Charity Fundraising Ideas: 80+ Fundraising Ideas to Raise More Money for Your Nonprofit
Charity Fundraising Ideas: 80+ Fundraising Ideas to Raise More Money for Your Nonprofit
Successful fundraisers need to attract a lot of attention, not only from generous donors and supporters but also from your local community. The more excited community members are in your fundraising event, the more they’ll promote it through their social networks, resulting in greater brand awareness (and financial rewards) for your nonprofit.
To create this kind of hype, however, you need to have a keen understanding of the fundraising activities your local community is most into. Would the people in your support network prefer a tailgating party or a film festival? Are they more into traditional in-person fundraisers, or would they be more comfortable attending virtually and making their donations online?
Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to set up all of these fundraising ideas, thanks to user-friendly online platforms like PayBee. We’ve helped hundreds of nonprofits and charities raise donations by hosting fundraisers — and in this article, we’ll look at the charity fundraising ideas that have the most potential to generate excitement and activity.
Fundraising Ideas for a Virtual Fundraiser
If you’re looking to host a cost-effective fundraiser for today’s digital generation, you really can’t go wrong with a virtual fundraiser. These fundraising events and activities are held completely online, sparing you the expense of renting an event venue, catering staff, or on-site support team. What’s more, with the event management software provided by the PayBee system, many of the tasks involved in building these online galas are now automated, making it very simple to host them.
Peer to Peer Fundraising Campaigns
Peer to peer fundraisers allow your staff and volunteers to build fundraising websites of their own and then promote them among their social circles. Family and friends can then donate to your cause and the donations are sent directly to your organization’s accounts.
Not only is this a great way to expand your network of donors and make money online, it also helps build brand awareness of your group and its mission. You can also use peer to peer fundraising websites to promote your group’s main fundraising event, making this fundraising idea a great marketing tactic as well.
Similar in some respects to a peer to peer fundraising campaign, a crowdfunding campaign also reaches out to online supporters via a fundraising website and requests money for your group. Donations to this fundraising campaign can be small — it’s actually the quantity that helps raise the most money in a crowdfunding fundraiser.
Provide incentive for virtual participants to give by including a fundraising thermometer on your website that fills up as the donations pour in. Share photos and videos of your programs to show people the communities they are helping. This type of fundraising campaign is excellent for charities with a strong online platform.
Instagram Photo Contest Fundraising
Who doesn’t like scrolling through Instagram for fun photos? An Instagram photo fundraising competition is a great fundraising event idea that can raise a lot of donations for your group. You can even theme your activity idea around photos of people participating in charitable fundraising activities related to your mission as well as images of people wearing your T-shirts and merchandise. All this helps build brand awareness for your organization and create valuable content you can share online.
All you need to do is make an Instagram post announcing your event and telling users the type of photos they need to post and the hashtags they’ll need to include. Users should either tag their photos with a designated #hashtag that you created for your fundraiser or @mention your Instagram profile. Create a list of terms and conditions that state your event isn’t sponsored or associated with Instagram, entry restrictions, dates of entry, and how winners will be chosen. Make sure entrants know that they’re giving your organization permission to repost and use their content.
To raise donations, people can pay a small fee to enter their photos. Alternatively, you can upload all the photos onto a fundraising landing page and charge a small fee or request donations from visitors to vote for their favorite photos. Or if you’d like to keep it completely on social media, pick the winner based on how many likes a photo received.
Be sure to offer a fun prize to motivate contestants — and promote this prize in your marketing materials. This could be anything from some of your organization’s merchandise to a fully paid vacation.
Video Game Fundraiser
Video games are becoming big business and expert video game players (known as “gamers”) have amassed big followings on social media. You can use this to your advantage by hosting a video game fundraiser.
This form of fundraising can take many forms. You might contact a well-known gamer and ask them to headline a fundraiser event where they play for several hours or try to beat an established video game record. Followers who visit this online event will be able to donate dollars to your cause as they watch the gamer play.
You may also set up video game tournaments that the gaming enthusiasts in your area will want to take part in. Offer a cool prize (gift cards, a top-of-the-line gaming console etc.), charge a small fee, and let everyone enjoy a digital adventure.
Virtual Fun Run Fundraising
Fun runs are great activities to host for the more active members of your local community — but did you know you can also make this fundraising activity idea an online event? Virtual fun runs get participants to keep track of the miles they walk or run (usually with a mobile phone app) and then upload this information on your event website to share their progress.
What’s great about this is that you can get people to participate from anywhere, increasing the number of donation opportunities. Participants can either pay a fee or collect pledges from supporters who will pay your organization for every mile the runners complete. Runners can participate from a treadmill or in the outdoors, giving them the potential to share plenty of photos and videos of their runs. As always, make sure you offer a prize for the top runners in your event and show appreciation for all participants.
Silent Auction Fundraising
We’ve said this many times on our blog — silent auctions are some of the most popular and profitable ideas you can use in your organization. Take the time to procure some highly desirable auction items, promote your event on social media, list your items on your fundraising website, and let your donors and supporters show their support through aggressive bidding.
Because a silent auction can be held completely online over the course of several days, you can hold this event well in advance of your main fundraiser, making it a perfect way to attract attention to your fundraising event. Add in some additional features, like PayBee’s “Buy-It-Now” option (which lets busy supporters just buy an item outright) and the Auto Max Bid feature (which automates the entire bidding process for an attendee), and you’ve got the makings of a first-class event.
Virtual Celebrity Encounter Fundraising
Here’s a slightly offbeat (but popular) fundraising idea. These days, celebrities are making more appearances than ever thanks to online technology and services like Cameo that allow an actor, musician, or TV personality to record a quick personal greeting for a fan.
This means there’s potential for more and more celebrities to appear at your fundraiser — especially if they don’t need to physically travel to it. You could arrange for a celebrity to make an appearance at your fundraiser via Zoom call or livestream. This fundraising idea can also lower costs for the celebrity appearance while also raising the potential for the time the celebrity is able to spend interacting with guests.
If some of your supporters are too busy to attend your entire fundraising event — or if you want to provide guests with a quick and easy way to contribute while they’re enjoying your activities, then text-to-give is a form of online fundraising that’s perfect for your event.
With this fundraising technique, you just use your organization’s text-to-give phone number and have supporters send funds by simply texting a keyword like “donate,” filling out an online donation form, or clicking on some key links.
Here’s a classic fundraising activity idea that’s still relevant today. Phone-a-thons get teams of helpers to contact the people in your support network and request donations from them to support your group.
While this fundraising activity idea is a good way to raise revenue, it’s not the only purpose of a phone-a-thon. By regularly calling people, your group can reconnect with your donors and thank them for their support in a way that’s more personable than an email or text message. Plus, this is a good way to inform your local community of the upcoming fundraising ideas you’re planning, making phone-a-thons a must for both your fundraising and marketing campaigns.
Fundraising Ideas for In-Person Charity Fundraiser
Let’s be honest — despite all the advances in technology, in-person fundraising events aren’t going anywhere. This is especially true after 2020 as people are hungrier than ever for quality face-to-face meetings and get-togethers.
Of course, it helps if those fundraising ideas involve some fun community events, which is why we’ve chosen the following activities to organize for our top in-person fundraising ideas.
Tailgate Fundraising Party
Sporting events might be fun, but let’s be honest — the real reason people like to attend those games is to participate in the tailgating party where they can hang out with local community members and fans and enjoy tailgate foods and treats. A good tailgating party raises money several ways. For instance, you could sell tickets to your event — or you can make this a free event and offer multiple paid activities and donation opportunities like raffles to increase the excitement and draw in more people.
Film Festival Fundraising
Who says movie theaters are dead? In this post-2020 era, there are still plenty of people who’d love to have a fun night out watching movies with friends. And if a lot of people in your local community are amateur filmmakers, why not take this a step further by hosting a local film festival where people can share their short films, videos, and major productions with the world?
Film festivals offer plenty of opportunities to make money. You can charge an entry fee for filmmakers to showcase their work. Another idea is to set up film festival contests where attendees donate dollars to vote for their favorite movies. And what’s a movie night without popcorn and drinks? The concession stands alone can raise a lot of revenue for your organization.
Be sure to organize and promote your film festival properly. Many movie theaters will rent or even donate some of their space to your festival if you offer them sponsorship opportunities. Make sure your helpers and event staff are tech savvy enough to run the event and promote your event well in advance on social media, email, and via word-of-mouth to bring in an audience.
Luncheon or Dinner Party
Here are a couple of fundraising ideas that can be adapted for any occasion. From a fancy luncheon, cocktail hour, or potluck dinner, a luncheon or dinner party will always attract supporters interested in good food and company. You can hold this event at any number of venues based on the funds available in your budget, from a fancy restaurant, dining hall, volunteer’s home, or your office.
When creating a ticketing campaign for your luncheon or dinner party, make sure to offer several meal options, keeping in mind the dietary restrictions of some of your guests. PayBee software makes it easy for you to create online forms for guests to RSVP and supply relevant information, while our guest management system ensures every guest is properly seated and cared for by your helpers and staff at the event itself.
Cooking classes are both great ways to learn new skills and socialize with people in your local community. Partner with a local restaurant to see if their head chef will be willing to teach a class a popular menu item and sell tickets to the event. Make sure to factor in the cost of all the ingredients into the fee you charge to ensure your event makes money.
If you like, you can combine your cooking class with a dinner party where students can eat their creations and continue socializing with classmates.
Live Auction Fundraising
Just as silent auctions attract a lot of attention at your fundraiser, live auctions are perfect for a traditional in-person fundraiser. These auctions require an auctioneer to get guests hyped about the auction items, so be sure to hire an experienced professional from our network. You should also take advantage of the physical bidding paddles that can easily be printed with the PayBee system. Experience has shown us that holding paddles stimulates bidding while the unique QR codes we print on our paddles makes checking in and checking out much faster and easier.
As with any auction, procuring the right auction items is crucial to generating interest. We’ve created several lists of traditionally popular auction items — some of which you can acquire for free or very low cost. Keep in mind that you can get really creative with a live auction too — offering fun dates with your eligible bachelors and bachelorettes is a popular option with many charities.
Casino Night Fundraising
Casino nights offer multiple opportunities to raise donations for your organization. This event can offer all the usual games — poker, roulette, blackjack, craps — and supply a certain number of casino chips with admission fee tickets. Guests can even buy back in by making additional donations for more chips. And considering that everyone will be in a gambling mood, why not add a raffle drawing and auction to your list of fundraising activities?
Be sure to plan your casino night well in advance to make sure you secure all the necessary permits and have time to procure a nice event center and gambling equipment like roulette wheels, craps tables, and casino chips. And be sure to take plenty of photos of your guests having fun and get permission to use them in your future social media marketing campaigns!
Let’s be honest — if you have a lot of golf enthusiasts in your network, the potential for holding a golf tournament fundraiser at one point is pretty high. Not only are these fundraising activities popular, they offer multiple ways to raise donations for your programs.
Aside from the fee you charge for players, golf tournaments let you sell tickets to spectators. You can also hold raffles during these activities (be sure to include free golf lessons and lunch dates with popular players — people will definitely be in the mood to bid on those offerings). Take the time to place QR codes in your event center and event materials that will let guests donate online too.
To draw in even more guests, invite an established golf professional to share pro tips with participants and possibly participate in a round of golf. If your pro is particularly generous, you might even be able to auction off some personal lessons with him or her as well as a lunch date.
Here’s a fundraising activity idea for the folks in your local community who love to exercise. Partnering with a roller skating rink to let people compete and see who can make the most revolutions is a great way to raise funds while letting everyone have a good time.
Money making opportunities abound at this event. While you can easily raise funds by charging an entry cost, you can also raise funds by having the skaters get pledges from their social networks for how many laps they complete. Offer a prize for the most active skater and be sure to have a concession stand with plenty of drinks ready to keep everyone hydrated and active.
Remember when you were young and wanted nothing more than a pony for your birthday? Equine entertainment companies and mobile animal farms picked up on this wish and are now supplying parties with pony rides and full petting zoos complete with lambs, calves, and ducklings.
You can partner with these companies and attract more families and people to your charity fundraising events by letting everyone fulfill their dream of riding a pony or playing with cute animals. There are plenty of opportunities here for great social media photos and videos. Just make sure you choose an event venue that can accommodate all the animals, your staff, and all your guests.
Craft tables and art activities are always popular at fundraisers — so why not go all out and set up a mural painting activity? You could secure a large canvas and let groups of people go wild on it with paintbrushes, markers, and other art supplies, producing an abstract masterpiece everyone will enjoy making.
Alternatively, you could hire teams of artists to register on a crowdfunding website, promote the event to their followers, and get audiences to come to your event to watch them work and create a great work of art right in front of the crowd. Another idea is to use the mural itself to help promote your group, especially if you work with business owners and city officials to paint it somewhere prominent, like a parking lot wall or city building. Get news coverage of the event and be sure to offer additional activities for your guests, like concession stands, painting classes, carnival games etc.
Hula Hoop Contest
Physical fundraising trials are always fun to partake in or witness, and a hula hoop fundraising competition is no exception. See you have any hula hoop enthusiasts in your group and ask them to collect pledges from their social networks based on the number of consecutive revolutions they can complete or the time it takes for their hula hoops to drop to the ground.
Have some prizes ready for the winners and be sure to livestream the event on social media — offbeat contests like these are the ones that get your charity noticed by more supporters.
Night at the Museum
Charity night at the museum can take many forms. You might take a tip from the classic “Night at the Museum” movie franchise and make this a kid-friendly event, complete with games, dance parties, and costumed entertainers who can take the kids on a late-night tour of the museum’s exhibits.
An alternate idea is to go with a more elegant approach and create a black-tie gala for your adult supporters. Each idea opens the door to more fundraising opportunities (parents can pay for their kids to have a sleepover at the museum while adults might be interested in talks from professors and experts associated with the museum). And considering the size of your venue, you can place plenty of donation boxes and QR codes for people to donate online.
Be advised that a night at the museum does have certain security, entertainment, and logistical costs. Your helpers can only handle so many tasks, so make sure the funds in your budget can handle this type of event.
Parades can be held at any time of the year and offer a great chance to promote your group and its mission. And if you can get your float into a popular existing parade, you could also raise money by auctioning off a spot for a local community member to ride the float and wave in the parade.
A different idea is to go smaller and create a more intimate but fun parade. Holidays open the door to many good fundraising ideas — for instance, you could host a Halloween costume contest and parade. Or if you have a lot of animal lovers in your local community, you could set up a “pet parade” where owners get to show off their cute dogs and cats to the public. Opportunities abound here for great photos and videos that you can post on your website and social media channels.
Fundraising Ideas for a Hybrid Fundraiser
Why choose between an in-person or online fundraiser? These days, guests can participate both ways via hybrid fundraisers or galas. Through live streaming and live chats, online guests can participate and interact with in-person attendees in real time. And because you won’t need the same space requirements for a hybrid gathering, you can save on event venue overhead costs.
That said, some fundraising ideas do play well at hybrid galas, such as the following:
Hybrid concerts are admittedly difficult to set up given their highly technical aspects — however, if you do decide to use one to fundraise, you’ll find a lot of opportunities for raising donations.
These concerts are held at live venues for an in-person audience. Simultaneously, they are live streamed for online guests who can experience the concert from their laptops and mobile devices. This allows you to reach a much larger audience and provide unique experiences for both. One idea is to give your online audience a virtual backstage tour and meet-and-greets with the band while your physical audience sees the show in-person. Concessions and souvenirs (which can also be offered online) provide additional opportunities to raise revenue.
To manage this event, you’ll want two fundraising teams — one for the in-person concert and one for the online experience. Be sure to follow all safety protocols for your in-person audience and make sure your AV team provides excellent picture and sound for your online guests.
Hybrid Costume Parties
Costume parties are always a big draw for charities, and with the right set-up, you can expand your audience to include people in other cities or states, as well as donors and supporters who can’t attend physically for health reasons. Build your party around a central theme like superheroes or the disco era and offer a costume party that rewards everyone’s costume-making skills. With a system like PayBee that makes live streaming easy, people can show off their creative outfits from their homes and participate in shared live chats and games.
The nice thing about this fundraising idea is that it lends itself very well to online promotion. Both in-person and virtual guests can post photos of their costumes on social media, promoting your group. You might even enable multiple groups of guests to hold mini-parties at event venues that connect with each other via online technology. This could be a great fundraiser to host during New Year’s Eve.
Conferences attract the professionals in your support network, who are eager to connect with similarly-minded people, exchange ideas, and learn new skills. You can attract a good in-person crowd by holding your conference at a scenic location with good sightseeing opportunities, like a city with historic architecture or an event venue in walking distance to a popular amusement park.
To expand your audience, include a low-cost or free virtual experience for online guests. These virtual audiences can participate in your conference’s courses or watch recorded versions later. (offer audio-only content for people who suffer from virtual fatigue). This is a nice way to share the benefits of your conference with guests who can’t make the trip to your in-person charity event — and provides incentive for others to attend physically next year once they see how much fun everyone is having.
Fundraising Ideas for a Church Fundraiser
PayBee has helped many church charities set up fundraisers at in-person, virtual, and hybrid galas. Over the years, we’ve found the following regularly generate interest.
It might be old school, but there’s a reason why car washes keep appearing at fundraisers. Everyone has a car that needs washing — and few people want to go through the trouble of doing it themselves and will gladly let you charge a small fee to do the job for them. Find an event venue that’s easily accessible and gets a lot of traffic. You’ll also want to make sure you have plenty of helpers who know how to work at car washes and supply them with all the (environmentally friendly) soap and washing products they’ll need.
Promote your car wash on social media so your existing donors and supporters know where to drive on the day of your fundraiser. The more professional and festive you make this event, the more successful it will be.
If your church group is known for its choir, then a concert is definitely a fundraising event you should host. These do well during Easter and the holidays, but you can also sell tickets to concerts year-round. Consider livestreaming your concert and/or selling digital recordings online to raise your fundraising potential. Churchgoers with family members in the performing group will definitely be interested.
If any members of your church enjoy painting or sculpting — or if you have connections with any local artists in your community — then an art auction could be just what your next fundraiser needs. See if the artists in your network would be willing to donate some of their work to your next silent or live auction. If you manage to procure enough pieces, you can build your entire auction around the donated work; alternatively, you can simply include the donated pieces among the rest of your auction items.
Make sure your auctioneer or item description includes information about the artist and any stories surrounding the piece. Knowing how the work was made, what inspired the art, or if the work was created through a collaboration between the artist and other notable community members could stimulate bidding.
Here’s a fundraising idea for Christian churches and religious organizations. Lent — the six-week period leading up to Easter when many Christians choose to give up a certain item (such as candy, meat, or alcohol) to focus on their faith — also promotes acts of generosity.
Thus, your Lent challenge may invite churchgoers to donate the money they would have normally spent on candy, meat, soda etc. to your organization. This is a nice way to combine the acts of generosity and faith normally shown during this time.
Battle of the Bands
These fundraisers are different from choir concerts and combine the fun of a live concert and a competition into a single fun event. Rather than recruit a single popular band, you can invite multiple local music groups to sign up and perform at your event venue. Audience members can then be treated to multiple music acts and vote on their favorite at the end. Your group gets to make money and the bands get more exposure (and the possibility of a nice prize). Win-win!
There are many ways to raise donations through a Battle of the Bands, including:
- Charge each band a fee to compete
- Selling tickets to the event
- Have attendees vote by donating funds online to your cause (and choosing the winning band based on which one brought in the most donations)
- Sell concessions and merchandise branded with your logo
- Get sponsorships from local businesses in exchange for advertising opportunities
- Sell VIP backstage passes and meet-and-greets with the bands
Choosing a Fundraising Idea for a School Fundraiser
If your group is designed to support your local school, college, or educational programs, then the following fundraising ideas will appeal to your support network. Don’t be afraid to spice things up with a few new creative twists.
Spelling bees can be exciting, nail-biting events for spectators (did you know they made an entire musical about one?). Take advantage of this by hosting a spelling bee at your school to let your top spellers showcase their skills in front of an audience.
To raise donations, you can create a traditional ticketing campaign. However, you can also get your supporters to make their own peer to peer fundraising websites and bring in donations from multiple social circles. The more hype you can build for this event, the more successful this charity fundraiser will be, so be sure to promote your spelling bee on your school website, social media sites, and email newsletter as well as a community organization like a gym, church, restaurant, or library.
Murder Mystery Party Ideas
Some charities hire professional murder mystery companies to provide entertainment at their fundraising events, but if your school drama club is willing and able, why not get the kids to provide the adults with some interactive entertainment this year? You can come up with a fun story of your own that lets guests solve a staged murder at your dinner party. Attendees can also come dressed in costume, allowing you to add “costume contest” to your list of activities.
Murder mystery fundraising event ideas can take many forms. Some of the more popular games your volunteers can set up include:
- Dinner Theater: Combine a charity dinner with a murder mystery play audiences can try to solve before the final act
- Interviewing Suspects: Here, every member of the audience gets to play detective and interview murder suspects who each get their own backstories (full of clues, motives, and red herrings) to learn which of the actors is the killer in the game
- Turn-Based Games: In these games, audiences learn the murder mystery plot in sections as the players reveal key information and clues at scheduled intervals. Only at the end do your guests have all the information needed to solve the crime.
Talent Show Ideas
An oldie but a goodie, talent shows are fun charity events that allow people in your local community to showcase their skills in front of an audience. And today, with live streaming and recording technology, you can expand the audience to your school talent show by making it a hybrid event that friends and family members in different states or countries can buy tickets to.
Here are some recommended talent show ideas to add variety to your fundraiser:
- Talent show contest: You can give kids extra incentive to be involved by making your show a fundraising competition complete with judges and prizes. This does add some additional complexity to your fundraiser, however, so be sure to budget enough time to plan adequately.
- Teacher talent: Although kids typically take center stage in a talent show, allowing teachers to showcase their unusual gifts can provide an extra draw to your event.
- Offbeat categories: Singers, dancers, and skit performers all rule at talent shows — but how about encouraging other talented kids in your community to perform as well? Including categories such as “slam poetry,” “speed painting,” “impressions,” and “storytelling” could inspire kids with unusual abilities to make sure talent show particularly unique.
Encouraging kids to read is an important mission for many charities, and a read-a-thon not only furthers this goal but also raises funds to support your programs. To turn this into a fundraising activity idea, have students from all grade levels collect pledges from people who agree to donate money based on the number of books a student, class, and/or school reads during the event.
Your charity can further incentivize students by offering prizes for readers who meet or exceed certain reading goals. Classes may even choose to compete against each other, further encouraging kids to read at your school.
Business Fair Ideas
While most of the school fundraiser ideas on this list can be held across all grade levels, a business fair is better suited for a high school and college. Such a fair gives your group opportunities to form or strengthen relationships with local businesses or a community organization interested in offering internships or jobs to students looking for work. The event can be held in-person, virtually, or in a hybrid setting, increasing student awareness of the employment opportunities currently available.
To make these business fairs more informative, consider taking advantage of Augmented Reality (AR) technology that allows students to learn more about a company by aiming their mobile devices at QR codes placed on job booths, linking them to clickable videos, websites, and web forms providing more information. PayBee’s software makes building and using QR codes easier.
Business fairs offer several opportunities for fundraising activities, including raffles and paid seminars with experts who can expand your students’ knowledge of business and work opportunities. As more students near graduation and need to start looking for work, the need and interest in a well-planned business fair will continue to rise.
Used Textbook Sale
Building a fundraising activity idea around a used college textbook sale is a great idea that will benefit not only your group but also the students at your school. Textbooks are expensive to purchase and having students donate their old and gently used textbooks for you to sell at your fundraising gala will give many other young people a much-needed financial break.
Keep the cost of your books reasonable, keeping in mind the funds students have in their budgets. Selling high quantities of books will be the way you make money at this fundraising sale. If you like, you can also request donations of novels, cookbooks, popular nonfiction, and other book genres and offer them up for sale too.
Can’t sell all of your books? No worries! An online cost comparison website like Bookscouter can connect you with many online book buyers who will pay a set rate for your books. Many of these buyback companies will also pay for shipping, letting you keep more money from your fundraising sale.
Brand Designing Ideas
Good fundraising ideas not only raise money for your organization but also build brand awareness of your mission. Why not highlight both goals by holding a brand design fundraising competition that lets the art students and creative minds in your school to design new logos and branding for your group? These can be anything from new T-shirt designs, logos on signs, door decorations, or even a brand-new mascot.
Final designs can be posted online, allowing viewers to vote on their favorite work with small donations. Winning designs can be used on new merchandise at future galas, spreading more awareness of your group.
Do any of your volunteers have tutoring experience? Perhaps you have some staff members who are gifted mathematicians or know how to outline essays and craft excellent thesis statements.
In that case, you can offer a tutoring service through your group, charging students an hourly fee that will go toward supporting your programs. Make sure to work out the logistics (tutors may need to volunteer their time on a weekly basis and need to be sure they can commit). You could also offer tutoring services on select subjects and for a predetermined time period as an auction item.
Fundraising Ideas for Children
Children’s activities can be translated into excellent fundraising ideas, enabling kids in your local community to support your programs while also having a fun time. Consider hosting the following activities to show kids the fun of community service while raising donations.
These are excellent activities to set up in tandem with your school fundraisers. Dance-A-Thons are a form of peer to peer fundraisers where participating dancers agree to dance for a certain number of hours in exchange for donations or pledges. Children can burn off some excess energy at a dance party while raising money for schools and charities.
To keep the event fun and safe, you can split the dance-a-thon into sessions. You can also livestream the event, enabling you to reach out to more donors and/or create multiple dance-a-thon sessions in various locations that connect with each other virtually.
Craft Challenge Ideas
From pottery to door decorations to hand-made jewelry, the number of craft-making projects is truly limitless. If the kids in your community are into crafting, you can sell tickets to online or in-person crafting classes and raise money for your group. Make sure to include enough funds your budget so you can purchase enough crafting materials for all your participants — or partner with an arts store to donate the supplies in exchange for advertising opportunities. And don’t forget to take photos and videos of your event and the work created for your future social media marketing campaigns!
Dog owners will appreciate letting kids take over the task of walking their dogs for a day, and kids can raise money for your group by getting people to pledge money for the time they spend walking and playing with their pets. Be sure to take plenty of photos and videos of the kids with cute dogs — they make a nice visual aid to share at your end-of-year charity dinners to show the impact your group is making on your community.
Cheap Fundraising Ideas
If some of the more ambitious ideas on this list provide you with a cost difficulty, take heart. There are plenty of low-cost fundraising ideas that attract large audiences and make a lot of money. The success of a fundraising idea lies in how well it engages people, so these cheap fundraising ideas take into account cost, popularity, and ease of setup to give you a good return on your investment.
Who knew a pair of clippers and a can of shaving gel could help raise your charity money? Head shaving challenges allow some of your brave supporters to fundraise by reaching out to their social networks and asking for donations in exchange for shaving their heads (or their beards). This can be part of a peer to peer fundraiser that can also be promoted on your website and social media platform. Consider having your supporters post videos of their head-shaving adventures to make it an online challenge.
Here’s an offbeat idea that requires only a wheelbarrow and a good marketing campaign. Create a challenge among your support network and local community to fill a wheelbarrow with loose change. You can roll the wheelbarrow through your community or your fundraising event inviting people to participate.
If you take the time to “seed” the wheelbarrow properly with coins and bills from your team, people will want to participate — and as they see the wheelbarrow getting heavier and heavier, the change will come with more enthusiasm.
Let your supporters blow off some steam at an old-fashioned karaoke night. For a nominal fee, folks can attend your event and belt out their favorite songs in front of a live audience. The audience can then vote for their favorite performers through small donations of their own.
While karaoke nights can be extravagant activities, yours can be more low-key. Just secure a good portable karaoke machine, microphones, and a venue that can fit all your guests, and let everyone channel their inner rock star.
Lip Sync Challenge
Not everyone is confident in their singing voice, but practically everyone’s lip synced to a favorite song in the car or while listening to the radio. A lip sync fundraising challenge can be hosted in very much the same way as a karaoke fundraising night. Just invest in a good sound system, keep the microphone on mute, and let your participants channel their inner rock star.
Aside from selling tickets to this fundraising challenge, you can also offer a raffle, recruit sponsors, and post QR codes around your venue so people can donate online. Make sure to record this event and use video clips on your social media marketing campaigns.
Do you have a lot of “those people” in your support network who just love showing off their knowledge of obscure subjects and pop culture? Then they’ll love getting together for a trivia night where they can compete for prizes and let everyone see how smart they are. Charge an admission fee and get trivia questions online, from a Trivial Pursuit game, or come up with some good ones on your own. If this event generates a lot of interest in your social media groups, you might consider making it a hybrid event so more people can attend.
Coupon Book Sale
If you have a lot of connections with local businesses willing to sponsor your group’s activities, then a coupon book sale could be a mutually beneficial fundraiser. All you have to do for this is print some coupon booklets in bulk and work with your partners to come up with discounts or free offers of their merchandise and/or services. You can then sell the booklets at your galas to raise money while the coupons stimulate business in your local community.
Rubber Ducky Race
Here’s a silly but popular activity idea that can be done at a local river or stream as well as a pool. Purchase a bunch of toy ducks (or any other animal) and write numbers on the bottom of each one. Participants can buy tickets with the same numbers to connect each with a duck.
Now, just release the ducks into a river, stream, or pool, and see which one crosses a designated “finish line” area. The person with the matching ticket wins a prize and your organization collects the money for your programs.
By the way, you can set up a duck race online as well. This could mean livestreaming the physical event on social media and allowing people to purchase their tickets online (tasks easily done with the PayBee system), or holding a completely virtual duck race with a service like GAME.
Send participants on a merry journey to find and collect (or take photos) of all the items on your list. You can make these fundraising events as large or small as your resources allow — for instance some charities limit their scavenger hunts to the confines of a library or museum while others send their participants all around town. Either way, most people will be happy to pay admission for a fun day out with friends (and the possibility of winning a fun prize).
Be creative with your ideas for scavenger hunt items. Everyone’s familiar with scavenger hunts that get contestants to look for books in a library or mundane, everyday items like pens or glasses — but what about an item idea that requires a bit more searching, like a flower that hasn’t bloomed yet or a cloud in the shape of an animal? You can brainstorm plenty of fun ideas for this activity, so let your imagination go wild!
You can even make your scavenger hunt more civic-minded by offering bonus points to the teams or players who collect the most trash as they hunt, cleaning up the community as they raise money for your group.
Community Partner Fundraisers
Hosting a successful fundraiser for your group doesn’t mean you have to do it completely on your own. In fact, some of the most successful fundraising ideas are done through partnerships with local businesses, peer organizations, and even other charities. Forming partnerships offers you greater financial and physical resources — and helps improve relationships within your overall community.
If you want to discover fundraisers that let you partner with other peer organizations to raise money for your group, consider the following fundraising ideas:
Matching Gift Fundraisers
Did you know many corporations and businesses will match the donations of their employees, effectively doubling the revenue your fundraisers generate? These “matching gift” programs are offered by many companies, so it’s very likely several of your supporters can double their donations this way. Make sure to remind donors about matching gifts on your website and throughout the online donation process to encourage them to submit a request with their employer.
These fundraisers can be conducted in other ways. For instance, you could approach the companies your donors are working for and ask them to match their contributions up to a fixed amount. The company will benefit from social media and brand promotion, and you’ll receive more money (be sure to remind supporters their donations will be doubled in your marketing campaigns).
Another way to set up this fundraiser is to partner with corporations your helpers work for and ask them to donate a certain amount of money based on the number of volunteer hours their employees provide your group. This helps the company build a brand as a community supporter both in terms of volunteering and charitable contributions.
Grocery Store Partnership
Have you ever noticed the way grocery store checkout workers and credit card machines request donations from customers as they are ringing up their groceries? By partnering with your local grocery stores, you can create this type of fundraiser.
Alternatively, you could also ask your grocery store partners to donate a certain number of items based on how much customers donate. This can incentivize customers to donate more and the items can benefit the communities your charity’s programs serve.
Corporate volunteerism is an initiative done by many companies that encourages employees to volunteer their time and resources to nonprofits and charities. Depending on the company, employees may receive paid volunteer time off and other incentives for their contributions.
This is an excellent way to get more volunteer support for your initiatives as well as additional help with your fundraisers. By contacting companies with corporate volunteerism programs, you can form mutually beneficial partnerships that improve company morale while supporting your charity.
Club Fundraising Ideas
Is your club a nonprofit — or does it support and raise money for charitable initiatives? Then the following fundraising activities should be appealing for your members.
Interview an Author
This is a great activity idea for book clubs looking to support library programs, literacy initiatives, or other charitable activities. Contact the authors who wrote the books your club reads and request an interview or celebrity appearance. Supporters and interested community members can pay to see the author and ask questions. In this age of live streaming, you can even make this event completely virtual, making it easier for your author to appear and simpler for participants to attend (and donate).
You can also record your interviews, post the videos on YouTube, and create a regular podcast if you interview authors on a regular basis. Set up an Amazon affiliate program that will let you include links to the authors’ books on your online content. These links will earn you a commission, not only from the book sales but also any other purchases people who use your links make while they’re on Amazon. If you produce a popular podcast and regularly update your content, those affiliate links could generate a nice stream of steady revenue.
Weight Loss Challenge
You can pair this challenge with any number of fitness activities on this list. Participants will find sponsors that will pledge a certain amount of money for every pound they lose. You could also partner with local gyms and set up a referral fee program for all the people you send their way.
Take your time in planning out the logistics — how long will this challenge last? How will participants keep track of the weight they lose? When should you hold this challenge? (People do tend to have a lot of weight-loss resolutions after New Year’s and the holidays, so that’s something to consider).
Here’s an idea that’s being used to raise a lot of money for charitable organizations everywhere. By working with a company like funds2orgs, you’ll receive free packing equipment and marketing materials for your drive. Your support network can then reach out to friends, family, local churches, and other peer organizations, and ask for donations of gently worn or unused shoes. Try to connect with elementary schools — the kids there grow out of shoes quickly and may be able to donate several pairs.
Once you arrange for a drop-off location to accept shoe donations, your helpers will pack the shoes in the provided equipment and your partner organization will collect them, send them to underserved communities, and write your charity a check for your hard work.
Classic Car Show
Do people in your community love cars? Do you have anyone in your support network who enjoys restoring cars or — better yet — building replicas of famous vehicles like the Batmobile or the Delorean from “Back to the Future”? These creations can really draw in classic car enthusiasts, movie buffs, or anyone who enjoys seeing something out of the ordinary.
Start networking with the classic car owners in your area and arrange to have them all showcase their cars in a common area like a parking lot or a field (making sure to get the proper permission from the owners first). It’s amazing how a basic lot can suddenly attract so much attention when people can see a monster truck next to a vintage Lamborghini or James Bond-esque Aston Martin. Take advantage of this atmosphere by charging admission to view the vehicles and hosting side events like a raffle or auction.
This is an interesting variation on the usual yard sale or concession stand. Attendees bring new or gently used items to your event, but rather than sell them for cash, they swap them for other attendees’ possessions. People can even create a “barter” system (i.e. a pair of shoes and jeans for an unopened box of art supplies etc.).
There are many ways to make money at this event. For starters, you can charge people a small fee to attend your swap shop. You can also offer other donation opportunities (like raffles) during the event. Finally, you can collect a selection of donated books, clothes, games, electronics etc. and resell them online through Amazon or by using a cost comparison website like Bookscouter.
Water Lantern Event
Water lantern events are gorgeous nighttime activities that attract families, couples, and craft enthusiasts. Host your event at a community lake and buy several water lantern kits in bulk to supply to guests for the cost of admission (make sure to factor the cost of the kits into ticket prices). The kits usually consist of a wooden base, paper lantern, and a small electric light that can be inserted into the base.
On the evening of your event, guests can show up, collect their kits, and decorate their lanterns. As night falls, everyone places their lanterns in the lake and allows them to drift away in a beautiful display. Be sure to take plenty of photos and videos for your social media channels. You can also raise money by offering concession stands, raffles, and games.
If your charity is involved in community renovation or building houses, “buy-a-brick” fundraising is a good way to raise money. Promote one of your upcoming projects, such as a plan to renovate a local building or sidewalk, and offer a chance for community members to buy one of the bricks used in the project and have a message engraved on the side. It’s a nice way for people to support their local community while leaving their own unique stamp on a project.
For best results, connect this fundraiser to projects everyone will see — like public walkways or staircases as well as bridges and buildings people will walk by every day.
Tribute Giving Program
Offering contributions in memory of a popular figure associated with your charity is an excellent way to encourage people to donate to your programs and keep the work alive. That said, not all tribute giving programs need to be associated with deceased members. Asking for tributes for a recently retired board member or popular leader can be a great way to show them recognition and raise money for your group’s initiatives.
Seasonal Activity Fundraisers
Every season brings new holidays and new opportunities for seasonal-themed fundraisers. Start planning now to get ahead for the following fundraising ideas:
Bonfire parties are very popular in English towns and villages — and can attract plenty of attention in the U.S. as well. You could use the bonfire as an event centerpiece and offer plenty of other fundraising activities around it — from food stands to raffles — while also raising money by charging an entry cost. Need an even bigger draw? A firework show, live music, and games could make this a real party, especially around the fourth of July.
Autumn brings cooler weather and a greater willingness to participate in fun, outdoor activities. As October approaches, why not hold a haunted house for the community? Depending on the ages of your community members, you can make this a kid-friendly event for families, a fright-filled experience for older teenagers, or offer both for maximum revenue generation.
Your helpers can run the event and perform as scare actors — but you will want to recruit a team experienced in running haunted houses. Scaring people can be challenging work and you want to ensure your event is safe for both your guests and your performers (Pro tip: Keep everyone hydrated throughout the event — those costumes can get hot!).
Speaking of costumes, you could host a costume contest at your event, along with other Harvest Festival activities like carnival games and pumpkin carving. With enough time and resources, you could make this a major fundraising event for your local community.
The holidays offer plenty of ideas for a carnival, along with many fundraising opportunities. Offer fun attractions like photos with Santa, an ornaments craft table, ice skating, and festive concessions like cocoa and cookies. People will also happily donate for services like gift wrapping and you can sell plenty of fun items, from your charity swag to holiday calendars to even Christmas trees if you can manage it.
Easter Egg Hunt
Easter egg hunts are a popular children’s activity idea, but you could just as easily make this an event for the whole family or even a game for adults depending on your community. Get plenty of hollow plastic eggs that you can slip prizes into.
Candy and toys are always fun prize ideas, but if you really want to provide incentive, fill your eggs with slips that players can redeem for larger, more desirable prizes — like gift baskets, electronic items, gift certificates, or even cash. You could even go all out and offer an exclusive vacation getaway as the grand prize (just make sure to hide that egg really well). Advertise your prize list on social media well in advance of your Easter event, and charge a fair entry price.
Before (or after) the hunt, you could offer an Easter brunch and a few additional activities like a raffle, auction, or Easter egg painting activity. Easter activities appeal to a wide range of ages, so as long as you’re clear on your target audience’s wants and needs, you can host a winning fundraiser.
Water Balloon Fight
Here’s an activity idea that’s made for summer. Water-balloon fights are kid-friendly activities that can be enjoyed by the entire family. This is also an inexpensive activity idea, although you will need to mobilize enough helpers to purchase and fill at least a couple hundred balloons and store them in large containers.
Charge for each balloon ($1 or $2) while offering bulk discounts if you can attract large teams. Host the event at a local park or other community location with plenty of space. Select one of the warmer months in the year and promote your event on social media in advance!
Holiday Light Decorating Contest
Is your community full of creative folks who love designing creative and elaborate holiday light displays for the neighborhood? Then turn this holiday tradition into a fundraising competition that really lights up the night. You could charge a small fee in exchange for a chance to win a prize provided by your charity. Create multiple categories like “Funniest Light Display,” “Most Creative,” and “Most Elaborate” to invite even more entries. You could even livestream the light displays on your website and invite supporters to donate small amounts of money to vote on their favorite display.
Incidentally, when it comes time to take down the lights, you could offer a team of your helpers to complete the task for a donation. Holiday cleanup crews are popular auction items, so feel free to offer this service on your website (just make sure your crew is experienced and know how to take down lights efficiently and safely).
Fundraising with Food
Food and fundraising go hand-in-hand, and many of the activities on this list can raise plenty of money from the concession stands alone. If you want to really take advantage of the effect food can have on donors though, why not create a fundraising activity idea completely built around food and socializing? The following are some of our favorites:
Ice Cream Social
Hot summer days invite cool treats, and an ice cream social can really bring the community out to your fundraiser. Partner up with a local ice cream shop or ice cream producer and promote your event to take place on a convenient weekend when people can mingle, stimulate local business, and donate to your cause. Be sure to have a team of volunteers ready to hand out both ice cream and information on your group’s mission — and upcoming fundraisers.
Everyone’s got a family chili recipe they want to show off, so why not give them a chance by hosting a chili cook-off at your next fundraising event? This activity idea pairs well with some of the other fundraising ideas on this list like the tailgating party or seasonal carnival.
Invite guests to bring different varieties of chili — 5-alarm, mild, meatless etc. — in slow cookers and ready to serve. Have enough bowls and utensils on hand for those who purchase tickets to your event to sample all the offerings — and provide enough ballots so everyone can vote on their favorite dish. You’ll also want to provide plenty of drinks, side dishes, and toppings.
Each guest can sample a spoonful from each pot of chili, rate it, and decide on one to have for a meal. Make sure everyone can cleanse their palate (and stay hydrated) with a glass of water. At the end of the event, you can award prizes to multiple categories, from hottest to most creative to tastiest.
There are plenty of ways to make money from this event — aside from simply selling tickets, each contestant can pay an entry fee. You can also sell extra concessions and offer other fundraising activities like raffles during the event.
Ah, coffee! Preferred drink of late-night study sessions as well as early morning risers who need to stay chipper when the work day begins. These days, coffee comes in so many gourmet brands and styles that its fans are becoming true connoisseurs of this beverage.
You can take advantage of this by offering a coffee sale at key times in the year (like right before school finals or during cold winter months). This could mean either selling coffee beans or brewing nice cups of coffee yourself to sell at a concession stand.
Be creative with your choices. Try offering coffee from different countries and share stories about where the beans were grown. Or let guests show off their talent for identifying different brews by taking blind taste tests of high-quality coffee drinks. You could even turn this into the equivalent of a wine tasting event, but with coffee.
Here’s a fun variation on the traditional “pub crawl.” Create a “dessert treasure map” that leads participants in your activity to all the local restaurants and bakeries in your area that serve delectable treats and desserts. Partner with these businesses and arrange for them to donate a portion of all the sales they make from your guests during the dessert crawl toward your charity. This is a nice way to increase awareness of all the local eateries in your community, which could interest the foodies in your club.
Summer’s the perfect time to throw a barbeque party for your community and engage in some fundraising. You can frame this activity idea as a community picnic and/or potluck gathering. Include games and raffles and you’ve got the makings of a fun summer party that also lets you raise awareness of your group’s mission.
If your guests’ tastes lean more toward fine wines and cheeses, hosting a wine pull could be one of the smarter fundraising moves you’ve made. These events can be held at practically any event venue, including a home or restaurant. All you need is a table or wall (called a “wine wall”) displaying multiple wrapped bottles of wine. Each package could hold anything from your basic dinner wine to a very expensive bottle of champagne.
By purchasing tickets — usually in the amount of $25 — each guest can choose a wine bottle at random and take the wine home with them. This combines their love of wine with love for games of chance since there’s always the possibility that they’ll choose a bottle that’s more expensive (sometimes a lot more expensive) than their admission ticket.
If a wine pull isn’t to your guests’ liking, then a wine tasting offers a more traditional way for wine lovers to celebrate. Select a nice venue, make sure you have some classy glassware to serve the wine, and choose a theme for your evening. You might offer your guests wines produced in different states or countries, different brands of champagne, or a range of Chardonnays. Whatever you decide, make sure to purchase enough wine for your group, and factor in the cost into the cost of admission.
Cultural Cuisine Night
If the foodies in your network want to try something adventurous, host a cultural cuisine night. This allows the chefs in your group to offer different ethnic dishes from various countries. Attendees donate suggested amounts to try each dish. Offer small portions to let everyone sample each offering or offer a set number of free samples with every ticket and let guests purchase a full-size meal for a larger donation.
You can also turn this into a fundraising competition by allowing attendees to vote on their favorite dish(es) by making donations. And don’t forget to provide additional online donation opportunities (QR codes, text-to-give) as well as raffles and online games.
Cookie Dough Sale
Everyone loves cookie dough. If you can partner with a wholesale cookie dough provider, you can sell cookie dough at your events or have your staff and helpers sell directly to their friends and family. You could also use the cookie dough for a baking activity at your events, especially if your network consists of cooking enthusiasts who would love to bake some holiday cookies during the holiday season.
Group Activity Fundraisers
Charities are all about bringing people together to work toward a common goal — so why not reinforce this message in your fundraisers by making them group activities? Guests can see just how much they can accomplish together, which makes them more enthused about donating to a common cause.
Escape rooms are a big deal now with friends who love celebrating birthdays, graduations, and other special events by getting locked in a room together and solving puzzles to escape. Many professional escape room storefronts have opened in major cities. This opens up several fundraising ideas for building a gala centered around this activity.
One idea is to make an escape room just one of the activities in a larger fundraising gala like a dessert or restaurant crawl with multiple store sponsors. Another idea is to partner exclusively with one of an escape room storefront, promote them to your network, and have them donate a portion of the proceeds to your charity.
An additional idea is to hire a professional escape room team to come to your location and set up a one-night event. These groups can offer large group escapes or even escape mystery dinners and arrange for a percentage of the proceeds to go to your charity.
Heading out to the local bowling alley for some friendly fundraising competition is a popular nightly activity idea for some friends, and even folks who aren’t bowling enthusiasts can see the appeal of knocking down some pins. If you know you can get a lot of peer groups to participate in your bowl-a-thon, partner with a local bowling alley and request that they donate a percentage of the night’s proceeds to your group’s initiatives in exchange for the business and publicity you bring.
And make good on this promise. Promote your bowl-a-thon on social media, post flyers, and get your support network to hype up this event. Depending on the enthusiasm for this sport, you could really bring a big part of the community together.
Picking up trash might not seem like the most appealing team-building activity, but when you turn this task into a challenge to see which team can collect the most recyclables, suddenly doing your civic duty seems a lot more fun. Create competitions to see which group can collect the most cans from around town, bring back recyclable paper, glass bottles etc. Revenue can be collected from online donation opportunities and of course the recycled materials can be sold to help fund your programs.
Tree Planting Day
Keeping with our civic-minded theme, hosting an event to plant trees can be fun, profitable, and improve your team’s brand (especially if you’re an environmental organization). You can work with local plant nurseries and garden centers to buy and sell saplings to your attendees who can then plant the trees in a designated area. Make sure to take this opportunity to inform people about your charity and the positive impact of trees on the environment.
Earlier, we mentioned that supplying volunteers to help take down holiday decorations was a good fundraising idea. However, volunteers are capable of much more than that task, and a “rent-a-volunteer” service can be very profitable if you market it the right way.
To begin, take stock of your helpers’ skills. Are they good at yard work? Do they have experience cleaning pools? Walking dogs? Or cleaning up after big parties?
Once you get a good grasp of your helpers’ skill sets, you can begin offering their services to the local community for suggested donations. You can advertise this service on your website and/or offer a team of volunteers (for an established service) at one of your silent or live auctions. In this age of “Task Rabbit,” people are more willing than ever to request help from outside assistants, so a rent-a-volunteer program could really help support your programs!
People join charities and attend charity events to connect with people. Some may even be looking to make a deeper connection with a special someone — or simply be looking for people to socialize with outside of your organization.
You can help with this while also raising money for your group. Charge guests to attend a speed dating event where people pair up for five minutes to get to know each other or participate in a (quick) compatibility exercise. After each brief meeting, your attendees pair up with the next person in the group and continue until they interact with everyone. At the end of the event, interested people can exchange phone numbers or emails.
Pro tip: These events tend to attract more men than women, so you might host a more successful event by offering to let women participate for free.
Bachelor (or Bachelorette) Auction
If you have enough single volunteers available to accompany someone for a fun night, a bachelor (or bachelorette) auction can be a fun spin on your usual live or silent auction. People bid for a night out with the company of a man or woman. You can work with your sponsors to provide the activities — for instance, partnering restaurants might be able to supply a nice dinner while the local golf course might offer a free round for the winners. The “dates” don’t have to be romantic in nature either — any shared activity that your guests will enjoy can work.
If your group loves clothes and fashion, then hosting a fashion show could be one of your better group-building fundraising ideas. This activity can be themed around different fashions or fashion eras — for instance you might build yours around seasonal clothing or a certain fashion era like the 1920s or 1940s.
Make sure to consider the cost of your event — will you limit your fashions to thrift store buys and homemade creations or go with more expensive, high cost purchases? Different fashion show fundraising ideas also come with different cost levels. For instance you might make yours a completely live event or livestream it online in front of a larger virtual audience.
Remember to factor in the cost for a team of models, hair stylists, makeup artists, model coordinators, and a seasoned lighting and sound team. Some of these costs may be offset by volunteers, so make sure where your expenses really lie.
Make Money for Your Local Community with Charity Fundraising Events
Regardless of your current budget, modern fundraising technology now lets you host fundraising ideas into successful events that raise money for your programs while promoting your charity in the local community. Software like the PayBee system also automates many of the tasks required to build a fundraising website or ticketing campaign, saving your volunteers and event team time and money.