77 Fundraising Event Ideas for Nonprofits and Charities
Creative fundraising ideas can help get the ball rolling on longer-term initiatives, overcome a mid-campaign slump, or quickly collect resources in response to an unexpected emergency. The effectiveness of your ideas depends on how well they engage donors, maximize participation, motivate immediate action, and inspire supporters to subscribe to recurring giving.
We’ve collected a list of 77 fundraising event ideas that are sure to rally supporters around your cause. Explore creative approaches for everything from fundraising efforts for kids to endurance events and fashion shows. Jump right to your favorites or explore each category to potentially spark a new virtual, in-person, or hybrid event idea you haven’t considered yet.
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Fundraising Ideas for Schools and Colleges
1. Art Show
Tap on students’ creative talents to advance your worthy cause and strengthen your nonprofit’s sense of community. Ask each artist to pay a nominal registration fee to showcase their work, then set a flat ticket price for attendees to browse the collection. Consider asking local artists to get involved as well. Classy’s online ticket sales for nonprofits feature makes it easy to sell tickets to potential supporters.
2. Car Wash
Car washes are often overlooked, but they can be a great way to take a task off someone’s to-do list while simultaneously converting them into a supporter of your cause. Host the event at a location that’s easily visible and accessible from high-traffic areas. You’ll also want to make sure you have plenty of space to wash, dry, and collect money from customers.
Strategize how to promote your upcoming car wash so donors can bake it into their busy schedules. Social media and email are great places to start, but word of mouth can be just as impactful.
3. Spelling Bee
Spelling bees are not only fun to watch but also present a great opportunity for younger supporters to show their skills. Advertise your spelling bee event at local schools, gyms, churches, and restaurants, and take your marketing efforts online with a series of social media posts leading up to the event.
Charge a flat rate for tickets and consider adding a peer-to-peer fundraising element to bring in charitable donations from a wider audience. Participants can easily create a fundraising page and ask for support leading up to the competition to reach their goals. Plus, people can show their support throughout the event by sending individual donations to friends or family members competing in each round.
4. Bake Sale
Get ready for some sweet aromas with this classic fundraising idea. To make this fan-favorite event a little more interesting, invite participants to compete to bake the most delectable treat.
People can donate for the chance to taste test and vote for their favorites, or scrap the competition idea and simply charge a flat rate for each baked good someone purchases. Just be sure to review all food serving laws before setting up your table.
5. Dance Marathon
Challenge participants to join a 24-hour dance marathon to raise money for your mission. Have dancers launch peer-to-peer campaigns with a minimum goal for participation and encourage attendees to create teams to see which group can raise the most.
This fun fundraising activity keeps participants moving and creates ample opportunities for in-person connection. You could also invite supporters to request their favorite songs for $5 to raise additional revenue.
Northwestern University Dance Marathon (NUDM) has raised more than $22 million for over 30 charitable organizations that benefit the Chicago Youth Programs and The Evanston Community Foundation. This proves the potential fundraising power of a dance marathon and reaffirms the impact of peer-to-peer fundraising.
6. Treadmill Relay Race
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 collect pledges of specific gift amounts per mile that their team completes.
If you are interested in sourcing fresh virtual fundraising ideas, this event can also be completed virtually for anyone with access to a treadmill at home. Ask fundraisers to rally support from their networks to pledge money for each mile they log or each time-based benchmark they hit (e.g., pledge to donate $50 dollars for every five miles).
7. Dodgeball Tournament
This timeless game is the perfect way to spin up competition at a local school or university. Ask each team to fundraise a certain amount to participate or give donors the option to join for a set registration fee. Whichever they choose, encourage attendees to spread the word and recruit their friends to come watch for some serious laughs.
Fundraising Ideas for Instagram
8. Photo Contest
Run a photo contest to engage attendees, build brand awareness, and connect with donors more organically. Identify a theme or subject for your contest, then invite donors to share their photos on Instagram with the appropriate hashtags and photo tags. Collect all entries, upload them to a central landing page, and ask your community to vote for their favorite by making a small monetary donation.
If you prefer to keep it all on social media, determine the winner by identifying which photo garners the most likes. Offer to share the winner’s photo on your organization’s social media accounts and your website home page. For an added incentive, see if a local gallery would display your winner’s photo for a week.
For additional insights on how to leverage Instagram, check out our blog where you’ll find 24 Instagram Tips For The Modern Nonprofit.
9. Ice Bucket Challenge
Invite donors to recreate the 2014 ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to raise more money for your mission using social media. If the ice bucket challenge doesn’t align with or reflect your organization’s work, feel free to get creative with another social media challenge.
For example, Movember’s annual campaign challenges supporters to grow their facial hair for the entire month of November to raise awareness for men’s health. When participants share photos of themselves online using the event hashtag or mention Movember in their captions, they’re organically boosting cause awareness and educating others on the importance of Movember’s work.
Nothing gets people more excited than free gifts. Share a photo and description of a unique prize on your organization’s Instagram, then give your followers step-by-step instructions on how to enter to win the item or experience.
Something as simple as a custom swag bag would be great or take it a step further by offering a free meal at a local restaurant or paid spa treatment at a luxury salon.
To generate revenue, invite a potential donor to purchase additional entries by donating to your nonprofit. For example, donors who give an additional $10 are granted 10 extra entries into the giveaway.
Virtual Fundraising Ideas
Virtual Fundraising Ideas for Nonprofits
11. Recipe Books
As a tribute to the days before cooking apps and Pinterest recipe boards, you can crowdsource recipes from different supporters, volunteers, and employees to compile a charity cookbook.
Ask contributors to submit their recipes online and include a dedication, doodle, or note with each submission so that the book feels unique and personal to your organization.
Pro Tip: Reach out to local graphic designers or students for help designing your cookbook.
12. Cooking Class
Whether gathering in person or online, a cooking class is a great way to interact with your community in a relaxed, creative environment. Ask your employees, volunteers, or donors if anyone would be interested in leading the class, or turn to the experts and hire a chef to take the lead.
Charge a flat registration fee or offer a fundraising minimum for supporters to earn their spot in class. If you choose to host this event virtually, charge admission to attend the livestream.
As part of your livestream fundraising initiative, include an incentive for larger donations by offering time with the chef after class for anyone who reaches the tier two fundraising level.
13. Apple Watch or Strava Challenge
Get donors involved from all over the world with a virtual fitness challenge. Invite people to hit a daily step goal, complete a running challenge, tackle an indoor cycling course, or enjoy an independent hike.
Participants can track their exercise using an Apple Watch or the Strava app, then submit their results to see how they stack up on the leaderboard.
14. Twitch Video Game Fundraiser
If we’ve learned anything from Twitch, it’s that video games can bring people together from all over the world to support a worthy cause.
Invite gamers to create a fundraising page that they can share with viewers during their Twitch event. Provide them with the tools they need to promote their stream and encourage them to recruit friends, family, and fellow gamers to tune in to support their efforts.
Ask each gamer to drop the link to their donation page in the chat box during their event, and encourage them to speak to your mission throughout the livestream. This is a great opportunity to have gamers organically educate viewers on your work’s importance.
Virtual Fundraising Ideas for Schools
15. Virtual Tailgate
Tailgating for a sporting event is one of the best parts of the game. If you can’t tailgate in person, make it a virtual celebration. Have your supporters purchase a tailgate package, which can be picked up before the big game.
The Palmer Home for Children decided to host a virtual tailgate for the Mississippi State football team, sending each supporter home with a cooler of tailgate foods and treats. They also sold sponsorship packages, and anyone who purchased a sponsorship had their organization’s logo and program information included on special marketing materials inside the tailgate cooler.
16. School Concert
For the proud grandparents, aunts, and uncles who can’t travel into town every time your children are participating in a school concert, provide a virtual option to keep them involved and expand the reach of your event.
Either pre-record your concert at an earlier date to avoid any last-minute technology hiccups or livestream your concert using a reliable virtual event platform, such as Classy Live. Sell virtual tickets to your event through a branded campaign page or simply encourage attendees to make donations throughout the evening to support their loved ones.
Invite supporters to give the gift of a morning coffee to a student, parent, or teacher in their life who could use the extra boost of caffeine.
Keep it simple by creating a custom campaign page where supporters can place their orders, submit their donations, and even leave a personal message for the recipient of their coffee-gram.
Ask for a flat donation amount from each customer, or invite supporters to upgrade their orders with specialty beverages like hot chocolate or an oat milk latte.
Easy Fundraising Ideas
18. Breakfast in Bed
Ask local businesses to donate breakfast staples like muffins, fruit, bagels, and coffee for this easy fundraising idea. Next, have supporters and their networks place orders. Enlist volunteers to deliver the goods and encourage tips in the form of donations.
Create a menu that demonstrates impact so your supporters know what their donation provides. For example, a $20 donation gets you a fresh bagel, homemade croissant, and hot coffee, but more importantly, it pays for a student’s school lunch for a month.
19. Film Festival
Since everyone has a camera in their pocket and a platform to reach the masses, any moment can be captured on film and shared with the world.
Host an amateur film festival where participants can enter their productions. You can even turn it into a contest where attendees donate $5 to cast votes for their favorite films.
Leading up to the contest, create an email series with tips to show supporters how to create an impactful video.
20. Dinner Party
This fundraising idea makes sense for any occasion. Whether you host a potluck harvest dinner or a cocktail hour, sell tickets and invite guests to a rented venue, a volunteer’s home, or your office for a delicious meal. Prepare your elevator pitch so guests will understand how meaningful this dinner, and their contributions, truly are.
21. Date Night Auction
Strike a deal with a local restaurant, spa, or hotel to offer an exclusive date night prize to the winner of your fundraising auction. Identify potential businesses in your area that donors have shown an interest in and highlight the incredible marketing opportunity those establishments will receive from this event.
You can host your auction online or in person, both presenting their own unique set of benefits. If you plan to host an online charity auction, you can link to the businesses’ websites on your event page to entice donors. In addition, you have the potential to expand your reach and garner more bids as a result.
If you host your event in person, you have additional opportunities to raise money through merchandise, food, or drink sales, educate supporters on your recurring giving program, strengthen donor relationships, and more.
22. Speed Dating
For those looking to meet new, like-minded people with a shared interest in philanthropy, host a speed-dating fundraising event to break the ice between singles in your community and create a welcoming atmosphere for connection.
Charge a registration fee for anyone interested in participating and auction off fun dates throughout the night. Recruit volunteers to play live music or serve drinks to keep the energy alive until the last couple leaves.
23. Eating Contest
Expand your fundraising opportunities with a food-forward event sure to draw in supporters of all ages. Whether you serve pies, doughnuts, or hot dogs, contestants will be excited to compete in a timed eating contest and fund your good work.
Solicit local shops or bakeries to donate the food that will be devoured at your fundraiser. That way, the restaurant or bakery gets its brand in front of more people and your organization can keep overhead costs as low as possible.
24. Art Auction
This fundraising idea isn’t just for professional artists. Encourage donors, supporters, and artists alike to create something they feel proud of and would like to share with your community.
Invite attendees to show their support for each artist while simultaneously advancing your cause by bidding on their favorite items, either in a live or virtual fundraising environment.
25. Exercise Lessons
Whether you focus on yoga, tennis, or self-defense, host an afternoon where participants can donate to receive a lesson from a local expert.
To find a qualified instructor, reach out to local gyms or workout studios to see who might be interested in donating their skills for a good cause. You could also turn to social media to source potential exercise professionals in your area who might be a good fit for your event.
Best Fundraising Ideas
26. Silent Auction
Plan a silent auction as a solo event, or add it to an existing fundraising initiative as a supplementary revenue driver. Reach out to your network to start assembling items and appoint a committee of volunteers who can solicit their contacts for additional gifts.
By shifting this event to virtual, it becomes more accessible to your audience. When it comes down to how to host an online auction that engages your audience, consider promoting any auction items in an email blast and on social media to engage attendees, then take advantage of the opportunity to ask for additional donations throughout the event.
Lakeview Pantry celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2020 by offering supporters the chance to bid on several prizes at their online silent auction. All bidding was submitted online prior to the livestream and remained open until one hour after the virtual program ended. This allowed all supporters to participate, even if they couldn’t attend the live virtual event.
Galas are one of the longest-standing fundraising events for a reason. Imagine sitting at a table of like-minded individuals, engaging in meaningful conversation while enjoying a delicious meal.
Invite your supporters to an elegant evening of dinner, drinks, live entertainment, and ample fundraising opportunities to recognize the success of your organization and help attendees better understand your impact.
Sell tickets to your event through a branded campaign page, and consider restricting your sales to two-pack tickets to ensure all attendees bring at least one guest. Leverage partnerships to help offset costs, and be sure to double down on promotion leading up to your event to build a case for why supporters should offer their support.
28. Battle of the Bands
Recruit local bands to put on a concert for your community. Performers can fundraise ahead of the event to earn their spot on stage and attendees can purchase tickets to join in on the fun.
Invite nonprofit influencers or local personalities to judge, and motivate them to help spread the word to get people excited about your show.
Simply ask each group to upload a prerecorded video of their act to your event page to bring the battle online. Participants can still fundraise to earn their registration, and then your supporters can vote on the best performance. Offer a prize for the winning band to incentivize participation, and consider offering a prize to the band that raises the most money.
29. Pancake Breakfast
Heat up the skillets and recruit a team of passionate volunteers to serve up endless stacks of pancakes in support of your nonprofit. Advertise your event weeks in advance to give donors enough time to plan ahead, and be sure to increase your marketing cadence the week leading up to the event to keep it top of mind.
Ask donors to purchase a ticket to your all-you-can-eat breakfast event, or remove the registration cost altogether to increase accessibility and ask supporters to donate in exchange for a hot meal once they arrive. Whichever you choose, just make sure you have plenty of butter and syrup to go around.
30. Casino Night
Bring Vegas to your hometown and host a casino night complete with roulette, blackjack, and poker games. Invite guests to dress up and donate to participate.
You could also invite attendees to donate certain gift amounts in exchange for entries into a grand prize raffle at the end of the evening. Prizes like a gift card to a nice restaurant in your area or free tickets to your next nonprofit organization event are both great options.
31. Vacation Auction
The idea of going on a relaxing weekend getaway is enough to pique most adults’ immediate interest. Do your research and explore your connections to identify potential airlines, hotels, car services, and restaurants that would be willing to support this offering. You could also keep it local for a simple staycation at a nice hotel or resort in your city.
Entice bids by promoting your auction online, and get creative with your marketing materials. Sell the experience with strong photos and videos of the vacation package, plus a comprehensive list of the vacation details and perks the winner will receive.
32. Murder Mystery Party
See who can piece all of the clues together to solve the mystery at this classic fundraising event. Attendees can reserve their spot in the game with a flat registration fee, but be sure to remind them to invite friends and family members to join the fun.
Spice things up by encouraging attendees to dress in costume, or even consider adding a costume contest element to get donors excited.
33. Wine Tasting
Wine and dine your community of supporters with an invitation to a wine night fundraising event. Ask local wineries or restaurants to donate a bottle or two in exchange for free marketing, or host your wine tasting at a local business that would contribute a portion of their proceeds to your organization.
Consider hiring a sommelier to teach attendees how to properly taste each wine and educate the group on the history of each drink being served, or collect a basket of fine wines, cheeses, wine glasses, and bottle openers to auction off at the event for additional donations. You could even throw in a gift card to a local vineyard.
34. Fashion Show
To launch a memorable fashion show, consider partnering with a local venue and encourage attendees to purchase tickets to your exclusive event.
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 assist the day of to ensure everything runs smoothly.
Fundraising Ideas for Kids
35. Game Night
Step away from the screens and kick it old school to raise money for your cause. Put together a game night fundraising event that’s friendly for all ages, complete with various options from Monopoly to charades.
Charge for entry and host mini-tournaments among different sets of players. Advertise prizes for the winners to motivate participation, and be sure to remind attendees of those prizes throughout the evening to encourage some healthy competition.
36. Movie Night
Host a film screening or a movie marathon at a local park or auditorium. Sell tickets and snacks for suggested donations, and invite attendees to help determine which movie you’ll stream by donating a few dollars toward their favorite film on the list.
Another twist to this familiar fundraising event is asking friends and family to host their own mini-film screenings on behalf of your cause. Ask them to invite their networks to donate a small fee to “reserve their seat” at the event, and provide each host with a toolkit of promotional materials to speak about your mission afterward.
37. Tie-Dye Party
Swag that promotes your cause is a classic fundraising incentive, but you can take this nonprofit fundraising idea a step further by hosting a “create your own T-shirt” get-together.
Charge an entrance fee and invite attendees to create their own masterpieces. You could also enlist local artists to create custom pieces to sell.
Since making T-shirts isn’t an extremely time-consuming activity, prepare some other family-friendly games, crafts, or challenges for the event to ensure attendees stick around.
38. Rollerblade or Rollerskate Race
How about switching up the usual 5K run/walk with a roller-skating race? In addition to fundraising for entry, invite participants to dress up and participate in a costume contest.
Cheap Fundraising Ideas
39. Scavenger Hunt
Send participants running all around town with an organized scavenger hunt. Stick to a classic scavenger hunt where people have to find and collect designated items, or go digital and have individuals or teams simply take a picture of the items or locations on the list and submit them for approval.
Charge a registration fee in advance. Offer a head start or hints in exchange for donations on the day of the hunt, and give bonus points to the individual or team who collects the most trash as they explore and tidy up your city.
40. Karaoke Night
Invite donors to let their hair down and have some old-fashioned fun with a night of karaoke. Charge for entry, then encourage spectators to vote for their favorite performers through small monetary donations. The performer with the most donations at the end of the evening will be crowned the winner.
Encourage supporters of all ages to participate in a battle of the generations. Categorize all performers into individual age brackets, then leave it up to the audience to determine which group deserves the karaoke crown. Offer incentives to the winners to motivate participation or simply remind them of the bragging rights they’ll earn.
41. Donate a Drink for a Cause
To demonstrate how even small donations can make all the difference, ask fundraisers to give up a daily beverage and donate the money they would have spent to your cause instead.
Provide supporters with data showcasing the impact of $5, $10, and $20 donations. Encourage them to share their activity on social media and ask their networks to take action too.
Intensify the appeal by asking supporters to participate for a certain number of days or encourage them to meet a personal fundraising goal.
42. Afternoon Tea Time
Invite your community to relax, sip their favorite tea, and support your nonprofit’s mission. Attendees can secure their entry with a standard registration fee, then dress up for your classy high-tea fundraiser to make the most of the event.
Prepare elegant cutlery, fine china, and classic tea party snacks. Consider partnering with a local tea or coffee shop for tea leaves and pastries.
43. Comedy Night
Laughter is one of the most powerful sources of connection. Recruit community members, local performers, and up-and-coming comics to show off their talents at your comedy night event.
Sell entry tickets, then encourage donors to show additional support through the form of food and beverage purchases for suggested donation amounts.
See if a local comedy club would offer their space for your nonprofit to use, or host your event at a bar or restaurant that would contribute a portion of their proceeds back to your cause.
44. Head-Shaving Fundraiser
If you can find brave supporters to go the extra mile for your nonprofit, a head-shaving fundraiser is a great way to bring attention to your cause and attract new audiences.
Participants pledge to shave their heads (or beards) to raise money. In return, your nonprofit can offer an exclusive perk, prize, or public recognition on your website or social media platforms.
45. 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 participants to form teams in advance.
To earn their spot in the competition, set a minimum fundraising amount that each participant must meet to play. If registrants don’t meet the minimum, they can donate the remaining amount.
Charge an entrance fee for anyone not participating in the competition but still wants to support your cause and be part of the action. You can also host a virtual trivia night to reduce overhead costs. Simply create a list of questions, secure an engaging virtual host, and encourage attendees to tune in for the live event to earn designated prizes.
If you decide to go with an in-person gathering, consider asking if the venue would share a portion of their food and drink proceeds with your nonprofit. Nothing encourages business like being a socially responsible company.
46. Yard Sale
Collect gently worn clothes and home goods for a yard sale your community won’t want to miss. If you have valuable items, like first-edition books or signed collectibles, you can hold an exclusive auction for these top-tier pieces at the end of the day. In addition to opening up donations to your staff, supporters, and collective networks, reach out to local celebrities or philanthropists for those high-ticket items.
Take pictures of the items and post them on social media to generate buzz around the event. You might just find your next corporate sponsorship while drumming up excitement online.
47. Community Potluck
Invite supporters to dig out their family recipe books for a community potluck. This cheap fundraising idea is accessible to donors who might not be able to afford a ticket to your annual gala or other large fundraisers but still want to get involved with your cause.
Encourage donors to buy a ticket through your event page, then simply show up with an appetite and their favorite meal, dessert, or drink in hand.
To leave attendees with something special to remember the evening, ask registrants to submit their recipes to your team ahead of the potluck and create a cookbook of everyone’s unique contributions. Either send the book home for free as a gift for attending or sell them for a low price at the event for additional donations.
48. Photo Contest
Today, everyone has a professional-grade camera in the palm of their hand. Kick off an amateur photo contest to find out which supporters can snap the best photo from their iPhone, camera, or mobile device.
Either set a theme for the contest, like sunsets or photos of nature, or keep it broad enough for participants to get creative. Ask each person to submit their photos to your team directly, then publish them to your event landing page where people can vote for their favorite through small donations.
Take it to social media to garner additional votes, and be sure to send an email blast asking community members to help determine the winner.
Participants can either pay an entry fee or earn their spot in the competition through peer-to-peer fundraising. Whichever you decide, offer the opportunity to showcase the winning photo at your next event or share it on social media for everyone to see.
49. Restaurant Partnership
A restaurant fundraiser allows supporters to eat at a local restaurant or bakery on a particular day, and the restaurant donates a percentage of its sales back to your cause.
Set up a committee to identify potential partners, then arrange a meeting with those restaurant managers to explore your options. Determine how the proceeds will be split, and discuss if there will be an option for supporters to make a reservation ahead of the event to confirm their table.
50. Talent Show
Secure a venue, recruit your talent for the evening, and prepare attendees for a fundraising event to remember. Research some free community spaces to rent, or consider striking a deal with a local business to host your event for a portion of the proceeds.
Encourage supporters of all ages to take the stage to pursue the grand prize, whether that’s a coveted trophy or a custom T-shirt. Just be sure to preview the acts beforehand to ensure they’re appropriate for all eyes.
51. 50/50 Raffle
If your organization is looking for a cheap way to bolster donations, try a 50/50 raffle. Sell tickets for entry into the raffle, typically for a fee of $1 per ticket. Add up all of your ticket sales, then divide them in half. One half goes to your organization and the other goes to a lucky winner.
You can host the raffle at an in-person event or take it virtual by selling the raffle tickets online. Whichever you choose, keep supporters updated as you sell tickets to show just how large the prize fund is getting.
52. Dog Walking
It’s not always easy for people to make time for an afternoon stroll with their pets, but you can help make their days easier by walking their dog in exchange for a donation.
Launch an online sign-up sheet where donors can reserve a date and time, submit their donation, and insert all relevant contact information. Charge a flat rate for a 30-minute walk, or offer longer walks in exchange for larger donations. You could also offer additional services, like bathing their dog, for an additional fee.
53. Pet Sitting
When people travel for the weekend or just go away for the day on business, it can be challenging to find someone they trust to take care of their pets. Help relieve some of their stress with pet-sitting services.
Create an event landing page with the details of your offering to ensure donors know exactly what they’re signing up for, then follow up with each participant to confirm the date, time, and location. Set a flat hourly rate, or offer an exclusive weekend package for those who need a little more help.
54. Polar Plunge
There’s nothing like jumping into an ice-cold ocean to re-energize your nonprofit community. A polar plunge is a perfect opportunity for peer-to-peer fundraising where supporters can tap into their networks to raise money on behalf of your organization.
Similarly to those participating in nonprofit endurance events, polar plunge participants can ask their friends, family, and loved ones to support their ambitious goals. Whether you host your plunge at the beach, lake, or even in a local pool, it will grab supporters’ attention.
55. Meditation Night
Allow donors to unwind and destress at a community meditation night. Find a quiet, comfortable space to convert into your meditation studio, then recruit a local yoga teacher, volunteer, or qualified passionate supporter to lead your class.
Charge a registration fee to attend, then bolster your opportunities for donation by auctioning off a series of guided meditation sessions or a free one-year membership to popular meditation apps like Calm or Headspace.
Winter Fundraising Ideas
56. Holiday Cooking Competition
Round up supporters and foodies around a friendly culinary competition. Contestants create their best holiday dishes with a specific ingredient or other criteria, and people pay to taste each dish and cast their votes.
By giving your supporters the option to sign up as a chef or judge, you’re appealing to a large audience and providing a fun and unique experience that will help donors associate your organization with a good time.
57. Winter Clothing Drive
Host a clothing drive ahead of the onset of freezing winter temperatures to support and protect community members in need. Collect these in-kind resources early in the winter season to ensure adequate resources for your beneficiaries when the coldest temperatures hit in December and January.
In addition to giving jackets, hats, and gloves, encourage donors to contribute a one-time donation on top of their in-kind contribution to help your organization sustain its critical work. Clarify how each dollar will directly benefit a community member and remind donors how much just $5 can do for someone in need.
58. Indoor Cycling
Invite donors to warm up in the winter months by sweating for a cause. Partner with a local gym or spin studio and ask your community to participate in exchange for a suggested donation amount.
Recruit a local instructor to donate their time and lead the class through an energetic and fulfilling workout. To jazz it up, throw in mood lighting, a killer playlist, and after-spin refreshments.
59. Community Bonfire
Get donors together for a night of smores, hot chocolate, and campfire songs. Sell tickets to your event through a branded campaign page, and also consider setting up a booth on the weekends leading up to your event to sell fundraiser tickets in person.
Recruit donors, beneficiaries, or partners to speak at your bonfire to help clarify the impact of your mission. Put together a slideshow to display at your bonfire to highlight the other events your community has enjoyed together, and consider adding a few other small games or activities for attendees to do throughout the evening. Something as simple as a bag toss, a cookie decorating station, or a holiday movie screening would work well.
Spring Fundraising Ideas
60. 5K Run or Bike Race
A 5K race is a year-round favorite that can raise big bucks for your cause. Rather than rely solely on entry fees, learn how to launch a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign 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 to solicit additional donations.
For organizations looking to do this virtually, charge registration in the form of a donation and then encourage the athlete to complete the distance on their own.
Hope for Haiti hosted their third annual virtual Hike for Haiti Challenge in 2021, which challenged students and families to climb 200 flights of stairs. This distance represents the journey taken by students and families in Marre à Coiffe to access clean water and other vital resources.
Supporters worldwide posted photos and videos of themselves on social media climbing stairs at the gym, at a local stadium, and even in their apartment complexes, raising over $344,000 in the process.
61. Color Run
Put a creative spin on the traditional 5K by hosting a community-wide color run. As participants make their way through the course, they’ll be covered with water and color powder to help create memories that will last a lifetime.
You can host your color run at a local school to target a younger audience, or open the event to your larger community to boost exposure and increase attendance. Ask registrants to cover a flat registration fee that will offset the cost of materials, and encourage them to tap into their extensive network to raise more through peer-to-peer fundraising.
Post-race swag, medals, or even branded water bottles are great incentives for each runner. If that’s not within your budget, offer the winner a set of free tickets to your next fundraising event.
Encourage supporters to fundraise on behalf of your cause through a walk-a-thon peer-to-peer fundraising event. Provide attendees with all necessary fundraising and marketing materials they might need to solicit donations, like a fundraisers toolkit, and incentivize their participation with exclusive perks or prizes.
Although most commonly held at a track, you can take this event to a local park or even online to host a virtual walk-a-thon. Consider tapping on event sponsors to support your event, or think about creative ways to collect in-kind donations from your community to keep walkers fueled throughout the day, like drinks, snacks, and sunscreen.
63. Pub Crawl
Don’t discount the potential of a fundraising event that’s centered around bar hopping. In fact, this is the fundraising idea that inspired the start of Classy. A pub (or restaurant) crawl can be a great way to put a philanthropic twist on a fun Saturday night.
Plan your route with local breweries who may offer potential discounts, or ask participating bars and eateries to donate a portion of their profits to your cause. Charge for entry and invite registrants to secure donations for each stop they make.
You can also charge a fee for people to participate in the crawl. To take it one step further, ask people to dress in theme or have participants earn branded swag for each stop they make on the crawl.
64. Tree Planting
Do a good deed for the environment while simultaneously driving your mission forward. Sell or auction trees in partnership with your local native plant nursery, or promote donations for memorial trees that your organization will plant to remember loved ones.
The holiday season presents another lucrative fundraising opportunity for your nonprofit. Offer a Christmas tree collection and recycling service for a suggested donation, or help supporters get their trees to the curb on trash day. Gather a team of volunteers to do the heavy lifting, and be sure to reward their hard work with a special gift.
65. Marathon Sponsorships
Reward top peer-to-peer fundraisers in your community with entry to exclusive marathons or running events, like the Boston Marathon.
Become an official charity partner of the race of your choice, then determine how many athlete spots you’ll be given. Reserve those coveted spots for supporters who bring in the most money for your cause in the months leading up to race day, saving them the costly race registration fee they would have to pay otherwise.
StacheStrong was accepted as an official community charity partner for the 2021 TCS New York City Marathon, encouraging supporters to fundraise on their behalf to earn their spot at the start line. They successfully sent three ambitious athletes to New York to make the 26.2-mile trek as a well-earned reward for their fundraising success.
66. Basketball Tournament
Put a spin on the standard basketball tournament with other fun games like dunk contests, free-throw contests, or dribble challenges. Keep it simple with a flat registration fee, or tap into the potential of your supporters’ networks through peer-to-peer fundraising.
67. Relay Race
Put a fresh spin on the traditional 5K or 10K by turning it into a team relay race. Runners can solicit their networks for donations or ask their friends and family to purchase event tickets to come to watch. Perhaps each leg of the race demands a particular costume theme or a humorous obstacle like carrying an egg on a spoon or a three-legged race.
Summer Fundraising Ideas
68. Craft Fair
If Pinterest has taught us anything, it’s that the do-it-yourself aesthetic isn’t going anywhere. Gather talented friends and family members to help create and sell custom crafts, like bracelets, paintings, keychains, or hand-stitched blankets.
69. Ice Cream Social
This fundraising event idea is perfect for families and children. Ask your community and local businesses to donate supplies and help you get the word out. Charge per scoop or set a flat ticket fee for an all-you-can-eat option.
Consider adding an ice cream eating contest to shake things up, or host a competition to see who can create the most beautiful sundae with the ingredients they’ve been given.
This can easily become a virtual event as well by sending a gift card to each donor who reaches the designated fundraising level. Encourage them to purchase their own treat and attend a livestream ice cream social to connect with fellow supporters.
70. Dunk Tank
While getting an adult to sit in the tank might take a little convincing, this fundraising idea is an engaging weekend activity sure to leave everyone laughing.
Identify volunteers, donors, partners, or board members willing to take a shift in the dunk tank and sell tickets to those interested in sending them for a swim.
You can sell different tiers of tickets, rewarding those who donate larger amounts with additional attempts to dunk the person inside. Another creative twist is kicking off a peer-to-peer competition leading up to the event, and the person who raises the least has to take the first shift in the tank.
71. Local Concert
This idea is for all the live music junkies out there. Partner with a local venue and recruit artists to participate in your show. Performers can create fundraising pages leading up to the event so that fans, friends, and family can donate, even if they cannot attend.
You can also make this an online fundraising event by asking bands to perform for your virtual audience in a closed venue. Sell tickets for the event, collect donations throughout the evening, and livestream the performances for all donors to enjoy.
72. Surf Tournament
If you’re near the ocean, a surf competition can be the perfect fundraising idea to draw beach-loving crowds and get people outside.
Ask participants to create peer-to-peer campaigns with a fundraising minimum. Be sure to leverage impact blocks on your campaign page to help tie your fundraising goal to a tangible solution. For example, participants that raise $1,500 will 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 swim relay to take advantage of the great outdoors.
73. Local Olympics
Put together an Olympics-style sporting event for locals and ask each participant to fundraise a minimum amount to help you reach a collective goal.
Either stick with the classic Olympic events, like basketball and track and field, or get creative with more unique games, like bag toss or bocce ball.
74. BBQ Cook-Off
Invite local chefs to cook up their best barbecue plate and ask guests to donate, taste, and cast their votes for their top choice. Segment the competition even further to crown the winner of the best barbecue sauce, rolls, or side dishes. No matter what, be sure to keep a lot of napkins on hand.
Fall Fundraising Ideas
75. Costume Race
Host a race where people dress up in theme to add some extra flair to the classic endurance event. Whether it’s zombies, Star Wars, Harry Potter, or another theme, a costumed race allows donors to dig out their Halloween boxes and have some fun. With all the different options to choose from, this funny fundraising twist on the classic 5K never gets old.
76. Flag 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.
Consider how you could raise additional funds the day-of, whether that’s an on-site concession stand or branded merchandise. Either seek out volunteer referees or ask your staff to step in, and remember to highlight the prizes that are up for grabs for the winning team.
77. Bowling Tournament
Like all other tournaments, ask each team to fundraise a minimum amount for entry. You could also recruit partners to sponsor lanes or uniforms where they can feature their logos.
Upgrade Your Next Fundraising Event With the Latest Data
Upgrade your next fundraising event with exclusive donor data from our Event Attendee Insights Report. Discover how to deliver an event that offers meaningful value, strengthens donor relationships, and keeps your community engaged long after the closing ceremony.
The Nonprofit Event Attendee Insights Report
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