Nov 7, 2023
Fall Fundraising Ideas
The autumn months are particularly well-suited for fundraising efforts. As the temperatures get chillier, you can cozy up inside. With a new school year in full swing and the holidays approaching, people may feel more charitable and willing to donate to worthy local causes.
You can also pair fall fundraising efforts with Giving Tuesday, an annual day of generosity hosted on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, for an even higher turnout.
This post shares 10 fun and festive fall fundraising ideas for schools and nonprofits to excite your community and raise as much money as possible.
1. Pumpkin Carving Contest
A pumpkin carving contest is one of the most interactive and affordable fall fundraiser ideas. You’ll need some donated pumpkins, carving supplies, table coverings and trash bags to get started. You can charge a small entry fee and run a festive concessions stand.
Encourage your participants to get into the Halloween spirit with spooky cut-out designs. Set a timer during the event and play some festive tunes! Once participants finish their pumpkins, you can have attendees vote on their favorites, and the winner will get a coveted prize.
2. Halloween or Thanksgiving 5K
Hosting a 5K run or walk is ideal in autumn when the air is crisper and the season of giving is upon us. Your organization could host a themed race for Halloween or Thanksgiving at a local park or school campus.
All participants can pay a small fee. You can also sell food, drinks, or other donated merchandise at the event. If you want to kick it up a notch, consider asking attendees to dress up according to a theme, such as zombies or Thanksgiving turkeys.
3. Autumn Movie Night
Few fundraising ideas are as cozy as an autumn movie night. Consider screening seasonal favorites like “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” or “Hocus Pocus” and having attendees purchase tickets beforehand. You can also sell popcorn, candy, and soda for extra contributions.
Movie nights can work in an auditorium, gymnasium, or outside with a projector. Ask everyone to bring chairs and blankets for a comfortable and relaxing viewing. Be sure to abide by the rules under Title 17 of the United States Code for movie screening.
4. Halloween Costume Contest
A classic fall fundraiser idea is to host a Halloween costume contest. You can host it at a school, church, or park and have participants wear their most elaborate and creative costumes. Have attendees pay a small entry fee and sell food and drinks during the event.
Once the party gets going, choose some of the best contenders to model in front of the crowd, and let your attendees vote on who has the best costumes. You can also host a raffle to collect even more donations during this event.
5. Football Tailgate Celebration
Another fun fall fundraiser idea is to host a football tailgate. You can celebrate before a local high school competition or NFL game. Get your community together and sell tickets participants can use to play lawn games like cornhole or horseshoes.
You can also sell snacks, drinks, and merchandise like T-shirts, water bottles, and blankets. Consider having students pitch in by collecting donations during the game.
A rake-a-thon is a peer-to-peer fundraising idea that benefits the community and your organization. Ask your volunteers and supporters to set up individual campaigns and online sign-up sheets. They’ll collect donations from their friends, family members, and neighbors as they compete to raise the most money — and help the most people — during the fundraising period. The top producers can win a prize.
If you’re looking for a kid-centric fall fundraising idea, consider hosting a trunk-or-treat night! As a play on trick-or-treating, ask volunteers to park their cars in a blocked-off parking lot. Participants decorate the backs of their vehicles for Halloween and bring a stash of candy to share.
You can host a contest for best-decorated cars and sell tickets for additional activities, like apple bobbing or pumpkin painting. Consider having a concessions area with non-candy items like hot dogs or soft pretzels.
8. Autumn Bake Sale
Nothing says autumn like the smell of fresh pumpkin pie, apple crisp, and cinnamon buns. Your school or nonprofit can host a fall-themed bake sale as part of its fundraising efforts. Consider piggybacking alongside another event, such as a Friday night football game or Saturday morning soccer tournament.
Ask your community to donate baked goods for the sale. To step it up a notch, you could host a bake-off and set a timer for each participant to whip up their best fall treats. Charge a small entry fee and have attendees vote for their favorite freshly baked items.
9. Haunted House
A haunted house is a slightly larger fundraiser that generates community buzz. You can sell tickets for the event and have Halloween-themed food and drink for sale on-site.
Ask volunteers to transform a section of your school, a fire hall, or a barn into a spooky fortress. In addition to your haunted house attraction, you can offer hayrides outside for those waiting for their turn to take the tour.
10. Fall Trivia Night
Our final fall fundraising idea is hosting a seasonal trivia night. This event is ideal if you want to spend as little as possible. Sell tickets and ask local businesses to donate prizes.
You can host trivia in a cafeteria, fire hall, or other locations with lots of seating. Consider playing festive music and decorating the area to get participants excited. Finding autumn-themed trivia questions is simple online. Some example questions include, “What do you call the first day of fall?” — the autumn equinox — and “Is a pumpkin a fruit or a vegetable?” — a fruit.
Supercharge Your Fall Fundraising with GiveSmart
When you’re looking to take your fall fundraising efforts to the next level, turn to GiveSmart. Our mobile bidding and fundraising management software make collecting donations simple.
With our platform, your school or nonprofit can effortlessly manage and run fundraising campaigns throughout the year. From ticketing and guest management to hosting virtual and hybrid events, we have the solutions to transform how your organization raises money. We’ve designed our platform to enhance donor experiences and centralize your fundraising efforts so you can focus on your mission.
Are you ready to get started? Request a demo from GiveSmart today!