Community fundraising is about raising funds from local communities through developing volunteer networks.

  • In the UK one-third of the top 500 charities are estimated to engage in community fundraising
  • It is difficult to calculate a precise figure for income generated from community fundraising as charities record their fundraising activities in different ways
  • Although significant income is raised from this form of fundraising it has a relatively low return on investment compared with other forms of fundraising because it is resource intensive
  • Across the top 500 charities the mean income generated per £1 of expenditure has been shown to be £2.14

Volunteers lie at the heart of community fundraising but they require support and development.  You need to find ways of effectively managing and inspiring volunteers, making them feel valued whilst ensuring that the costs do not outweigh the returns on investment.

However you also need to remember the value of community fundraising goes beyond immediate financial returns. It also provides long-term benefits of building a credible presence locally, creating trust, developing relationships and raising awareness of the work of the charity.

Taking a marketing approach

It is important to take a marketing approach to community fundraising, particularly if you are developing community fundraising from scratch.  Your brand message needs to be clear.  The brand should communicate what the charity stands for i.e. its mission and values and to be effective needs to be communicated consistently across the organisation. The good news for small organisations is that often brand awareness is higher in your local community than that of national brands.

Community fundraising activities

The most common community fundraising activities are events, sponsored events, collections and raffles.


Events can be both a good money earner and provide valuable publicity for your organisation but they are also risky and can be labour intensive.  Successful events require good planning and the input of committed staff or volunteers and resources.

When organising an event you should be clear about the objectives e.g. is its primary purpose to raise money, attract new supporters or raise the profile of your organisation? 

Think about the kind of events that would be most appropriate to your target audience and the resources required to organise the event - both financial and in terms of staff and volunteer time - who is going to organise the event?

Examples of community fundraising activities:

  • Coffee mornings and other social events
  • Craft fairs
  • Sales of art or work
  • Fashion shows
  • A ball
  • Discos
  • Picnics and family outings
  • Auctions

It is important that you ensure that you allow a long enough lead in time to organise and publicise the event. You should also make sure that you budget accurately and have legally binding contracts in place.  To reduce the risk inherent in organising an event you could:

  • try and get sponsorship
  • recruit a committee of volunteers who each make a commitment to selling a certain number of tickets
  • take out insurance
  • and finally you could encourage others to organise events on your behalf rather than taking the risk yourselves

Sponsored events

Sponsored events such as sponsored walks, runs and bike rides are extremely popular and successful methods of fundraising.  You can organise a mass participation event or encourage others to organise or participate in sponsored events on your behalf.

All you need to do is provide promotional materials, at the very least a sponsorship form, encourage your supporters to organise or participate in events and publicise their successes in your supporter newsletter.

  • Are you aware of any local or national events that donors would like to raise money for?
  • Organisations arranging their own events need to consider their potential liability if anything goes wrong and make sure that a full risk assessment is conducted
  • Check that the event meets health and safety regulations and does not impact adversely on the local environment
  • Charities and their supporters can make use of websites such as JustGiving, Bmycharity and Virgin Money Giving, which offer online sponsorship and donation processing services.
  • Remember to ensure that sponsors Gift Aid their donations, meaning that you will be able to claim an additional 25p for every £1 raised. 


Collections require an enthusiastic team of volunteers, good planning and some equipment, for example, collection boxes or envelopes, but they can be an important source of income as well as raising the profile of the organisation locally:

  • House-to-house collections - where you knock on doors and ask for a donation or leave an envelope and call back later
  • Street collections usually with a collecting tin or bucket and stickers or flags
  • Static collecting boxes or tins
  • Collecting boxes in supporters homes

You need permits for house-to-house and street collections. It is possible to reclaim Gift Aid on collections using envelopes and on collecting boxes in supporters' homes where you have suitable Gift Aid declarations but not currently on bucket or tin collections.  However, from April 2013 the Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme will enable charities, which have had good compliance with Gift Aid for at least three years, to claim on up to £5,000 of donations each year without the need for Gift Aid declarations.


Raffles and lotteries are common methods of fundraising by both large and small organisations.  Raffles and scratch cards are regulated by the Lotteries Act and to ensure you comply with the regulations you should refer to the Gaming Board's publication Lotteries and the Law.

Supporter database

If you are starting a community fundraising programme from scratch then you need to ensure that you have a good supporter database. Effective supporter development relies on your capacity to keep accurate records regarding the supporter and their relationship with your organization.  Think of your database as your most valuable asset and make sure that you collect names of warm contacts at every possible opportunity - referred to as data capture; train staff and volunteers on data input; and 'clean' your database regularly.  A good database is an important tool for understanding your supporters and ensuring your community fundraising activities are supporter led.

In developing a donor database you will need to ensure that you comply with Data Protection legislation.

Local clubs and societies

Another means of community fundraising is to take advantage of existing local clubs and societies. For example, Women's Institutes, Rotary, Young Farmers, Scouts, Guides, churches and religious groups. Some of these organisations such as Rotary are always on the lookout for speakers so it is quite easy to arrange to go and speak to them. 

School fundraising

Involving children and young people in fundraising is not only about their potential to raise money but about developing their understanding of your cause, building support for the future and involving their families and the wider community as well. Your materials should have good educational content and be linked into Key Stages. From 11 to 16 (Key Stages 3 and 4) young people have Citizenship Education as part of the curriculum and are encouraged to do activity projects in the community.