Maybe you want to go on a school trip. Maybe you’re helping a friend out in their time of need. Or maybe you want to raise funds for the local shelter. Is there a way to successfully raise money in your campaign without just begging your family and friends? Yes, there is. In fact, if you play your cards right, your fundraising efforts may be so successful that everyone will wonder how you did it. Here are four cheap fundraising ideas that you're bound to have fun with:

  1. Get help from an influential friend
  2. Start a friendly competition
  3. Throw a party
  4. Ask for in-kind donations

1. Enlist an Influential Friend

You know that phrase, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”? Yup, it works for successful fundraising campaigns, too. If you know someone who knows a lot of people, you can ask the person to help you spread the word. In fact, if she knows people who often give to charity or who have lots of money to give, even better.

Even if you don’t know the person directly, you can still ask her. All you have to do is make sure that you have a warm lead. In other words, that you personally know someone who actually knows her.

To approach this influential person, make sure you respect her time. That means taking the time to craft a compelling reason why she should help you with your fundraising campaigns.

It isn’t enough to just say that you’re raising funds for charity.

Rather, tell this person why you’re promoting a certain cause and how you plan on raising the money. Make it as easy as possible for them to help you. That might mean writing the exact emails that the person will send out, creating a shareable social media update, or even making a fundraising page that she can link to.

2. Engage in Friendly Competition

Who doesn’t love some friendly competition? There are so many fun ways to involve people, and most of those people won’t mind paying for it. Think marathons. Here are some competitive fundraising ideas to get you started:

Video Game Marathon

See who can play one game the longest without dying in-game.

Cooking Contest

Invite local business owners as judges to see who can make the best dish.

Band Competition

Sell tickets and have people vote to see who the best band is.

Local Olympics

Host an event (at your local community center or high school, if they have the facilities) and ask people to pay to participate. Winners can get prizes or medals.

3. Party Like It’s 1999

People love donating to charity not only because they like to help, but because they like to feel good. And what better way to feel good than hosting a party or something equally fun?

You don’t need to force people to join your party if you tie it into a holiday event like Easter or St. Patrick's Day — or even National Grilled Cheese Day (yes, it’s a real holiday). Themed parties are also great, like ones that ask people to dress up or that target fans of a certain book or TV show.

Another idea? Host craft parties. For a fee, people can come to your house for a painting party or to learn a new craft and leave with a finished product at the end. If you price it lower than what they’d pay to do it elsewhere, you’ll most likely have a full house.

To ensure that your party is a success, make sure to have food and drinks at the event. If you’re creative, try to decorate the venue to make it look professional. See if you can get a local business to host the event, or have it at a park if the weather is nice. In short, make it a fun event that people would come to even if it wasn’t for charity.

4. Ask People to Donate Items

Instead of straight-up asking for cash, you can ask people you know if there are any items in their house that they’d like to part with. It’s minimal effort on their part, especially if they have a lot of old things that they haven’t bothered to take to Goodwill.

How does this help you? Well, you can take those items and sell them! Try hosting a yard sale, dropping them off at a consignment store, or even selling them online (on places like eBay or ThredUp). Then you can donate whatever doesn’t get sold and put the cash you do make towards your cause.

Choosing a Fundraising Idea

So, there you have it — a few fun, easy, and cheap fundraising ideas to help you with your charitable goals. There's no one right choice, so all you need to do now is to get your thinking hat on, figure out what you want to try, and go for it.