School Resources

20 Creative Food Fundraising Ideas for School or Nonprofits

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Last Updated: Mar 18, 2022

Food fundraisers are a fast and efficient way to raise funds for a charity or a good cause. If you’ve been tasked with organizing a fundraiser, you may have asked yourself “what food can I sell to raise money?”. From baked sweet treats to huge vats of chili, the food fundraising possibilities are infinite, so for a little inspiration, let’s jump into our list of creative food fundraising ideas. 

Food fundraising ideas

Indulge your passion for food and your creative flair with these food fundraising ideas.

1. Barbeque grill-off or cook-off

Closeup of a barbecue chicken sandwich on a bun with french fries in background on a rustic wooden cutting board

Barbeque grill-offs or cook-offs are perfect for bringing the community together and creating a little friendly competition while raising money. See who can cook the best burgers, sausages, or sides like potato salad or slaw.

2. Host a High tea party

Traditional British high tea is a great option, but you can also find a unique theme that fits whatever event you’re fundraising for.

3. Cheese and wine party

What could be more fun than inviting your friends around for wine and cheese nibbles while raising money? Host a tasting session and ask friends for cheese and wine pairing recommendations. 

4. Eating contests 

Set up some different food items like pizza, ice cream, or pies. Charge an entry fee for your eating contestants and take bets on who you think might hit certain targets. You could even serve beer to raise extra funds. 

5. Guess the jellybeans or candies

Get yourself a large glass jar, fill it full of jelly beans, candies, or other sweet treats and decorate the jar. Then for a small donation, let people guess how many are in the jar. The closest one wins, and winners get to take home the jar contents.

6. Potluck dinner

Potluck or Picnic in Spring

Take it easy as the fundraiser organizer and consider hosting a potluck dinner. Ask each guest to cook 1 dish and charge admission. A modern twist on an old tradition means the host doesn’t incur costs, and guests get to try everyone else’s culinary delights—everyone wins!

7. Dine out nights

Contact local restaurants about donating a small percentage of their profits to your good cause in exchange for drumming up local business for them. Organize a dine-out night for friends and family at the restaurant, and the restaurant pays your charity a small percentage of the take. 

8. Cooking school class

Engage with your local cooking school, and see if they’ll hold a cooking class with most of the proceeds going to your chosen charity. People can learn new cooking skills whilst contributing to a good cause.

9. Pancake breakfast in the park

This option works well in a rain-free season where you can access a local park. Set up decorated trestle tables, a pancake station, beverages, and charge an entrance fee to an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast event with proceeds going to your charity. Include pancakes, bacon, sausages, syrups, jams, cream, fruit, and drinks. 

10. Spicy chili cook-off contest

An ideal option for a winter fundraiser is a chili cook-off, where the community shares their most-loved and well-guarded chili recipes. Create different categories such as spiciest chili, meatiest chili, and best vegetarian chili and have chili connoisseurs judge the entries. Chili chefs pay an admission fee, and the winner gets a donated prize like cookware or movie tickets.

11. Selling baked goods

This classic food fundraising idea can have so many variations. Have different categories, rather than your standard bake-sale goodies. Think cookies, cupcakes, and muffins but also branch out to ice-cream cakes, macaroons, and vegan granola bars.

12. Lemonade stand

Glass of homemade lemonade in a garden table

Lemonade stands are low-cost to set up and one of the most popular food fundraisers. You can add a little zing to this classic fundraiser by:

  • Adding orange or watermelon slices to your lemonade
  • Selling fruit cups alongside the lemonade
  • Adding in natural flavorings such as some mint, some honey, or ginger 

13. Sell homemade pet treats

Pamper your fur babies with some homemade pet treats. Sometimes it’s as easy as blending a few ingredients together and baking them. Homemade pet treats are easy to make, and you can add value by selling them in individual mason jars with a fabric cover at bake sales or craft fairs. 

14. Food truck market

Contact local food trucks and charge for entrance to your fundraiser. Look for availability in places like school parking lots and parks, and choose a few different food trucks for a range of different cuisines. 

15. School dinner night 

Host a school dinner evening inspired by the dishes and fond memories of childhood. Get the nostalgia going by setting up a venue with a kitchen, finding volunteers with creative flair, and then asking for donations at the door. Include classic school dinner favorites such as ravioli, fish fingers, potato smiley faces, and arctic roll.

16. Coffee club

Get all the coffee-lovers and caffeine connoisseurs to bring their favorite coffee-making method to the table. Set up a coffee morning where you create a section for each coffee-making method—espresso, french press, cold brew drip coffee, Italian Moka pot, or siphon vacuum pot—and have tasting sessions plus prizes for the best cup of joe. 

17. No-bake slices stall

This is a lovely option for those who want to contribute to the food fundraiser but aren’t confident bakers. Set up a stall and sell no-bake slices, such as the super-easy hedgehog slice, no-bake lemon slice, or even a strawberry cheesecake—all of which don’t require any baking and can just be set in the refrigerator. 

18. Bliss ball stand

Another no-bake food option to raise money is bliss balls. They’re gluten-free, quick to make, often sugar-free, and freezer-friendly. Experiment with different variations like cacao peanut butter, chia coconut, or salted caramel macadamia. Wrap them all in cellophane bags and cute ribbons or in decorated mason jars for more selling appeal. 

19. Selling cookbooks

Reading cooking book with fresh vegetables and kitchen tools on table

A community cookbook fundraiser may take more initial work to create the product, but what you end up with is an evergreen product to fundraise for a single event that will also generate income long-term. A cookbook of family favorites or passed-down secret recipes is the most popular option.

20. Food tasting event

Gather some local restaurants to offer free samples of their dishes and then promote the restaurants at an event you organize. Have a donation box at each table, and everyone gets to enjoy an evening where they can try out many different restaurants menus in one place.

Have fun with food fundraising

When your event or food fundraiser is over, thank all the volunteers who donated their time, anyone you collaborated with who donated their space or resources, and the local businesses who got involved. 

Organizing your fundraiser will be time-consuming, so save yourself some time and shop for all your food fundraiser supplies through Instacart for same-day delivery.

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Instacart

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