campaign…
  • Promote your fundraiser

What is the work of a fundraiser?

As a student fundraiser, your duty can span across different roles depending on the purpose of your fundraiser. However, your basic responsibility includes: 

  • motivating supporters in managing the funds raised. 
  • Source from new supporters to raise more funds
  • Maintain and retain relations with previous fundraisers
  • Create and develop fundraising plans to keep funding a particular cause.

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