Jul 3, 2021
70+ proven fundraising event ideas for nonprofits
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. Did you know 64% of millennials prefer to fundraise through walk/run/cycle events? Good to know if you are trying to reach more donors in that 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 Many of the fundraising ideas listed here are ones we’ve seen work firsthand. Many others were contributed to use from awesome organizations that know how to put on a great event. Whether you’re a small youth center or large organization, we know there will be something here that’ll work for your organization.
Low-cost with high ROI, team crowdfunding 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.
First choose the size and location of an event you can reasonably manage. Then set a date and some realistic fundraising goals for your nonprofit. Themes add an extra element of fun… survival races and fun runs seem to attract more participants!
Here’s what you need:
Get the 12-week Run, Walk, Swim, Ride Planning Checklist as a PDF. Easily save it on your computer for quick reference or print it for your organization’s next fundraising event .
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.
Want more tried and true ideas like this? Or more creative and unique fundraising event ideas? Keep reading below.
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 other 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.
Alumni networking mixers are a fun and pressure-free way 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 size of 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.
Fundraising auctions can take on various forms like live, ballroom, online, sealed bid or silent auctions. 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 swiper and integrated app for winning bid payment processing
- 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!
Bachelor / bachelorette auction or raffle
Auctioning or raffling off eligible bachelors/bachelorettes for a great cause can be a 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 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 a their special someone!
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, 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, et
- 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.
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.
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 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. Each act can have their own mobile-friendly crowdfunding 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!
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 for 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 & playing cards
- Mobile swiper and integrated app for selling bingo cards and concessions via credit card
- 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.
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 in 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.
Each week, synagogues and churches can promote sales of the calendar in their newsletter. Whether the bulletin is online or on paper, a special section can be set aside with instructions on how individuals can order a calendar of their own.
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.
Alternatively, Jewish and Christian organizations can hold crowdfunding campaigns to raise money to produce calendars like these. Once the campaign goal is met, the calendars can be distributed to congregants at services or as thank-you gifts when they contribute to fundraising campaigns.
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, 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 to instruct friends and family to text your corresponding keyword & shortcode. They can also share the link to your form. Make sure you include website or form URL, keyword, shortcode, text instructions, and your QR code on any posters that you create for your nonprofit’s event.
Cupcake wars fundraiser
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’ & judges’ crowdfunding pages
- Viewer ticketing form
- 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 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 a RSVP option on the form. A reward can be given to the team with the most donors or highest donation total.
Your nonprofit organization can easily create a branded form to sell tickets to the general public for the delectable event.
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 app 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 as 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 set 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 immediate 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.
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
- 5-10 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 intended taped victim wear the painters 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 victim 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.
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 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 mega pixel 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 plastic western six-shooter, princess wand, foam sword, or even a rubber chicken
- Digital camera or a smartphone with a high-pixel-count camera with USB cord
- 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.
Encourage supporters to share their behind-the-scenes photos & videos to their network of family, friends, and colleagues.
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.
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 2 or 3 changes during a show, so keep that in mind when planning the number 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.
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.
Games night fundraiser
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
- Mobile swiper and integrated app for bake sale, concessions and raffle sales
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 for good
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 and know the times that 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 waiting 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.
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 9-12 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 & 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 for 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.
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 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 gift fundraiser
It might seem obvious, but it stands to be reiterated: one of the cornerstones of smart fundraising is maximizing the power 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 are 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 use it. In a matching gift fundraiser, your nonprofit will go the extra mile to help supporters:
- Determine their matching gift eligibility
- Donate to your organization
- 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 like Double the Donation, it’s never been easier to guide your constituents through the gift matching process!
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.
Obstacle course fundraiser
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.
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 over indulgers 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 (duct taped ankles)
- Pajama Pub Crawl
- Beach Bash Bar Crawl
- Lumberjack Crawl
- Pilgrims and Indians Crawl
- Masquerade Party
- Nineties Theme
- Kentucky Derby
- Cinco de Mayo
- 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, a Shirley Temple or 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:
- They have low overhead
- They allow anyone to get involved (as long as they have shoes)
- They have a quick turnaround from shoe receipt to receiving your check
Whether the shoe drive is an ongoing, seasonal, or a one-off fundraising project, it’s sure to be a success for your nonprofit!
Sports skills clinic for charity
Gather amateur and professional athletes, guest pros, coaches and trainers to host a techniques or skills clinic 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 & 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, swim, 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 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.
T-Shirt sales to show the love
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
- 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 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 for featuring their team name.
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 crowdfunding. Easily set up a virtual lemonade stand crowdfunding campaign and share it with your donors, volunteers and staff to empower them to create their own stand (crowdfunding donation page), which they can share with their social and professional networks. Here’s what you need:
- Crowdfunding 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 crowdfunders for encouragement and recognition.
- Also optional, Thank You cards for handwriting notes to donors.
It takes less than 5 minutes to set up a crowdfunding 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 sales persons (or crowdfunders) 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 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 getting 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 a made up language and hand gestures for an entire workday. Wacky Wager crowdfunding donors will have a ball competing to the be the biggest contributor and the privilege of picking the temporary new hair color of their favorite volunteer crowdfunder. 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.
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!
Annual event fundraising ideas
Annual fundraising event ideas help organizations increase donations and boost loyalty. A great event allows you to build awareness and excitement in the community while securing a large amount of revenue at once. These memorable events can also serve as a fantastic source of publicity.
Planning annual fundraisers
The one drawback to annual fundraising events is that they can’t be thrown together a week before the big day. They often require months of planning and scheduling. However, if you start early you’ll have the time to carefully scope out what you need to make your annual fundraising event a huge success, year after year.
Here’s a checklist of questions to consider before you get started:
What has your organization’s historic event performance looked like?
If you’ve held annual events in the past, it’s important to look at them as benchmarks. What were some of your successes? How much did you raise? What were some areas for improvement? If you have struggled to meet your fundraising goals in the past, it may be time to try a new tactic.
Have your previous events been more about providing entertainment than communicating your mission?
While events should be enjoyable for participants, your mission needs to clearly shine through to ensure you meet your fundraising goal.
Why is an annual event right for you?
There are a number of reasons to host a fundraising gala. But these events often come with a lot of costs, and you need to consider whether this is the best approach. In addition, you need buy-in from everyone in the organization. If just a few board members want to host an annual event or you’re doing it because organizations in the same sector as you are holding them, the chances of success aren’t great. It may well be that an annual gala event is not the right choice for your organization. Explore other types of yearly events that may be a better fit for your nonprofit.
Do you have the capacity for an event?
Organizations sometimes move forward with an annual event without truly considering if they can support it with their current volunteer and staff workforce and more importantly, whether they have enough funds on hand at the time to hold the event. It’s a mistake that can prevent you from reaching your annual fundraising event goals.For example, it costs more money to hold a fancy gala versus holding an annual Potluck Dinner and Dance. Remember, you can start small your first year, and as part of your event talk about your plans to expand the event in the coming year so you can reach more people and do more good. This provides you an excellent opportunity to ask for the volunteer and financial support that will help make the following year’s annual fundraising event a reality.
For example, it costs more money to hold a fancy gala versus holding an annual Potluck Dinner and Dance. Remember, you can start small your first year, and as part of your event talk about your plans to expand the event in the coming year so you can reach more people and do more good. This provides you an excellent opportunity to ask for the volunteer and financial support that will help make the following year’s annual fundraising event a reality.
Here are just a few of the top annual fundraising event ideas that your organization may want to undertake.“
Roll out the red carpet for an elegant evening of good food, drink and fundraising“
Keep your organization’s message in front of your supporters all year long“
A hole-in-one idea that will help raise money for your cause“
Supporters will be happy to go the distance to help you reach your goals
Incorporating mobile solutions to maximize your annual fundraising event ideas
One of the biggest mistakes that some annual event planners make is being ill-prepared when asking for donations on the big day. One way to ensure that your call-to-action will motivate your attendees to give is to use a text to donate with an event thermometer that displays your annual fundraising event goal, donation amounts and names of donors and how close you are to reaching your target dollar amount.
Your emcee can give the simple text to donate instructions to attendees who are seeing the thermometer rise with every gift. The names and donation amounts of other people in the room who are texting to donate are called out by your emcee to thank them for their contribution, others are encouraged to give as well so they can be part of the action.
Cheap and easy fundraising event ideas
Here are some fun and creative fundraising event ideas that your organization can pull off when you have limited resources and funds. Looking for even more fundraising ideas?
Everybody wins when you share the wealth with your loyal fans“
A sweet (and cheap!) fundraising idea that your donors are going to eat up“
Raising money for your cause without breaking the bank is a slam dunk”
A fun afternoon of makin’ a difference by workin’ at the car wash“
Caroling for a cause
Pitch perfect opportunity to raise awareness and funds for your good work”
Virtual lemonade stand
From any computer, tablet or smartphone you are open for business (and fundraising) rain or shine“
Challenge supporters to show how silly they’re willing to go to support your cause“
Fundraising idea that proves how one person’s clutter is another’s hidden treasure