Product Fundraisers vs. Event Fundraisers

Sydney Franklin | January 15, 2019


There’s more than one way to raise money. You can sell products, gathering funds from supporters and providing an item in return. You can also host an event with the goal of raising money, whether it’s through pre-event ticket sales or by collecting money during the festivities.

Both fundraising efforts have their benefits, so whether they’ll work for you depends on your goals. We’ve compiled a handy little list of the pros and cons of each type of fundraiser.

Turnaround Time

Product-based fundraisers are praised for their turnaround time, but the same can be said for events. In fact, if you’re raising money through a bake sale or carnival, you may find that you can get all the money you need through one event.

A product-based fundraiser can stretch on for weeks or months, as you reach out to relatives, neighbors, and friends to ask for money. Still, the weeks that go into planning that one-night event count, as well, so it’s important to remember that neither option is easy.

Unexpected Challenges

No matter what type of fundraiser you plan, you can count on a few surprises. An event’s surprises can come in the form of a sudden rainstorm or a canceled entertainer. On the other hand, a fundraiser can suffer from a sudden downturn in the economy or a failed delivery by a supposedly reliable supplier.

Neither option is a clear winner here, but event-based fundraisers do tend to have more variables that can malfunction without notice. If you think ahead and plan for these shockers, you may be able to keep them from hurting your fundraising efforts.

Volunteer Morale

No matter what fundraising option you choose, volunteer morale is at risk. For product-based fundraisers, it’s all tied to the times you choose to sell. If, for instance, you’re selling cookies or popcorn, you may find that some volunteers would have preferred something else entirely, leading them to be less than enthusiastic about the items they’re peddling.

The same issue can be applied to event-based fundraising, though. If volunteers aren’t passionate about the festivities, you’ll find it’s a struggle to get anyone to participate. Whatever option you choose, it’s important to make sure your volunteers are not only on board, but excited about what you’re doing.


If you’re selling products, the biggest challenge you’ll face is in ensuring that people actually buy the items you’re selling. You can boost your chances of success by making sure you choose something that members of your community will actually want. Basic research can help with that.

For an event, the same rules apply. Do research in advance to determine exactly what type of event your supporters would be most excited about. If your organization reaches out to youth, for instance, a fancy banquet likely won’t generate as much enthusiasm as a fun party complete with games and finger foods.

No matter what option you choose for your fundraiser, you’ll face challenges. By knowing those challenges in advance, you can take measures to reduce your risks and make sure this year’s fundraiser is a huge success.

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