Picture this: a stadium full of people. You, a 9-yr-old basketball lover, stepping up towards the free-throw line. You turn the basketball nervously in your hands. This is what you’ve been waiting for. The pressure’s on. This free-throw could change someone’s life.

The Origins Story

What you just pictured was what more or less happened to Austin Gutwein.

When he was nine, Austin heard about children in Zambia who had been orphaned by AIDS. He could not stop thinking about how hard it must be for these kids to take care of themselves, doing all the household and parental jobs that would have otherwise been taken care of by an adult. Austin wanted to do something, ANYTHING, to help these kids. He talked to his dad, who talked to World Vision and they crafted a plan.

On 1st December, 2004, on World Aids Day, Austin stepped up to the free-throw line. He got ready to shoot, bending his knees, eyeing the hoop, preparing to lift off.


The basketball launched through the air, swinging into the net! Austin caught the ball, and threw it again…and again…and again…and again…and again…until he had shot a free-throw for every child orphaned by AIDS. Through sponsorship, on World Aids Day in 2004, nine-year-old Austin Gutwein raised over $3 000.

On that day, something incredible happened. The idea for the organisation, Hoops of Hope, had been planted.

Phase Two

You would think that after raising $3 000 for children in Zambia, Austin would have been satisfied. Right? Well, guess what?! He wasn’t.

The following year, Austin hosted the free-throws event again, but this time, he got 1000 of his friends to shot free-throws! Hoops of Hope was born.hoops of hope

In Take your best shotthe following 5-6 years, Hoops of Hope had raised 1 million (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) dollars to build orphanages, medical clinics and schools in Africa. Austin wrote a book called Take Your Best Shot, spoke at a teen conference and flew to Africa to give backpacks filler with supplies for people in need.


So, what was the point in me telling you that story?  Yeah, it’s a nice story but why did I spend about 327 words explaining it? Because, it’s a real-life example of a fundraiser idea! This article is number one in a series of articles about practical and doable fundraiser ideas. These ideas are going to appear as one-off ideas, but that’s because I’m counting on you to flip them on their heads into consistent ideas that are part of your new changemaker regime.

As you might of guessed if you were reading in between the lines, this fundraiser idea is sponsorship. Just like Austin Gutwein got people to sponsor him by shooting free-throws, you too can organise an event in which people sponsor you to raise money for a cause you are interested in and passionate about.


Don’t know where to start? Don’t stress, I’m about to tell you how you can form this sponsorship fundraiser.

Step One

Find your passion. We all have something that we are passionate about. Some people’s passion might be very simplistic; their passion might just be sport. Other people’s passion might be very sophisticated, like helping African people access water. While it’s great to be passionate about simple things (I mean, come on, sport is awesome!), being a changemaker involves being passionate about some part of this world that is hurting.

Consider what your passion could be. Scroll through my previous articles and see if something catches your eye. Don’t worry if you can’t think of something straight away; it took me 15 years to find mine.

Step Two

Once you’ve discovered your passion, find a talent which you possess which will work with your passion. For Austin, that talent was basketball. Think about how you could use that talent in a way so people can sponsor you for your cause.

Here are some ideas:

  • Basketball: host your own Hoops of Hope event, shooting free-throws and getting people to sponsor you.
  • Soccer: shoot free kicks and get people to sponsor you.
  • Art: fill balloons with paint and shoot darts at them onto a canvas. Get people to sponsor you.
  • Drama: host a theatre sports competition and get people to sponsor you or have people pay for tickets.
  • Surfing & swimming: host a surfing competition or swimming race and get people to sponsor you.
  • Maths: host a competition where the contestants have to recite Pi and whoever recites the most digits wins. Get people to sponsor you.
  • Cooking: host a pancake breakfast and have people sponsor the chefs. The chefs have to compete for how many pancakes they can cook in a certain time limit. A gold coin donation for eating the pancakes could also be included.
  • Video games: host a video game competition and have people sponsor you.
  • English: host a spelling bee and have people sponsor you OR host a poetry recital where all the contestants have to recite as many stanzas from a really long poem (eg. The Man From Snowy River) as they can and get people to sponsor.
  • Building things: host a competition where contestants have to construct something and people sponsor the contestants. The building could be woodwork, recycling, anything that involves building on a small scale.

Step Three

Host an event and get fundraising! You could host it at church, youth group, school, your sporting club or your after-school activity joint. Don’t be shy. The chances are majority of the people at your venue will be really keen to participate and sponsor such a worthy cause.

Avoid the One-Off

I’ve given you ideas and motivation to start a fundraiser. But it’s up to you actually start it. Become a changemaker and help others in need. Come up with a creative way to turn this idea from a one-off fundraiser to a consistent event which uses your talents and passions to help others.

If you need more information and inspiration, check out Austin’s website http://hoopsofhope.org/ and soak it all up. You can do it! I know you can. As Austin said, “Everybody can make a difference. They just have to be willing to try (1)”.



  1. You Were Made to Make a Difference, by Max Lucado and Jenna Lucado Bishop, Tommy Nelson, Tennessee,©2011, pg 24-27
  2. Hoops of Hope logo image: https://www2.guidestar.org/profile/56-2669379
  3. Take Your Best Shot image: http://bookoutlet.com/Store/Details/9781400315154B/take-your-best-shot-do-something-bigger-than-yourself
  4. Sponsorship header image: http://www.allwessex.co.uk/sponsors/