100 Fundraising Event Ideas for Charities and Nonprofit Organizations

Hosting successful fundraising events for your nonprofit or charity is vital to maintain your programs. Although the types of fundraising campaigns you can put on today keeps expanding thanks to online platforms like PayBee and advances in fundraising software, only you can decide what types of activities appeal most to your support network.

To keep your fundraising events effective, we’ve created a list of 40 fundraising events grouped around different nonprofit organizations and charity activities. From fundraisers designed specifically for school organizations to fundraising events you can hold completely online, you’ll find everything here from favorite classics to cutting-edge events you haven’t even considered.

Just click on the links below to jump directly into the category that fits your nonprofit or charity niche. Have fun!

Fundraising Event Idea Categories

Fundraising Ideas for Schools and Colleges

Virtual Fundraising Ideas

Fundraising Ideas for Sports Lovers

Fundraising Ideas for Kids

Holiday Fundraising Ideas 

Fundraising Event Ideas for Churches and Religious Organizations

Fundraising Ideas for Outdoor Lovers

Social Media Fundraising Ideas

Fundraising Ideas for Date Night

Fundraising ideas for Game Enthusiasts

Fundraising Ideas for Schools and Colleges

  1. School Carnival

Whether you’re raising money for the Parent Teacher Organization, extracurricular activities, or other school programs, a school carnival is one fundraising activity that never fails to attract a crowd. Assign favorite attractions and activities to groups that will relish getting involved. The Drama Club would probably love producing a Haunted House. Student ambassadors will be a great choice to run the games. And the baking and cooking enthusiasts in your classes will add something special to the concessions.

Keep in mind that although gathering restrictions have been lifted, social distancing requirements may still apply to your school or educational institution. Follow all necessary guidelines, but offer plenty of opportunities to have fun! After being denied a chance to get together with friends, people will probably flock to your carnival!

  1. Reading Challenge

“Read-a-thon” competitions allow students of all grade levels to collect pledges from supporters who will donate based on the number of books they can read within a set period. Your school can add extra incentive by offering prizes for students who meet (or exceed) certain reading goals and can even design competitions between classes or grades. This is a great way to raise money while also raising literacy!

  1. Used Textbook Sale

This fundraising activity works really well in colleges and universities (although high schools and trade schools can also benefit from them). With so many students looking for ways to buy more affordable textbooks for the upcoming semester, getting students to donate their gently used textbooks to your organization will allow you to sell them to incoming students at a reduced price.

Even better, you can expand your textbook sale to offer books in all subject areas, from popular novels to cookbooks to travel guides. Make sure to promote your upcoming book sale on social media and post notices at places where book lovers frequent (like public libraries and used bookstores).

Finally, using an online price comparison website like Bookscouter can help you sell off the remainder of your book stock for decent prices. Alternatively, you can donate any books you can’t sell to libraries or used bookstores, building partnerships with them.

  1. Parents’ Party

One thing all good fundraisers do is recognize people who have supported an organization throughout the year. And what better way to recognize the hardworking parents of the PTO than to throw them a fun day (or night) of their own? Depending on the parents’ interests, you might offer virtual or in-person cooking classes, a casino night, or even a virtual happy hour. Just make sure to offer activities everyone can get into (you are going to be selling tickets to them, after all).

Pro tip: arrange to have supervised activities for the kids (this can be done through virtual games or in-person events) so parents can relax and enjoy their party.

  1. Goofy Principal Challenge

Here’s a fun activity that can be supported by your fundraising website — the goofy principal challenge allows people to donate online to your fundraiser over a period of several hours or days. As your site’s virtual thermometer reaches its fundraising goal, your normally strait-laced principal will perform a silly (but safe) activity for the students and faculty — like dying their hair, getting hit by a pie, or getting dunked into a tank. Who wouldn’t want to see the principal perform such goofy antics (especially if they get recorded for posterity?). 

  1. Prom Dress Drive

Prom is considered a rite of passage for many high school students, but unfortunately, not everyone can afford all the accessories to have a memorable prom night. That’s why prom dress drives are great events to host for building stronger bonds among community members.

In addition to dresses, your drive can take in handbags, shoes, accessories, and other donations. Be sure to build a fundraising website to help direct people to donation areas, collect any monetary donations, and match all donations to the proper recipients.

  1. Selling Yearbook Ad Space

Fundraising websites offer great places for sponsors to advertise their businesses, but high schools actually have another ready-made place to sell ad space — the annual yearbook! Plenty of local businesses and companies will be happy to donate money to your school in exchange for an eye-catching ad in the junior high or high school annual. Considering how many parents, staff, and students look through the pages during the final days of school, it’s a great way to showcase a business!  

  1. Business Fair

Business fairs are excellent fundraising events to hold for your high school or college since so many of your students will be looking for job hunting resources and opportunities to gain real-world business experience. You’ll be able to form partnerships with local businesses and community organizations, many of which will probably want to sponsor your event in exchange for promotional opportunities and a chance to recruit a new generation of talent.

You’ll also be able to hold multiple fundraising activities during your business fair, such as raffles, auctions, and paid seminars with known business experts. As demand for well-paying jobs increases, a good business fair will continue attracting plenty of interest. 

Virtual Fundraising Ideas

  1. Virtual Auctions

Whether you’re thinking of hosting a live auction complete with a professional auctioneer who can get bidders pumped up through a live stream broadcast or a silent auction that can start earning money days before your fundraiser begins, virtual auctions are some of the most profitable fundraising activities you can offer.

Be sure to use a reliable and user-friendly online platform like PayBee (which specializes in hosting virtual auctions) to build your auction campaign. You’ll also want to invest plenty of time in brainstorming the types of auction items that will attract the most bids from your guests (hint: some of the most popular auction items don’t cost a lot of money—and can actually be acquired for free!)

  1. Video Game Tournaments

Plenty of people love video games, but did you know playing video games can actually raise thousands of dollars (and in some cases millions) at fundraisers? 

It’s true! People call this “Geek Philanthropy,” and it’s an innovative form of virtual fundraising that takes advantage of the large online followings popular gamers have to collect donations and pledges for watching gameplay. Alternatively, some video game tournaments sell tickets to players and let them participate in fun competitions to win prizes. 

The nice thing about this virtual fundraiser is that it can be applied to any charity or nonprofit program. In the past, hospitals, research facilities, wildlife conservation groups, and more have raised tremendous amounts of money thanks to the efforts of hard-working gamers everywhere!  

  1. Text-to-Give Fundraising

Text-to-Give is one of the most effective fundraising campaigns thanks to how easy it is to just donate using your smartphone. To create this fundraising campaign, use a text-to-give phone number that your supporters can access by texting a keyword like “Donate” and filling out an online donation form. 

Alternatively, you can just text a dedicated URL to your campaign page to your guests. Studies actually show that the average donation size for text-to-donate fundraisers is $107, so this could be a very lucrative way to raise money for your nonprofit programs.

  1. TikTok Fundraising Challenges

Filming and sharing short TikTok videos is a popular activity today, and many nonprofits and charities are taking advantage of this by turning TikTok videos into a fundraising challenge. You can invite your volunteers and staff members to create silly videos of themselves dancing, telling jokes, or goofing off. Then, you can link each video to a fundraising page where viewers can donate money to their favorite video. Participants can also win prizes for highest earning video, most likes, best comments etc. 

  1. Crowdfunding Campaigns

Create a crowdfunding campaign that shows real-time updates on your online fundraising webpage. You might want to showcase a fundraising thermometer that fills up as more people donate. You can also share photos and videos of your participants’ progress in whatever fundraising activity you choose to host. Whatever you choose to do, make sure to share your crowdfunding webpage on social media and encourage others to promote it.

  1. Virtual Celebrity Encounter

Hiring a celebrity to appear at your fundraiser may have been expensive at one point in time. But thanks to online platforms and livestreaming technology, it’s actually really easy to reach out to your favorite movie star or TV personality and see if they can offer a few moments of their time for your fundraising event—without having to leave the comfort of their home!

Since these virtual celebrity encounters don’t require your guest to physically travel or stay at a hotel, you’ll be spared the cost of these expenses. Plus, many people find that interacting with celebrities over a shared Zoom call or online platform actually makes the whole experience feel even more intimate than watching your guest perform from a stage.

  1. Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

Here’s a great form of multi-tier fundraising that’s particularly easy to do using PayBee software. Peer-to-peer fundraising allows individuals from your staff and volunteer base to build personal fundraising webpages to help raise money for your nonprofit or charity. Each volunteer or staff member then promotes their page among their social circles (family, friends, community members etc.). 

This is an excellent way to expand your donor pool, reach out to potential new supporters, and increase brand awareness of your nonprofit and its mission. 

  1. Webinars 

Similar to virtual celebrity encounters, webinars allow known experts in a field to share their knowledge in an online setting. This could be a great way to attract a lot of guests to your virtual fundraiser, especially if you choose someone who appeals to the interests of your target audience.

Consider who your supporters and donors would love to listen to. A local business leader? A famous entrepreneur? Even guest speakers like video game designers or entertainment lawyers can hold a webinar — and answer questions thanks to livestreaming technology

Fundraising Ideas for Sports Lovers

  1. Obstacle Course

Do most of your guests relish a challenge? Constructing obstacle courses for your fundraising event is a great way to keep everyone engaged. You’ll have lots of opportunities to take photos that can be shared on social media. And all those endorphins racing through everyone’s bodies will generate a lot of positive feelings — which could put your supporters in a more generous mood when it comes time to donate!

If you have access to a gymnasium or outside venue, there are plenty of great obstacles to set up for your guests. Popular choices include:

  • Bag races
  • Rope climbing
  • Mud pits
  • Beam walking
  1. Fun Runs/Walks/Marathons/Triathlons

Charity walks are always good for morale and socializing. Of course, if your guests really want to push themselves, you can expand this event into a fun run, marathon, or even triathlon. While most people would probably prefer to hold this event outside in a natural setting, you do have the option of hosting a virtual fun run where participants keep track of the miles they walk or run and then upload this information onto your event website to compete with other guests.

One nice thing about this option is that you can get people from all across the country — or even different parts of the world — to participate. Participants can also share photos and videos of their run via social media, which can be nice if they get to do their leg of the race in an attractive setting.

  1. Golf Tournaments

Charity events and golf tournaments are two things that go together like bacon and eggs. Maybe it’s because, in addition to being a very popular sport, there are so many ways to collect revenue during these events. You’ll be able to collect entrance fees from the participants, sell tickets to spectators, and offer additional opportunities to make pledges or donations throughout the tournament. You can even hold an auction or raffle during the event to keep the activity level up.

Some popular golf fundraisers bring on an established golf professional to share pro tips with participants and even take part in a round of golf. If you have a lot of golf enthusiasts in your support network, this is one fundraising event they can all get behind!

  1. Boat Racing

This one is best suited for nonprofits or charities located near a lake or the coast. Boat racing is a fun activity for both the participants and spectators. Plus, you’ll have opportunities for many other fundraising activities like charity picnics, auctions, raffles, and games, improving your chances of raising more revenue.

  1. Dance Parties

Ready to do some serious cardio? Dance parties attract both fitness enthusiasts and people who love a fun night out. You can create a theme for your party (i.e., 80s music dance party), offer fun group dance lessons, or make it into more of a social mixer depending on your audience’s interests.

Be sure to reserve an event venue capable of accommodating all of your guests. If you choose to host a hybrid dance party (where some of the dancers stay home and participate via livestreaming), you should be able to save some money by renting a smaller venue and dealing with only a limited number of in-person guests.  

  1. Hiking Party

Know some great hiking trails in your area? Why not organize a hiking party for your nature-loving supporters complete with meals and experienced guides? Hiking parties are great fundraising events that yield plenty of beautiful photos and videos that look great on social media.

Of course, today you can also offer “virtual hiking” fundraisers where participants don’t even have to leave their homes — they just walk on a treadmill while watching a hiking video on YouTube and chatting with fellow hikers via live stream channels on your online platform. Everyone will still get plenty of exercise and a chance to socialize with friends.

  1. Fitness Class

With so many fitness enthusiasts in your group, there are bound to be some athletes qualified to teach a fitness class during your fundraising event. Your class can be anything from yoga lessons to aerobics activities to weightlifting. You can even offer your class online via livestreaming to reach participants at home and collect a small entry fee from each person via your ticketing campaign.

  1. Water Balloon Fight

Not all sports-themed fundraising activities need to be built around serious fitness competitions. Sometimes, an old-fashioned water-balloon fight is just the thing you need to attract a lot of people eager to participate in this kid-friendly activity. 

You’ll need to mobilize your volunteers to purchase and fill a couple hundred balloons with water and then store them in large containers. Each balloon could then go for $1 or $2 (be sure to offer group discounts for teams who want to really go wild).

These water balloon fights are best done on a warm day at a park or other outdoor location with plenty of space. Be sure to promote your event well in advance on social media — if you make it one of your summer activities, it’s bound to be one of your supporters’ favorites! 

Fundraising Ideas for Kids

  1. Car Wash

Here’s one fundraising activity that never gets old. Charity car washes are held by community centers, high schools, churches and local clubs looking to raise some revenue. To host one of these events, find a large parking lot that cars can easily pull into from the main road or an intersection. Train your volunteers in the proper way to wash cars, especially if they’re using hand-washing techniques.

Naturally, you’ll want to follow any local laws for putting on a charity car wash, particularly city/county environment laws concerning drainage. And be sure to gather plenty of towels, sponges, buckets, brushes, hoses, and environmentally-friendly cleaning products like soap, wax, and window cleaner.   

  1. Dog Wash Party

People love their pets. Having to wash them every few days? Not so much. Still, this sort of activity can be a lot of fun for kids, especially if you turn it into a big party that helps raise money for your organization.

Successful dog wash parties should be held during warmer months to keep both your volunteers and the pets comfortable. You’ll also need to arrange to have an event venue that’s convenient for pet owners — like the parking lot of a pet store or pet supply shop (which also provides you with a good way to promote your upcoming event). Oh, and make sure the kids who volunteer for this activity are experienced in washing dogs and keeping them calm during their baths!

  1. Dog Walk-a-Thons

Dog walk-a-thons are great fundraising activities to offer in tandem with your dog wash party. Partner with a local dog park to give kids a chance to walk, play, and exercise with dogs. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to take heartwarming and hilarious photos and videos to promote your events on social media.

  1. Neighborhood Chores

Considering a lot of kids often try to get out of doing their chores, doing neighborhood chores might seem an odd choice for a children’s fundraiser. Still, when they know they’re out there to help the community and raise money for their organization, you’d be surprised by how civic-minded kids can get. 

Find a good way to organize your chore assignments. For instance, you can auction off services like yard cleaning, closet organizing, or lawn mowing during your live charity auctions. Each winner can then fill out a work order indicating where your teams need to go, what jobs they’ll be taking on, and what materials they’ll need to bring with them.

  1. Brand Design Contest

Every charity or nonprofit organization needs effective branding logos — so why not get kids involved by having them design new artwork for your T-shirts, signs, or even website? You can charge a small entry fee for each design — and visitors to your website can then vote on their favorite logos (just be sure to also include plenty of opportunities to visit your donation page). Once you decide on a winner, the new logo can be used to sell more merchandise at your next fundraising event.  

  1. Concession Stand

While the image of children selling lemonade on a hot summer’s day has become somewhat of a cliché, the fact is concession stands are a mainstay at virtually all outdoor events. This makes them a prime opportunity for kids to get involved in your fundraising efforts. 

Plan to offer several snacks and drinks (not just lemonade!) at your sports events, carnivals, and even car washes. Running concession stands (with some adult supervision) gives kids a great way to learn about money management, customer service, and handling crowds — all excellent skills to develop in your volunteers. 

  1. Art Auction

Both schools and nonprofits that encourage children to express themselves through art can benefit from art auction fundraisers. From paintings to photographs to multimedia collages, kids can produce some stunning pieces that make excellent items for your live or silent auction.

For best results, make sure to include high resolution photographs of each piece on your silent auction website along with a brief description of each piece (including what motivated the artist to create it). Some organizations also auction off prints of the original artwork if the original piece is unavailable.

  1. Bake Sales

Much like concession stands, a bake sale is a popular fundraising activity that has generated plenty of revenue for schools, churches, and community organizations. If the kids in your organization know how to get around a kitchen, they can bake cakes, cookies, pies, and other baked goods for your event. You can also arrange to have kids help sell the goods during your event, school lunch periods, or recess.

Holiday Fundraising Ideas

  1. Toy Drive

A classic activity to hold in November or December, toy drives offer a great way for community members and local businesses to repurpose their unused toys and make sure children in their area have gifts for the holiday season. 

To make sure your toy drive attracts a lot of attention, promote it on your website, advertise it in your e-newsletter, and share photos and videos of your event in your social media feeds. Be sure to include toy wish lists and drop off locations. And make sure your fundraising website includes donation opportunities for people who don’t have toys to give but would like to support your event.

  1. Haunted House

Halloween is the ideal time to hold a haunted house and invite guests to tour a chamber of horrors — but this fundraising activity can be held during other themed galas and makes a fun addition to charity carnivals. Your volunteers will enjoy getting to be “scare actors” for a few nights and offer guests a few fun thrills.

Be sure to research proper haunted house guidelines when you’re preparing your event. Scare actors are generally forbidden from touching guests in haunted houses and you’ll need to make sure your event venue doesn’t get too crowded and keep people from moving through your attraction. Most importantly, make sure every volunteer carries at least a gallon of water with them to stay hydrated — these events can get pretty taxing for your workers after a few hours.

  1. Santa Meet-and-Greet

Here’s a fun fundraising activity for the cosplayers in your staff — offering meet-and-greets or photo opportunities with Santa Claus is the perfect way to liven up any holiday party or gathering. You can promote a Santa appearance at an upcoming holiday party (drawing in more donors for your fundraising activities). 

Or, if you want to get really creative, you can offer a Santa visit as one of the items up for bid in your live or silent auction. Plenty of families would love for Santa to show up at their home on Christmas day (with a bag full of donated gifts!) and greet their children. 

  1. Holiday-Themed Luncheon

Luncheons and dinners are a staple in fundraising events — but the holidays offer a chance to make them extra special. Offer a Thanksgiving dinner or an early Christmas Eve supper for your supporters. You can even offer this event multiple times in the year — plenty of people will want to participate in an Easter charity brunch (complete with an Easter egg hunt for the kids), a Fourth of July picnic, a New Years Eve cocktail party — the possibilities are endless!  

  1. Food Drive

While food drives are great events to hold regardless of the time of year, they do tend to attract a lot of support before Thanksgiving and throughout the holiday season. You’ll want to partner with community organizations to get the word out and to arrange for drop off locations. Plus, it’s a great idea to promote your event online and offer a list of the food items you need the most.

  1. Gift Wrapping Drives

No matter how sophisticated gift buying gets, one thing remains constant — most people hate having to wrap their gifts. With that in mind, putting together a team of your more dexterous volunteers and staff members and having them offer their gift-wrapping skills is a great way to get holiday shoppers to support your cause.

Offer a donation suggestion sheet for how much each shopper should donate to get their packages wrapped, based on the size of their gifts and the complexity of the wrapping job. Include special little additions, like bows and gift tags, to make each package look extra nice for the recipients. People do get more generous during the holidays, so a good gift-wrapping drive can be a great way to raise funds for your charity or nonprofit organization.

  1. Gift Card Raffle

Gift cards are incredibly popular during the holiday season for people looking to give them as presents or use them to save money on their own holiday shopping. So, why not address this demand by buying lots of different discount gift cards and offering them as raffle prizes during your event? You can also purchase electronic gift cards that are easily transferred to recipients, allowing you to get a virtual audience involved in an online raffle.

  1. Holiday Concert Series

Music is a big part of the holidays, and many people would love to see a live concert full of holiday cheer. Depending on your resources, you can go about this in many ways. Schools can get their orchestras and choirs to offer concerts filled with popular holiday songs. If you have connections with a local celebrity or band, maybe they’d like to put together a Christmas concert for one of your fundraisers. 

You can also plan multiple music events throughout the holidays, with solo performers, a night of choral music, and even a fun night of holiday karaoke to let the audience get in on the fun. Once your audience sees you’re giving multiple opportunities to listen to holiday music, they’ll be more inclined to join in on the rest of the series.

Keep in mind that holiday concerts also offer opportunities to sell raffle tickets, hold a bake sale, and offer multiple concession stands. You may even want to offer a special VIP experience where certain ticket-holders get to meet the performers after the show.

Fundraising Event Ideas for Churches and Religious Organizations

  1. Babysitting Services (aka Parents Night Out)

This is an excellent fundraising event to throw for any organization with a lot of families. Parents regularly need breaks from their family responsibilities every now and then, and offering an alternative to the usual babysitting services is a great way to win their support. 

Arrange to put on a night of supervised fun for kids, allowing parents to have a night to themselves. What you choose to offer can vary — you might set up a mini-carnival complete with face painting, arts and crafts projects, games etc. Or you might arrange a kids’ movie night and sleepover at your event venue. Parents can provide a reasonable donation amount for your service to take care of each child. Be sure to get them to sign waivers, provide contact information (and emergency contact information), as well as all the details of your event (including when to pick up their kids).

If you like, you can hold “Parents Night Out” in tandem with any of the Fundraising Ideas for Date Night event activities below. Offering parents an opportunity to support your nonprofit by letting your people take care of their kids and provide parents with a fun night out? Now that’s a winning combination! 

  1. Craft Classes and Sales

Arts and crafts classes are great fundraising events to hold, especially if you have a lot of people in your church who like working with their hands. From painting workshops to woodcarving lessons to model making classes, there’s really no shortage of the types of arts and crafts events you can offer during your fundraiser. And since today’s classes can also be help online through live stream courses, you can reach out to experts across the country or world and let them share their expertise.

Of course, if your classes and craft making communities grow, why not take advantage of this by offering a craft sale at your next fundraising event? You can host this in a number of different ways, from a traditional outdoor bazar to an online sale to a silent or live auction that lets participants bid on beautiful hand-made craft items. This is a great way to nurture and showcase local talent while raising funds for your programs!  

  1. Lent Challenge

A nice fundraising activity for Christian churches and religious organizations, the Lent Challenge observes the six-week period leading up to Easter when many Christians fast or choose to give up one item such as chocolate, meat, or alcohol, to refocus on their faith. Lent also finds many Christians engaging in acts of generosity by putting others first.

A Lent Challenge can request that churchgoers donate the money that would have otherwise gone to the item they are giving up. For instance, someone who contributes to this fundraiser might donate whatever they would usually spend on coffee or soda for those six weeks. Contributing to the church while engaging in acts of generosity related to items sacrificed is a nice way for donors to show support.

  1. Virtual Cooking Classes

Who wouldn’t like to add a new recipe to their regular dinner dishes? Cooking classes are great ways for people to socialize with each other and add to their skillsets. And in this digital age, you can let your congregation do this from the comfort of their own kitchens!

Find a cooking instructor who’s willing to spend a few hours leading a class in a cooking lesson. This can be a cooking enthusiast from your church, a professional chef from a partnering restaurant, or even a well-known celebrity able to connect with your church via livestream. Every participant can pay a fee to take part in the class, which can be held at a local cooking school (if you want to hold it in-person) or completely online.

Make sure to plan for enough time to work out all the logistics. The fee you charge may require you to supply each student with the ingredients for the dish, along with access to any cooking utensils they might not have. Once everyone’s done making their culinary masterpiece, you might even want to give the class to hold a livestream dinner where they can sample their dishes alongside their classmates.

  1. Yard Sales

Yard sales are a great way to clean out your closets, raise money for your church programs, and spend time socializing with your friends. To be successful though, your event team will have to invest plenty of time organizing your sale. Schedule your yard sale’s date and time(s) well in advance so everyone can schedule in your event. Establish your event venue — will your sale take place at your church, a separate community center, or a neighborhood?

Come up with a “wish list” for items, inform people through your website and e-newsletter of where people can drop off donated items, and create teams of people to organize the items by type (housewares, clothing, books, toys etc.). Keeping everything organized will just ensure your event runs smoother, entices people to buy more, and raises more money for your causes!

  1. Karaoke Night

Karaoke nights might generate snickers from people who remember that one guy who loved to belt out power ballads off-key, but let’s be honest — everyone secretly wants a chance to showcase their talents and perform their favorite songs on stage. Your church can host a fun event that lets your members display their singing talents and entertain their friends. Have each singer pay a small fee to participate and develop a fun theme around the songs (religious music, show tunes, love songs, summer tunes etc.)

  1. Bingo Night

Church events and bingo nights go together well, and a bingo fundraiser can help raise plenty of financial support for your programs if you charge your donors and supporters a small fee to participate. You can add some nice variety to your games by offering variations on traditional bingo (for instance, some games might require players to fill all four corners of a card or create an “X” shape across the card to win). This helps sustain the excitement, increases opportunities for winning (make sure to have some prizes ready!), and brings in more players/donors.  

  1. Tribute Giving Program

Tribute giving programs encourage people to donate in the name of a popular figure in your nonprofit or your community. While this sometimes means people contribute in the memory of a community member who passed away, you don’t have to limit your tribute giving programs this way. Spotlighting a recently retired pastor or a prominent member of your congregation can be just as effective in attracting donations — and offers you a chance to provide some much-deserved recognition to that person’s good works.

Fundraising Ideas for Outdoor Lovers

  1. Exercise Lessons

From tennis lessons to outdoor yoga sessions to self-defense courses, plenty of exercise activities work well outdoors—making them the perfect fundraising events to host for the outdoor enthusiasts in your group. Partner with some local experts or professional instructors in different sports fields and offer exclusive lessons in exchange for a donation to your nonprofit or charity. If you choose a nice day to host your event, it’ll be a great way to promote not only your organization but also your partner’s services as well. 

  1. Rollerblade Race

Who remembers all the fun they had as kids racing around a skating rink? Invite your supporters to a day of fun where they can lace up their rollerblades or skates and compete to see who can skate the most laps around a rink. You can partner with the skating rink to provide the event venue and get a volunteer DJ to play music and keep everyone’s energy up.

Aside from selling tickets to this fundraising event, you can raise money by having the skaters collect pledges for how many laps they complete. Be sure to have a concession stand ready with snacks and drinks — skating is thirsty work!

  1. Community Picnic

Luncheons and dinners are great fundraising get-togethers, but there’s something about a community picnic that just feels more festive for groups, especially if you hold them outdoors. Make arrangements to host yours at a nice setting, like a park or a community garden. You can also plan out some appropriate activities, like a relay race, Easter egg hunt, or kids craft tables depending on the audience you’re throwing the picnic for.

If you really want to build some community spirit, turn the picnic into a potluck affair, giving everyone a chance to contribute. If you have some folks who know their way around a grill, you can also offer some barbeque. Community picnics offer multiple fundraising opportunities, including selling tickets to the picnic itself and providing additional chances to donate and take part in a raffle, auction, class, or game. 

  1. Community Bonfire

Continue your community picnic into the night with a Community Bonfire. Bonfire parties are popular fundraising events particularly in English towns or villages. And they offer plenty of great fundraising opportunities in the U.S. A bonfire can attract a lot of attention, especially if you include live music, games, and even a firework show with your event. Charge admission and offer other fundraising activities, including food stands, raffles, and a charity auction. 

  1. Ice Cream Social

This one almost seems like a no-brainer. Everyone wants to participate in an ice cream social — especially if you choose a hot summer day to throw yours. Partner with a local ice cream shop or ice cream producer that can supply you with plenty of flavors. Choose a spot that lets guests talk and mingle and make sure to schedule it on a day most convenient for them (weekends work best). 

Make sure to have plenty of volunteers on hand to set up the event, pass out ice cream — and inform the public about your nonprofit (and how they can donate to your cause!).

  1. Pony Rides

Pony rides make a fun addition to community events and carnivals, especially for kids and horse lovers. You can partner with equine entertainment companies or mobile animal farms to supply you with ponies (as well as lambs, calves, ducklings, and more) for your event. Just make sure your event venue is big enough to accommodate the staff and your guests — and be sure to promote your event on social media well in advance! 

  1. Mural Painting

Ready to let the artists in your group run wild? Mural painting parties offer a fun way to let people express themselves outside. You can arrange for teams of artists or individual artists to register on your crowdfunding website and promote the event to their social networks. If they’re particularly skilled chalk artists or graffiti artists, they may provide some crowd-attracting entertainment as people come to see them paint their creations throughout the day or weekend. 

Make sure to get permission from business owners or city officials to paint murals on parking lot walls, buildings, or city walls. The paintings themselves can help represent your nonprofit or charity and bring attention to the social issues your programs are addressing. Raise funds by including other fundraising activities during your event — like an outdoor carnival, outside painting classes, picnics etc. 

  1. Parade

Who wouldn’t want a chance to march in a parade or wave to people from a float? Fundraising parade events can run the gamut in terms of how creative or elaborate you can make them. You might partner with an existing community parade and auction off a spot on a major float at your next charity auction. 

Alternatively, you might decide to throw a “pet parade” where animal owners get to show off their furry friends at a small parade. Some nonprofits choose to make this a pet costume parade (making it a great event to hold during Halloween) and work in a costume contest for both the pets and their owners. Plenty of great photo opportunities for your social media campaigns with this fundraising event — and you’ll be able to raise plenty of money with entry fees and tickets! 

Social Media Fundraising Ideas

  1. Pet Photo Contest

People love their pets and sharing photos of them on social media—so why not turn this into a fundraising challenge? Invite your supporters to share their favorite pet photos on Instagram with hashtags and photo tags (including a hashtag that promotes your nonprofit). You can create a special theme for the contest (like “funniest pet costume” or “weird napping poses”).

Winners can be determined by which photos get the most likes on Instagram. You can also upload the entries onto a central landing page. People who vote can make small monetary donations toward your nonprofit. 

  1. Funny Video Challenge

Everyone likes viewing and sharing funny videos online, so why not let your nonprofit or charity get in on the fun? Not only is a funny video challenge a good way to raise money through entry fees and donation requests, it’s also a great way to spread awareness of your nonprofit and its cause through hashtags on the Instagram posts. Be sure to create fun themes for your challenge (like funny baby videos or funny cat videos).

  1. Fashion Photo Contest

Similar to your pet photo contest, a fashion photo contest will enable your supporters to upload photos of their best outfits onto Instagram. Again, you can create multiple themes for your contest (i.e., “Thrift Store Chic,” “70s Retro,” “Superhero Cosplay,” and more). Upload the photos onto a separate landing page or keep the contest completely on social media by letting people vote with likes.

One extra piece of incentive you can offer is to share the winner’s photo on all of your social media accounts and website home page. You might also see if any of your partners that publish fashion blogs or magazines would like to display the winner’s fashion photos. All of this can motivate people to pay entry fees to share their photos!

  1. Instagram Raffle

Instagram is a great way to promote your fundraising raffle or auction — especially if you can share a photo and description of a really unique and desirable prize and get it in front of a lot of eyeballs. You can make this prize anything from a custom swag bag to a luxury spa day to an all-inclusive vacation package. Just make sure it fits your supporters’ interests and the photos you provide communicate how fun the prize is.

Include step-by-step instructions on your Instagram that show people how to win the prize. Make sure they know where to buy raffle tickets and show up for the drawing. You might even offer additional incentives — for instance people who donate an additional $20 before a pre-determined deadline might get a 20 more entries to win the prize. If the prize is good enough, you’ll get a lot of participation.

  1. Social Media Challenge

The ice bucket challenge. Beard growing contests. Head shaving challenges. Social media is full of weird and funny challenges that attract plenty of attention. Select or create your own social media challenge that you can promote on Instagram and raise money for your cause. Not only do these photo challenges give people an opportunity to donate to your nonprofit, they also raise awareness of your nonprofit, particularly when people use your event hashtag and mention your nonprofit in their captions.

  1. Facebook Fundraiser

Facebook fundraisers are easy to create and can easily coincide with events like your birthday or a holiday. Your social media network should be more than willing to contribute to a birthday fundraiser that helps raise money for your nonprofit organization, and your can help spread awareness of the causes your nonprofit or charity supports in your posts. You can also use different crowdfunding platforms to create social media fundraising posts and raise money that way. 

  1. Text-to-Give Campaigns

Did you know the average donation size for text-to-give (or text-to-donate) fundraisers is $107? Given that practically everyone has a smart phone or mobile device these days and is becoming increasingly comfortable donating with them, this isn’t really surprising. Launching a text-to-give campaign that lets donors receive text messages that let them immediately give to your cause is an excellent way to use text messaging to raise money. 

If you’re using an online platform like PayBee, you can also text a link to your fundraising page, allowing people to go directly to your website from their mobile phones and give that way. 

  1. Video Campaign

Videos showcasing the social issues your nonprofit or charity is addressing can be very powerful motivators for fundraisers. Producing a professional video that reveals the human cost and effects of homelessness, animal cruelty, pollution, or any other number of issues and then sharing it through social media channels such as Facebook or YouTube is an excellent way to raise awareness of your nonprofit’s cause. Make sure to include links to your donation page and fundraising website to let viewers support your nonprofit—as your views increase, so will the number of potential donors.

Fundraising Ideas for Date Night

  1. Comedy Night

Who wouldn’t want to form (or strengthen) a connection during a fun night of laughter? You can offer local performers and up-and-coming comics to share their comedy stylings at a comedy night designed to raise money for your nonprofit. Funds can come from entry tickets as well as food and drink sales. Your event venue (which can be anything from a local comedy club to a bar or restaurant) can also help out by contributing a percentage of the night’s proceeds to your cause.

  1. Bachelor/Bachelorette Auctions

Here’s an event that’ll appeal to the single people in your group. Bachelor/bachelorette auctions are fun events that let people spend a fun night out by donating to your nonprofit’s cause.

There are a lot of different ways you can go with this. You might see if a local celebrity or personality will donate a day to hang out with a lucky auction winner. Or you can keep it more casual by getting the fun singles in your support network to offer their own time. Dates also don’t have to have romantic implications — you can just market them as fun shared social events.

The events themselves can be supplied by your sponsors and partners in exchange for promoting their businesses. Let those events reflect your audience’s interests — active folks might be more into a day of golf or a hiking date, while others may be more into a spa day or a fancy dinner. 

  1. Speed Dating

A little different than the other events on this list, a speed dating fundraising event gives the single people in your group a chance to meet other singles. What’s nice about connecting this with your nonprofit or charity is that these people will be able to meet others with a shared interest in philanthropy or your nonprofit’s cause. This can be an excellent way to meet someone with similar values.

Participants pay a registration fee and spend a few minutes getting to know each “date” before moving on to the next one. Add to the fun by auctioning off fun “date nights” supplied by restaurants, spas, and hotels you can get to sponsor your event. That way, if any of your participants do form a connection, they’ll be more motivated to bid on your auction items.

  1. Battle of the Bands

Concerts are always a fun place to spend date night — but you don’t have to break the bank by getting a well-known singer or band to headline your charity concert. Instead, why don’t you put the focus on popular local bands with their own followings?

The great thing about a Battle of the Bands concert is it offers so many fundraising opportunities. You can sell tickets to attendees so they can watch the bands rock out. Each band can also fundraise to earn a spot on the stage (and can even create their own peer-to-peer fundraising website to get their supporters to raise money for your nonprofit). 

You can hold fun raffles and auctions during the event, and if you invite influencers and local personalities to judge the show, you can offer both the bands and your nonprofit a great way to promote your event, the bands, and your cause.  

  1. Casino Night

If a trip to Vegas isn’t in the immediate cards, why not bring Vegas to your guests and offer a fun casino night complete with roulette, blackjack, and poker? Each attendee can purchase tickets in exchange for a certain number of casino chips (and even make additional donations if they want to buy back in). Guests can dress up, providing plenty of fun photo opportunities that can be shared on social media to promote your other events.

As with many of these event ideas, you can offer multiple opportunities to donate — for instance, by creating a grand prize door raffle where guests can contribute to your nonprofit for a chance to win valuable gift cards or free tickets to upcoming events. If you create the right casino night atmosphere, everyone will be looking to test their luck!

  1. Murder Mystery Dinner

A Murder Mystery party or dinner can be a very fun event to hold for your next fundraiser. While you can hire a professional murder mystery company to provide entertainment, if any of your volunteers or staff members are experienced actors and performers, it’s also possible to produce this affair “in-house.” Just be sure your guests not only buy tickets in advance but also invite family and friends.

Come up with a fun story that lets spectators question suspects and piece together clues in order to solve the mysterious staged murder at your dinner or party. You can also add to the fun by encouraging guests to come dressed in costume and participate in a costume contest. Done right, this could be one date night to remember. 

  1. Wine Tasting

Wine tastings can be classy affairs that make a fun date night. Your nonprofit can partner with local wineries or restaurants who can donate a few bottles of their most popular wines in exchange for some free promotion at your event. To make your wine tasting more interactive, you might hire a sommelier to show each guest how to properly sample each wine and offer some history on each bottle of wine.

You can also raise funds by including other events in your activity. For instance, auctioning off baskets of fine wines, breads, cheeses, bottle openers, and glassware is an excellent way to capitalize on your audience’s interest in the event. You can also raffle off bottles of wine as well as gift cards to your local wineries and vineyards.

  1. Vacation Auction

Live auctions are always popular events at fundraisers — but if you really want to excite the couples in your group, offer a vacation auction that provides fun and relaxing weekend getaways for the bidders.

Based on your audience’s interests (and financial means), you could offer some simple stay-cations at local hotels and resorts or go all out and create vacation packages with airline tickets, multi-night hotel stays, restaurant gift certificates, and entertainment offerings. Accommodations can be supplied by your sponsors.

Alternatively, you can make use of charity consignment items. These are high-ticket auction items (like vacation packages) that you can get from a third party for no upfront cost to your nonprofit. These vacation packages are assignment a consignment price that gets collected by the third party if the item sells. As long as you make sure the item gets sold for above the consignment price, your nonprofit will be able to collect the difference. (Just make sure not to sell below the consignment price—if you do, you’ll have to pay the difference to the third party out of your own pocket.

Fundraising Ideas for Game Enthusiasts

  1. Poker Tournament

Poker charity tournaments are fun events that have been attended by celebrities, professional poker players, and the casual gambler. Make your poker fundraiser a simple affair anyone can participate in — for a suggested donation amount, players receive a set amount of chips and can sit in at multiple tables. Offer players chances to buy back in (up to a certain point in the night) for an additional donation.

Be aware of the costs associated with hosting a charity poker tournament, which can include your venue, the staff, refreshments, marketing, poker accessories, and any required permits or licenses. As long as you can keep your expenses manageable, a good charity poker game can help reach very high fundraising goals. 

  1. Trivia Night

The great thing about trivia nights is they can become a regular event that can help raise money for your nonprofit every month or even every week. Trivia nights are easy to organize at restaurants or bars and are very affordable — particularly if you decide to host them online as virtual trivia nights. 

To raise money, create an entry fee for each participant or team. You can also offer donation opportunities to audience members or people who like to watch the livestream from your website. If you can partner with a restaurant or other event venue, see if they’ll share a portion of their food and drink revenue for the night with your nonprofit.

Make sure the theme of your trivia nights resonates with your supporters. If your guests know a lot about sports, movies, pop culture, or any other subject, it’s to your advantage to come up with some fun but challenging questions in those areas to let everyone show off their knowledge. And don’t forget to supply some great prizes for the winners! 

  1. Bowling Tournament

Who doesn’t like a fun night of bowling, especially when you get to compete for a trophy and bragging rights? Much like other fundraising tournaments, each bowling team will pay an entry fee to participate in the contest. See if you can also recruit partners and sponsors to help pay for the event venue (each sponsor might pay for a specific lane) and even provide items like prizes or uniforms where they can feature their logo. 

  1. Eating Contest

From pie eating contests to pancake eating competitions to the often-covered hot dog eating championship, eating contests get a lot of attention from participants and audiences. Keep overhead costs down by getting local shops or bakeries to supply the food in exchange for free promotion so they can highlight their brand.

Participants pay an entry fee and you can also offer multiple donation opportunities to audience members. Just be sure to keep your contest safe for all the eaters so everyone has fun!

  1. Board Game Night

If your supporters appreciate a low-tech evening of fun, breaking out classic board games like Monopoly, Clue, and Snakes and Ladders might be just the sort of nostalgic entertainment your audience is hungry for. And don’t think this only applies to the older crowd — with all the reboots and callbacks in popular entertainment these days, the younger crowd may appreciate a more retro game night as well.

You can turn this into a series of mini-tournaments where players can show off their skills at their favorite game (or try their luck at a new one). Charge for entry and be sure to offer prizes for all the winners.

  1. Scavenger Hunt

Here’s one event that can be done as a classic scavenger hunt where teams run around town looking for the items on their lists or an updated digital version where participants can scour the Internet and take photos or screenshots of the outrageous items on their lists and submit them for approval.

As always, you’ll want to charge people a registration fee to participate. You might even offer some extra perks in exchange for an additional donation — like a five-minute head start or even some hints on the location for some of the items. 

  1. Wine Pull

Do your supporters and guests love wine? Then a wine pull might be the perfect game for them. In these events, you’ll collect several bottles of wine (roughly 30 bottles for every 50 people in attendance). Wines should vary in type and quality, with most in the mid-to-low-range and a small amount being high-end wines. If you can get a local winery to sponsor your fundraising event, this could be the perfect way to collect donated bottles of wines while promoting your sponsor.

On the day of your event, wrap each bottle in paper to hide its brand and set them on a table or stock them in a wine wall. Your guests can then buy a ticket (usually for $10-$25) to select a bottle of wine. The fun comes from seeing if the bottle each guest selected costs less than what they donated — or if they chose a high-end wine that’s significantly more than they paid.

  1. Hula Hoop Contest

If you have some hula hoop enthusiasts in your group, a hula hoop contest offers a fun twist on traditional fundraising games. Much like a walkathon, each hula hoop contestant will collect pledges from people in their social network. The pledges can be based on the number of revolutions each contestant completes or the number of seconds they can keep their hula hoops from dropping to the ground.

This is a fun competition that can be enjoyed in-person and/or online. The hula hoopers will help raise money for your cause (and, in fact, since everyone is collecting pledges, the actual winner of the contest might not even be the one who raises the most money). Be sure to have some prizes ready for your winners — which could include both the hula hoop champion and the contestant who brought in the most funds for your nonprofit.  

Getting Started

Whether you want to host a holiday luncheon or assemble a fun water balloon fight, one thing is clear — all of these fundraising events can benefit from easy-to-use fundraising software with promotional online tools. Most people do learn of fundraising events via their social media feeds or emails, after all, and most of these events can be adapted to reach out to a virtual or hybrid audience and expand your supporter network.

To learn more about how you can use online platforms to host successful fundraising events, sign up for a free demo of Paybee’s fundraising software. You’ll get to put yourselves in the shoes of your audience by seeing how user-friendly our online platforms are, participate in a fun live auction, and ask all of your questions to our staff of experts. Come see which of your fundraising events you can enhance by signing up for a free demo today!  

Nonprofit Fundraising
Virtual Events
Hybrid Fundraising
Michael Jung