Jul 3, 2022

70+ Proven Fundraising Event Ideas for Nonprofits

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Fundraising event ideas have become a staple in many organizations as a way to help with fundraising event planning to create an entertaining and engaging experience for your donors. In fact, each type of fundraising event idea will attract a different demographic.  

But how do I put on a successful fundraising event? The key to having a successful nonprofit fundraising event is by encouraging engagement while still keeping it fun. If you can’t get your attendees engaged then your event will quickly lose steam.  

So to make your initiatives fun, try these exciting new ideas from the list below and see what your donors value the most. These ideas listed are ones we and our partner nonprofits and schools have found success with. Whether you’re a small or large organization, we know there will be something here that’ll work for your mission. 

Looking to take your event fundraising online? Connect with a GiveSmart expert today. 

Jump to different event types by choosing one of the categories below.  

Athletic

5K Run/Walk/Swim/Ride

Did you know that six in 10 millennials prefer to fundraise through walk/run/cycle events? 

Low-cost with high ROI, team fundraising event idea that’s fun for all ages. What could be better? A 5K run/walk fundraising event can be all these things for your nonprofit organization. Not only can you raise funds for your cause by incorporating crowdfunding for nonprofits into your fundraising event, but you’ll also organically raise awareness for your cause’s mission through participants’ sharing of your campaign with their network of friends and family.

Choose the size and location of an event you can reasonably manage. Set a date and some realistic fundraising goals for your nonprofit. Themes add an extra element of fun. Consider some spins on this classic event:  

  • Survival races 
  • Color runs 
  • Food and beverage themed (donut, beer, pretzel) 
  • Costumed  
  • Family-friendly, leisurely walk 
  • Pets on parade 
  • Turkey Trot 
  • Santa Run 
  • And more! 

Finding sponsors will help you stick to your budget, raise more money and promote your race. Sponsorship sign-up forms make the collection and organization of information simple plus mobile-friendly design and shareable links let sponsors come onboard from any mobile device or computer.

Communicate event information with everyone through pre-planned mobile messaging that includes event location and race route maps to make sure participants have everything they need to stay on-track during race day.

During the event, you can also send update texts so everyone from participants to supporters (and even the cheerleaders on the sidelines) can keep track of the progress until everyone reaches the finish line.

Basketball Hoops for Hope Game

Who needs Shaq and Kobe when you have your awesome supporters? Your nonprofit organization can quickly raise money and awareness for your cause with a friendly round of hoops. Here’s what you need: 

  • Basketball court (check availability at local schools, gyms, recreation centers, and parks) 
  • Player registration and team crowdfunding forms 
  • Volunteer sign-up form 
  • Mobile, print, and social media marketing strategy 

Two to three weeks before your fundraising event, post flyers that include your keyword and shortcode text directions and/or a QR code linked to your mobile-friendly registration form. Hang them in local stores, gyms, sports centers, and restaurants. Better yet, invite registrants to sign up directly on a team peer-to-peer fundraising page to empower them to start fundraising on behalf of your nonprofit’s cause. 

There are lots of other tournament style games you can do, too! 

  • Card Games 
  • Cornhole 
  • Dodgeball 
  • Hockey 
  • Softball/Baseball   
  • Twister 

You can set a minimum donation as a requirement for registering a team. Incentivize people to fundraise on top of that fee! Remember, the average peer-to-peer fundraiser raises $612 with all donations securely routed to your organization. You also get to keep all the donor data since it can be easily added to your nonprofit’s CRM

Obstacle Course

Instead of your normal race event, raise the bar with an obstacle course event that will challenge participants in exciting and rewarding ways. Psychological studies have proven that harder, painful, and unpleasant events attract more participation and support because people are drawn to a challenge. Here’s what you’ll need: 

  • Obstacles course (rented or made) 
  • First-aid staff/insurance/safety volunteer form 
  • Ninja warrior team crowdfunding pages 
  • Crowd support ticketing 
  • Mobile swiper and integrated app for in-person ticket sales and concession item credit card payment processing 

Teams and individuals looking to participate can sign up through your mobile-first crowdfunding sign-up page. Sharing event information, team sign-up page, and viewer ticketing form over mobile messaging, printed flyers, social and email is easy with an event keyword, link to your sign-up form, and a QR code linked to the same form. 

Decide on a location and date for your event. There are companies that can set up obstacle courses at your location of choice, or you can rent out an obstacle course facility for your nonprofit to use. The location you choose will likely determine what type of obstacle course event you hold – mud pits, ropes, obstacle crawls, climbing walls…the harder and dirtier, the better! Encourage teams to fundraise their entry fee and additional support on behalf of your cause to create friendly competition even before the real competition begins. 

Sports Skills Clinic

Gather amateur and professional athletes, guest pros, coaches, and trainers to host techniques or skills clinics to help participants improve their game. Digital forms will help your nonprofit organization keep all volunteer information organized and available at any time. Here’s what you’ll need: 

  • Digital athlete mentor and trainer volunteer form 
  • Participant registration form 
  • Appropriate training or sports venue 

This type of fundraising event works great for all sports whether basketball, baseball, soccer, football, wrestling, volleyball, tennis, hockey, swimming, equine sports, surfing, track and field, dance, or cheer teams. Decide on the type of clinic and age group (youth, teen, adult, all ages, etc.) you’ll focus on. Then find a community venue like a gym, school physical education room, field, park, etc. that will happily host your event. Set up a mobile-first registration form with corresponding keyword and shortcode, QR code, and a URL link to share via email, mobile messaging, social media, and posters placed in schools, sporting event venues, and gyms. 

Whether it’s a half-day event or a week-long sports camp, your nonprofit can give less experienced athletes access to pro help to perfect their game while helping your org hit your event fundraising goal out of the park. 

Distinguished Events 

Auctions

Fundraising auctions can take on various forms like live or silent auctions and can be hosted online and displayed in person. One thing is certain: no matter what type you choose, they can all deliver big results. Here’s what you’ll need: 

  • Event RSVP form
  • Auction items
  • Mobile marketing before the auction with event info and sneak peeks of items via mobile messages
  • Subscription keyword for anyone interested in staying connected with your org year round

Deciding on the type of auction (traditional, silent, online, etc.) that’ll work best for your organization is a great place to start. Next, pick your theme, location and fundraising auction event date.

For auction items, reach out to sponsors, supporters, corporations, local businesses, and the community. Gift baskets make great packages for auctioning off and are perfect for groups of individuals to assemble and donate. You can also collect donations of themed items and assemble the baskets yourself. 

An event RSVP form or registration form will be necessary whether you are holding your auction as the event or incorporating it into a larger celebration. Use mobile marketing to help generate a buzz of excitement before the event by allowing sneak peeks of auction items and a chance to get in on any exclusive, pre-event auction opportunities.

Before your auction attendees leave, ask them to text a subscription keyword so they can stay connected with your organization and receive important updates & other valuable messages from you all year long!

Looking to partner with an auction expert? We’ve processed 12+ million bids. Connect with GiveSmart today. 

Gala

A staple fundraising event, galas usually mean elegant, themed evenings that can include dinner, dancing, entertainment, silent auctions, raffles, and more, all for a good cause.  

Make your gala more meaningful to your nonprofit’s supporters by choosing a venue and a theme that fits your mission, then connect them to your cause through subtle detail in decorations, menu selection, and entertainment.  

You can also use the power of text messaging to build excitement and anticipation in the weeks and days leading up to your gala to sell more tickets and ensure a good turnout for a successful fundraising event. Here’s what you need: 

  • A venue that fits the size of your event 
  • Volunteer and event committee sign-up forms 
  • Mobile-friendly ticketing forms that feature sponsors & partners 
  • Strategic mobile messaging for pre and post-event supporter engagement or last-minute updates 
  • Subscription keyword to keep in touch with people that want more info from your nonprofit all year long 
  • Mobile swiper and integrated app for auction, raffle, and on-the-spot donation payment processing 

Galas are not one-person tasks. Enlist the help of a committee of passionate and hard-working volunteers to carry out every aspect of planning, decorating, clean-up, follow-up, and everything in between. Mobile forms will make it easy to sign up volunteers and match their talents/skills with areas of need. 

Don’t be shy about asking for in-kind donations, favors, and additional help from your community. 

  • Local newspapers and TV/radio stations are valuable sources for pre-event marketing and Master of Ceremonies talent. 
  • A silent auction and raffle items or baskets are a great way for businesses of any size to contribute to your cause. 
  • Food and beverage donations at your event help cut major costs and highlight local fare. 

Sponsor and partner logos can be incorporated and featured on your mobile-friendly ticketing and donation forms, as well as event signage and printed programs. 

Mobile-friendly forms securely capture donations and donor data during the peak emotional moments. At the same time, results are displayed and donors are recognized on your projected real-time event thermometer. Share buttons on the ‘Thank You’ page give donors the option to share their passion for your nonprofit with friends, helping your fundraiser reach beyond the walls of your event. Finally, recorded donor data allows you to reach out to supporters throughout the year with thank yous, updates, and info on future events. 

Golf Tournament 

Whether it’s a round of Stableford, a big ole’ game of Money Ball, or a little Scramble, pulling off a successful, stress-free golf event that suits your nonprofit’s needs requires nine-12 months of planning. a committee to manage the plan, and plenty of volunteers to carry it out. Must-haves for a successful golf fundraising event include: 

  • Goals and timing. What’s your angle of approach? Your target line? Have a plan of attack before things get swinging. 
  • A course that’d make any player who can’t attend, green with envy 
  • Digital forms for easy registration, volunteer sign-ups, and post-event surveys 
  • Mobile marketing and messaging for effective event promotion, volunteer/committee/player updates, and follow-up engagement 
  • Sponsors/Partners…you don’t have to do this alone (we don’t recommend it, either) 
  • Event enhancements to enhance your fundraising 
  • Prizes….everyone loves to win something! 

In addition to selling individual tickets, customize your mobile-friendly forms for twosomes, threesomes, and foursomes, making it easy for teams to sign up and for you to sell out your event. You can also approach local businesses and community groups who may want to sponsor teams to support your event.  

You can award trophies to the foursome who raises the most money, gets the highest number of individual donors to contribute, and most creatively shares their custom fundraising donation form over social media. 

How about replacing your registration process by asking participants to set up crowdfunding teams instead? You can set a minimum base goal per virtual fundraising ambassador in place of, or in addition to, minimal registration fees. 

Fashion Show

There’s no trendier way to raise funds for your cause than with a charity fashion show. Here’s what you’ll need before you hit the runway: 

  • Sponsored, crafted, or borrowed outfits and accessories 
  • Catwalk space and venue (think outside the box) 
  • Model sign-up form 
  • Digital event ticketing form 
  • Mobile swiper and integrated app for ticketing and other in-person payment processing 

Local boutiques often lend clothes for charity fashion shows or you can ask your event’s models to bring their own creative outfits. Typically models have two or three changes during a show, so keep that in mind when planning the number of participants and length of show you want to produce. 

Anyone can be a model in your fashion show fundraising event. Flatter family, friends, donors, and community members by asking them to participate. Your nonprofit can collect participant information with a mobile-first sign-up form that can be shared via keyword and shortcode on printed posters or for those in-person asks, and through shortened links for social posts and mobile messaging. 

Sell tickets before your event by sharing your digital form across every channel of communication imaginable. For purchases at the door, use a credit card swiper and an integrated fundraising app to keep sales records organized in one convenient place. Credit card swipers will also come in handy for concessions and boutique sales during or after the event. 

Games of Chance

50/50 Raffle

Your first step in planning a 50/50 raffle is to check your local and state laws to verify that this type of fundraiser is permitted in your area. If you have the green light, then get ready for a fundraising event idea that is fun, fast, and easy. Either hold it yourself or approach community businesses—such as theaters, music venues, and sporting events that generate a lively crowd—to hold it for you. Here’s what your nonprofit needs: 

  • Raffle tickets. You can typically find these at your local party supply store. Make sure to get the kind that is double-rolled, with pairs of tickets displaying the same numbers—one to get tossed into a container for the drawing and the other for the lucky buyer to keep. 
  • A bucket, bowl, hat, fishbowl, or another large container. 
  • Mobile swiper and integrated app for collecting ticket purchases via credit card, because not everyone carries cash these days. 

Here’s how it works: 

  • Supporters purchase raffle tickets (usually $1, $5, or $10 each, or in bundled packs like five $5 tickets for a discounted price of $20). 
  • They write their name and mobile number on the back side of the ticket they’re going to toss into the drawing. 
  • The winning ticket number is drawn after ticket sales close with the winner splitting the net proceeds 50/50 with the organization. 
  • Encourage supporters to opt into mobile messaging to be notified of the lucky winner too! 

You can increase the number of raffle tickets sold by letting supporters know they don’t have to be present to collect their prize because you can contact them via text message on their mobile phones to let them know they’ve won. 

Make sure you check your local laws and regulations about raffles before you host any game of chance.

Bingo

Everybody LOVES Bingo! Create admission packages that include entry to your nonprofit’s event, a book of bingo game sheets, and an added bonus, like a dauber or a ticket for a complimentary refreshment.  

Packages can be pre-sold at the door or via a mobile-friendly donation form. Selling individual bingo game cards gives serious players additional chances to win and can be a great source of additional donation revenue.  

Need a bingo caller or ticket seller? Ask volunteers to sign up via your custom volunteer sign-up form that includes a checklist of areas of interest for which you’ll need help during the event. Here’s what you need: 

  • Bingo game and playing cards 
  • Digital volunteer sign-up form 
  • Prizes! (cash, donated items, etc.) 

Be sure to check local laws and licensing requirements to determine requirements for bingo in your area. 

Sales

Bake sales

Bake sales are one of the most cost-effective (and delicious!) fundraisers your organization can hold because they require little to no money as most, if not all, of the bake sale goods are donated by volunteer bakers.

Survey your supporters early on to find out who can bake and what items they’d like to bring to the sale. You can customize your survey form to ask for a first and second-baked good choice to ensure a variety of items like chocolate cakes, oatmeal cookies, fudge brownies, and apple pies instead of ending up with 20 very similar coconut cream pies. Here’s what you will need:

  • Volunteer baker sign-up/survey form
  • Head chef assigned to organize the rest of the bakers
  • Additional event volunteers to help with setup and clean up
  • A clean location for the sale in a high foot traffic spot
  • Tables with tablecloths to display your yummy items
  • Small index cards to list out ingredients to alert for allergies
  • Paper plates, napkins and plastic silverware
  • Beverages: water, tea, coffee, etc
  • Plastic wrap and/or bags for baked goods
  • Attendee sign-up form

Either have a tablet available for attendee registration/sign-up or have your volunteers manning the entrance use their mobile phones to collect vital information from new supporters so you can reach out to them in the future. Let your head chef be in charge of coordinating the receipt of donated items on the day of your bake sale and make sure the goodies are laid out neatly so buyers/donors have easy access to all the selections. 

Calendar

Calendars are one of the easiest annual fundraising event ideas that your organization can implement, even with a small budget. They can be enjoyed every day of the year and will help to keep your mission visible to them all year long. 

Your organization can either sell your calendar creations to directly raise funds or you can give them away to thank past donors for their support and to keep them connected to your cause —72% of people who receive promotional calendars remember the message or mission. 

This means that before the new year arrives, recipients of your promotional calendars will be looking forward to receiving their new edition in December, which is when 30% of all annual US donations are made to nonprofits. Perfect timing, right? 

You should start planning your calendar no later than mid-summer. If you will be selling the calendars you’ll need this time to promote and pre-sell them before the new year. 

Ask local merchants if they would be willing to let you display the calendars for sale in their stores in exchange for free advertising on the calendar. 

You have two options for producing your calendars and here’s what you’ll need to know and do for each one: 

Option 1: Using a calendar production service 

  • Start year and month for your calendar 
  • Whether you want to include holidays 
  • Special dates you want to add like upcoming fundraising events 
  • Compelling cover photo & inside photos 
  • Your organization’s logo, contact information, and website URL 
  • Text message keyword and shortcode to subscribe for updates 
  • Consider sponsorship opportunities to cover the printing costs in exchange for advertisement 

Option 2: Do-it-Yourself! 

  • Quality color printer 
  • 8 ½ x 11 matte paper, 24# or more 
  • Compelling photo(s)—if possible, you can also use artwork created by supporters or beneficiaries 
  • Photo calendar template (Shutterfly, MS Office) 
  • List of holidays & special dates you will include 
  • Your organization’s logo, contact information, and website URL 
  • Text message keyword and shortcode to subscribe for updates 

Customized charity calendars are a great fundraising opportunity for religious organizations like churches and synagogues. No matter the denomination, congregations create and sell these calendars as a way to ensure a steady stream of fundraising throughout the year. 

If you want to save money in producing these calendars, consider having your youth groups create the calendars as a fun arts and crafts project. 

Funny Family Photos

If you’ve ever visited a theme park or other amusement attraction, you’ve probably seen the fancy photo booths where the family is all dressed up in western gear, standing in front of a saloon backdrop, or wearing vintage, glitzy 1920s garb while posing with machine guns a la Bonnie and Clyde. 

Your organization can create its own funny family photo fundraiser that will provide supporters with a hilarious memento that will keep your mission top of mind for generations to come. Here’s what you’re going to need: 

  • Online registration form that families can use to register and pay for their photo 
  • Free scheduling app like Calendly 
  • Digital camera or high megapixel count smartphone, computer, and printer 
  • Photographer—an amateur one will work great! 
  • Volunteer photo assistants 
  • Photo shoot location 
  • Costumes or costume pieces in different sizes 
  • Funny props like a princess wand, foam sword, or even a rubber chicken 
  • Computer and printer 

Before your event, text your supporters a link they can click through to go to the registration page. Customize the thank you page with a link to an automated scheduling app like Calendly, where you can preset the hour of photographer availability and where supporters can choose a time slot for their photo shoot. 

Make sure the location you choose for your photo shoot has enough room to hang a backdrop or pull in set pieces and props to set the stage for your chosen theme. It should also have enough backstage space to hold costumes and props and accommodate families when they change in and out of their photo-worthy disguises. 

When deciding how you will print your photos, consider using/purchasing a photo printer with Bluetooth capability, which will allow you to pair your camera/phone to allow for instantly-printed photos. Do share the funniest shots on your organization’s social pages with information about your next planned photo shoot event. 

And it isn’t just family photos! Consider these alternatives: 

T-Shirt Sales

People love to get recognition for supporting the causes they care about, so why not let them show off with merchandise that also shares your message with the world? A cool tee-shirt featuring your logo, mascot, or catchphrase can be a lucrative way to fund your organization’s projects. Here’s what you’re going to need: 

  • Plain tee-shirts to buy in bulk 
  • Printable iron-on paper 
  • Iron and ironing board 
  • Promo banner for social media posts 
  • T-shirt printer 
  • Digital order form 

Buy tee-shirts in bulk to save money, you can then print them one at a time using printable iron-on paper. Promote your custom tee’s via email, on your website, and on social media pages by linking to a digital order form. In addition to selling your custom tee’s, you can use them to incentivize donors by offering a free shirt if they give at a certain level. 

Tee shirt sales are also a great way to boost fundraising for run-walk-rides. Allow participants to set up crowdfunding teams and on the thank you/confirmation page, include a link to an online form where they can order tee-shirts featuring their team name. 

Yard Sale

Gather some friends and start collecting all those unwanted items in search of a new owner. It’s a great way to clear the clutter and create change! Here’s what you’ll need: 

  • Rummage item donation sign-up 
  • Location for your yard sale 
  • Volunteer salesperson form 
  • Mobile marketing and event signage 
  • Mobile swiper and integrated app for secure credit card payment processing 

Use mobile messaging to let supporters know about the sale and then designate a drop-off location or share your mobile-first item donation sign-up form so donors can request a pick-up. This is also a great time to start taking volunteer information through a digital form so you can easily access and organize information. 

Then it’s time to collect, sort & price donated items for the sale. Check items over for stains, broken/missing pieces, and personal items that may have accidentally been left behind (money, receipts, etc.). 

Promote the sale throughout your community using your social media channels, Craigslist, community event posting sites, newspaper ads, Penny Savers, and printed flyers in local businesses. Don’t forget to hang signs that effectively direct traffic to your sale. 

On the day of the sale, have volunteer salespeople ready to display items on racks and tables. Organized items are easier for shoppers to see all the items and make purchasing decisions. With a mobile credit card swiper, integrated fundraising app, and any mobile device you’ll be able to securely accept credit payments all day long! 

Social

Alumni Mixer

Alumni networking mixers are fun and pressure-free ways for students and past graduates to connect, get to know each other, and begin cultivating relationships that can last a lifetime. They’re also an excellent opportunity to ask for support from your school’s biggest fans to carry on a legacy of helping other soon-to-be grads from their beloved alma mater. 

Consider holding your alumni fundraising event at an on-campus location—you’ll not only save money on the event, but you’ll make your alumni’s connection back to their school feel even more poignant. Here’s what you’re going to need: 

  • Campus location or rented space (more costly) 
  • Food & drink, potentially alcoholic beverages for cocktails 
  • Decorations with school colors and mascots, including a Welcome Back banner 
  • Digital invitation and ticketing 
  • Entertainment based on the size of the space 
  • Pre-event mobile-friendly donation form 
  • Monitors for showing photos and videos and a live fundraising thermometer 

Long before the day of your event, start texting alums updates with current initiatives, inspirational reminders of the impact their school makes in the lives of students, and, of course, their invite to the fundraising mixer. When you post your event invitations on your school’s website and social media pages and include any alumni newsletters or email blasts, and make sure to text everyone involved to ensure they don’t miss the event. 

To reach as many potential attendees as possible, validate all the phone numbers in your student and alum rolls to verify which ones are mobile phone numbers. 

During the event, video monitors set up in strategic locations should display the live fundraising thermometer showing the real-time progress of alumni donations with compelling images of the end result of what can be accomplished when goals are met. 

Bachelor/Bachelorette Auction

Auctioning or raffling off eligible bachelors/bachelorettes for a great cause can be fun and entertaining, and surely one of the hottest fundraising events your nonprofit will host (with or without the rose ceremony). Participants will bid or buy tickets for the chance to win a fabulous date with the volunteer bachelor/bachelorette of their choice. Here’s what you need: 

  • Auction location 
  • Eligible men and women willing to donate a date with a supporter 
  • Mobile-friendly date registration and activity interest survey 
  • Date package sponsors for fun activities and meals 

A good way to get your for-profit partners involved in this type of fundraising event is to ask local restaurants and businesses to donate or sponsor date packages. Their involvement will help raise awareness and add to the quality of the winners’ date experiences. 

If you’ve decided on an auction, a live event thermometer can help you capture and display the bids (pledges) for each bachelor and bachelorette. Just watch the excitement build as it shows each bid getting you closer to reaching your fundraising event goal. 

Another way to run this event is to assign a keyword to each bachelor/bachelorette and easily capture raffle entries using text-to-donate donations. You can then use real-time reporting and a third-party randomizer to select a winner. 

Bachelor and bachelorette auctions or raffles are especially suited for church fundraising. For congregations looking to raise money quickly in a fundraiser with low overhead, call on single parishioners to volunteer as dates. 

These events are a great way to keep adults involved with the church outside of Sunday services, as well as a good opportunity for your congregants to get to know one another socially. Who knows? Maybe they’ll even find their special someone! 

Basketball hoops for hope game

Who needs Shaq and Kobe when you have your awesome supporters? Your nonprofit organization can quickly raise money and awareness for your cause with a friendly round of hoops.  Here’s what you need:

  • Basketball court (check availability at local schools, gyms, recreation centers and parks)
  • Player registration and team crowdfunding forms
  • Volunteer sign-up form
  • Mobile, print, and social media marketing strategy

Two to three weeks before your fundraising event, post flyers that include your keyword and shortcode text directions and/or a QR code linked to your mobile-friendly registration form. Hang them in local stores, gyms, sports centers, and restaurants. Better yet, invite registrants to sign up directly on a team crowdfunding page to empower them to start fundraising on behalf of your nonprofit’s cause.

With crowdfunding as your registration mechanism, you can set a minimum donation goal as a requirement for playing on the team. Remember, the average crowdfunding individual raises $612 with all donations are securely routed to your org’s merchant services account. You also get to keep all the donor data since it can be easily added to your nonprofit’s CRM.

Caroling for a Cause

Spreading the holiday spirit and raising money for your nonprofit organization couldn’t be more fun than caroling for a cause. Caroling spreads comfort and joy and continues to be one of the most cherished traditions of the holiday season. It’s also a fundraising event idea that requires little to no investment and can still help your organization to raise a lot of money and awareness for your cause. This type of fundraising event is perfect for religious group choirs, high school glee clubs, local music talent, and family and friends. Together they can multiply their voices to help raise awareness, funds, and holiday spirits for your nonprofit. 

Survey your supporters to find out who likes to (and can) sing, then empower them to do more than just sing for a cause by making them fundraisers on your behalf. Set up a crowdfunding campaign that will allow them to share their personal fundraising pages with friends and family. If your group of spirited singers can go door-to-door in your community, at each stop, you can also let your audience know how easy it is for them to text your keyword to make a donation. It can also be as easy as opening the doors to your offices and stepping outside if you’re in an area that gets good foot traffic. Contact your Chamber of Commerce to see if your group can visit local businesses with the gift of song in exchange for their support to promote your fundraising campaign. 

You can also let your community audience control your playlist. Before your song-filled event, let the members of your community know they can text a keyword to receive a message with a mobile-friendly form they can use to add their song of choice for the caroling event. Whether you go from home to home or store to store, caroling literally opens doors to new potential donors. After your songs are sung have a spokesperson share your organization’s story and mission and then ask for a donation to keep your good work going. Here’s what you need: 

  • Branded keyword for donations and requests 
  • Happy cheery people who love to sing 
  • Song sheets 
  • Holiday garb like scarves, knit caps, and mittens 
  • Canister to collect cash donations 
  • Swiper with smartphone or tablet for credit card contributions 
  • Pitch pipe (optional – who says you have to stay on key) 
  • Portable music device & speakers, or go acapella! 

Once you’re in front of your audience donors, make it easy for them to give with mobile-friendly donation forms you can use to collect their credit card donations right after your performance. 

Another way you can put your carolers to work is to offer their services to businesses in the area who want to add some holiday joy to office parties and are willing to make a large donation to make the magic happen. Offer them the opportunity to co-sponsor a fundraising campaign that they can share with their staff to boost the fundraising totals. Remember, the holidays are also known as the giving season for a reason. 

Chores for Charity

Nobody likes doing chores. But if you have a group of families, business partnerships, or community members willing to donate their time and handy skills in exchange for donations to your nonprofit, then you have yourself a great handyman/chores services fundraiser! Here’s what you need: 

  • Worker volunteer sign-up form 
  • Work request submission form 
  • Mobile messaging reminders for service scheduling & updates 

Start by gathering volunteer interests with a digital sign-up form, or decide on the types of services and scope of work your volunteers are willing to perform. Next, your org should assign a minimum donation value to each task and build your custom mobile-first work request form for supporters to request a service and make a donation. Exporting organized work request data from your account makes it easy to track projects and schedule service dates. Plus, you can upload donor and volunteer information for mobile messaging so you can send scheduling reminders and updates. Ask community members, especially the elderly, if they have decorating, cleaning, small repairs, yard work, or other odd jobs in need of completion. Local businesses might even be interested in sponsoring a clean-up of a public space that would benefit your community. Share the link to your mobile-friendly work request submission form through email and on all social media channels. Ask supporters to instruct friends and family to text your corresponding keyword & shortcode. They can also share the link to your form. Make sure you include the website or form URL, keyword, shortcode, text instructions, and your QR code on any posters that you create for your nonprofit’s event. 

Duct Tape the Principal or Coach to the Wall

For your students and faculty alike, duct-taping their principal to a wall is a fun way to raise funds for a school program or other great cause. It also helps the authority figure show their silly side while calling attention to a need for financial support. 

Plus since the usual going price for a piece of duct tape is only $1, just about everyone can join in on the sticky fun. Here’s what you’ll need: 

  • An authority figure with a big sense of humor 
  • Sturdy step stool 
  • Volunteers to get the tape-sticking process started 
  • Five to 10 rolls of duct tape in different colors/patterns to make the finished product a work of art 
  • Open wall space that won’t be damaged by the tape 
  • Painter’s coveralls 
  • A fan and cold water 

Start by having the tape-ee wear painter’s coveralls to protect their clothes. Since it gets warm under the tape, they may want to wear a cool tee shirt and shorts underneath to stay as cool as possible during the taping. That’s also the reason to have a fan and cool water standing by so you can keep your principal comfortable during the fundraising stunt. 

Have your principal stand on the stool in front of your open wall space and start taping. You can let donors have the honor of taping the tape-ee up, or you can designate an official “taper” who will do all of the duct taping throughout the event. 

Once you’re sure there’s enough tape to hold your school’s fearless leader, carefully remove the step stool and admire your duct tape masterpiece! 

Record the event so you can add the video to a mobile-friendly fundraising form you can use after your event to share with parents and other supporters outside of school via email and social media. They’ll love to see your principal’s commitment to doing everything it takes to raise money for the school and be encouraged to help with additional donations. 

Games Night

Finally! A family-friendly version of the popular Vegas-style casino fundraising event that kids of all ages will enjoy! Here’s what you need: 

  • Board games, decks of cards, and/or trivia questions (donated or borrowed from volunteers) 
  • Admission or ticketing registration 
  • Competition entry form 
  • Volunteer scorekeepers 

Advertise with a quick mobile message to current supporters in your database, across your social media channels, and in community centers, schools, bookstores, businesses, and restaurants. Including a link, QR code, and or keyword with shortcode instructions will instantly put your mobile-friendly donation/ticketing form in the hands of anyone interested in your event. 

Enlist volunteer scorekeepers and concession stand bakers/sellers. A mobile fundraising app and integrated swiper cab turn anyone’s smartphone into a POS sales system – perfect for concession sales. 

Game nights are great recurring fundraisers for nonprofits that can easily turn into regularly held competitive gaming rounds. Another way to go would be to make your games night fundraising event 100% digital by hosting a video game tournament. 

Gift Wrapping

Every holiday, malls across America are jam-packed with shoppers loaded up with presents of all shapes and sizes that need to be wrapped. Your organization can help the harried holiday shoppers save time and money while helping to fund your own programs by setting up gift wrapping stations at strategic locations in malls, shopping centers, and other stores. 

Whether they’re just too busy to do it themselves or they are terrible at gift wrapping, shoppers will appreciate the extra help. Here’s what you’ll need: 

  • Volunteer gift wrappers 
  • High-traffic location near major department stores 
  • Tables for your gift wrapping stations. Fold-up tables work great! 
  • Prominent sign with your organization’s logo, website address, and giving season campaign keyword and shortcode 
  • Wrapping and tissue paper 
  • Ribbons and bows 
  • Gift tags 
  • Multiple pairs of scissors 
  • Large supply of scotch tape 
  • Colored pens or markers 
  • Credit card swiper to collect wrapping fees 

Ask local merchants if they would allow your organization to set up the wrapping station table close to the entrance inside or just outside their place of business. As long as you’re not in the way of their shoppers spending their money in their store, they will usually agree. Offer to promote their business to your supporters as an incentive by letting the times you will be there. 

With your location set, your volunteers can start setting up. Add a little holiday cheer – candy canes, cookies, and of course some holiday music from your phone or music player to create a happy atmosphere that will encourage shoppers to stop and let you wrap. Make sure you assign your best wrappers to do the wrapping. Other volunteers can help to wait for shoppers to pick wrapping paper, add finishing touches like ribbons or bows, restock supplies and collect payment using a credit card swiper and a mobile-friendly order page. 

Your order form can be customized to accommodate your pricing structure. For example, $2.00 for small wraps, $5.00 for more elaborate jobs that might include ribbons and bows, and $10 and up for premium wrapping and decorations. 

Post pictures of your wrapping masterpieces on social media to keep supporters interested in what your organization is doing during the holidays. 

Haunted House

Set up a scare-fest that’ll raise funds instead of the undead. Here’s what your nonprofit need’s: 

  • Halloween decorations – including a fog machine or dry ice for extra creepy effects 
  • Space for your haunted house/hallway (school gyms, hallways, an office lobby, pop-up tents, etc. work…be creative!) 
  • Admission donation form 
  • Ghoulish volunteers 
  • Entrance banner with the house of horror’s name, hours of haunting, and announcement of the event’s charity focus 

Before you begin, create a frighteningly awesome donation form as your ticketing system for admission to your haunted house. Set up and decorate the exterior and interior of your event space. Go traditional or create a twisted theme for extra screams! Save your organization some money by asking supporters and the community for decoration donations or loans of their own spooky stuff. 

Once volunteers sign up on your mobile-friendly form, you can put their talents for terror to good use by matching their areas of interest with event tasks and decorating needs. Update your vampires…err, volunteers….with event details (like assigned scare zone schedules) with mobile messaging. 

Matching Gifts

It might seem obvious, but it stands to be reiterated: one of the cornerstones of smart fundraising is maximizing the power of your donors’ gifts at every turn. One simple way to do this? By incorporating a gift matching strategy into your nonprofit’s fundraising, you can boost your supporters’ donations with minimal effort. 

One of the biggest fundraising resources nonprofits can benefit from is corporate gift matching programs. In these programs, employers agree to match their employee’s donations to nonprofit organizations, typically up to a certain dollar amount per year. 

While many companies have these programs in place, not every employee knows of the program or how to use it. In a matching gift fundraiser, your nonprofit will go the extra mile to help supporters: 

  1. Determine their matching gift eligibility 
  2. Donate to your organization 
  3. Complete the gift matching process 

Sometimes, all donors need is a little push to help see their gift matched by their employer. With the help of a gift matching software, it’s never been easier to guide your constituents through the gift matching process! 

GiveSmart has existing matching gift integrations to help your organization raise more. Connect with our team today to learn more. 

Moving for a Cause

Most people can always use an extra hand when moving. Gather a team of strong men and women to do some heavy lifting to help the community (and your cause). HINT: Fit and capable high school or college athletes make great movers. Here’s what you need: 

  • Volunteer sign-up form 
  • Moving request form 
  • Mobile messaging reminders for service scheduling & updates 

In exchange for a donation fee to your nonprofit, community members can fill out a moving request form to designate the type of help they need. Maybe it’s boxes that have to be packed or unpacked. Or they’re looking for some extra help to reorganize their attic, basement, or garage. Perhaps the local elderly support group might want to hire out your volunteers to carry in groceries for their clients. 

Collect information regarding volunteer availability, physical capabilities, and areas of expertise on the sign-up form to help you match volunteers with moving job requests. 

Information about your nonprofit’s moving services can be shared with supporters, staff, and volunteers via text and email. You can ask interested moving clients to connect and donate to your cause via keywords and shortcodes for respective donation/sign-up forms, URL links to the form, and a QR code for printed media like event posters or flyers. 

Use mobile messaging to send scheduling reminders and updates to volunteers and donors. 

Philanthropic Pub Crawl

Typically an adult-only fundraiser, it’s not the easiest to pull together, but one that offers a multitude of variations on a theme to keep even teetotalers engaged and giving to your cause. 

You may know the basic premise, a group gathers at a starting point, then travel from bar to bar spending a set time in each establishment, partaking of their beverages. Here’s what you’ll need: 

  • Group of at least 10 to 20 pub crawlers 
  • Designated driver(s) to provide safe transportation home to overindulgers  
  • Local drinking establishments that’ll accommodate your group (ask about discounts) 
  • Pub Crawl itinerary and map 
  • Survival gear. Including water bottles, aspirin, and a first aid kit for any unexpected mishaps 

Your organization may want to consider renting a party bus to safely carry your crawlers from spot to spot, but, if there are enough local drinking holes available, walking will do just fine. Here’s a hint – start with the pub that’s furthest from the end point of your crawl. 

There are a number of options for raising money with a pub crawl including selling tickets to join the crawl using a mobile-friendly order form, holding a 50/50 raffle, selling t-shirts and other merchandise to commemorate the event, and even corporate sponsorship. 

Your crawl can be even more fun when you make it a themed fundraising event that your crawler donors will never forget. Here are some ideas: 

  • Zombie Pub Crawl 
  • Superhero Bar Crawl 
  • Pirate Pub Crawl 
  • Crazy Hats Crawl 
  • Banana Bar Crawl 
  • Three-legged bar crawl 
  • Pajama Pub Crawl 
  • Beach Bash Bar Crawl 
  • Lumberjack Crawl 
  • Pilgrims and Indians Crawl 
  • Masquerade Party 
  • Nineties Theme 
  • Kentucky Derby 
  • Great Gatsby Crawl 
  • 12 Bars of Christmas 
  • Rubik’s Cube 
  • Santa Claus Crawl 

And don’t forget to document your amazing crawl with photos and videos that you can share on your social media pages. Try having your designated driver live stream the event on Facebook Live to entertain supporters unable to crawl with you. During your broadcast remember to give the audience a fundraising campaign keyword and shortcode they can text to donate so they too can participate in supporting your mission and help you reach your goals. 

Non-drinkers can also support your cause and enjoy a good pub crawl by ordering non-alcoholic beverages or “mocktails”, traditional drinks minus the alcohol, or the old standbys, such as a Shirley Temple or a Roy Rogers. 

Shoe Drive Fundraiser

Let’s face it: it’s not uncommon for families to have a closet filled with piles and piles of old shoes that they’ve collected over the years. Especially as kids grow out of old shoes (sometimes seemingly overnight), having gently worn footwear lying around isn’t a rare sight. 

Enter the shoe drive fundraiser. Holding a nonprofit shoe drive offers an excellent opportunity for families to get involved with your organization without having to make a direct monetary donation. 

In a shoe drive, individuals can donate gently worn pairs of shoes to your nonprofit. Then, an organization like Funds2Orgs can pick the shoes up from your location. With Funds2Orgs in particular, the shoes your nonprofit collects are sent to small business owners in developing nations to support their small businesses. 

After the shoes are sorted, they’ll cut your nonprofit a check that can go right back to helping you realize your organization’s mission. 

Shoe drives make great fundraisers because: 

  • Low overhead 
  • Allow anyone to get involved (as long as they have shoes) 
  • Quick turnaround from shoe receipt to receiving your check 

Whether the shoe drive is an ongoing, seasonal, or one-off fundraising project, it’s sure to be a success for your nonprofit! 

Virtual Lemonade Stand

Avoid the hassles of bad weather, or like Jerry Seinfeld experienced, requiring a permit to have a sell your thirst-quenching refreshment with a virtual lemonade stand fundraising event powered by peer-to-peer fundraising.  

Easily set up a virtual lemonade stand campaign and share it with your donors, volunteers, and staff to empower them to create their own stand (personal donation page), which they can share with their social and professional networks. Here’s what you need: 

  • Keyword and donation page 
  • Logo or photo and any other elements to customize your campaign 
  • Consider making a video you can post to YouTube and share with your fundraisers for encouragement and recognition. 
  • Also optional, Thank You cards for handwriting notes to donors. 

It takes less than five minutes to set up a peer-to-peer keyword and fundraising page, which you can customize with logos, images, buttons, colors, custom fields, and other elements that will let your campaign stand out.  

Once your page is set up, you can invite a centralized group of your nonprofit’s biggest supporters to kick off your lemonade stand. Keep the momentum going with daily mobile messages, emails, Tweets, and Facebook posts that include tips, updates, words of encouragement for virtual fundraisers, or links to videos.  

Don’t forget to recognize donors during and after the campaign! Mention them on social media and even follow up with handwritten ‘Thank You’ cards for a truly memorable and personal show of gratitude.  

Each of your virtual lemonade sellers can raise an impressive average of $612 in donations. How’s that for a little lemonade stand? Plus every donation counts towards the goal, no matter how big or small. 

Wacky Wager

Wacky Wager crowdfunding can become one of your nonprofit’s most fun and creative fundraising ideas. Encourage individuals or teams to set mini fundraising goals and offer donors unconventional wacky incentives that will entice them to give. For example, it will be easy to get five people to donate $50 each to see a video of their friend ice skating in a tutu, or wearing bunny ears and communicating with only made-up language and hand gestures for an entire workday. Wacky Wager crowdfunding donors will have a ball competing to be the biggest contributor and the privilege of picking the temporary new hair color of their favorite volunteer. Here’s what you need: 

  • Mobile-friendly crowdfunding teams & keywords set up 
  • Creative goal ideas to get the craziness started 
  • Volunteer Crowdfunder social media account(s) where they can promote the wackiness 

Leave it to your virtual fundraising ambassadors to come up with goal incentives or get them to let their own social network decide the wager at stake. Wacky wagers are lots of good, clean fun and a great way to share engaging pictures, videos, and stories about your nonprofit and your fundraising efforts over social media. 

Voting Competitions

Battle of the Bands

If you’re looking to raise awareness and funds for your cause with a diverse audience, a battle of the bands fundraising event idea is one that will not disappoint. You’ll have the opportunity to raise money from band entry registration fees, ticket sales and crowdfunding donations raised by the acts and their fans as a way to cast votes in their favor. Here’s what you need:

  • A fun venue
  • Equipment and PA system (or ask bands to bring their own)
  • Mobile-friendly sign-up/audition participation form
  • Crowdfunding team forms & keywords (per band for voting purposes)
  • Mobile-friendly ticketing forms that feature sponsors & partners

Your venue availability and selection will determine the size of your event or vice versa. Try school gyms, community halls, malls (think outdoor summer concert series-style), or local coffee shops, which may offer discounted or donated space in exchange for extra foot traffic/business. Their contribution as a sponsor can be recognized through event digital donation forms, social posts, and promotional material for your battle of the bands fundraising event. 

Reach out to restaurants and businesses (especially music-related ones) in the community for prizes for contestant performers and crowd raffles. Throw some love their way in return by including them in social posts, on your digital forms, and mobile-friendly thank yous. 

Share your mobile-friendly participation form keyword and link with local schools, music stores, academies, and venues to promote your event and recruit talent. Who knows? Top-quality talent may be hiding right in your organization’s own backyard. Don’t feel like you’re limited to just bands either. Recruit solo musicians, dance troupes, spoken word artists/poets, and even magicians to participate.  

Set it up as a voting competition! Each act can have its own mobile-friendly fundraising page that they can customize and promote to their own network of friends, family, loyal fans, and supporters. 

The winner will be determined by the audience who will cast their votes via the donations they make to your cause. The band with the most donors or highest donation total wins! 

Cupcake Wars

This friendly and deliciously sweet competition is sure to add a little sugar to your fundraising goals. Here’s what your nonprofit needs: 

  • Master baking teams’ and judges’ fundraising pages 
  • Viewer ticketing form 
  • Prizes 
  • Mobile swiper and integrated app for concessions payment processing 
  • Venue with ovens & kitchen space (or have contestants pre-bake cupcakes, then make frosting and other goodies they can use to decorate their entries during the competition) 

Before the event, promote your keyword & shortcode and sign-up link supporters can use to crowdfund for the chance to be an official judge. 

In addition to judging and elimination rounds to determine the winner of the ultimate cupcake war, have baking teams crowdfund before and during the event in lieu of votes. Ask teams to sell tickets to family and friends for the event with a minimum donation on their page and an RSVP option on the form. A reward can be given to the team with the most donors or the highest donation total. 

Your nonprofit organization can easily create a branded form to sell tickets to the general public for the delectable event. Looking for more tasty ideas? Consider voting competitions like: 

  • Chili 
  • Recipes that MUST include two ingredients 
  • Pie 
  • Cookies 
  • Cocktails 
  • Mocktails 

Since the sweet smells of the baking goodies will leave the crowds hungry, be sure to offer concession items, coffee, beverages, and cupcakes (of course) for sale. A credit card swiper and integrated fundraising platform will instantly turn any mobile device into a digital register. 

Dorm Decorating Tours

College students are not particularly known for keeping their rooms nice and neat, but when you challenge them to decorate those rooms so that other students, friends, and family can vote on the coolest, most unique, or creative, you might be surprised by how quickly things can change, and it’s all being done for a good cause. 

Students should be as creative as possible as long as they follow all fire, safety, and dorm rules and regulations. Here’s how it will work: 

  • Set up a Dorm Room Tour fundraising page and promote it to potential contestants with a text-to keyword shared via social media, newsletters, and bulletin boards. 
  • Students who text the keyword will immediately receive a link they can use to sign-up for the contest and to create their own personalized dorm voting (fundraising team) page. 
  • Dorm room entrants can post photos and videos of their decorating in progress on social media to encourage friends and family to vote for their room by donating money for the cause via their own personalized keyword. 
  • Each dollar donated counts as a vote for the dorm room of choice. 
  • Live stream the dorm room tour to encourage voting (donations) up to the last minute. 

Once you are ready to announce the winning dorm room(s), live stream the presentation to the winners, who you can prompt to make one last real-time plea on your behalf to ask that donations keep coming in to support your program. 

As you look for other options, consider these voting competition alternatives.  

  • Halloween decorating  
  • Holiday decorating  
  • Office/cube decorating  
  • Locker decorating  
  • Parking space painting  

As you look ahead to your next fundraising event, you have some things to consider. How has event performance been in the past? What tools do you have to support your efforts? 

With GiveSmart, we can help you, your team, and your volunteers make your events a success for your mission. Connect with our experts today for a free demo.  

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MicroFinancing Partners in Africa

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Hope Chest for Breast Cancer

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Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County