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Elizabeth Chung
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3 Creative Halloween Fundraising Ideas

Halloween gets a lot of publicity and excitement every year, but nonprofits generally don’t think of it as prime fundraising time. Many organizations (with the notable exception of breast cancer charities) tend to skimp on fundraising in October, ignoring Halloween fundraising ideas so they can focus on the more traditional giving holidays at the end of the year. But the truth is that October can be a phenomenal time to launch fun and creative Halloween-themed campaigns, get people involved with your mission, and raise additional revenue.

To help get you inspired we’ve put together 3 of our favorite unique Halloween fundraising ideas, along with takeaways from each one that can be implemented during any campaign throughout the year.

1) The (Haunted) House Party

Candle Lighters has taken the haunted house craze and made it the focus of its annual Halloween fundraiser, Ghost House. Initially a fundraising source for the local YMCA Building Fund, Candle Lighters evolved into its own nonprofit organization dedicated to raising money for other nonprofits and local projects in the Tri-City Community (Fremont, Newark, and Union City).

Candle Lighters’ annual, highly successful Ghost House is the organization’s only fundraising event. Open during the last two weeks of October, the fundraiser is based in a historical 19th century Carriage House, complete with games, treats, and Halloween-themed activities for the entire family to enjoy. The annual event also gets the entire community involved, with over 100 volunteers coming together to produce the experience.

READ NOW: Train Volunteers for a Better Nonprofit Event

To help raise funds, Candle Lighters strategically offers three levels of sponsorship to their supporters – Ghost ($50 – $249), Goblin ($250-$549), and Ghoul ($550+). There are different benefits for each level of sponsorship, such as complimentary party tickets or having your name displayed in one of the Ghost House rooms. By all outward appearances it seems that Candle Lighters has found a successful funding model; as of this October, the organization’s Ghost House is in its 44th year and still going strong!

The Takeaways: A great way to get donors involved is to celebrate them and show them some recognition. Offering incentives to donors or fundraisers who reach certain levels can be a great way to drive fundraising activity, no matter what your campaign theme might be.

2) Saving the Undead

The Heart and Stroke Foundation, a Canadian organization dedicated to seeing the end of heart disease and stroke, recently launched its second annual Halloween fundraising campaign, “CPR Makes You Undead!” During this multi-faceted CPR Advocacy campaign, the organization raises awareness of hands-only CPR and the importance of being trained in CPR. This creative Halloween fundraising idea, implements 3 main marketing strategies: (i) free local CPR training events across Canada, (ii) an online video coaching viewers on the 3 simple steps to hands-only CPR, and (iii) Halloween-themed media events designed to promote awareness and educate people all across Canada on CPR.

Some of these campaign launch events include a Toronto Zombie Walk and Halloween Parade, a Haunted House in partnership with Mount Saint Vincent University in Nova Scotia, and free 10 minute CPR demonstrations on “zombies” in Quebec. All of these events offer free CPR trainings. The HSF also set up a dedicated microsite specifically for the campaign, with a subpage that lists the metrics for number of people trained during the campaign, the number of lives saved, and includes a call to action to donate. HSF has gotten truly creative with its Halloween fundraiser, transforming a holiday generally associated with death, into a host of events all about bringing people back to life!

The Takeaways: There is value in offering quality information to the public for free. In keeping with the inbound marketing philosophy, extending how-to’s and useful information without charge will allow you to advance your organization’s mission and give people the space they need to understand the value of your organization and its cause Additionally, using a microsite geared specifically towards your campaign can help you maintain distinct branding and maximize conversions.

3) Pink Is the New Orange

We had to include pink pumpkins in our list of creative Halloween fundraising ideas. That’s right, they exist…and they’re serving a worthwhile cause, thanks to the Pink Pumpkin Patch Foundation. Celebrating October as the month for both breast cancer awareness and Halloween, the PPPF was founded in 2012 to support breast cancer research. Partnering with DP Seeds, the foundation raises money through the sale of pink pumpkins, with growers donating 25 cents per pumpkin sold to the PPPF. These funds are then distributed directly to organizations conducting cancer research.

READ NOW: 12 Causes That Go Above And Beyond For Breast Cancer Awareness

All donations from growers are collected by December 1st, and the PPPF board then contributes the funds to research organizations. To get the most out of the pumpkin sales, the PPPF also hosts its “Pink Pumpkin Decorate Your Porch Contest,” which asks supporters to visit the nonprofit’s Facebook page and share a photo of their Halloween-themed porch decorations, using at least one Pink Pumpkin; the owner of the winning photo gets a $100 gift card as a prize.

The Takeaways: In any campaign, creativity is invaluable. Creative themes can help you overcome marketing plateaus and drive engagement among supporters. If you’re searching for inspiration try putting a twist on a regular seasonal activity like PPPF did, or use an idea from pop culture as your fundraising inspiration!


Have Your Own Creative Halloween Fundraising Idea?

plan your campaign field guide for nonprofits



Photo Credits (in order), Flickr User N04, kayugee, Dr Stephen Dann, jasleen kaur

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