• Optimist Volunteers Join our team to bring out the best in kids and yourself
  • Friend of Optimists Inspire yourself and others by supporting Optimism
  • Welcome New Clubs Spreading Optimism to new communities
  • Scholarship Contests Helping youth achieve their dreams of higher education
  • Optimist Junior Golf Building positive values in young people through golf
  • Youth Clubs (JOOI) Join the world's most dynamic coalition of youth volunteers
Optimist Volunteers1 Friend of Optimists2 Welcome New Clubs3 Scholarship Contests4 Optimist Junior Golf5 Youth Clubs (JOOI)6


Fundraising Ideas and Suggestions

The following are fundraising ideas your Club can use not only to raise funds but also awareness of Optimism in your community. Each idea includes setup steps and a list of materials needed. These are only suggested ideas and should be tailored to fit your community. Be creative and have fun!

Why Should I Contribute?
Just Ask Me About Optimism! Booth
Coupon Books
Christmas Tree Pick-up
Coat Check
Recycling
Full Service Fill-up/Car Wash
B-I-N-G-O
Penny Drive
Children’s Calendar Sale
Progressive Dinner Party
Bake Sale
Funny Hat/Bad Tie/Casual Day
Child Care Afternoon or Parent's Night Out
Optimist Games
Silent Auction

For more specific examples of what Clubs are doing, check out the Club Fundraising Projects.

Why Should I Contribute?
Has anyone asked your Club why they should contribute to your Club’s projects and community work? Give them some reasons!

  Setup Steps:
1. Develop a flyer called “Reasons to Contribute.”

2. Come up with as many reasons as possible. Be sure to include some fun ones!
  • Because I care about children
  • Because I like to support work done in my community
  • Because I was a kid
  • Because I like to have fun and want kids to have fun too
3. Make sure to include on the flyer where donations can be sent and information about your next Club meeting and event

4. Ask some children that your Club has worked with to illustrate the flyer.

5. Distribute the flyer in the community (ex. pass it out at a local grocery store, have an informational table at a local event, post it on community bulletin boards, etc)

Materials Needed:
  • Flyer
  • Children to illustrate flyer
  • Copier
  • Members to distribute flyers
  • A Member to receive and collect the donations

Just Ask Me About Optimism! Booth
Set up a booth at community events such as fairs, school plays and football games. This is an opportunity to tell the local community what your Club does and recruit some new Members.

  Setup Steps:
1. Ask the event sponsor for permission to set up an information table/booth at the event.

2. Contact Optimist International for membership and programs brochures and materials.

3. Develop a flyer or brochure that tells what your Club does and how to get involved, either by making a donation or joining the Club.

4. Display a donation bucket or bank for people to donate to your programs at the booth. If your Club is involved with the CCC, make sure to have a CCC bank on display.

Materials Needed:
  • Table(s)
  • Optimist International brochures and Membership Applications
  • Club brochures or flyers
  • Donation bucket or bank
  • Members to staff the booth and talk to attendees

Coupon Books
Ask local businesses to offer special discounts or offers to people who support the Optimist Club and its programs. Have Club members sell the coupon books!

  Setup Steps:
1. Explain the project to local restaurants, bakeries, dry cleaners, etc. Ask them to participate and discuss what type of discount or offer they would like to include in the book. Example – A local bakery might offer a free small cup of coffee with the purchase of a pastry.

2. Ask a local printing company to donate or discount their services for the printing of the books. Offer to include their logo and name on the cover of the book.
Coupons could also be designed on a computer and printed on perforated sheets so customers can easily tear them apart.

3. Determine the price for each book.

4. Set up the book and have the design approved by all participating businesses.

5. Include an expiration date on each coupon. Number the books for authenticity.

6. Have the books printed.

7. Divide the books between the Members of the Club and start selling!

Materials Needed:
  • Paper
  • Members to communicate with local businesses
  • Printing services or a computer and perforated paper
  • Members to sell books

Christmas Tree Pick-up
Many Optimist Clubs sell Christmas trees. What do people do with their trees after the holidays? Clubs can offer to pick up and properly dispose of the tree for a small fee or donation.
  Setup Steps:
1. Run ads in the local newspapers and post fliers around the community advertising the service.

2. Designate Members to be responsible for answering phone calls or e-mails, recording addresses and organizing the pick-up schedule.

3. Contact the city to determine the best place to drop off the trees.

4. Several Members should be responsible for collecting the trees and donations.

5. Leave an Optimist brochure and an invite to the next Club meeting at every house visited.

6. If your Club decides to do this project again, make sure to send fliers to past customers encouraging them to participate again.

Materials Needed:
  • Fliers
  • Written copy for ad to include in newspaper advertising service
  • Members to coordinate pick-up schedule
  • Members to pick up trees in a truck or van

Coat Check
Your Club can offer a coat check service at a local restaurant, sporting event or concert. This is a simple fundraiser that does not require the participation of many Members.
  Setup Steps:
1. Ask local restaurants and event organizers if they can use your service.

2. Determine whether the Club will have to bring supplies like hangers, clothing rackets and check tickets or if the location already has them.

3. Determine cost for coat check or donation that will be requested.

4. Assign members to work each scheduled event.

5. Create signs advertising the coat check to display.

Materials Needed:
  • Members to ask establishments to enlist Club’s services
  • Supplies – hangers, clothing racks and check tickets (if establishments cannot provide them)
  • Members to work coat check
  • Signs promoting service – don’t forget to include the cost or requested donation

Recycling
This fundraiser will help your Club raise funds and help the environment at the same time! Encourage your community to bring their recyclables to a specified drop-off point. Take the materials to a recycling center and collect the funds.

  Setup Steps:
1. Contact a local recycling plant for information on the materials they collect, drop-off procedures, etc.

2. Ask local community centers, schools, grocery stores, post offices and churches if the Club can place a recycling container in or outside their establishment. Make sure the location is visible and convenient.

3. Consider offering pick-up services where Club Members visit homes where families cannot drop off their items.

4. Advertise the locations and what materials are being collected. Hang fliers around the community and make sure to mention what the collected funds will be used for by the Club.

5. Assign Members to collect items from different sites.

6. Determine which Members will be responsible for delivering the materials to the recycling center.

Materials Needed:
  • Recycling bins
  • Fliers advertising collection
  • Members to collect materials
  • Members to deliver materials to local recycling center

Full Service Fill-up/Car Wash
These days, going to the gas station can be a real pain. Your Club can make it an enjoyable experience by offering special services!

  Setup Steps:
1. As a local gas station to allow your Club to wash and vacuum cars, clean windows and/or check tire pressure in exchange for a donation to your activities fund.

2. Make sure the gas station has all the necessary supplies.

3. Recruit Club Members and JOOI Members to participate.

4. Hang posters around the gas station and distribute flyers to promote the event.

Materials Needed:
  • Car Wash Supplies – buckets, hoses, soap, sponges, etc
  • Fliers and posters promoting the event
  • A collection box
  • Members to wash cars and hold signage
  • Membership brochures and Club information

B-I-N-G-O
Organizing a bingo game night can get a lot of Members involved. It’s also a great way to raise funds! Some Clubs hold monthly events.

  Setup Steps:
1. Inquire about necessary permits and licenses by contacting your City Hall.

2. Secure a location for the event.

3. Determine a date, admission fees, price per card, etc.

4. Obtain all necessary supplies – bingo chips, cards, etc.

5. Invite a local celebrity to be the number caller.

6. Decide if the Club would like to sell refreshments.

7. Ask local businesses for in-kind prizes. Offer the business the opportunity to advertise at the event or on the Club’s publicity for the event.

Materials Needed:
  • Bingo cards, balls, chips
  • Publicity – signs, press releases, community calendar entry
  • Tables and chairs
  • Members to staff event
  • An enthusiastic bingo caller
  • Prizes

Penny Drive
Almost everyone has unwanted pennies in their purse, pockets or at their house. Give them the opportunity to donate them to a worthy cause. This is a fun way to get the community involved with your Club’s activities.

  Setup Steps:
1. Contact local schools and businesses to participate in the drive.

2. Place collection containers in areas with high traffic. Make sure they are visible.

3. Get into the competitive spirit and offer a prize to the location that collects the most pennies.

4. Set a deadline for collection.

5. Recruit Club Members or volunteers to collect containers, count the pennies and roll them.

6. Announce the location that collected the most funds and the total amount of funds raised.

Materials Needed:
  • Collection Containers
  • Coin Wrappers
  • Members to collect and roll change

Children’s Calendar Sale
This easy fundraiser allows your Club to get the youth of the community involved.

  Setup Steps:
1. Choose a theme for the calendar.

2. Ask children to create artwork based on that theme. Consider sponsoring a contest to choose the art that will be included in the calendar.

3. Compile a list of holidays and Optimist events that should be included in the calendar.

4. Contact a printer or copy center and ask them to donate their services. Offer to include an advertisement on the calendar.

5. Develop an order form.

6. Publicize the calendar sale – fliers, club bulletin, press releases, etc.

7. Sell the calendars in the community. Consider asking a local grocery store if the Club can set up a booth at the entrance to the store.

Materials Needed:
  • Children’s Artwork
  • Printing Services
  • Order Form
  • Publicity
  • Table and Chairs for booth

Progressive Dinner Party
Is there someone in your Club or local community known for his or her skills in the kitchen? Ask members of the community to host a course in a progressive dinner party. The Club can determine the number of courses based on participants.

  Setup Steps:
1. Recruit community members to prepare a course and open their homes to attendees.

2. Assign each participating house a specific item or course – appetizers, salads, entrée, soup, dessert or drinks.

3. Each participant purchases their own supplies for making their course.

4. Decide on a cost per ticket. Have a Club Member print tickets on their computer or approach a printer to ask for donated or discounted services.

5. If the Club plans on selling a large number of tickets, consider having 2 groups of homes for the dinner. The attendees could be divided into 2 groups and each group would follow a different route of houses.

6. Develop a menu (or itinerary) and map for attendees.

7. Assign a time limit for each home to keep the group moving.

8. If the Club decides to hold this fundraiser again, consider designating a theme and serving the food accordingly. Clubs could sponsor an Italian Night, a Mexican Fiesta, or an evening of Southern BBQ.

Materials Needed:
  • Food and Drinks
  • Community Participants
  • Publicity
  • Paper plates, utensils, cups and napkins

Bake Sale
Everyone deserves a sweet treat now and then. This is a fun and easy fundraiser all Members can participate in – some can show off their baking skills, some can promote the sale and some can staff the table/booth during the sale.

  Setup Steps:
1. Find a location and determine a date for the sale. Make sure to have a location that is easy to find and that has many visitors, like a school, church or sports complex.

2. Determine which Club Members will bake for the sale and what they plan to make. You don’t want everyone to show up with chocolate chip cookies on the day of the sale!

3. Invite your JOOI Club to participate by baking a special dessert or selling drinks.

4. Create a volunteer list to make sure the sale will be staffed at all times.

5. Advertise for the sale with flyers and an entry in the local newspaper.

6. Determine prices and make sure they are posted at the sale.

7. Set up the table/booth and open for business!

Materials Needed:
  • Tables
  • Desserts
  • Napkins
  • Cash Box with change

Funny Hat/Bad Tie/Casual Day
Ask Club Members to pay a certain amount ($1-$5) at the next meeting to wear a designated article of clothing. This allows Members to be creative and have fun. Consider doing this at every meeting and changing the item of clothing each time – have a Hawaiian Shirt Day, Sports Night or a Mismatched Socks meeting.

  Setup Steps:
1. Determine the article of clothing, day and donation amount.

2. Promote the event to all Club Members. Include it in the Club newsletter.

3. Designate a Member to collect the money and announce the total.

4. If your Club works with a local business or school, ask them to participate by allowing employees or students to donate to wear the designated item.

5. Some businesses ask employees to donate a certain amount to participate in “Casual Fridays.” Approach local businesses to see if they would donate that money or a percentage to the Club or a specific activity.

Materials Needed:
  • Cash Box

Child Care Afternoon or Parent’s Night Out
Offer parents some well-deserved free time. Consider planning this event near major holidays when it could be especially useful for parents.

  Setup Steps:
1. Find a location that can hold a large number of children, like a gym. Consider working with a local daycare center or school.

2. Ask for volunteers to staff the event at all times.

3. Determine how many children the Club can accept and the age range. Are your volunteers capable of caring for infants as well as pre-teens? Do you have all the necessary equipment?

4. Develop a registration process and form. Decide the charge per child and how far in advance parents will need to register.

5. Make sure to ask for an emergency contact for each child. Find out if they have any allergies or special needs.

6. Plan some fun activities for all the age groups. Make sure to have plenty of activities to keep the children busy and having fun!

7. Plan snacks or a meal for the event. Ask a local restaurant or grocery store to donate food or supplies.

Materials Needed:
  • Schedule of planned activities and necessary supplies
  • First aid kit
  • List of emergency contacts, allergies, special needs and pertinent information for each child
  • Phone
  • Snacks or a meal
  • Assorted games and toys

Optimist Games
Organize a community-wide event. People can form teams to compete against each other. Teams are charged a participation fee for events like the potato sack race, tug of war and the egg toss. Prizes can be awarded to the top 3 winners in each event.
  Setup Steps:
1. Determine a date and time. Secure a location for the Games such as the field at the local high school.

2. Sign up volunteers to handle registration, coordinate and judge each event, etc.

3. Determine registration fees and create a sign-up sheet for each event.

4. Collect all the items needed for each event.

5. Ask local businesses to donate water or prizes. Offer to include their logo on publicity for the event.

6. Make sure to send press releases to the local newspaper before and after the event. Announce the winners and submit some fun pictures.

Materials Needed:
  • Supplies for each event
  • Water
  • Prizes – trophies, medals

Silent Auction
Auction items are arranged on display tables. In front of each item, place a sheet of paper with numbered lines. Put a starting bid on the top of each page (consider the value of the item.) Invite members of the community to bid on the items. A bidder should write their name, a bid amount and the time of the bid. The auctioneer sets a time limit to end all bidding. At the end of the allotted time, the bid sheets are collected and the person with the highest bid purchases the prize.

  Setup Steps:
1. Ask Club Members to donate items. Auction items can range from gift baskets to paintings to – just use your imagination. Also consider auctioning services such as babysitting or gardening.

2. Approach local businesses and ask them to donate gift certificates or items to the auction. Make sure to ask new or small businesses who might be especially interested in the additional publicity.

3. Determine where the auction will be held. Make sure the location has room to display all the auction items and for all attendees to browse.

4. Recruit an auctioneer with an enthusiastic personality and volunteers to staff the event.

5. Publicize the event at every opportunity! Make sure to mention how the money raised will be spent.

6. Assemble the items on tables. Consider holding the auction in conjunction with another event, like a dinner to encourage attendance.

Materials Needed:
  • Auction Items
  • Bid Sheets
  • Tables
  • List of auction items
  • Volunteers to staff event
  • Cash box and credit card machine