5 fundraising ideas for adult literacy organizations

Most literacy organizations share one significant commonality: minimal funding. But with endless numbers of learners to support, it’s important that securing funding be a top priority. Looking for funding sources is a tireless challenge, yet one that is crucial for remaining in operation. Although nothing beats a strong sponsorship campaign, there are plenty of other fundraising ideas that can help keep your adult literacy programs afloat. Below, we discuss five of them.

1. Celebrity spelling bee competition

Invite prominent local community members to compete against each other in a live spelling bee competition. Senior government officials, radio and TV personalities, established business owners, and well-known residents can get donations in your organization’s honour before spelling complicated words in front of a crowd (live or virtual).

Your organization should secure publicity to increase awareness, maximize attendees and attract sponsors. For extra profit, consider charging for admission or holding a raffle ticket sale.

2. Book sale

Hosting a community book sale is an excellent way to spread awareness about your literacy organization while also bringing in money. This fundraising idea is also relatively easy to execute: a few months before your event, collect book donations, then ask volunteers to sort and price the book displays.

Adding entertainment or a fundraising raffle can make the event even more appealing.

3. Silent auction

A silent auction is a great recurring fundraising event. Request businesses in your community to make a prize donation to the event in exchange for an advertising opportunity. Try to get a high-value item, such as a vacation credit. Provide the opportunity for interested parties to view the auction items in advance and spread the word about your event.

With minimal overhead and flexibility to host online, silent auctions have the potential to bring in high bids.

4. Peer-to-peer learning challenge

Organizing an event that ties into your literacy organization’s mission is always a fun idea. Have current program participants register on a crowdfunding website to participate in a learning challenge fundraiser. They can then inform relatives, friends and neighbours about their involvement and solicit donations for your organization. Choose to calculate donation amounts either by the number of learning activities completed within a specific timeframe, or allow contributors to donate a fixed amount.

5. Gift card fundraiser

Partner with a gift card fundraising program such as FundScrip to receive a donation of up to 10 per cent of gift card purchases. Supporters can buy gift cards to pay for their regular purchases, such as groceries, gas and restaurants, and you receive a donation for your non-profit.

It’s a win-win: the supporters aren’t paying anything extra for purchases they’re already making, and you have to do minimal work to organize the program.


When you’re a non-profit literacy organization, fundraising will always need to remain a top priority. Hopefully, the ideas above will get your team’s creative juices flowing. For access to free literacy resources and programs, check out our offerings.