9 Fundraising Lessons from Our Favorite Movie Fundraisers

Famous Fictional Fundraisers: 9 Fundraising Lessons from Our Favorite Movies

September 17, 2023
4 minutes
Movie reels fall from the sky like ladders on a yellow-and-red ombre background

Some folks get inspired by movies about a sports team landing the winning goal against all odds. Others thrill for a makeover to end all makeovers, or a romance to end all romances. Whatever floats your cinematic boat (or door—iykyk), we’re here for it, but today, we’re all about famous movie fundraisers—and the lessons they can teach us when it comes to meeting our fundraising goals.

The Goonies

This merry group of misfits join together to raise money to save their homes from the evil country club. How? By seeking out One-Eyed Willy’s legendary treasure, of course! Spoiler: their quest is successful, and they gather enough jewels to save their town.

The takeaway

Treasure hunts are a sure-fire path to fundraising success. And what do you know? Funraise has an entire article devoted to hosting a scavenger hunt fundraiser. We should probably add a Goonies-themed one to that guide, with an after-party on a local boat.

The Brady Bunch Movie

In the 90s classic, the Brady kids raise money to save their house from an evil developer. (Wait, are we sensing a theme here?) While their initial fundraising efforts fail to raise enough money, the whole crew enters a "Search for the Stars" contest, which nets them the necessary $20k to save their home.

The takeaway

Diversified funding streams are great, but sometimes, you need a big, fun event to really make an impact.

The Little Rascals

When their clubhouse burns down, this rag-tag band of boys (no, like, we’re reallyyy sensing a theme!) decides to raise money to build a new one. After trying out a variety of personal fundraising schemes, they raise $500 by charging admission to the school’s free talent show, which then becomes the prize for the local go-kart race. Alfalfa wins, they rebuild the treehouse, and they allow girls in this time around.

The takeaway

Always charge admission to fundraising events. Also, if you’re not inclusive when it comes to your marketing and events, you’re missing out.

The Full Monty

Moving away from the kiddos, this film’s about a group of unemployed steelworkers who raise money by becoming male strippers for one night only. A+; would watch again.

The takeaway

Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box when it comes to fundraising. The unfamiliar might be scary, but it can pay off big time.

Calendar Girls

Continuing our theme of putting it all out there for a good cause, this film features a group of middle-aged Yorkshire women who fundraise for the local hospital with a nude calendar. After some drama with a capital DD, they end up raising over 500,000 pounds. Based on a true story, the actual women have since raised a total of over 3 million pounds.

The takeaway

Don’t let the naysayers get you down or hold you back! Also, if you’re Helen Mirren, you can do anything.

Pride and Prejudice

Perhaps it's not fundraising in the typical sense, but the beloved Bennett daughters all do their utmost to support their family by marrying into wealthier families. 

The takeaway

In the end, love is what matters, but when you have limited opportunities, the right partnership can certainly help you get ahead and reach your fundraising potential.

Cool Runnings 

In this 90s sports comedy, the Jamaican bobsled team needs to raise $20,000 to participate in the Olympics. They struggle to find a sponsor (#relatable) and try (and fail at) a range of fundraising efforts before one of them sells his car to fund the trip. While they don't win, they go home home heroes and return to the Olympics without nearly as many trials four years later.

The takeaway

Stick with it and keep the long-term goal in mind. You might fail sometimes, and that's okay, as long as you keep moving forward and working toward those larger goals. 


This Weird Al flick is a cult classic for obvious reasons, but it should also be a classic for nonprofits for fundraising reasons. Why? Let us paint a picture: Weird Al's character, George, needs to raise funds to keep the TV station he manages from falling into the clutches of VHF Channel 8. So what does he do? He runs a telethon selling stock in the station—making the station publicly owned. 

The takeaway

This is clearly made just for nonprofits: A fundraiser runs a capital campaign crowdfunded by local community members who are committed to the mission's success. The many donors who saved the TV station will be engaged supporters for years to come. 

Bonus takeaway: If selling stock can work... maybe, just maybe, accepting stock donations would work? 

Theater Camp

A nonprofit theater camp's beloved founder slips into a coma and her en-TROY-preneuring son has to save the camp from foreclosure and certain demolition—but only the eccentric staff and cast of campers can bring the magic that will draw in investors.

The takeaway

It's a mockumentary, so the realness cuts close to home ...but the takeaway is that when the chips are down, a little creativity and a well-delivered event can make all the difference. Appealing to your supporters by showcasing the impact you've made over time is key to finding funding.

Just like in real life, people in movies often have to find the funds to make their dreams a reality. With a little ingenuity (and, based on this list, a large group of determined children or a group of adults willing to take their clothes off), you, too, can find fundraising success and have your happy ending.

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