Fundraising Ideas

As Optimist Clubs, our fundraisers allow us to provide: a myriad of projects for our youth, improvement of our communities, grants for our teachers, scholarships for high school seniors , awards for our youth contests, support of other youth-oriented groups, assistance to local food pantries and innumerable other community needs.
Community support is vital to the success of our efforts.
Following are some ways that Optimist Clubs across IN North have fun, build community and provide the resources to help the youth.

The Pumpkin Patch


The Rochester Optimist Pumpkin Project is a seed-to-market effort involving growing and selling pumpkins, gourds, and some related decorative items like corn stalks.  The work involves a huge and diverse group of community folks from youth to retirees.  The fellowship of all members and non-members in this effort is just one of the non-monetary benefits.  Creativity in marketing of the products comes from the talent in the participants and smiles are numerous on people at the marketing stand.  Money, while largely responsible for our club’s ability to help the needy, has become a non-central focus but continues to improve thanks to willingness of people having fun and feeling good about working the Pumpkin Project.
Monies come in through the retail sales at our Club-owned Pumpkin Stand; decorative business packages that our members deliver, set up, and haul away; wholesale sales, and sales to fellow Optimist Clubs for their own fundraising efforts. The year-long project grossed $63K in 2020 (UP from $52K in 2019!) and paid out $9.3K to helper groups, encouraging youth to develop strong work ethics.


West Jay

The Saturday before Super Bowl each year, take & bake pizzas proceeds help fund our Jay County High School Scholarships. We order bulk product from DelCo Foods in Indy, we start preorders in early Jan. It is also on our Facebook page as well as several members pages. Delivery is received on Friday before making. On the day of the event, we set up an assembly line and make all preordered pizzas plus a few extras, some for workers to enjoy after work is done and we always end up selling a few extras day of event.  People that order pick up their pizzas between 12-2pm at same location they are made. We make between $6-$7.00 per pizza. It takes about 3-4 hours to make about 300 pizzas. Boxes have to be put together as they come flat (we have someone working on them during pizza making) and clean up usually takes about 1 hour (the floor always needs mopped). This nets us about $1800.

Hit the Bricks 5/3K run


The 2021 “Hit-the-Bricks” 5/3K Run/Walk will be our 39th year for this largest fundraising event for the Zionsville Optimist Club (ZOC).
The “Hit-the-Bricks” name comes from always having part of the course on Zionsville’s cobblestone Main Street.
The very first run was close to Labor Day in 1983.  It was a 10K (6.2 miles) with the start/finish at the Zionsville High School where it still is today.  Our one and only name sponsor was Mayflower Moving and Storage. Over the years the Club built support with a base of multiple sponsors at different tiers of sponsorship. We have worked with a local running event management company, Tuxedo Brothers for many many years. We changed the distance and variety over the years to better match our participants with both a 5 and 3K run and walk.
For several years we hovered around total net proceeds of $10K. Over the last few years by broadening the reach and improving the professionalism of our sponsor solicitation we have seen that grow to $15K+ and over $20K just this last year even during Covid. A large part of the financial success was creating a “Friends of Youth” category in 2018 where ZOC members solicit friends to donate. That program has added about $7K each year! And our shirts are a must! Friends of Youth are recognized on a billboard at HTB. Sponsors are recognized on the shirts and in print ads and social media.

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Fat Tuesday Dinner Party (Marti Gras)

Lafayette Breakfast

This annual popular event features live and silent auctions (hot air balloon rides, the Indy Car experience, tandem parachute jumps, wine tours, and other unique offerings in addition to lots of items donated by local businesses), live traditional Dixieland and jazz music, a Mardi Gras costume contest, a raffle and a Balloon Wall with great prizes, free wine tasting with a regional winery,  amazing appetizers including oysters and alligator, a full authentic Southern Cajun Dinner, a cash bar, and a lot of revelry! It is a dedicated fundraiser for our Teacher Grant Program and recipients of the Grants are celebrated at the event.
The community gives the event a great deal of support.  The mayor, local state representatives, and several county officials are usually in attendance. We have limited the event to 200 guests and we raise about $15000 for grants.
For 2021, because of covid, we contacted all of our invitees and donors and sponsors asking them to join us in a “No Party Mardi Gras” giving event. We asked them to donate the money that they would normally spend at the event directly to the Teacher Grant Program. We are optimistically hopeful that we will be able to have a reasonably successful year.

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Smelt Fry


Optimist Club of Hammond holds a Smelt Fry Dinner Event and raffle one night per year. The smelt fry fundraiser is a two fold event. We sell dinner tickets at an individual cost to offset the expense of dinner, (whether it be catered or the club decides to do the cooking themselves)and hall rental. We also sell raffle tickets for the event. The raffle is a way to get people to attend the dinner event because they have a ticket in the drawing. Although, any raffle ticket purchaser does not have to attend to win. During the event, which is scheduled as a 5 hour evening, we also sell tip boards as well as other raffles to give people a chance to win money or prizes throughout the night. This in turn keeps people engaged in the night as well as socializing with their friends. For us, it makes additional money for us to raise during the night. The best way to make the event a quality one is by having quality prizes donated by local merchants. After all, the less expense, the more profits. 
Also, the more volunteers the more people available to spend money because, it’s a fundraiser.

Blueberry Pancake Breakfast


The Blueberry Fly-In Pancake Breakfast started about 40 years ago. This once a year effort brought in enough funds to support the Optimist Club of Plymouth projects. A hanger at the municipal airport was sectioned into a ‘kitchen’ and a dining area. Community members could eat delicious blueberry pancakes and sausage while watching airplanes land and take off. Many customers ‘flew in’ just for the breakfast. This was held in conjunction to the Blueberry Festival.
Then Covid. Without the Fly In we had to shift gears. In 2020 we held a Blueberry Pancake drive through with the Knights of Columbus.
We plan to partner up with some youth groups and proceed with the Fly In for 2021.Contacts are being made. We will be ready to sell blueberry pancakes Labor day Sunday morning.

Submit your Club’s fundraiser ideas to: