Fundraising Ideas for Nonprofits: Great Nonprofit Fundraising Ideas For Every Gala

Fundraising Ideas for Nonprofits: Great Nonprofit Fundraising Ideas For Every Gala

Looking for some fundraising ideas that will invigorate your local community and attract supporters ready to provide your nonprofit with plenty of donations? While the principles of fundraising have remained the same over the generations, the opportunities for different fundraising events keep increasing — especially in recent years with advances in fundraiser software and online platforms like PayBee’s.

With that in mind, we thought it would be fitting to provide an inclusive list of fundraising ideas with details for how you can incorporate them into your own fundraisers. We’ll also provide tips for how you can use PayBee’s online tools to make hosting and marketing your event much easier. Get ready to take some notes — this is going to be a deep dive into some of the most popular fundraiser galas we’ve seen nonprofits host with our software.

Nonprofit Challenge Ideas

The ice bucket challenge. A free-throw competition. Charity carnival games.

Whatever way you choose to host them, the fact remains that offering a unique challenge to your supporters is an excellent way to get people to contribute their time and money to your activities. There’s something about a fun competition that unites a community and makes them want to support your organization.

Here are just a few of the best fundraising ideas built around competitions that encourage peer participation.

Dance-a-thon Fundraising Idea

Here’s a fundraising event idea that’s a lot of fun to host in-person for a school organization (although you can also successfully host it as a virtual fundraiser). Spread the word about your dance-a-thon to community sponsors who will pledge a certain level of money depending on how long your dancers can keep up their salsa, breakdancing, or hip hop moves. You can also charge people a small admission fee to participate, which they’ll likely be willing to donate, especially if you offer a good prize for the last dancer standing.

This is one event that will take several volunteers to oversee all the dancers. If you choose to make this a virtual or hybrid fundraiser (and livestream your dancers’ progress), you’ll also want to have adequate technical support to keep things running smoothly.

Bedpan Water Race

Here’s a fun fundraiser that can be done at hospitals by your medical staff and other participants. Pick an open space and start by filling a supply of bedpans with water. People will pay a small admission fee and be grouped into separate teams. Each team receives a bedpan and team participants must race against each other while holding their bedpan. At the end of the race, the team with the most water still in the bedpan wins the prize.

How you choose to organize this race is up to you. You could do a variation of a “baton” race (with the bedpan taking the place of the baton) and have different team members pass the bedpan to each other on different legs of the race. Or you could create an obstacle course in your space that participants must navigate while holding the bedpans. Work with the resources you have and keep your fundraiser fun!

Fun Runs/Walks

Charity walks or runs are great fundraising ideas to host when the weather is nice and you can arrange for groups to race on an attractive trail. If this isn’t possible, you can make this a virtual fun run/walk by having people from different areas keep track of the miles they walk/run on a treadmill or outdoors and then upload the information onto your event website.

This opens the door to recruit people from different cities, states, or even countries, who can all donate a small fee to participate in your fundraiser. Offer prizes for supporters who complete the most miles or make this a pledge event where participating members collect money from sponsors based on how many miles they complete.

Lent Challenge

Here are some religious-based fundraising ideas that can be very popular with church fundraisers. During the six-week period of Lent, many Christians fast or choose to give up on a specific item (such as alcohol, meat, or chocolate) to focus on their faith. A Lent Challenge requests that these people donate the money they would have otherwise spent on these items to your nonprofit. Combining an act of generosity with a religious fundraiser can encourage many people to be quite generous when contributing to your nonprofit.

Karaoke Challenge Event

Simply getting up on stage and belting out the lyrics to your favorite song can be a major competition — but after the first few numbers, it just becomes a fun activity that large groups enjoy.

You can frame your karaoke night fundraiser into a competition by turning it into a marathon event (similar to a dance-a-thon) where sponsors offer donations based on how long your karaoke night lasts. Alternatively, you can turn it into a singing competition among friends where participants pay a small fee to participate and see how well their vocal skills stack up against each other. Audience members can vote on their favorite singers who can compete for a prize.

Social Media Challenge

Here’s where you can combine the appeal of competitions with the reach of social media to really expand your fundraising ideas. Create your own social media event that you can promote on Instagram, Facebook, or any other popular social media channel. The challenge can vary depending on the interests of your audience — beard growing and head shaving contests are just a few possibilities that have been done in the past to great effect.

Participants can pay a small fee to be part of this fundraiser and upload photographs and/or videos of their attempts. Alternatively, you might turn this into a competition where online supporters can make donations while voting for their favorites.

However you decide to host this fundraiser, make sure to promote your organization, provide links to your website, and supply an event hashtag when you do this. Social media posts can reach a lot of people, and this fundraising event idea can also be an effective marketing campaign for your nonprofit organization.

Read-A-Thon Fundraising Ideas

These are great fundraisers for schools and any literacy-supporting nonprofit. Read-a-thons get participating students/readers to recruit sponsors from their support network to raise money for your nonprofit. Donors agree to pledge certain amounts of money for every book (or even page of a book) that participating readers read during the event.

Need to provide more encouragement? Turn the read-a-thon into a competition and promise to give prizes to the class or students who read the most during the event. You can even let participating students post their progress on your website to create some friendly competition among readers. This is a great fundraising event idea that helps further a nonprofit’s mission to encourage literacy even as it raises money for its programs. 

Virtual Fundraising for Nonprofits

Online fundraising platforms have brought virtual fundraising to a whole new level. While traditional in-person fundraisers aren’t going anywhere, the fact remains that people have become very comfortable donating online. More and more people are contributing to nonprofits via text or through mobile apps. And more people are learning about worthy nonprofits to support through posts on social media channels.

With that in mind, here are some excellent virtual fundraising ideas that raise the revenue-generating potential of your fundraisers.

Peer to Peer Fundraising Campaigns

Probably one of the most effective forms of online fundraising, peer to peer fundraising campaigns give new ways for your volunteers to aid in raising money for your nonprofit. Essentially, a peer to peer fundraising campaign allows your supporters to create fundraising pages of their own and start sharing them with friends and family.

These fundraising pages inform community members of your organization and its mission and give new and existing supporters a way to donate to your organization. Even better, peer to peer campaigns can inform your supporters’ social networks about your upcoming fundraising events, giving you an additional way to market your fundraiser and spread the word.

Knowing how effective peer to peer fundraisers are at raising revenue for nonprofits, PayBee’s online fundraising platform makes it simple for any of your supporters to build a quick web page that informs people of your nonprofit’s mission and offers easy ways to donate. What’s more, our system ensures all the money raised through these additional peer to peer web pages goes directly into your nonprofit’s account, making collecting receipts much easier.  

Crowdfunding Campaigns

If peer to peer fundraising campaigns make use of your supporters’ social networks, then crowdfunding campaigns go a step further by reaching out to the general online audience and requesting donations. Not only does this offer a potentially massive donation pool, it also lets you attract new supporters who may not have heard about your organization yet.

Of course, to make these fundraising ideas effective, you’ll need to focus on your marketing efforts. Promote your crowdfunding campaign on all your social media channels and encourage your supporters to share links. In addition, when using PayBee’s system to build your crowdfunding page, include photos and videos of your nonprofit’s programs to show donors what they’re supporting. Include a fundraising thermometer that shares your fundraising goal and how close you are to reaching it. The more engaging you make this fundraising tactic, the easier it’ll be for people to get involved.

“Geek Philanthropy”

Anyone who thinks professional video game players (or “gamers”) aren’t contributing to society hasn’t heard of “geek philanthropists.” These folks take advantage of the massive online followings they’ve developed to raise awareness and contributions for nonprofits that come to them for help.

How does this work? Lots of ways. A gamer with a lot of online fans might agree to go on a “gaming marathon” by playing a popular game for 24 hours (or longer), and livestreaming their progress. Fans will pledge various amounts of money depending on how long they play (or how far into the game they get). Fans can contribute when they check in on the gamer’s progress, or contribute to their group in other ways (like purchasing raffle tickets or volunteering time).

Alternatively, some geek philanthropy events are full-blown video game tournaments where players pay fees that go to a nonprofit. The gamers then play against each other for a prize. Other activities include “speedrunner” events where gamers play as quickly as possible or try to break gaming world records. However you decide to structure your “geek philanthropy” events, you can attract a major audience given the interest in gaming.

Facebook Fundraiser

Facebook continues to help build powerful social networks, making it ideal for raising funds for your nonprofit. For instance, many people on Facebook request contributions for a favorite nonprofit during their birthday, helping to raise hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Not only is this a great virtual tactic for revenue generation, it also helps educate many people online about your mission.

Text-to-Give Campaigns

As stated, more and more people are donating to nonprofits via text. Not only is this fundraiser strategy more convenient for most people, it’s also very profitable for nonprofits, as the average donation size for a text-to-give fundraiser is $107.

Many online platforms make it easy to host a text-to-give campaign. With PayBee, you can easily text people a direct link to your fundraising page and encourage donors to access more information about what they’re supporting even as they give.

Tik Tok Fundraising Ideas

Posting silly TikTok videos of yourself dancing or demonstrating a funny talent might not seem like typical fundraising ideas. But the popularity of TikTok videos means you can generate a lot of online traffic to your videos. By adding a link to your fundraising page on each video, you can redirect a lot of this traffic to your website, creating additional opportunities for peer supporters to make contributions.

To encourage your volunteers and staff members to create and post these fundraising TikTok videos, create a challenge where those with the highest earning video, most likes, or best comments can win prizes.

Ideas for a Local Fundraiser

Virtual galas are ideal for their wide reach and the way they can get people in different cities, states, or even countries to provide donations for your nonprofit. However, there’s something about a local fundraiser aimed at the people in your community that remains particularly special.

After all, more and more people are hungry for face-to-face meetings and reconnecting with their peers during meaningful activities. Thus, these fundraising ideas focus on community building games and socialization opportunities.

Ice Cream Social

Who wouldn’t say “yes” to the prospect of free ice cream, especially on a hot summer day? An ice cream social is a great way to get people to come together, learn about your nonprofit, and make contributions of time and money to your programs.

These fundraising events also give your organization a chance to form partnerships with local ice cream shops or ice cream producers that you can promote on your website and fundraising materials. Arrange to have your social take place on a weekend where people can easily gather at your shop, socialize, and shop at other local businesses. Have your volunteers on hand to help serve the ice cream and educate people about your mission. This is a great way to attract new supporters and promote your other fundraising events!

Community Picnic

You can host community picnics in a variety of ways based on the resources and preferences of your guests. A potluck-style picnic will lower costs if you invite everyone to bring a favorite dish to your picnic. A summer barbeque is a great way to attract families, especially if you time it around a related event, like the Fourth of July.

However you decide to organize your community picnic, be sure to offer enjoyable fundraising activities like raffles and auctions to increase opportunities for raising money. Schedule enough volunteers to make the event run smoothly and to also inform prospective supporters and donors about your organization’s mission.

Mural Painting

Mural painting is a fun activity to include among other arts and craft activities — or you could organize your entire event around a major mural painting event. If it’s the former, you can simply secure a large canvas and let participants go wild on it using paintbrushes, markers, colored pencils, chalk, and other art supplies, creating an abstract masterpiece everyone can enjoy.

If it’s the latter, you can hire a professional local artist or team of mural painters to create a major piece of work in your local community — like on the side of your organization’s building. Link this event to a crowdfunding website where donors and supporters can contribute to your cause. Inform the local media, allowing them to tape your artists’ progress while mentioning your nonprofit on TV or in news articles. You can even offer additional fundraising activities around the mural, such as concession stands, carnival games, and arts & crafts activities.

Local Parade

Good parades tend to raise community spirit, and there are plenty of ways you can link a parade to a successful fundraiser. For instance, you can partner with the organizers of a major parade held during the holidays and offer a chance to ride on one of the floats in your live or silent auctions. These are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for many people, so plenty of participants will be willing to bid for some time on a float.

You can also choose to organize a parade of your own that will promote your nonprofit organization while giving local community members a chance to strut their stuff. For example, a pet parade allows pet owners in your organization to march with their dogs and cats in a fun outdoor event that invites plenty of cute social media photo opportunities. You can even host this event during Halloween and make it a costumed pet parade, complete with prizes for the best-dressed pet.

Fundraising Ideas for Sports Lovers

Sport events attract major crowds, and nonprofit fundraisers need lots of people to support their causes. So why not combine the two and give your supporters a chance to cheer on their favorite team or show off their athletic prowess while helping to raise money for your organization? Here are some of our favorite sports-themed nonprofit events.

Tailgate Party

Not all sports-themed fundraising ideas have to involve physical exertion. In fact, some of the best ones encourage people to just sit back and enjoy a fun time with other sports enthusiasts and their families. With this in mind, a good tailgating fundraiser can attract crowds eager to enjoy some good food and drinks before, after, or during a game. You can sell tickets to this event — or better yet, make it a free event while offering multiple fundraising activities, like raffles and auctions, to give participants a way to donate.

Golf Tournament

Golf tournaments are a natural fit for charity events, not only because they’re popular but also because they spark so many fundraising ideas that can raise revenue.

Charge a fee for players to participate in your tournament. Sell tickets to spectators. Hold raffles and auctions during these events where you offer free golf lessons and lunch dates with local golf celebrities. As long as you have a lot of people in your support network who love golf and market this event properly, you won’t have a shortage of interest.

Rollerblade Racing

If you have a lot of people in your network who love to exert themselves, a rollerblade race offers a fun time for raising money.

Basically, this event revolves (pun intended) around people competing to see who can complete the most laps around a roller skating rink. Skaters can secure pledges from people in their social network to raise funds for your nonprofit. You can also charge an entry fee, sell tickets to spectators, run concession stands, and offer a raffle. And be sure to provide some good prizes (not to mention plenty of hydrating drinks) to the hard-working skaters in your competition.

Boat Racing Fundraising Ideas

This fundraising idea is admittedly best suited for nonprofit organizations that live near a lake or the coastline. Even so, if you have a lot of water sport enthusiasts in your support network, hosting a boat race could be a great way to attract people to your fundraiser. Work with your city and local organizations to secure the necessary permits for this event and expand it to include additional fundraising activities like a picnic, raffle, or auction.

Sports-Themed Trivia Night

Trivia nights can be themed around basically any subject, but if you have a lot of folks in your support network who are just crazy about sports (and love sharing their knowledge about basketball, baseball, football, and hockey), a sports-themed trivia night would give them the time of their life.

You can host this event at a low-key location like a home — or go big by securing a spot at a popular sports bar. Charge admission fees and get your trivia questions online or from a Trivial Pursuit game (or come up with them by yourself if your sports knowledge is really extreme). Offer prizes and, if this fundraiser proves popular, you can make it a regular fundraising activity — changing the theme each time to attract more participants.

Bowling Night

Work with your local bowling alley to rent their venue for a night and allow teams from your peer support network to show off their bowling prowess. Each member can make recommended donations for each game and all proceeds can go toward your nonprofit. You can also partner with the alley to see if they’d like to donate a portion of their proceeds from that night to your nonprofit in exchange for promoting their business at your events.

Goal Shot Fundraiser

Here’s a great fundraising idea that can easily be scheduled into school or community games. During your soccer games, offer an opportunity for spectators to come onto the field and try to score a goal in exchange for a donation. Then, after the game, bring the participating audience members onto the field to take their shot in front of an audience. Make sure to award the winners with a prize and some recognition, like their photo on your social media feed.

This fundraising idea can also easily be adapted for a basketball game by offering a “free throw fundraiser.” It’s a great way to turn audience members from spectators to participants!

Nonprofit Fundraising Ideas for Animal Lovers

If your nonprofit works with animal shelters, hospitals, zoos, or any other organization that cares for pets and wildlife, animal-themed galas are a surefire way to gain support from your network. Many of these fundraising ideas are popular with the local community as well, making them a good way to recruit new volunteers and supporters.

Dog Wash Party

Give your volunteers a chance to take care of the dogs in your neighborhood while giving a break to local pet owners, and you’ll have a fundraiser that’ll raise plenty of money for your nonprofit. This opens the door to educate the local community about your mission, hopefully generating some more long-term support.

Host this fundraiser during warmer months like spring and early summer when pets (and their owners) are more comfortable outside. Recruiting a local pet shop or pet supply store to sponsor your fundraiser and even provide space for the dog wash. You’ll also want to procure plenty of safe, non-toxic dog shampoos and cleaning products — and be sure all your volunteers are skilled at managing dogs and giving them baths!

Dog Walk-a-Thons

Here’s an additional dog-themed fundraising idea that can be offered in tandem with your other pet events. (Incidentally, National Pet Week runs the first Sunday through Saturday in May giving you plenty of days to host your fundraising events).

For this event, you’ll want to partner with a local dog park where your volunteers can give participating dogs plenty of exercise by playing or walking them. Owners can donate money for the extra care — and you can take plenty of photos and videos for your social media feeds.

Pet Photo Contest

If you run an animal charity or nonprofit, it’s practically a given that most of your supporters are pet owners. So, why not give them a chance to start sharing photos of their best friends on social media — while promoting and raising money for your nonprofit?

Nonprofit fundraising ideas that work well here can be something as simple as running an Instagram photo contest where participants tag their uploaded photos with hashtags that spread the word about your nonprofit. You can then upload all the entries onto a central landing page and request small monetary donations from visitors in exchange for the opportunity to vote on their favorite images.

Keep in mind that this doesn’t have to be limited to a dog and cat photo contest. Bird, fish, and even reptile owners should have a chance to show off their pets. This also gives you a chance to add some additional photo categories like “handsomest fish” or “most exotic.”

Zoo Scavenger Hunt

Here’s a more exotic fundraising idea that’s perfect for nonprofits that support zoos — or honestly any NPO located near a zoo. You can make this a family-style fundraising event where parents can pay a small fee to receive a list of animal brain teasers that send families to different sections of the zoo in search of the animal being described. Families can have a fun time by taking photos of their finds and uploading them onto your website or social media pages.

Naturally you’ll be offering some prizes for the winners — and this is an excellent opportunity to get a sponsorship from the zoo if you don’t have one already.

Fundraising Ideas for Auctions

Schedule a free demo of PayBee’s fundraising platform, and you’ll see one of our main offerings is a user-friendly auction software that allows you to host both live and silent auctions.

Why is this software so highly promoted? Maybe because auctions have traditionally been a major source of income for charities and nonprofits — and have become even more important lately with advances in online fundraising now allowing nonprofit organizations to host virtual or hybrid auctions.

Of course, the key to hosting any successful auction is to keep your participants’ interests in mind — which is why the following list offers fundraising ideas for ways to theme your auctions around specific offerings.

Travel-Themed Auctions

Do you have a lot of travel enthusiasts on your guest list who can’t wait to hop on a plane and travel somewhere exotic? Then a travel-themed auction will fit their needs perfectly.

Choose your auction items with guest budgets in mind. If your supporters have deep pockets, you can go the full nine yards and offer major travel packages that will take them on a trip to Jamaica or several European countries, with plenty of fun excursions and luxurious hotel stays. Work with one of the many consignment companies in the PayBee partner ecosystem to get these travel packages, which can include everything from a multi-night hotel stay to a cruise.   

On the other hand, if your supporters’ budgets are a bit more limited, you can put together some attractive “staycation” packages by partnering with local hotels and attractions and asking them to donate gift certificates to their businesses. It’ll be more affordable and a great way to promote your local economy.

Other auction items can include travel-related accessories, such as luggage, travel clothes, cameras, guidebooks, and more. There’s something to accommodate every travel need, so be creative with your choices! 

Art Auctions

Art auctions appeal to a wide range of tastes and have the potential to garner a lot of bids. Museum nonprofit organizations, for instance, might be able to auction off well-known prints of famous works or even original pieces done by local artists. On the other hand, a school or church-based nonprofit might prefer auctioning off original student-produced work or paintings created by church members.

In all of these cases, the stories behind the artwork can often elicit emotional responses (and higher bids) from your participants, so be sure to work with a seasoned auctioneer who can share these stories effectively and keep your audience enthused.

Sports-Themed Auctions

The great thing about sports-themed auctions is that there’s simply no limit to the type of auction items you can offer in them. Sure, season Knicks tickets will bring in some serious bids (especially if you’re based in New York), but there are plenty of other sports-related items that will attract interest.

Offer autographed baseballs and other sports memorabilia by working with consignment companies or requesting donations from local collectors. Partner with a popular sports club or studio to get a weekend pass or gift certificates to their business. Offer a Cameo video from a well-known sports star who enjoys recording greetings for their fans. Once you know what your audience is most into, brainstorming auction item ideas is half the fun of hosting this type of auction.

Bonus tip: Offer this live or silent auction during a sports-related fundraising event like a golf tournament or tailgating party. The more your supporters have sports on the mind, the more enthusiastically they’ll bid on your items.  

Music Themed Auctions

Who wouldn’t love to attend a concert and see their favorite singer in person? Music themed auctions give you the chance to offer everything from concert tickets to signed memorabilia. You can theme your auction around whatever type of music your supporters are most into (rock ‘n roll, country, jazz etc.) and even build your entire fundraising event around this theme — complete with a live band and dance lessons.

Broadway Auctions

Broadway-style auctions are geared toward live theater enthusiasts. Your auction (and fundraising event) doesn’t necessarily have to be limited to high-priced Broadway shows — regional theater productions and Off-Broadway shows continue to attract a lot of fans.

You can even make your fundraising event a live theater event by offering donors dinner and a show in your invite. For instance, a school fundraiser could present a student-led production of a popular Broadway play, while other community organizations might prefer producing a more interactive murder-mystery style dinner. The better the experience, the more enthused participants will be at the idea of bidding on another theater experience.

Fundraising Tactics for Foodies

Food-based fundraising ideas can be incorporated into virtually any fundraising event — in fact most of the fundraising ideas on this list probably raise most of their money from concession stands alone. If you’re looking for a fundraiser that’s a bit fancier, though, consider hosting some of these events.

Bakery Crawl

“Pub crawls” are popular among bar fans who enjoy going from bar to bar to sample the different drinks offered at various watering holes. You can offer a variation of this with a “bakery crawl” that satisfies your participants’ sweet tooth.

Basically, this involves partnering with local bakeries (and possibly restaurants) in your area and arranging for them to donate a portion of the sales they make from your supporters during the crawl to your nonprofit. Some bakeries might even offer a discounted or free treat to visitors that will not only buy them a lot of goodwill but increase awareness of their shop in the local community.

Chili Cook-Off

You can combine this event with other fundraising ideas, such as the tailgating party or a local carnival. Participants will bring in their best chili dish in slow cookers, ready to serve. Be sure to provide enough bowls and utensils for your guests — along with ballots where people can vote on their favorite chili. Offer different categories, such as 5-alarm, mild, meatless etc., so different chili chefs have a chance to win. And don’t forget to include side dishes, toppings — and plenty of water!

Aside from the money you’ll make by selling tickets to your chili tasters, each chili chef can pay an entry fee. And of course you can sell extra concessions and offer additional fundraising activities like raffles and auctions during the cook-off.

Wine Pull

If you’re looking to host a more elegant affair for your next fundraiser (or if your donors just really like a good bottle of wine), you can invite guests to a wine pull that combines a love of games with a love of fine wine.

To host this fundraiser, first procure several bottles of wine, including a few high-end and/or popular vintages. Wrap each bottle up in plain paper wrapping or a bag and place them in a wine wall or on a table in front of your participants. For the price of a ticket — $25 is usually a fair price — your donors can choose one of the wrapped wine bottles at random and take the bottle home with them.

The thrill of possibly taking home an expensive bottle of champagne or a highly prized brand of cognac should attract plenty of attention. Keep in mind that you should choose a nice venue for this event, like a fancy restaurant, and promote your event on social media (making sure to let your participants know what types of wine they can win).  

Coffee Sale

If coffee is your guests’ drink of choice, then a coffee sale can really broaden their taste palates. While you can offer cups of coffee at any concession stand, a coffee sale lets you provide more adventurous coffee brands. For instance, you can serve up fresh roasted coffee from different countries or states. You can also bring on a professional barista who can create different hot or cold coffee drinks, with proceeds going to your nonprofit.

Another way to approach a coffee sale is to sell bags of exotic coffee beans to caffeine enthusiasts at a fundraising event. You could also offer coffee-themed gift baskets (complete with multiple brands of coffee and espresso machines) at one of your auctions. This is a particularly good fundraising idea to use during the holidays when the nights are cold and a hot drink is appreciated.

Cooking Class

Being a foodie means more than just being a patron of restaurants and fine dining establishments. Some food and drink enthusiasts fancy themselves good chefs too, which is why offering a cooking class ranks high among successful fundraising ideas.

Secure the services of a master chef from a popular restaurant and/or a skilled teacher from a culinary school who’s willing to show cooking enthusiasts how to make a popular dish. You can expand your options even further by making this a virtual fundraiser and finding a renowned celebrity chef to offer a live streamed lesson online to your class (this also lets you increase the number of participants since you can sell more tickets for virtual lessons).

However you decide to offer your cooking class, you’ll need to work out a few logistics in advance. Make sure all participants in your class have the ingredients and utensils they’ll need to create the meal. If you intend to offer the class in-person, secure a convenient spot, like a local cooking class. If you want to offer it virtually, have a tech staff available so the students can be assured of a good picture and sound while they’re experiencing the lesson at home. Factor in all expenses into the fee you’ll request for the class.

As an additional bonus, you can even offer a virtual or in-person dinner after the lesson where students can eat their culinary creations and socialize with fellow chefs!

Wine Tastings

Wine tastings are fun events to host for your supporters, especially if they’re fans of fancy galas and activities. You can even combine this with your wine pull, enabling participants to really broaden their palates by sampling and playing for different varieties of wine.

To host a wine tasting, make sure to choose a nice venue, like a classy restaurant or outdoor reception area. While you don’t have to make this event overly fancy, adapting a fancy décor can help attract more people (and justify a higher attendance fee). Procure popular wine brands as well as rarer vintages your supporters don’t get to sample all the time. To raise more money, offer additional activities like auctions, dinners, or a concert in tandem with the event.

Charity Luncheon

Nonprofit/charity luncheons can be fancy or casual affairs. The main attraction of this fundraiser is to encourage community building among your supporters and allow participants to socialize. This is also an excellent time to educate newcomers about your nonprofit’s mission and/or recognize supporters who have contributed a lot of time to your nonprofit during the year.

Plan for this event as you would any (potentially) big gathering. Secure an appropriate space (restaurant, park, meeting hall). Procure catering services. Promote your event via email and social media, and build a detailed guest list.

PayBee can help with this. Our guest management software and online platform can help you create effective ticketing campaigns that inform you of any dietary restrictions from your donors. You’ll be able to work out how much food you’ll need to prepare and where each guest will be sitting. Our system even allows you to send automatic reminders to participants, create name tags, and share all pertinent information with your staff and volunteers. Even a simple luncheon can get complicated if everyone isn’t well informed, so be sure to take advantage of the online tools available to you. 

Pizza Party

Moving to a more informal (but popular) fundraising event, a pizza party is exactly the kind of fun day people expect to socialize at when volunteering or supporting a nonprofit. Such activities work well as prizes for other fundraising events (like the competitions listed above) or as added activities to large nonprofit campaigns like carnivals and movie nights.

To host this event, be sure to promote it in advance alongside your other fundraising activities. Take advantage of PayBee’s customizable ticketing campaigns to ask supporters and participants what type of pizza they’d like — taking into account any dietary restrictions. This will help you plan for how many pizzas you need to order (and what kind). Secure a good eating spot, recruit enough volunteers to pass out the pizza, and don’t forget the paper plates, napkins, and utensils! (Yeah, we know pizza is considered a finger food, but offering a fork and knife can help avoid messy accidents!).

Fundraising Ideas for Traditional Fundraisers

Sometimes the old ways are still the best. While PayBee’s modern online fundraising software allows you to give your attendees an experience they’ve never had before at a gala, some audiences respond best to traditional fundraising activities.

That said, you can still use event management tools and software to help all the fundraising ideas below run smoother or adapt them to a virtual or hybrid setting. Just make sure to fulfill the needs of your participants, these traditional fundraisers will continue to raise revenue for your nonprofit.

Poker Tournament

What could be better than indulging in some friendly gambling for a good cause? Charity poker tournaments have been used to great effect at conventions and galas. Create a “high roller” environment by offering each player a set amount of high-level chips for the same flat fee. Your supporters can come to the game dressed in their finest as they try their luck at Texas Hold ‘Em, 5-Card Draw, or 7-Card Stud. Add in a professional dealer to help manage the game, some nice trophies and prizes for the winners, and you’ll give your supporters a memorable night and your nonprofit a good windfall.

If you’d really like to go all in, host a casino night for your nonprofit, complete with roulette, blackjack, craps, and even some slot machines if you can procure some. Naturally, make sure to follow all regulations and permit requirements that apply to your state, city, and/or county.

Talent Show

School and church-based nonprofits continue to enjoy putting on talent shows where your staff, support team, and volunteers can show off their unusual skills. While singing and dancing continue to translate well to the stage, you can also make your talent show a bit different from usual performances by seeing if any of your people are comfortable demonstrating the following talents:

  • Stand-up comedy
  • Martial arts
  • Stage magic
  • Impersonations
  • Jump rope tricks

PayBee’s online platform also allows you to adapt a talent show to a virtual presentation by livestreaming your performance. You can also expand your donations by hosting a hybrid talent show for both an in-person audience and virtual guests. You can sell tickets to attend and your online donors can also click on your donation page to contribute more.

Bingo Night

With just a few printed cards and a good emcee, a bingo night can excite a crowd who will gladly pay a small fee to participate in your fundraiser. You can also offer different styles of bingo games where supporters need to fill all four corners of a card, mark all the squares, or create specific patterns (like an “X” in the middle of the card) to win. With a good volunteer staff to keep things orderly and some fun prizes, this could be a regular fundraising activity at your galas.


Getting a well-known singer or band to perform at your nonprofit fundraiser is a sure-fire way to attract a healthy crowd. But a successful concert fundraiser doesn’t have to ride or die on a big name. Local bands and niche celebrities can attract just as much attention, especially if you’re holding your fundraising gala in your local community.

Use PayBee’s platform to create a ticketing campaign for your concert and promote it online using our social sharing buttons. You can also expand your audience by hosting a virtual or hybrid concert event — just be sure to have a good tech support team to make sure your live streaming capabilities are good.

Car Wash

As long as people get around in cars in your community, they will need people to wash them. And hosting a local car wash can be an excellent way to bring community members together to help your fellow drivers.

Host your event in a large parking lot that’s easy to find and maneuver through. Offer directions to your event on social media and be sure to promote the car wash well in advance of the start date. Gather plenty of cleaning supplies, including eco-friendly soaps, window cleaners, and waxes, along with enough towels, sponges, brushes, buckets, and hoses to accommodate multiple vehicles.

Finally, make sure everyone volunteering for this fundraising activity knows how to properly wash cars. Choose a day with good weather where people can be comfortable working outside, and have fun! 

Gift Wrapping Drives

This fundraising idea is clearly meant for the Christmas season when shoppers are more than happy to donate to your nonprofit to help cross an important task off their list. Work with a local mall or shopping center to set up a gift wrap table where there’s a lot of foot traffic, so shoppers will see you right after they purchase their gifts. Offer suggested donations based on your needs as well as the cost of all your gift wrapping supplies. Oh yeah — and be sure all your volunteer gift wrappers are actually skilled at wrapping presents (there is an art to this!).

Team Fundraising Ideas

Raising money for a nonprofit is always easier (and frankly, more fun) when it’s done in a group. These team fundraising ideas are perfect for not only helping your volunteers and staff work together, but also bringing together community members.

Treasure Hunt

Families, couples, friends, and other groups can all have fun on a treasure hunt that can be adapted for a wide variety of events. If you’re hosting a charity luncheon during the spring, for instance, an Easter egg hunt could be a great way to promote your event. Scavenger hunts are also very popular, and if you happen to be holding your fundraiser in a venue like a gallery, a treasure hunt has the potential to get people exploring your space and seeing first hand what their donations are supporting.

Make sure your event venue has plenty of space for groups of people to walk around without getting in each other’s way — a shopping center could work well here. If you want to hide prizes for participants to find, it might be a good idea to hide coupons that can be redeemed for prizes later (case in point: storing chocolates or cash in plastic Easter eggs might not be the best move, especially if your hunt takes place on a hot day and some of the prizes go unclaimed. 

Escape Room

Escape rooms are good team-building exercises that help teach people to work together. These rooms have also become increasingly elaborate, and many businesses now offer multiple themed escape rooms in malls and shopping centers where teams can work to escape a sinking submarine, an exotic bazaar, an Old West prison etc.

This makes it more possible to partner with one of these escape rooms and reserve some of their activity spaces for your fundraiser, using the attraction as a way to sell tickets to your gala. Alternatively, you can make the escape room one of your sponsors and have them donate a portion of their proceeds to your nonprofit or charity on a certain day.

You might also hire or partner with a professional escape room team that can come to you and set up an escape room right in your event venue or office space. A lot of these groups already have protocols for working with nonprofits and charities so that a percentage of the proceeds to their event goes to your nonprofit organization.

Recycling Drive

Easily one of the more civic-minded fundraising ideas on this list, a recycling drive allows participants to both clean up the local community and raise money for your nonprofit.

To make this fundraiser more fun, start by turning it into a competition and get participants to recruit teams to see which one can collect the most recyclables. Depending on where you send your teams, you might create competitions based on which teams can collect the most cans, find the most glass bottles, bring back the most recyclable paper etc.

Revenue for this fundraiser can be collected from supporters who pledge to donate certain amounts of money based on how many recyclables their team collects. In addition, the money made from the recyclable materials can also go toward funding your nonprofit programs.

Water Balloon Fight

Here’s a team-building fundraising activity that’s made for hot summer days. While the basics are simple (charge participants for balloons to throw at opposing teams), there are some logistics that need to be considered for this to be successful. Your staff and volunteers will need to procure at least a couple hundred balloons, fill them with water, and store them in large containers prior to the event.

You’ll also want to secure a wide open space at a park or other community location and invite guests to your fundraiser in advance on social media. In many ways, this is a team-building exercise for both your staff and your donors, so plan accordingly and make sure everyone knows their duties.

Hosting a Fundraiser for Movie and TV Buffs

Who doesn’t like a good movie night? Aside from providing a nice escape from the hassles of everyday life, watching movies together is a great social activity that can spark plenty of lively discussion among your supporters and volunteers. Movie fundraising events also provide a chance to educate the public about your mission, increase community involvement, connect with high-profile people, or just have some fun. 

Film Screenings

Exclusive film screenings can be hosted at your local cinema or completely virtually using your online fundraising platform. What’s great about these events is they can serve to educate audience members about your nonprofit organization’s mission. This raises interest in your cause and stimulates donations.

One way to approach this is to screen a critically acclaimed documentary related to your cause. For instance, the Global Fund for Women has an excellent series of documentaries on feminist leaders who stand up for fundamental human rights. If your nonprofit promotes women in film, female entrepreneurship, or human rights, screenings these films could provide excellent educational opportunities.

To stimulate discussion, offer a chat room where facilitators can answer questions and open up a dialogue with audience members after the screening. You might even be able to invite some of the documentary filmmakers to your event to share behind-the-scenes stories and answer more questions about the issues the film explores.

Film Festival

Creating a nonprofit film festival is a great way to give the local filmmakers in your community a chance to start sharing their work with a wider audience. This is ideal for building your brand as a nonprofit that supports the arts and an excellent strategy for attracting new supporters/donors while increasing awareness of your mission.

Much like a film screening, you’ll want to secure a nice venue to showcase the film entries — some movie theaters rent spaces for screening indie films while a convention center or meeting hall will also provide adequate space for film screenings. Depending on how big you want to make your event, you can offer meet-and-greets with the film stars, panels with the filmmakers, and Q&A sessions following the movies.

To raise money, charge a fee for each film being entered into the festival. You can also display QR codes around your venue to encourage attendees to donate directly to your nonprofit. And of course, your concession stands will be a strong source of revenue. Just make sure to keep track of all your expenses, work out any legal details concerning the screenings and the venue, and promote your festival across social media well in advance.

Virtual Celebrity Encounter

Who wouldn’t want to meet a famous film star or ask questions to a renowned director/producer/screenwriter? Thanks to modern recording and live streaming technology, these sorts of celebrity encounters are very possible for local nonprofits. Services like Cameo have made celebrities realize they can easily connect with their fans online, while during the 2020 pandemic, filmmakers found livestreaming to be an effective way to converse with the public.

You can take advantage of this increasing awareness in modern telecommunications by contacting popular local or national celebrities and seeing if they’d be open to chatting with your supporters virtually. This can be done through a Cameo-style video that you can offer as a prize at one of your auctions or a live streamed chat with a large group of attendees during a big fundraising event.

Whatever way you decide to do this, be sure to promote your special guest on your social media marketing materials once you secure them. You can even sell exclusive tickets to celebrity encounters using PayBee’s ticketing campaign software (think of it as an ultimate backstage pass you can offer during virtual concerts or other online events). 

Costume Party

Plenty of people want to watch a movie or meet a film star, but practically everyone welcomes the opportunity to be their favorite fictional characters for a little while. That’s why costume parties are such a major draw for a fundraising event.

You can merge this party with any number of other fundraising activities, like a film festival or carnival. Promote a special theme (like 80s movies, classic monster films, or Westerns) that resonate with your donors. And naturally you can offer prizes for your supporters (depending on how you arrange your event, you might charge a fee for costume entries or just include the opportunity to enter in the general admission charge. Whatever you decide to do, be sure to take a lot of photos and videos! Fundraising events like these deserve to be recorded and shared on your website and social media to attract future participants to your events!

Fundraising Ideas for Cosplayers

Cosplay (or “costume play”) has become a very popular hobby and even lifestyle for many convention attendees. You may have heard of people dressing up as their favorite superhero, anime character, or movie hero at comic book, horror, or gamer conventions. Many of these outfits are custom-made and can garner a lot of attention from people who want to take selfies with Spider-Man or Zelda.

So, it should come as no surprise that several nonprofits and charities have taken advantage of this attention and come up with fundraising ideas that use cosplayers. Being able to advertise that famous comic book characters will appear at your event just attracts a lot more interest from families and fans. And then there are those cosplay fundraising events that take things a step further, like the ones below:

Maid Café

Maid cafés originated in Japan and are now very popular in Taiwan. These cosplay restaurants have waitresses and waiters dress in maid or butler costumes and serve customers as if they were the masters and mistresses of a private home.

In the U.S., some cosplay groups have created their own style of maid cafés to fundraise for nonprofits and charities. For instance, Animaru Maid Café is a group of activists, humanitarians and environmentalists who dress up in animal-themed maid and butler outfits to raise money for charity. Their “café” can be set up in any meeting room, negating the need for a physical restaurant.

People who attend these cafés get to play board games with the maids, watch live singing and dancing performances, and pay to have their photo taken with maids. Food doesn’t necessarily have to be served at a maid café — the appeal comes from the interaction between maids and guests.

Offering a maid café at your nonprofit gala provides you with a unique fundraising opportunity. This works particularly well if you have a lot of cosplay enthusiasts in your group who’ve been to or participated in other maid cafés. 

Costumed Character Meet-and-Greet

Having the cosplayers in your nonprofit dress up as superheroes or cartoon characters can really liven up an event — especially if your fundraiser is held at a children’s hospital, or library where the attraction can build up a lot of goodwill for your nonprofit.

You can also schedule your fundraisers around different holidays and offer meet-and-greets with Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. These visits can be a fun addition to other fundraising ideas like charity luncheons, holiday light decorating contests, or carnival fundraisers.

Murder Mystery Theater

Hosting a murder mystery dinner or party gives your cosplaying volunteers a chance to really flex their acting skills. You can come up with a fun story that allows attendees to piece together clues and question suspects before, after, and possibly even during a fundraising dinner. Or, if you’re not comfortable producing this affair entirely in-house, you can bring in a professional murder mystery company, many of whom are familiar with working with nonprofits and charities.

Regardless of how you choose to proceed, it’s always fun to have your cosplayers dress in period or formal attire to add to the ambiance. Guests can come dressed in costume too and you can sell tickets to let them participate in a costume contest.

Fundraising Ideas for Art Lovers

Whether your nonprofit is directly linked to something in the art community or many of your supporters are really into drawing and crafts, art activities help encourage plenty of fundraising ideas. Here are just a few winning activities for schools, charities, and community organizations.

Brand Design Contest

A brand design contest is one fundraising idea that can be attached to literally any nonprofit. After all, every organization needs a unique, eye-catching brand for its website, banners, and marketing materials — and what better way to develop one of these by turning your supporters into artist participants?

You can raise money by either charging each brand designer an entry fee or requesting donations from people who vote on their favorite brand design. The winning artist can be given a prize as well as credit for their design. Depending on the circumstances, you might consider holding a brand design contest every five or more years so other artists can help update your logos (and your nonprofit can raise additional funds).

Another option is to offer additional contests for other designs — like unique car decals. Like your brand design contest, you can raise money by getting people to vote on favorite designs with their donations. Then, once you have a winner, you can use this design to sell additional merchandise at your future galas.   

Eco-friendly art night

Here’s a cool fundraising idea that combines art with ecologically-minded activities. Basically, you’ll start by inviting supporters, donors, and families to your event and ask them to bring a bag of non-perishable, reusable items. These might include dried leaves, bottle caps, magazine pages etc. You’ll provide poster board, glue sticks, and other art supplies — and then everyone can create their own unique collages, paintings, or signs out of these materials.

These are fun, hands-on activities that allow everyone to show off their creative side. You might be surprised by how well some of these eco-friendly paintings turn out — and if any prove particularly popular, see if the artist would be willing to donate the piece to your next art auction where donors will be more likely to bid on it (especially if they know the local artist).

The nice thing about this fundraiser is that since your participants are supplying most of the art items, you can keep your costs low. Meanwhile, you can promote your nonprofit at the event, request online donations via QR codes, recruit new volunteers, and offer additional fundraising activities (like auctions) to raise more money.

Holiday Light Decorating Contest

Christmas brings out a person’s generous side — and their artistic talents, as countless unique and creative holiday light decorations have demonstrated. You can put on your own “Holiday Light Competition” by inviting supporters and community members to enter their holiday light displays in your nonprofit’s contest.

Charge a small fee to each participant — or request donations from folks who want to vote on their favorite display (you can create an online voting poll on your website). Participants can win prizes in multiple categories, such as “Funniest Display” or “Most Elaborate.” You can also livestream the displays on your website and share them on social media to spread some holiday cheer (don’t forget to include a link to your fundraising page so visitors can donate!).

One last tip: You can offer teams of volunteers to take down the lights for families at the end of the season. Holiday cleanup crews are excellent services to offer at your charity auction (or as an added service for contest entrants), so make sure to promote this additional perk during the contest. Just be sure your crew knows how to take the lights down safely!

Photography Contest

These days, everybody can be a photographer with their smartphone. It’s one of the reasons why many fundraising ideas involve people sharing funny videos or photos on Instagram and Facebook. These candid images are popular and fun to watch, so it’s no wonder they help generate a lot of donations for your nonprofit.

Still, why not offer a space for those photography enthusiasts who really take time to hone their skills? Create a fundraising photography contest where amateur photographers can share their best photos of landscapes, buildings, families, animals, or whatever art category you can think of. As always, you can raise money by charging entry fees and/or suggesting donations as people vote on their favorites.

You’ll likely want entries to be offered digitally so you can share the photos on your website (and social media), giving them the maximum exposure. That said, if a photographer produces a very popular physical print, why not see if they’ll donate it to a future art auction?

Water Lantern Event

This is a gorgeous fundraiser that works really well during cool nights. Find a community lake you can secure for the fundraiser and purchase simple water lantern kits (in bulk) for your participants. Each kit usually includes a wooden base, paper lantern, and electric light that can be inserted onto the base. Be sure to factor the cost of the kits into your admission fee price.

Advertise your event at least a month (or more) in advance to give families, couples, and craft enthusiasts plenty of time to buy tickets. You can start the festivities in late afternoon or early evening to give people plenty of time to arrive, collect their kits, and decorate their lanterns. This also gives you the opportunity to sell branded merchandise, offer concessions (food trucks are great), and hold other fundraising activities like raffles.

As evening falls, invite your guests to place their lanterns in the lake and allow them to drift in the water, creating a beautiful display. Have some music playing to add to the ambience and take plenty of photos and videos for your website and social media posts! 

Classic Car Show

Well-maintained classic cars are works of art in themselves — and when you get a lot of car collectors displaying their prized automobiles side by side, you have an art show plenty of people will pay to experience.

Start by exploring your own support network to see if you have many car enthusiasts — or better yet, car collectors — in your own group. See if any of them would be interested in attending a car show and/or displaying their own automobile in front of an audience. You should also ask any car buffs to reach out to their own social networks and see if any of their friends would like to participate.

Work with participants to get a great lineup of cars for your show — and make sure your attendees know what they’ll be seeing. Aside from vintage Lamborghinis and eye-catching Mustangs, you might want to see if any local car collectors have any iconic vehicles, like the “Back to the Future” DeLorean or a replica of the Batmobile.

Secure a parking lot or a field to host your event and advertise your car show on all your social media channels. Attendees can pay an admission fee and you can raise additional funds by hosting other fundraising events like auctions and raffles.

Hosting a Community Fundraiser

On some levels, all nonprofit fundraising events are community fundraisers. Even so, there are some events and activities that let your volunteers, supporters, and donors directly benefit the local community. This is great not only for your schools and public services but also for your nonprofit since it puts everyone in a giving state of mind.

Who wouldn’t want to donate a little more to your nonprofit — especially when they get to experience first-hand the good work you do? Here are some great suggestions to show how civic-minded your organization is.

Toy Drive

Toy drives are classic community fundraising ideas to hold during the holidays — but honestly, this fundraiser works great any time of the year. This is especially true if your nonprofit is connected to an organization that can deliver toys directly to children at hospitals, schools, or other family-based community organizations.

To host this fundraiser, be sure to promote your event well in advance to encourage donations and let supporters know what type of toys you’ll need. Create a toy wish list based on your community needs and share this on your website, newsletter, and social media posts. Be sure to include directions to your drop off locations for donors and fill your social media feed with photos and videos of children playing with the donations (if you make this an annual event, you can share images from previous fundraisers).

Naturally, you’ll want to make other donation opportunities available on your website to benefit from the increased online traffic. This way, even people who don’t have toys to donate can contribute to your fundraiser by donating money or time.

Food Drive

Like toy drives, food drives are popular fundraising ideas during the holidays when people enjoy making sure families and community members enjoy a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. That said, you can stand out from other nonprofits by holding food drives at regular intervals throughout the year, to ensure your nonprofit is supporting food-insecure people annually.

Again, you’ll want to promote this drive early on all your online channels (website, e-newsletter, social media etc.) and communicate where you’d like donations to be dropped off. Let your supporters know exactly what types of food you’ll need (canned foods and non-perishable items are usually the most popular types of food to be collected, but you could also arrange to have fresher meals distributed to the community if you can handle the logistics).

Shoe Drive

Here’s a fundraising idea that’s more unique than the others but extremely profitable. Shoe drive fundraisers enable community members to donate gently worn or unused shoes to underserved communities in different parts of the world. What’s more, this fundraiser is well-supported by companies like funds2orgs that can provide you with everything you need.

Here’s how it works: once you contact funds2orgs, they’ll provide marketing materials and free packing equipment for your nonprofit. You can then reach out to your supporters who can make donations of shoes they no longer need. This is a particularly good fundraising idea for schools and family organizations since their kids can grow out of shoes quickly, enabling supporters to donate several pairs.

Once the donations are collected, arrange for your volunteers to pack the shoes in the provided packing equipment and have your partner organization collect them. Not only will your partner ensure the shoes are sent to the right communities, they’ll write your nonprofit a check for your hard work, making this a win-win for everyone!  

Tribute Giving Fundraiser

Everyone appreciates honoring notable community members, and tribute giving fundraisers are great for acknowledging these people while also securing donations for your nonprofit. Often, this means requesting donations in memory of a recently deceased community leader, teacher, or notable volunteer. However, you don’t need to wait until someone dies to pay tribute to them.

For instance, you can build a tribute giving fundraiser around a recently retired educator or a notable figure in your nonprofit organization. You’ll gain their appreciation while also creating incentive for community members to donate to your cause.

Device Drive

Toys and food are staples in donation drives, but as more and more people use electronics in daily life, a device drive is becoming increasingly relevant. Think of how many classes now use online learning as part of their curriculum — and consider how many students still don’t have access to laptops, tablets, Internet service, and other online tools to keep up with their studies.

To help, you can ask community members to donate their gently used laptops and other electronic devices for school use. Participants in this drive don’t have to be limited to donating physical devices either — getting a business sponsor who can purchase reliable, high-speed WiFi service would be a huge boon to the community as well.


This is a fun fundraising idea for nonprofits that help build homes or renovate community buildings. Offer community members the chance to buy a brick meant for an upcoming project like a sidewalk or building renovation. Participants can have their bricks engraved with their names or a special message, creating their own unique stamp on a community project. If the bricks are used for something everyone gets to see — like a public bridge, staircase, or major building — that’ll just make their contribution more meaningful.

Community Bonfire

Want to bring the whole community together for a night of fun and festivities? Community bonfire parties have been attracting groups of people together in England for generations and can do the same in the U.S. Work with the local fire departments to keep the bonfire safe and use it as a centerpiece for a major fundraiser that can include concession stands, auctions, games, raffles, and other fun fundraising activities.

Fundraising Ideas for Networking

Check the reasons why people attend fundraising events and you’ll find “networking” among the top motivating factors. Entrepreneurs and company owners enjoy meeting other like-minded people — especially people with a civic-minded attitude toward business.

So, why not build your fundraising event around networking? No doubt your support network includes many professionals who would love to talk shop with other business men and women, or forge new connections with people in different industries. You can leverage this in your fundraisers, letting new participants see what a valuable resource your nonprofit can be for their company while attracting new donors for your programs. Win-win!

Business Fair

Business fairs are great fundraising ideas for schools and universities with students about to enter the job market. But they’re also excellent events to host for local businesses that want to promote their organizations to the community. Everyone (including your nonprofit) gets to build up their brand and you’ll generate a lot of goodwill among businesses who could be interested in sponsoring your later fundraisers.

Work closely with your partnering businesses while organizing this fundraiser to ensure everyone’s needs are met. You’ll need to acquire a large enough meeting space that can accommodate everyone (including all your attendees) and promote the event to a wide audience (make sure to take advantage of your partnering businesses’ social networks for this). Managing all your attendees can be challenging at an in-person fundraiser, but it does open a lot of opportunities to request donations and promote your mission.

Webinars and TED Talks

Your nonprofit supports an important cause — and one of the most popular and effective ways of spreading information about this cause is offering a TED Talk-style virtual event. You can have one of your speakers record or livestream a presentation related to your nonprofit organization’s mission, inspiring others to support your cause with time and donations.

This will require recruiting someone with good on-camera presence and experience holding an online audience’s attention. To help people network, host a live Q&A session at the end of your live event where participants can ask questions by typing in live chat or conversing during a group video call.

Fundraising ideas for this event include charging admission for the live event, offering recordings of the webinar/TED Talk as a prize in one of your online auctions, or simply providing links to your fundraising website (where supporters can make quick online donations).

Virtual Business Networking

Here’s a fundraising idea that really takes advantage of the wide reach virtual galas provide. Where regular business fairs might be limited to local businesses, a virtual business networking event can connect members of your local community with companies, business leaders, and representatives from multiple states and even countries.

By choosing an online fundraising platform like PayBee that can accommodate large virtual audiences, you can enjoy a massive online meeting space where people from around the world can chat easily online and form new connections. Keep in mind that the platform you choose should be intuitive for your participants, offer excellent audio and video features, and provide a tech support staff to help you navigate any technical issues during your event. 

Happy Hour Meetup

Looking for a more casual networking fundraiser? Happy hour meetups are probably one of the more low-key ways to connect with other professionals. Choose a relaxed environment and encourage participants to dress comfortably and casually.

Naturally good drinks and appetizers are key at these events, but you don’t actually have to hold your networking event at a bar. Cafes, casual restaurants, and even a volunteer’s home can provide good places to socialize — just keep the size of your guest list in mind when choosing a venue.

Fundraising ideas include charging a small fee to attend your meetup or offering fundraising activities as ice breakers during the event (like a wine pull or raffle).

Speed Networking

For groups that appreciate a more fast-paced atmosphere, speed networking can provide an environment of fast connections. This networking fundraiser can be done in an office setting or in any large room that can accommodate all your participants. Start by arranging multiple numbered tables and set out snacks and drinks for everyone.

From there, it’s a simple matter to split your participants into small groups where they can exchange tips and stories as well as contact information. After a few minutes, participants can just move on to different groups so they have an opportunity to connect with everyone.

Since the theme of this event is speed, make sure your fundraising opportunities are fast and convenient. Post QR codes that take supporters to your fundraising page, letting them make a quick donation. Sell raffle tickets as everyone’s getting situated and end the event with the drawing so some lucky participants get to walk away with prizes.

Excellent Fundraising Days for Nonprofits

“Timing is everything.” That’s true for a lot of things — including the day(s) you schedule your nonprofit fundraiser. People tend to be in a more giving mood at certain times in the year, something you should take full advantage of when raising funds for your organization.

Bear in mind that this doesn’t apply to only national events like Christmas but also days or weeks where your local community celebrates events that encourage generosity and goodwill. By pinpointing (or even creating) these moments, you can maximize the effectiveness of your fundraising ideas.

June Fundraiser Days

Did you know that Blackbaud reports June is the second largest giving month of the year following December? Maybe it’s because June contains so many significant days that can overlap with your nonprofit’s mission and put your supporters in a giving state of mind. These include:

  • June 1: World Reef Awareness Day
  • June 3: World Bicycle Day (great for outdoor galas!)
  • June 4: National Hug Your Cat Day
  • June 6: National Cancer Survivors Day
  • June 8: National Call Your Doctor Day
  • June 12: World Day Against Child Labor
  • June 14: World Blood Donor Day
  • June 15: World Elder Abuse Awareness Day
  • June 15: National Photography Day
  • June 20: Father’s Day
  • June 20: World Refugee Day
  • June 27: National PTSD Awareness Day
  • June 27: National HIV Testing Day

With June being such a fundraiser-friendly month, it’s important to plan your fundraiser campaign early — we suggest May at the latest and preferably earlier.

October Fundraiser Days

In addition to being the month for Fall Festivals, Autumn Carnivals, and Halloween haunted houses, October has many fundraising days that could be ideal for a virtual or traditional fundraising event. See if the following dates or events match up with your nonprofit’s mission and plan for an October fundraiser:

  •  October 1: International Day of Older Persons
  • October 2: International Day of Non-Violence
  • October 6: World Smile Day
  • October 10: World Mental Health Day
  • October 11: National Coming Out Day
  • October 15: Latinx AIDS Awareness Day
  • October 17: International Day for the Eradication of Poverty
  • October 31: Halloween

The entire month of October is also LGBTQ+ History Month, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and National Anti-Bullying Month. Nonprofits with aligning missions can definitely use this to add an extra level of meaning to their October fundraising activities.

Giving Tuesday

Mark your calendars for the Tuesday after Thanksgiving in the United States when scheduling your fundraising event. That’s when Giving Tuesday (or #GivingTuesday) falls every year, encouraging people around the world to give generously to transform their local communities and the world.

Keep in mind that although Giving Tuesday is a very important fundraising day for nonprofits, it’s actually the start of the year-end fundraising season, so your fundraising plans should extend throughout the holidays, not just on this day.

Likewise, many other nonprofits and charities will be encouraging donations during Giving Tuesday, so it’s important that you plan your campaigns early. Secure a reliable fundraising platform like Paybee to optimize your donation page, reach out to supporters on social media, and automate your e-newsletter marketing campaign. Contact our tech support team to keep your fundraisers running smoothly, and be sure to review the campaign data our system organizes for you to make any necessary improvements next year.

In terms of what type of fundraising activities work well during Giving Tuesday, we’ve found that peer to peer fundraisers and crowdfunding campaigns take advantage of the overall rise in public generosity. This is also a good time to see if any of your partner organizations will offer a matching gift so that companies with a corporate philanthropy program will double their employees’ contributions to your nonprofit.

December Fundraiser Days

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that December is the month for the highest charitable donations. While people donate all month long to charities like the Salvation Army, studies have shown that December 30th and 31st  are the most popular days for donors to offer contributions. Donations aren’t completely monetary either, making December ideal for running charity drives that encourage donations of clothes, toys, and food.

While Christmas and Hanukkah top the list for most popular December holidays, there are several other fundraising dates in December that may line up with your nonprofit’s mission. Keep the following days in mind when planning your fundraiser:

  • December 1: World AIDS Day
  • December 2: International Day for the Abolition of Slavery
  • December 3: International Day of Persons with Disabilities
  • December 7-15: Hanukkah
  • December 10: Human Rights Day
  • December 18: International Migrants Day
  • December 25: Christmas
  • December 26-January 1: Kwanzaa

Giving Day Fundraiser

Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Giving Tuesday already spark a donating spirit in the general public. But there’s no reason you can’t create your own “giving day” for your local community by holding a popular fundraising event on the same day, inspiring people to give generously.

To do this, you’ll want to plan a fundraiser with a lot of mass appeal to the people in your community — like a charity concert or carnival meant for a large audience. Promote the event months in advance on your social media feeds, and get the entire community in on the event by securing sponsors and partnerships. The more businesses and people you can involve, the more resources you can procure for your marketing and the event itself.

Be very clear in your promotions that this event is meant to generate support for nonprofit programs. Offer plenty of opportunities for participants and supporters to contribute in fun and convenient ways. This could be as simple as making a quick online donation to your fundraising page, volunteering time, or participating in an auction, raffle, or other fundraising activity at the event itself. The more you can get your local community invested in the event, the greater the chance that you can make this regular annual fundraiser.

How to Turn Your Fundraising Ideas Into Winners

When we put this list together, we made sure to choose a wide variety of fundraising ideas to fit an eclectic set of interests. However, all these suggestions do have one thing in common — they’re all easier to manage and host with PayBee’s online fundraising platform.

After helping countless nonprofits host hundreds of successful fundraisers, we know where fundraising galas need the most help. That’s why we’ve designed our platform to focus on key areas — like guest management, check-in/check-out processes, marketing campaigns, and event staff communication — to provide your nonprofit with the support it needs.

Plus, our platform is extremely user-friendly and intuitive even for attendees who aren’t accustomed to attending a virtual or hybrid fundraiser. This makes it easier to adapt events that you may have only hosted at in-person gatherings (like auctions or concerts) to an online setting that increases the number of donors you can invite.

But don’t take our word for it. Sign up for a free demo of our fundraising platform and see how easy it is to use. We’ll let you take part in a mock auction that will show you the kind of excitement your supporters are in for. You’ll also get to meet our experienced staff and ask them any technical questions about our software, and how it can be used for your fundraising ideas. The possibilities for improving your next gala are immense, so be sure to sign up for a free demo now!

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Online Fundraising
Charity Fundraising
Nonprofit Fundraising
Michael Jung


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