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Healthy Fundraising

Many park and recreation agencies rely on outside funds to pay for programming and other expenses. This revenue is important, but fundraising campaigns often use unhealthy foods to make a profit. Instead of selling baked goods or candy bars, try one of the ideas below:

Fundraising Ideas

Alternatives to unhealthy fundraising fall into three categories: non-food, activity-based, and healthy food.

Non-food Ideas

These could be almost anything, but try to use items that will promote healthy eating or physical activity. You could also include your agency's logo on some of the items and sell them at sporting events.

  • Water bottles
  • Jump ropes
  • First aid kits
  • Frisbees
  • Sport seats or stadium cushions
  • Plants and seeds (especially vegetables)
  • Brick/stone in memory (or honor) of loved ones in park
  • Scrip programs with local businesses
  • Gift baskets based around a theme, holiday, or outdoor activity
  • Pedometers
  • Exercise balls

Activity Ideas

Here are a variety of activities that can get participants active and outside.

  • Walk-(or run, bike, dance, or skate)-a-thon
  • 5K race and/or fun run
  • Field day
  • Staff vs. parents game
  • Golf, basketball,or other sport tournament
  • Sports camps or clinics
  • Dances
  • Talent show
  • Garage sale or flea market
  • Car wash
  • Scavenger hunt

Healthy Food Ideas

  • Healthy cookbook (recipes curated by the agency)
  • Tasting event (with food provided by local restaurants)
  • Fresh fruit & vegetables (individually, or buy the boxful)
  • Nuts
  • Yogurt
  • Air-popped popcorn

Implementing a Fundraising Program

The New York City Department of Health provides the following tips for implementing healthy fundraisers:

  • Know your audience. Choose items to sell that are useful to people; ask ahead of time what they would be willing to spend money on.
  • Less is more. Hold fewer fundraisers by condensing events when possible. Too many fundraisers can lead to consumer burnout and lower profits.
  • Communicate the purpose. Continually remind your audience how the money raised will be spent; tell them, “We’re halfway to buying a new computer” instead of “We’re halfway to $2,000.”
  • Promote your fundraiser. Advertise the fundraiser on websites, and in email blasts and newsletters. Offer rewards for people who raise the most money. Offer taste tests to potential customers for new, healthy foods you are selling for a fundraiser.
  • Choose and plan your fundraisers wisely. Choose fundraisers that engage family, friends and the neighborhood to increase sales and develop a sense of community. Coordinate fundraisers with holidays or seasons.

In addition to these tips, it is important to consider how the choice of healthy items affects your marketing plan. For example, a replacing unhealthy food in an existing fundraiser with healthy items may require more publicity about the importance of the change compared to starting a new fundraising campaign with healthy items. Let the your knowledge of the community guide those decisions.

Next Steps

If you have completed a healthy fundraiser, let us know how it went, so we can add your tips to the toolkit for other agencies. Then, try one of these projects:


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