Sign-up parties have been floating around silent auctions, especially at schools, for a while. Now, with group gatherings being of limited capacity they’re becoming increasingly popular and helping organizations raise more funds.

A sign-up party is when x number of people pay x amount of money to participate in a group event with a limited number of spots.  

There’s no bidding, no drawings, just first-come, first-serve basis. For example, if one of your donors says that they’re willing to host an evening dinner cruise on their sailboat for 15 guests, you’d host a sign-up party with 15 spots and each guest pays $100 (or whatever amount you settle on) to attend. 

Traditionally, sign-up parties are popular in schools because teachers, staff, coaches, and parents will often host things like pizza parties, ice cream socials, or an outing to the batting cages with the coach. While large gatherings are on hold, we’re seeing other nonprofits take on these fundraising tactics. 

Virtual sign-up parties can be easily executed through various platforms (see how GiveSmart can help here). Then, depending on your location and vision for the event, the sign-up party itself can be limited and in-person, or online.  

This organization had virtual family art night, concerts, yoga, wine tastings, and drag queen bingo…all as sign-up parties. 

Virtual sign-up parties can also be a way to facilitate sign-ups for virtual classes, meet and greets happy hours, and moreWhen you’re deciding what sign-up parties are right for your organization, think of your mission and think of your donors. What would they be interested in participating in? If you move fundraisers online, what are fresh ideas they haven’t taken part in before? For example, if you’re an art museum you might consider hosting sign-up parties for outdoor painting lessons, or a virtual sketch or art history class. If you’re hosting a virtual class then you’re no longer limited by location. 

If you find success with a specific sign-up party then you might consider running multiple sessions. Why reinvent the wheel? 

Traditional sign-up party ideas: 

  • Dinner cruise  
  • Classes or workshops 
  • Tasting events (at breweries, wineries, or virtual with delivery) 
  • Movie showings (drive-ins) 
  • Meet someone famous or important to your cause (live or virtually) 
  • Yoga in the park 
  • Pizza parties 
  • Ice cream socials
  • Group lessons (sports, music, theater, art, etc.)
  • Art exhibitions, sneak previews

Virtual sign-up party ideas: 

  • Virtual classes or workshops 
  • Listening parties 
  • Zoom dinner dates with the board, honorees, or celebrity supporters 
  • Jackbox or other games 
  • Online bingo 
  • Virtual workout classes 
  • Virtual happy hours + panel discussions 
  • Cooking demonstrations 

Even though we might not be able to be together, sign-up parties are a great way to say social while remaining physically distant. We recommend varying your offerings so that there are various price points, appealing to a greater audience if your experiences lend themselves to that. 


Let’s talk about what sign-up parties look like for your next fundraiser.

Kelsey Woodworth
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