How to throw a Fundraiser for Covenant House—Part 1


About Kathryn Checkley

Kathryn is the Special Events Associate, working on all Covenant House Toronto signature events, 3rd Party events, and school fundraisers. Katy's favorite part of her job is meeting donors with creative and innovative ideas to fundraise for our youth. She especially loves working with student leaders as they build fundraisers to hold in their schools.

bake_sale_cover_200A growing number of people are offering to throw their own community fundraisers for Covenant House. This is so exciting, because it is a very effective way to help us. They raise money for homeless youth who need us at no cost to our organization and they get the word out to networks we may not be able to connect with otherwise. These wonderful supporters are coming up with some truly creative and refreshing ideas.

These community fundraisers  come in all shapes and sizes—golf tournaments, bake sales, concerts, marathons, birthday parties and proceeds from retail sales. Anything that generates money can become a fundraiser for the kids at Covenant House!

Lately, I have found myself developing a little mental checklist of “How to Throw a Fundraiser” that I run through with our supporters when they come in with an idea. I’m finally putting it all down here on the blog to share!

1. Start with what you have

The people who will come out to your event are the folks you already know, plus their friends. So start with the activities you already participate in. Are you on a sports team? Do you or any of your friends own a business? Are you in a book club? Don’t stress yourself out trying to come up with a unique idea you’ve never tried before. Play to your strengths and turn an activity that you’re already engaged in into a fundraiser!

One of my favorite ideas this year was from a gentleman who loved baking pies. He came up with the idea to bake 80 pies before Christmas and sell them to his network for $20 a pie. He took $5 from each pie to cover his costs and donated the rest of the funds to us. He ended up baking over 100 pies because so many people loved the idea! He raised $1,700! Just from pies!

This is a perfect example of working with what you have. He had the pie recipes and skills to bake them. He had a network of willing friends and colleagues to sell to! It was an awesomely successful community fundraiser.

2. Set realistic goals

It would be great if your fundraiser brought in $50,000. But we don’t expect it to, and neither should you. Unless you have guaranteed ticket sales and plenty of sponsorship – and hey, don’t let me stop you! – your event is going to be smaller than that. And that’s OK! I love small events, because they offer such unique opportunities for networking and growth.

In Part 2 (coming soon), I’ll break down budgeting dos and don’ts that will help you set a realistic goal. But for now, don’t reach for the moon. Check out our Street Kids Gift Catalogue to get a sense of how far we stretch a dollar here at Covenant House. Even a “small event” – just $100 – does a lot of good here.

3. Get in touch with me!

Once you’ve got your idea and your goal, please contact me! I want to help you!

I can provide tons of support to fill any gaps that you may need help with. I have so many ideas for your event! And there are also some really important guidelines that I need to go over with you – mostly simple but very important tax receipt information and guidelines for using our logo and materials.

You can call or email me anytime. I am already excited to help you with your event!

Contact Kathryn at or (416) 204-7038.

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