The right fundraising event idea can generate major revenue for your cause. Whether you need to plan a quick event or an annual fundraiser, here are 25 event fundraising ideas to help you get started.
1. 5K Run or Bike Race
A classic fundraising event idea, the 5K is a year-round favorite that can raise big bucks for your cause. Rather than rely solely on entry fees, implement peer-to-peer fundraising so participants can start raising money upon registration. Throw out a suggested fundraising goal, prepare incentives, and send participants tips on how to reach out to their networks.
Gather your team and check out these 18 free resources to organize a 5K to plan your most successful run/walk yet.
2. Video Gaming for Good
Turn video-gaming into the most charitably productive activity in your community. Take a note from Desert Bus for Hope, who raised over half a million dollars during a previous gaming fundraiser. Host a gaming night where people can sign up and create a fundraising page, play games (or one selected game) for an extended amount of time, and ask their friends and family for donations. Different individual or team contests (and prizes) can drum up excitement and donations throughout the evening.
3. Board Game Night
Alternatively, ditch the controllers and keyboards and kick it old school to raise money for your cause. Put together a board game fundraising event that’s friendly for all ages, complete with an assortment of options. Charge for entry and host mini-tournaments among different sets of players and advertise prizes for the winners.
4. Local Concert
This idea for a fundraiser is for all the live music junkies out there. Partner with a local venue and recruit local artists into your show. They can even start fundraising pages leading up to the event so that fans, friends, and family can donate even if they can’t attend.
Get ready for some sweet smells with this fundraising event idea. Participants compete to bake the most delectable treat out there, and guests can donate for the chance to taste test and vote for their favorites. You can narrow down eligible entries by pastry type, whether that’s pies, cakes, cookies, brownies, or some other sweet concoction. Whatever you serve, make sure you follow any local food serving laws.
6. Indoor Cycling
Popularly known as “Spinning,” this indoor activity asks riders to sweat for a cause. Partner with a local gym or Spin studio and ask your contacts to participate for a suggested donation. You could even ask a local instructor to donate their time and lead the class through a workout. To jazz up the event, throw in mood lighting, a killer playlist, and excessive fist-pumping for an awesome ride.
7. Casino Night
Bring Vegas to your hometown and host a casino night complete with games like roulette, blackjack, and poker. Invite guests to dress up and donate to participate. They can also donate certain amounts for specific numbers of casino chips, and the player with the most chips at the end of the night can receive a prize.
8. Football Tournament
Tap into a global interest and host your own charitable flag football tournament. Charge an entry fee per team, or ask participants to fundraise for entry. For even more fundraiser event ideas inspired by football, check out the link below.
9. Silent Auction
Plan a silent auction as a solo event, or add it to an existing fundraising initiative as a supplementary revenue driver. While you should reach out to your own network to start assembling items, consider appointing a committee of volunteers that can also solicit their contacts for gifts to auction off. Get creative with the prizes you collect—note that certain prizes, such as travel-related items and outings, tend to be popular.
10. Pub Crawl
The fundraising event that started Classy, a pub crawl can make a fun night out equally as meaningful. Plan your route with local breweries, charge for entry, and invite registrants to secure donations for each stop they make. Put a fun twist on the event by adding a strict dress code. Did somebody say costumes?
11. Trivia Night
Trivia nights are a weekly occurrence at bars for a few simple reasons—they’re easy to organize, affordable to host, and can be customized to appeal to any audience. Ask a local restaurant or bar to host your fundraising event and encourage donations at the door. Have participants create teams and then compete for bragging rights! You can choose a lighthearted theme for your trivia night like pop culture, music, or focus on questions that test your audience’s knowledge on your cause.
12. Ice Cream Social
This fundraising event idea is perfect for families and children. Ask your community and local businesses to donate supplies, get the word out, and charge per scoop day-of. Consider adding an ice cream eating contest into the mix. This type of event would be ideal on a weekend or in the summer when families have more free time on their hands.
13. Eating Contests
You can alternatively ditch the ice cream and open up your fundraiser to all types of eating contests. Whether you serve pies, doughnuts, or hot dogs, contestants can pay an entry fee to compete. Solicit local shops or bakeries to donate the food that will be devoured at your tasty fundraiser.
14. BBQ Throwdown
Invite your neighborhood chefs to cook up their best plate of barbecue for bragging rights, and ask guests to donate, taste, and cast their votes for their top choice.
15. Movie Night
Host a film screening or movie marathon at a local park or auditorium and sell tickets and snacks for suggested donations. Another twist to this familiar fundraising event is to ask friends and family to each host their own mini-film screenings on behalf of your cause and invite their networks. They can then speak about your mission afterward and take note of those who want to learn more.
16. Fashion Show
To launch this idea to raise money for your mission, partner with a local venue and sell event tickets. Ask participants to create their own sartorial masterpieces, or reach out to local clothing shops and boutiques for donated outfits. You can also ask makeup artists to donate their services and recruit community members to volunteer as models.
17. Exercise Lessons
Whether you focus on yoga, tennis, or self-defense, host an afternoon where participants can donate to receive a lesson. To find an instructor, reach out to experts at local gyms or studios who might be interested in donating their skills for a good cause.
18. Dinner Party
This fundraising event idea can turn into a themed party for any occasion. Whether you host a harvest dinner or a cocktail event, sell tickets and invite guests over to a rented venue, a volunteered home, or your office for a delicious meal. Prepare your elevator pitch so that guests will understand how meaningful this dinner, and their contributions, truly are.
Need some help with your nonprofit elevator pitch? Start by avoiding the following common mistakes:
19. Treadmill Relay
Partner with a local gym to get this fundraising event idea up and running (pun intended). Ask supporters and community members to sign up for a time slot (minimum of 15 minutes) and donate at least $1 per minute. You can even make this into a team event by assigning a different treadmill to each team.
20. Basketball Tournament
Teams pay an entry fee or fundraise to participate. You can also weave in other basketball games like dunk contests, free-throw contests, or dribble challenges.
21. Afternoon Tea Time
Put on a fundraising event where people can relax, drink tea, and support your worthy cause. Attendees can dress up for your classy high-tea fundraiser and pay an entry fee. Prepare elegant cutlery, fine china, and snacks. You can partner with a local tea or coffee shop for tea leaves and pastries.
22. Surf Tournament
If you’re by the ocean, a surf competition can be the perfect fundraising event idea to draw beach-loving crowds. When it comes to sports events, ask participants to create peer-to-peer campaigns to raise a minimum to participate. Include impact blocks on your campaign page to help tie the fundraising goal to its impact; for example, have participants raise $1,500 to cover the cost of sending one cancer survivor to camp.
Not near the coast? Lakes are perfect for athletic events too. Plan a kayak race or a relay swim to take advantage of the great outdoors.
23. Bowling Tournament
Each team fundraises a minimum amount for entry. You could also recruit partners to sponsor lanes where they can put up their logos. Check the link below to read how one Big Brothers Big Sisters affiliate leveraged Classy to raise 436 percent more for their annual bowling tournament year-over-year.
This fundraising event idea has raised more than $1.2 million in 2016 for Northwestern University Dance Marathon (NUDM). Ask people to fundraise to participate in a 24-hour (or 30, if you’re daring like NUDM) dance marathon. You can also ask people to sign up as teams foster some friendly competition.
25. Relay Race
Put a fresh spin the traditional 5K or 10K and turn it into a team relay race. Runners can solicit their networks for donations. Perhaps each leg of the race demands a particular costume theme or humorous obstacle—one leg could even be a three-legged race.
Did we miss any fundraising event ideas? Check out a few of our favorite fundraising idea roundups below:
- 25 Quick Fundraising Ideas for Charity
- 25 Creative Spring Fundraising Ideas
- 25 Creative Summer Fundraising Ideas
- 21 Creative Fall Fundraising Ideas
- 25 Winter Fundraising Ideas
- 23 of the Best Fundraising Ideas for Growth
- 6 Creative Fundraising Ideas for Giving Tuesday
Have you had success with any of these fundraiser event ideas? Let us know in the comments!