Whether you’re planning ahead to attend the VOCAL Annual Conference or buying WRAP books for a community group, here are  some ideas for creative fundraising.

Count pennies

Save your change in a large jar. Sometimes even pennies add up to $30.00 when you save for a year. If you do this at a clubhouse or peer-run program, you can turn it into a group challenge. Post a “thermometer” by the jar so everyone can track progress.

Yard Sale

Your friends and neighbors may even want to donate items. If you do a sale as a group, it can also be a great public relations and community building opportunity to get the word out about mental health issues.

Host a Meal

Just like the volunteer fire squad has a bbq chicken event or your community center serves up a pancake breakfast, you can do this too on a smaller scale. If you’re working with a nonprofit or church partner, ask for donations of food or gift cards to make even more!

Raffle or Silent Auction

Make or find donations of items and experiences. Either sell raffle tickets or host an event and have paper out where people can place a bid (silent auction).

Group discounts

Whether it’s bowling entry fees or conference registrations, ask for a group discount. Then, use the savings to rent a van.

Self-advocate for professional development or scholarships

Do you work with an employer or peer-run group that would love to see you at the conference? Perhaps you participate in a mental health committee or council that has a scholarship fund for conferences? Some people belong to civic, service or religious organizations that can help.

Organize an online fundraiser

Sites like www.gofundme.com make the logistics easy. These do still require a lot of creativity and work to get the word out. Let your friends and family know why the conference is important to you and what you gain by being there. Sometimes many small donations add up to something big. (The Alternatives conference shows a sample letter on their website.)