Small fundraising is big: raise money for 10 small projects with a big impact!

Here’s something we hear all the time: we need to raise money on a big scale to make big change.  In community work,  it’s easy to get intimidated by the size of  the problems we want to solve. Because of this, attaching a huge number to that solution can make us lose momentum and decide not to try after all.

Well, the great news is that you don’t need to raise a lot money to make a tremendous positive impact on your community. In fact, some of our very favorite ioby projects are small fundraising projects, with budgets right around $500—or less!

(Bonus: if your ioby project raises less than $1,000, we waive our $35 platform fee. More info on fees is here.)

Here are ten ways to make a big impact on your neighborhood with small fundraising. Which ones would work in your community?

small fundraising raise money crosswalk flags

1. Safer street crossing, now in full color

Category: Safer streets, Tactical urbanism

Example: Crosswalk Flags, Memphis, TN

Small fundraising budget: $543

Here’s an easy thing to raise money for: Safer streets! Grab a brightly-colored flag from the bucket and look both ways. Then, hold it high to increase your visibility to drivers, then leave it in the bucket on the other side. Because of this project, not only did this Memphis street crossing become immediately safer, the project also drew the City’s attention to a place where a permanent crosswalk would be very welcome.

small fundraising raise money Marta Army

2. No more wondering, “When’s the next bus?”

Category: Safer streets, Tactical urbanism

Example: TimelyTrip, Atlanta, GA

Small fundraising budget: $534

Binh Dam raised money for bus stops in Atlanta to provide provide basic information for riders: routes, destinations, and timetables! Because these were missing, the project set out to identify the city’s most highly foot-trafficked bus stops. Then Binh attached printed timetables in weatherproof cases to the sign posts. Taking the bus just got a whole lot saner!

small fundraising raise money little free library

3. Little Free Libraries

Category: Placemaking, Sharing, Tactical urbanism

Example: Summer Meadows Little Free Library, Memphis, TN

Small fundraising budget: $362

Raise money for more books in more places, especially in neighborhoods without easy access to a public library. “Little free libraries” offer passersby of all ages the chance to pick up a great read, donate their favorite already-read books, and create a sense of community openness and sharing.

small fundraising raise money community garden memphis

[Via Carnes Gardens Facebook page]

4. Securing the tools to keep community gardens green

Category: Environment, Neighbors working together

Example: We want to buy James a Lawnmower, Memphis, TN

Small fundraising budget: $559

James Alsobrook lives next door to Carnes Garden, a new community and teaching garden created in a former vacant lot. He quickly became one of its most devoted and beloved caretakers. And so when James lost access to the lawnmower he had been borrowing to cut the garden’s grass, his neighbors decided to raise money on ioby to buy him a new (and better) one. Because of this campaign, James has the tools he needs to keep Carnes Garden a welcoming and safe space for all residents of the community.

small fundraising raise money urban chickens

5. A better home for urban birds

Category: Environment, Food

Example: Chicken Yard, Brooklyn, NY

Small fundraising budget: $273

How about raising money for the birds? A 100-member community garden in Brooklyn relies on their flock of five hens to educate visitors about caring for animals and growing food ethically and sustainably. And so, this small fundraiser provided the materials to expand the birds’ yard, giving them and their visitors a larger and cleaner space to eat, play, and socialize in.

small fundraising raise money lawn games

6. Pop-up neighborhood lawn games

Category: Placemaking, Tactical urbanism

Example: Barksdale-Auburndale Mobile Bocce Club, Memphis, TN

Small fundraising budget: $618

Just want to raise money to bring the fun? Try something like this easy set-up/easy tear-down mobile bocce ball court! It creates an informal, inviting game and play space for all ages, wherever it goes: parkside events, block parties, even long driveways.

small fundraising raise money block party

7. Getting-to-know-you community cookout

Category: Placemaking, Food

Example: Poplar Park Neighborhood Cookout, Memphis, TN

Small fundraising budget: $528

Raise money for a simple community cookout that can inexpensively set the stage to get your neighbors chatting and relating. Nothing brings people together like the combination of food, drinks, music, games, and space! As these project leaders said, a neighborhood cookout can encourage “strangers to meet and become acquaintances, and acquaintances to take steps towards becoming friends.”

small fundraising raise money solar lights

8. Shed some solar-powered light

Category: Schools, Environment

Example: Solar Lights for MSSA, Memphis, TN

Small fundraising budget: $515

A first-year school with a STEAM curriculum raised money to brighten up the front of their building—both for increased safety and nicer aesthetics. So solar-powered flood lights were an inexpensive and green option. Parents and students volunteered to install them on an already-scheduled school clean-up day. Bright idea, right?

small fundraising raise money wind energy

9. Green energy R&D in school

Category: Schools, Environment, Citizen science

Example: Wind Energy Power!, San Francisco, CA

Small fundraising budget: $500

Students in this high school’s “Green Academy” program were already learning about wind energy in class. So this project took it to the next level by raising money to provide them with supplies to make and test their own windmills. Their designs will be studied by future classes, help to prepare them for careers in engineering, and maybe even lead to the development of a wind energy system on campus.

small fundraising raise money environmental education

10. Environmental advocacy for students, by students

Category: Schools, Environment

Example: Banish the Bead!, Muskegon, MI

Small fundraising budget: $572

A group of junior high schoolers raised money to write and self-publish a children’s book about the negative impacts of microbead pollution in the Great Lakes. It’s called Billy the Bluegill and the Microbead Mishap, and they’re distributing it free to all 81 third grade classrooms in their county. The students believe that if they educate kids about how their consumer choices make a difference for the environment, parents will also get the message.

See? It’s amazing what you can do for a small fundraising budget of around $500—or less! If reading about these projects gave you a great idea to raise money for improving your neighborhood, tell us about it at So, whether your project will cost $500 or a lot more, ioby is here to help you raise the resources you need to make it happen.

idea button raise money