Disclaimer: It is possible that this is not an original idea, but I have no knowledge of this type of activity being conducted currently or previously as a fundraising event. As a result, I have no anecdotal or empirical evidence to suggest that it would be more successful than, say, selling candy bars. But, my intuition tells me that it would.
Premise: The fundraising activity is structured around a simple themed item-exchange party where invitees contribute an item and make a nominal donation to take home another item. Best explained through hypothetical example.
Theme: Coffee-mug exchange
Sponsoring Organization: High school marching band
Fundraising Activity Committee: 5 boys, 5 girls and their parents. Select an activity site and create a guest list suitable for the site. Create a budget for simple refreshments (donations from the committee preferred).
Party Theme/Activity Description: Students and parents invited to the activity arrive with one or more interesting coffee mug(s), preferably from home, that they are willing to donate to the fundraiser. Invitees also make a nominal gift to the event (say $3 for students, $5 for parents). Each participant takes their coffee mug(s) to the exchange table and throughout the event, may select or re-select another mug to take home. Extra mugs at the end of the evening may be sold at the next silent auction, kept for the next mug-exchange, or donated to the school’s coffee lounge.
Variations: Recipe exchange, Jewelry exchange, T-shirt exchange, DVD exchange, seashell exchange, etc. Themes are limited only by the committee’s interests and imagination.