Creative Fundraising Ideas: From Marmalade To Moustaches

By Hannah Atkins | 21st November, 2018

So many of our volunteers fundraise to cover the cost of their trip, but it can be overwhelming to figure out where to start and what to do! Fear not, however – I’m here to talk you through potential ideas to help you meet your fundraising goals.

Of course, there are the simple (and effective!) options like bake sales, ticketed events and raffles, but thinking out of the box can generate some fantastic results as well.

I’ve rounded up some of the more interesting and unique fundraising ideas, as undertaken by our very own Projects Abroad volunteers, and I hope that you’ll find some inspiration for your own money-raising initiatives.

Putting the ‘fun’ back into ‘fundraising’

Moustache Madness

George Baxter, 18, bought stick on moustaches for 30p each and sold them for £2.50 to students and lecturers at his university. Those who purchased a facial adornment had to wear them all day! In the end, George raised nearly £500, and said:

"I wanted to do something completely different which would encourage people to donate money. University students love to have some fun, so I decided that this event would be a really amusing way to fundraise. It was even more successful than I imagined. Everyone saw the people wearing the moustaches and wanted to join in!”

Hair-raising Antics

After seven years of having long hair, high school student Harry Kyriacou finally had it plaited and cut. He was sponsored per inch and raised over £800, which helped fund his trip. However, he also wanted to do something completely different and meaningful, so the hair went to the Little Princess trust, a charity that makes wigs for little girls and children suffering chemotherapy-based hair loss.

Sponsored Sport

Sophie Duncan, also a high school student, arranged a sponsored swim to boost her fundraising efforts. She ended up completing two miles at Rothesay Leisure Pool in just 90 minutes!

Extraordinary Events

You can really get inventive when it comes to hosting fundraising events!

Musical Memories

Musical fan Becky Randall organised a ‘Grease’ themed dance night to raise money for her volunteer trip. She charged £6 per ticket and held a competition for the best costume. Becky managed to fundraise the entire amount needed for her two month trip to India on a Medical project through a number of different events.

"It was a really lovely evening. Luckily, my uncle is a DJ so he sorted out the music and we were able to use my local community centre hall for free, after I wrote to them explaining the reason for the event. Everyone was really helpful and we had an amazing time. The costumes were great as well!”

Movie Nights

Meanwhile, Sixth Form student Norma Molla and her travel group hosted weekly movie nights in their common room:

“Not only was this a great way for everyone to relax after they had endured a seemingly endless week of A Level and GCSE stress, it was also a great success! At the beginning of every week, we asked the students from Years 10 to 13 to make movie suggestions for the movie night, and by Wednesday, we had written the week’s movie on A3 sized posters which we had stuck on the main entrance of the school and the Sixth Form doors. We sold tickets for £2.50, and this included a miniature bag of popcorn (which we made ourselves). We also sold cups of sweets for £1 and drinks for 50p.”

Culture & Cuisine

18-year-old Alice Bowman held a ceilidh (a type of Scottish dance/party) in her local town hall. Since she was preparing for a Care trip to Cambodia, the main dish was naturally Cambodian – vegetable Amok, a slight variation on the traditional Fish Amok. The meal was a hit, and a close family friend made a clootie dumpling for pudding, homage to Alice’s Scottish roots. Overall, the event was well attended, and raised about £800 towards Alice’s trip!

The More, the Merrier

A group of students and teachers from Grangemouth High School really got into the fundraising spirit for their group trip to Ghana. They hosted a number of different events, such as coffee mornings, bingo sessions, a ‘wear your wedding dress/bridesmaids dress’ party, and perhaps the cherry on top, a Glitter Ball at the local town hall, which included a live band, buffet, cabaret and raffle prizes.


Girl Guide Jessie Danger arranged a quiz night in her village hall to raise money for her Care trip to Ghana:

“We had 50 guests charging £8 per ticket to take part in the quiz and had home cooked lasagne and garlic bread. My Dad wrote all the questions, and all the drinks had to be bought by the guests to raise as much money as possible. This event raised £560 which was worth all the effort.”

There are so many options when it comes to potential fundraising events – get creative! Any kind of themed-party is guaranteed to be a hit if organised and promoted properly. Themed dinners are also another option – perhaps you could serve the traditional food of the country you’re going to. Then there are the games and quiz evenings, movie nights, and coffee mornings. Something out of the ordinary will definitely get attention – one volunteer even had a hypnotist come to her school.

Failsafe Fallbacks

Traditional methods of fundraising can really help to supplement your efforts - you don’t always need to reinvent the wheel.

Letter writing

Some good old fashioned letter-writing (or typing!) can go a long way to securing donations towards your trip. Explain where you’re going, what you’re planning to do and why the funds are needed – give them the name of Projects Abroad so that they can check we’re a legitimate organisation if they have concerns. Our Fundraising Guide contains a template letter if you need some guidance.

Jillian Casey, who volunteered on a Care & Community project in Ghana, said that:

“For me, I wrote about twenty letters asking my close family and friends for donations. I received anywhere from $5 to $200 from each person. Some of that money came from people I had never met before which was awesome!”

Pippa Pudney, meanwhile, reached out to businesses for sponsorship to great success:

“I contacted both local and national businesses, detailing what I would be doing while out in Ghana and why I felt it was important to go. Businesses responded incredibly well to this, and were very supportive and generous in their sponsorship with some firms giving £200. I was able to offer advertisement of the firms who sponsored me at other fundraising events to thank them for their support which was well received.”

Food, glorious food

Bake sales are almost guaranteed to be a hit – there’s nothing people love more than some delicious home-made goods. There are so many places to hold these kinds of events – schools, universities, church, the workplace or even a stall at festivals.

Our volunteer Alice Bowman sold tubs of her mum’s marmalade for £2. They made enough for 300 containers, and raised £600! The marmalade was sold in her mother’s Fair Trade shop, and some tubs were also given to other local businesses with a sign saying what the money was for and where it was going.

Second-hand sales

Clean out the house, and appeal to neighbours, friends and family for any unused, unloved items in good condition that you can sell at a car boot sale or local market. You could also check with a local charity shop and see if they will assist you with your fundraising if you encourage people to donate their bric-a-brac, books or clothes during a certain time period.

Rebecca Walton, a former volunteer and now one of our Programme Advisors in the UK office did car boot sales for around 6 Sunday mornings, and raised over £400 in total.

“I did car boot sales – lots of people laugh at this but I asked my neighbours to donate things and they gave me pretty good stuff. I then sold some on ebay too! This included an ancient coffee machine which was sold as a collectible.”

Additional Extras

  • The raffle has yet to go out of style – just make sure you’re offering some really great prizes. Reach out to local businesses and see if they’re willing to donate an item or a voucher.
  • 'Guess how many sweets are in the jar’ is another timeless option.
  • Car washes. Avoid doing these in cold weather, however!

Things to remember

Get your local newspaper involved in your efforts. In all likelihood, they will be more than willing to help promote your fundraising activities for your volunteer trip abroad. You should also advertise your events on local community Facebook groups. Finally, posters are also a tried-and-trusted method of spreading the word – place them in local shops and popular gathering spaces. (But get permission first.)

We’ve put together a Fundraising page that provides additional advice and information about the whole process. There’s also a special section for Volunteering on a Budget, which is a great help when it comes to reducing your costs as much as possible. Finally, you can download our comprehensive Fundraising Guide, which outlines in detail all the things you will need to consider when hosting an event, writing a letter for sponsorship and publicizing your fundraising activities.

Do you have an exciting, offbeat or otherwise interesting fundraising idea to share with us? How did you raise the money for your volunteer trip abroad? Do let us know in the comments section below!

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