This past year forced organizations to think outside the box when it came to fundraising events and ideas. Organizations are always looking for creative event ideas, but now in both the physical and virtual spaces. Nonprofits, schools, churches, and every organization in between must think of new ideas each year to keep supporters backing their causes.
All fundraising planners encounter the big decision of what type of event to host. After all, attendance and engagement can easily decrease over time if you only offer the same events year after year. As times change, planners should consider pursuing new opportunities as they emerge. Your organization will benefit from having a wealth of ideas tucked away for any type of fundraiser.
Here at Snowball, we’ve explored effective fundraising ideas and how to successfully leverage your online presence. As an organization, you can never know too much about the best fundraising practices!
Keeping a variety of fresh fundraising ideas in mind will help to engage your supporters continually. Mixing up the types of events you’re hosting keeps your supporters engaged and excited to support your mission. Take a look at these event categories to implement the best ideas for your organization’s next event:
- What You’ll Need
- Fundraising Events for Nonprofits
- Fundraising Events for Schools
- Fundraising Events for Clubs
- Fundraising Events for Churches
- Fundraiser Events for Individuals
- Holiday-Themed Fundraising Events
- Quick and Easy Fundraising Events
- Low-Cost Fundraising Events
Among all these winning ideas for nonprofit and community fundraising events, you’re sure to find the perfect match for your own unique goals and audience. If you’re ready to boost your revenue, let’s dive in!
Before you begin planning your fundraising event, make sure you’ve got the right tools and strategies for the job. Having the right technology is crucial whether you are fundraising in the digital or physical space. This will expedite your planning process and help you host the best event possible.
Snowball aims to provide nonprofits with the tools they need to succeed. We understand the importance of developing strong relationships with supporters and keeping them engaged over the long-run, especially for smaller organizations. Choosing the right software for your organization is the essential foundation to lay for your fundraisers to be as successful as possible!
As part of your fundraising strategy, look into these essential components of your organization’s fundraising event toolkit:
- An online ticketing tool
- An online donation page
- A plan for tracking event data
- A plan for marketing your event
- A venue for in-person events
- A live streaming software for virtual events
- A team of support
When you invest in fundraising tech, your team can get back to doing what matters: raising money so that your organization can continue working toward its mission.
There are a number of vital parts that must come together to create an effective fundraising strategy. Now that you’ve considered your fundraising technology, consider the type of fundraiser you’d like to host. Especially in the COVID era, virtual events that leverage text-to-give and any other fundraising ideas can be just as exciting and successful! For further reading on virtual fundraising best practices, this guide will help answer questions before settling on a specific event idea.
Nonprofits rely on the generous support of their donors. Because of this, they have to continuously keep supporters excited with engaging fundraising events. We’ll take a look at some effective fundraising events for nonprofits!
One of the most fun and community-oriented fundraisers is a walkathon. This is a great engagement strategy for your supporters who want to be active in their philanthropy, literally and figuratively. If you choose to go the walkathon route, your volunteer participants will raise pledged donations for every mile they complete.
This event can easily be hosted both virtually and in-person. Either way, your participants can be kept distanced to ensure the health of all. Virtually, your walkers can route their own course, and in-person, you’ll set up a route beforehand and have volunteers guide participants!
Similar to the walkathon, this event brings the community together in an interactive, healthy way. However, for a regular road race, runners will pay an entry fee and see how fast they can complete the course.
Road races can also be hosted virtually or in-person. There are many creative ways to customize this event, too. For example, you can include a challenge course or activity booths after the run.
3. Silent Auction
Another classic fundraising event idea is the silent auction. A silent auction is a type of charity event where participants are given the chance to browse items that are up for auction. More specifically, guests bid “silently” by writing their offer on a bid sheet, rather than aloud to an auctioneer. This process can be done in-person or online using an online item catalog and bidding tools.
Your organization raises money when the individual with the highest bid “wins” their item and pays the agreed-upon amount. Charity auctions can generate a lot of revenue when planned carefully, but they’re also extremely flexible for all kinds of missions and audiences.
4. Live Auction
Another form of a charity auction is the live auction. This is more of an in-person opportunity as you’ll have to book a venue, line up an auctioneer, and plan other entertainment and engagement activities.
Be sure to have the right software for your auction, as it’s crucial that it runs as smoothly and efficiently as possible. Then, you’ll be able to enjoy your event while raising money to reach your organization’s fundraising goals!
A bake-off is a family-friendly fundraising event that’s sure to get the whole community involved! Encourage volunteers to make their best cakes and pastries and bring them to your event. Give them individual stations where they can offer attendees samples. To raise money, charge a small admission fee for guests.
Then, have a panel of judges pick the top baked goods or have attendees vote for their favorite ones. To invoke a competitive spirit, offer prizes or a trophy for the top competitors.
If you want to truly evolve your fundraising strategy, your nonprofit will need to host recurring events like galas. A gala is an annual dinner party that incorporates various fundraising tactics, like text-to-give or a charity auction. The main focus of the night should be thanking your key supporters, like your mid-tier and major donors.
When planning your event, pick an engaging theme and choose an appropriate time of year. For instance, most nonprofits host their galas during the holiday season because they can reflect on the past year’s achievements. Plus, donors are more likely to be filled with the generous holiday spirit. The next time you’re in the market for fresh fundraising events for nonprofits, consider festive and recurring ones like this.
7. Obstacle Course
An obstacle course is an engaging fundraising event idea for the whole family. You should design your course based on your audience’s abilities and skill levels. Consider including a rope climb, monkey bars, and even a mud pit. Get creative!
Then, promote your event and charge an admission fee. You can even add a theme and encourage runners to dress up. Remember to include water stations!
8. Pancake Breakfast
Who doesn’t love a good pancake breakfast? Either partner up with your community’s diner or have volunteers make the pancakes. Make sure to offer options for everyone: gluten-free, sugar-free, and vegan. Then, sell them to your hungry guests.
Don’t forget about beverages either! There are opportunities for selling supplemental meal items or toppings for your guest’s full enjoyment.
Another easy fundraising event idea for nonprofits is a cakewalk. Either partner with a local bakery or have your supporters bake cakes for you to give away. These are fairly popular and easy to run.
As the music plays, guests walk around a circle that’s made up of numbered cards. When the music stops, everyone moves to the nearest number. Then, a volunteer pulls a number from a hat, and whoever is standing on that numbered card wins that round’s cake!
You’ll raise money by charging a small fee to participate in each round. You can even include a cakewalk as part of a larger event, like a street fair.
10. Paint Run
Paint runs put a colorful twist on the classic 5K. The runs are popular on social media for their fantastic photo opportunities! Have participants sign up and fundraise with pledge software as they would for any other road race, and encourage them to wear white clothes. Then, during the race, have volunteers splatter them with non-toxic paint or powdered chalk. By the time they complete the 5K, they’ll be covered from head-to-toe.
Don’t let the fun stop there, though! If it’s in your event budget, be sure to host a closing ceremony with music, dancing, and health-conscious vendors.
11. Animal De-Stress Day
Animal de-stress days give your supporters an unforgettable, cuddly experience. While this fundraising event idea can be an effective way to generate involvement and contributions for any nonprofit, it’s especially effective for animal advocacy groups.
Animal advocacy groups can partner with a local business or a nearby college campus and bring a friendly group of pets. Ask for donations for guests to hang out with, or take photos with the sweet animals for a certain amount of time.
Another option for non-animal related causes might be to have supporters bring their animals to a pet-friendly location (e.g. a park) and throw a pet playdate. Ask for donations from any of the participants who don’t bring pets of their own.
12. Behind-the-Scenes Tour
Give your supporters a chance to get their questions about your nonprofit answered by pulling back the curtain on your nonprofit’s operations with a behind-the-scenes tour. Ask your nonprofit’s leadership to set aside a few hours of their day to attend a livestream where they discuss their daily responsibilities with supporters.
Then, at the end of the session, open up the floor for a Q&A. Make sure to have a few questions ready beforehand, just in case questions come in slow or you experience any technical issues connecting with your supporters.
13. Giving Day Livestream
Giving days like Giving Tuesday are an opportunity for your nonprofit to collect as many donations as possible within 24 hours. Make the most of your giving days by hosting a livestream to watch your donations grow in real-time alongside your supporters.
While many platforms don’t allow 24-hour streaming, ambitious nonprofits can still stream intermittently throughout the day to stay connected and show supporters they are committed to reaching their giving day goals.
14. Tree-Planting Day
Environmental and conservation-focused nonprofits can further their cause and fundraise at the same time with tree-planting days. Tree-planting days work in two parts: first, supporters donate the money needed to buy a sapling, then, second, your team of volunteers go out and plant the tree. Make sure to get permission from your community to create designated tree planting spots ahead of time!
Tree-planting days are also a great opportunity to take pictures of your volunteers in action, so be sure to have a camera on hand, as well as water, protective gloves, and everything else your supporters need to get the job done.
Phone-a-thons are a classic nonprofit fundraising strategy. Assemble a team of dedicated volunteers and spend the day calling and texting supporters to ask for donations. Consider pairing your phone-a-thon with another event like a giving day or crowdfunding campaign, then create scripts for your volunteers based on your event.
In addition to volunteers, try recruiting board members, staff, and anyone else who has a day to set aside to make some calls. Try mixing it up and sending text messages as well to reach new audiences.
16. Multicultural Fair
Multicultural fairs are a great opportunity for nonprofits to exhibit their supporters’ diversity. Plus, everyone will get to respectfully learn more about unfamiliar cultures in their community.
To host your event effectively, have volunteers set up booths where they can represent their cultures. Whether it’s through food, culture-based talents, or a presentation on traditions, everyone is sure to learn a thing or two about their neighbors.
Quick Fundraising Tip: For any events you host, increase donations by advertising your text-to-give number with posters. While the event takes place, watch donations rack up as attendees text in their support.
Schools of all sizes rely on external funding to provide additional extracurricular activities for their students. In the COVID era, many schools have moved to a virtual or hybrid setting. Children are typically motivated by hands-on activities, so check out these engaging fundraising events, many of which can be adapted in a socially-distanced or virtual way!
Invite students and their families to join your dance-a-thon. Kids will enjoy dancing nonstop, and parents will love spending time with their children. This event can be hosted with social distancing rules, depending on location.
Leading up to your event, registrants should collect pledges based on how long they stay on the dance floor and make it a competition! There are many ways to add a fun twist to your dance event. Make sure you have a lengthy playlist of upbeat songs and be sure to sell snacks and refreshments for the hungry dancers!
18. Alumni Mixer
Alumni mixers are easy in-person events for high schools, colleges, and universities. They provide an enjoyable, pressure-free way for past graduates to reconnect and possibly form new friendships. Plus, your school can earn a good chunk of additional revenue from it. Charge an admission fee and use an on-campus venue. Not only will this save you money, but you’ll give the alumni a walk down memory lane.
Consider allowing current students to participate or volunteer, too. That way, soon-to-be grads will get an idea of how they can stay connected with their school once they graduate or take advantage of a networking opportunity. Remember to provide refreshments and decorate with school colors.
19. Ice Cream Social
An ice cream social is a delicious community event for families. It’s a classic, low-maintenance event that students and parents alike can enjoy. To prepare, purchase all the supplies you need, such as ice cream scoops, paper bowls, cones, spoons, and a ton of ice cream. Don’t forget the toppings!
At the event, charge attendees for a scoop of their favorite flavor and offer them all the yummy toppings they want. For the best results, host it on campus at the beginning of summer right before break!
20. Cookie Dough Sale
In the theme of yummy food, this fundraiser is sure to attract families who love to bake together. Your school will need to team up with a vendor for this one. Students can handle the selling for you, or you can host a dedicated cookie dough sale! Make sure to advertise well in advance.
The best part about this campaign is that it has the opportunity to result in two fundraising events for your school. For all the cookie dough you don’t sell, host a separate cookie sale. To do this, ask your cafeteria staff to bake the cookies for you. The perk of a cookie bake sale is that more health-conscious supporters are much more likely to indulge in just one or two cookies rather than a whole tub of cookie dough.
While a read-a-thon can work for all ages, you’ll see the best results with elementary-aged children. They’re simple, educational, and interactive events you can host completely in a virtual setting.
To raise funds, have children secure pledges from their family members for every page, book, or hour that they read. Plus, offer prizes for top readers to motivate participation. Parents will love that their children are reading more, and kids will love helping out their school and winning prizes!
In the theme of educational fundraiser events, a spell-a-thon will get students engaged in a friendly competition! This event has the option to be hosted virtually, through your preferred software.
Hosting one is easy. Give your students a 10-word spelling test. “Per word” donations get charged accordingly. Simple! Be sure to award prizes for those who raise the most money or spell the most words correctly.
23. Talent Show
Chances are you have some uniquely talented, bright-minded children in your school. Take advantage of this and host a talent show as your next fundraising event. Encourage children to showcase their skills, whether it’s through music, comedy, dancing, or any other entertaining talent!
This talent show can be hosted online with a talent show video reel that is shown online. Families can watch from their homes to avoid crowds. To raise money, sell tickets to spectators or have the audience vote for a winner with their money. This is also an ideal opportunity to use text-to-give.
24. Duct Tape the Principal
If you want to be extra creative with your next school in-person fundraising event, encourage your school’s principal or a brave teacher to volunteer to be duct-taped to a wall. Then, buy several rolls of colorful duct tape. Have your courageous volunteer stand on a step stool and tape them to the wall until there’s enough tape to hold them up. Charge $1 per yard and let students and faculty join in on the sticky fun!
Since the tape will trap heat, make sure to have water and a fan off to the side. Remember to record the event and take pictures so that everyone can look back on their fearless, duct-taped leader’s commitment. Not only will students love this event, but your teachers will, too!
25. Scavenger Hunt
It doesn’t get more engaging for kids than a scavenger hunt! Since you can use the school as a venue, all the donations you receive will be straight profit. Set up tricky riddles and zigzagging maps to keep kids on their toes. Kids will have a blast figuring out clues with each other. Plus, it’s a great way for new students to learn about the school and the local environment. Charge a small registration fee and incorporate a prize or two for the winners.
26. Scrabble Tournament
A Scrabble tournament is another engaging, educational fundraising event idea for schools. For this event, set up a bracket-style playoff system and charge an admission fee. You can do it solo style or group style. In other words, kids can play 1v1 or in teams of 2-4.
Remember to set a time limit for each round to make sure the event stays on track. Also, consider having volunteers run a refreshment table where they bring in baked goods and refreshments.
27. Field Day
A field day is a classic way to celebrate the end of the school year and bring the entire school system together in a fun, interactive way. Provide carnival games and host class vs. class competitions.
There are a handful of ways to raise money through this event. For instance, you can charge a registration fee, sell custom school t-shirts, food, and refreshments, or charge admission for individual activities.
28. Penny Wars
Penny wars are an interactive, competitive fundraising event idea for students. Individual students or entire classes will collect coins and dollars in an effort to score points based on how much they’re able to collect. Each participant or group will have a jar, typically one you provide for collecting the money.
Consider amping up the competition by offering prizes to those who raise the most. For example, if a class is a team, you can offer a pizza party as an incentive.
29. Student Art Show
This type of fundraiser is an easy way to showcase your school’s talented art students! Use a hallway or the art room in your school in order to set up a successful event where the community can appreciate and potentially purchase their artwork.
Your school can raise money by offering a small admission fee to enter the art show. Be sure to provide a snack and refreshment area for extra revenue.
30. Food Drive
A food drive is a win-win fundraiser, it works to raise awareness about hunger in your community and encourage others to contribute. Be sure to find a local food bank to partner with, and consider how you’ll raise money. For instance, you might frame your drive with a larger event like a game tournament or festival. Such an event can encourage guests to bring canned goods at the cost of a small admission fee.
Then, donate your collected canned goods to the local food bank or pantry to better serve others in your community. Community support is needed now more than ever during the COVID era.
31. Book Club
Your school’s library can host book clubs just like public libraries and bookstores. The books can be kid-friendly or classics you have classroom sets of. Market your book club by encouraging parents to get involved and see just what their kids are reading in school.
You can charge a small participation fee or use your club as a jumping off point to ask for donations later after members have attended a few sessions. After all, the more sessions a supporter attends, the more likely they are to be invested in your school’s (and library’s) continued success.
32. Letter Writing Day
Direct mail and personal letters can help encourage supporters to donate to a cause, especially if the letter comes from a constituent their contribution would support. Your students can help out with fundraising by writing a letter or card to a potential supporter during a letter writing day.
Give your students the opportunity to get creative with their messages with crayons, markers, and other art supplies. Each card will be unique, which adds to the overall charm of your more formal fundraising letter. Just remember to help young students with their spelling!
Carnivals are fun events that combine games, snacks, and merchandise stands together to raise money for your school. Choose an evening to turn your school into a carnival and recruit teachers and responsible students to help run booths and administer tickets.
Sell tickets ahead of time and at the door, so your school can get a proper headcount ahead of time but still welcome anyone who shows up last minute. You can also earn additional funds by selling snacks, prizes, and other branded merchandise.
Face-painting is fun for all ages, and a booth staffed with artistic volunteers is a welcome addition to almost any event. Create a selection of designs to help inspire guests, but also let them request whatever ideas come to mind (as long as they’re appropriate for a school event!).
Make sure to purchase paint and other supplies that works on sensitive skin ahead of time, and give your volunteers the proper training for painting around delicate areas of the face such as the eyes and mouth.
35. Chalk Squares
Selling sidewalk chalk squares is a great way to get the whole community involved in a fun, artistic event. Find a long stretch of sidewalk and price each square based on its quality, setting lower-quality squares with cracks and manholes lower and smooth squares higher. Then, sell or hand out chalk to let your audience express themselves however they want on their square!
Chalk squares and chalk art festivals can be a major success if your school partners with other organizations in your community, but you can also run a festival just using the sidewalk squares around your school.
Quick Fundraising Tip: Don’t forget about the biggest beneficiaries of your fundraisers—students, teachers, and alumni. Get them all involved, and as a result, you’ll develop stronger connections with them.
Whether you’re in a college club or a community organization, there are a number of ways you can raise the funds you need. Plus, these ideas pull double-duty for promoting teamwork and bonding. Let’s look at a few effective fundraising events for clubs.
36. Sports League Tournament
If you’re part of an intramural team, set up a sports league tournament as your next fundraising event. Charge an admission fee for every team that registers.
Make sure to set up a bracket and award the winning team with a trophy or another kind of prize. You can also sell tickets and concessions to spectators. Not only will this raise funds for your sports club, but it’ll promote team building, too!
37. Skating Event
Depending on the time of year, you may want to host a rollerblading event or an ice skating fundraiser event. Partner with a local skating rink to make this possible, and encourage the whole community to attend. To incentivize rink owners, suggest an off-time like a weeknight.
For additional fundraising, try providing refreshments, like hot chocolate for ice skating! This fundraising event is ideal for the whole family and is sure to create buzz on social media with photo opportunities.
38. Group Hike
For your club’s next fundraising event, host a guided nature hike on a local trail. This fundraiser is especially effective if your group focuses on environmental sustainability. Use this as an opportunity to express the importance of nature and conservation. For any other type of club, a group hike strengthens bonds between your supporters.
Prior to the event, map out your route, learn about the sights you’ll encounter, and promote your event. Also, make sure to charge a registration fee. Just in case, cover all your bases by bringing extra water and first aid supplies. Everyone will enjoy getting to know more about the wildlife that surrounds them every day and will feel more connected to your group as a result.
39. Coupon Cards
This discount card fundraiser for clubs can raise a substantial amount of revenue for your group. People often purchase pre-made coupon books from manufacturers. These offer coupons to chain stores and franchise restaurants, and organizations then sell them to their members and supporters in the community.
However, you might find even more success in creating your own coupon books. To accomplish this, reach out to local businesses and explain the promotion opportunity. Chances are, they’ll jump on the opportunity to expand to new customers. Plus, your organization may even receive a few corporate partnerships along the way.
40. Garden Sale
One fundraiser that’s sure to raise a few extra dollars for your club is a garden sale. This event takes a bit of prep time, but the payoff is worth it. If you’re short on time, simply purchase the plants to resell. However, you’ll boost your profit if you grow them on your own (or have green-thumbed volunteers donate their plants).
The best time of year to host a garden sale is in spring or early summer because that’s when people start to think about their gardens. Make sure you plan early based on seasonality and what grows best in your area!
41. Pool Party
In the heat of summer, supporters will want to have a chance to cool off at outdoor events. When the season starts to heat up, a pool party is an exciting fundraiser event for clubs. You may also partner with a community pool to keep costs down. Consider selling refreshments or popsicles to boost your funds, too! Just make sure you purchase the appropriate permits to do so.
Encourage members to invite the rest of their family as well. Parents and kids will enjoy splashing around and goofing off together, and will have great memories associated with your organization!
This fundraiser is perfect for any time of year! This fundraiser will include volunteers cooking homemade dishes and competing for votes. Your organization can sell tickets to people who want to try the food and allow taste-testers to vote on a winner.
If possible, center it around a specific food depending on the time of year. If you’re hosting it during the summer, consider making it a grill-off at a local park. If you’re hosting it during the winter, consider making it an indoor chili cook-off, in a place such as at the community center.
To take it to the next level, coordinate it with a holiday and make that the theme. For instance, have a pie baking contest around Thanksgiving. Whichever theme you choose, make sure to have enough space and give people enough time to prepare.
43. Themed Fun Run
A themed fun run is a twist on a classic fundraiser! Fun runs are hosted in an identical fashion to a 5k, although they’re often shorter distances. Pick a theme, a time, a place, and a distance. This event can be easily updated for a virtual setting, as well!
Your fun theme can be as creative as you’d like. For instance, choose an ugly sweater run during the holiday season, a costume run near Halloween, or a glow-in-the-dark run during a starry summer night. Get creative!
44. Mini Golf Tournament
Mini golf is fun for everyone. For your club’s next fundraising event, partner with a local mini-golf course and actively promote your event. If your club really wants to get creative, members can design and build the course themselves! Take it a step further and encourage local businesses to sponsor each hole. Keep the prices reasonable, though.
To encourage participation, have a prize for everyone who beats a certain score or for anyone who gets a hole-in-one on the last hole. Ask your sponsors to donate these items so that you can focus on earning a profit.
45. Bowling Tournament
Bowling is a classic activity that promotes healthy competition and can bring your supporters together in an exciting way. To host one, partner with your community’s bowling alley and actively promote your event. Be sure to look into making t-shirts for your event!
To encourage healthy competition, you can offer a prize for everyone who scores over a certain amount. This will remind participants of your fun event!
46. Online Classes
Clubs are a great way to learn new skills, and your organization can share those skills with the rest of your community through online classes. Set up live-streamed lessons, so guests can participate and ask questions in real-time, or record your lessons to create a catalogue that supporters can pay a small fee to access. Or do both!
Ask your members if any of them would be willing to volunteer their time to run a class, and make sure your organization gives them the tools they need to succeed, whether that’s tech help or supplies for their video.
47. Boardgame Night
Boardgame nights are easy to host as long as you have a dedicated space and a pile of board and card games on hand. Effective board game nights strike a balance between classic games such as Monopoly and Life and more adult board games popular among enthusiasts such as Settlers of Catan. Keeping this balance ensures everyone who attends will find a game for them!
Charge an entry fee at the door, and consider stocking your event with snacks if you expect any games to run late.
48. Exercise Classes
Sports and athletics clubs have the potential to share their tips for staying in shape with the rest of their community. Recruit a few of your members to volunteer to teach in-person or virtual (or both!) classes for local supporters.
Regular exercise classes can not only bring in extra funds for your club, but they also encourage your community to get healthy. Additionally, regular attendees might get interested in joining your club, making exercise classes an effective marketing tool, as well!
49. Kids Camp
Whether your club is artistic or sports-oriented, if it’s also fun for kids, then consider hosting a kids camp. Plan a week of activities in the summer to train kids how to play your team’s sport, learn how to paint, or enjoy your community club’s local pool and fields.
Charge a fee for attendance and ask your club members to volunteer as teachers and supervisors during the camp. A well run kids camp can not only bring in additional funds, but it also helps connect your club to your community.
50. Battle of the Bands
This is an excellent way for the musicians in your community to showcase their skills! A battle of the bands fundraiser runs like a community talent show. You’ll need to sell tickets and market your event in advance. You may also sell spots in the show to bands at a small fee.
Be sure to use a community space like a park or recreation center to host your battle at a low cost! This concert can also be hosted in a virtual setting with a video reel that is shown online. To raise money, sell tickets to spectators or have the audience vote for a winner with their money. This is also a great opportunity to use text-to-give.
Quick Fundraising Tip: Recruit extra help when you need it. You may not be able to pull off a major fundraiser on your own. Connect with other clubs or organizations to ensure you have all the helping hands you need.
Churches need to raise money like any other nonprofit group, just with extra thought considering which ideas will resonate best with their audiences. you have to consider your audience. Because of this, churches are slightly more limited with fundraising events. To align your church’s values with your campaigns, check out these effective fundraising ideas for churches.
51. Christian Speed Dating
You may be surprised to find out that there are several eligible bachelors and bachelorettes who attend your church. This event is effective for people who are wanting to connect and chat with others in your church’s community.
To host the best speed dating event, sell tickets to single members, and write a few conversation starters on index cards for each table. Consider hosting it around Valentine’s Day, too.
For your church’s next mission trip, try an adopt-a-mile fundraiser. Turn to your congregation for support, and encourage everyone to donate a dollar or two for every mile your team goes in their travels.
This fundraiser does require mission trip participants to map out exactly how far their trip will be beforehand, though. Rely on attendees to get the word out and encourage their fellow church-goers to donate.
53. Candle Sale
While a candle sale is great for any occasion, try coordinating it with an upcoming holiday where shoppers would need to give their loved one something special. For instance, consider Christmas, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, and so on.
To best host a candle sale, either use a website that sells candles at discounted rates for fundraisers or have a team of volunteers make the candles themselves. Then, sell them door-to-door or on your church’s website.
54. Bible Trivia
Avid church-goers will love to put their Bible knowledge to the test. Plus, it’s great fun for the whole family! After church on Sunday, host an afternoon game of trivia in your service hall. Charge a small entrance fee, or sell tickets for a lunch buffet. Come up with a list of questions and categories. From there, either create a presentation or print off answer sheets to pass out.
Mix up the difficulty for each question. Then, make sure to come up with a few tie-breaker questions just in case multiple teams wind up with the same score.
55. Bible Drill Contest
Similar to Bible trivia, a drill contest includes a game held between two teams. A member from each team will have a Bible and is racing to locate a Bible verse given by the announcer. The person who finds it the fastest will win a point for their team.
To raise money, charge a small entrance fee, or provide a food and refreshment booth. Be sure to have prizes on hand for the team with the fastest verse finders!
56. Rummage Sale
Have church congregants donate their unwanted clothes and knick-knacks, and host a rummage sale outside at your church. Stress that all items should be reasonably clean and usable. For the best results, host this around spring cleaning time.
Then, before your sale takes place, price each item. If you receive several donations, consider a color-coding system instead of pricing everything individually. For instance, use green stickers for $1, blue stickers for $5, red stickers for $10, and so on. If you have enough time, group items into categories, such as a music section, a book section, and so on.
57. Ladies’ Day
Treat the women in your church to a special ladies’ day. First, decide what kind of event to host. For instance, consider a brunch or a spa day. For a church-related theme, try hosting a gathering where you focus on one biblical topic.
Then, decorate appropriately with key Bible verses and fun decor that accentuates that theme. Depending on the plan, and your budget, sell tickets anywhere from $10 to $50.
58. Calendar Sale
A calendar sale is a creative way to raise money while also spreading the word about your church’s upcoming events. Take pictures of your notable parts of your church, such as the sanctuary, the chapel, and so on. Then, compile the photos using calendar creator technology.
Once you receive the calendars, sell them on your website, door-to-door, and at any of your church’s events. This is a great way to remind supporters about your mission and your church all year long.
59. Wheelbarrow Challenge
A wheelbarrow challenge is the perfect low-cost fundraiser for churches. Ask for a member of your congregation to lend a wheelbarrow for your campaign. The wheelbarrow will function as a collection bin for change. Place it in a high-traffic area of your church, such as by the sanctuary entrance.
Each Sunday, encourage church members to donate their spare change by putting it in the wheelbarrow until it fills up. You’ll be surprised at how quickly that loose change adds up!
60. Picnic Potluck
Not only is a picnic potluck a great fundraising event idea, but it also can get help get the word out about your church. Encourage members to bring their favorite dishes to share with fellow churchgoers. Then, coordinate games such as cornhole and charge a small fee to participate. Consider setting up a donation table, too!
61. Noisy Sunday
Noisy Sunday is an easy idea to get youth involved in your church’s fundraising efforts. Supply your Sunday school students with empty cans. Put a few coins in each can. Then, toward the end of the service, have them run up and down the church aisles making as much noise as possible.
Encourage congregants to donate as much as they can to fill up the cans and stop the noise. It’s best to give them a heads up, so they come prepared with spare change and bills to fill up the cans.
62. Envelope Fundraiser
An envelope fundraiser is a cheap way to raise a ton of money for your cause! All you need is a pack of envelopes, push pins, and a bulletin board.
You may be wondering how this works. First, determine how many envelopes you plan on using. Depending on your congregation, pick an attainable size. 100 could be a good starting point. Then, assign dollar amounts to each envelope from $1 – $100. Hang these envelopes on your bulletin board or wall. Then, as the week goes on, encourage members to pick an envelope to donate to. They then donate the amount written on the envelope. For example, if a congregant chooses the $10 envelope, they’ll add a ten-dollar bill and return it in a collection box.
63. Charity Concert
This is another great way for local musicians to get exposure and showcase their talents. A charity concert can feature those who sign up to play in a non-competitive way. Be sure to use your church’s outdoor area to maximize guest attendance space!
To raise money, sell tickets to spectators, or implement a small fee to play in your show. Be sure to offer a refreshments area!
64. Flower Sale
Does your church have a local garden? If so, consider hosting a flower sale. Whether it’s selling bulbs for Mothers’ Day or fresh-cut flowers for Valentine’s Day, your church can make the most of selling flowers on holidays. Not to mention the rest of the year is full of anniversaries, birthdays, and other events in need of flowers!
If your church doesn’t have a greenhouse or plot of land for a garden to grow your own flowers, consider partnering with a flower bulb fundraising partner who can supply the bulbs for you.
Quick Fundraising Tip: Branding fundraising events for churches is an essential part of raising revenue. Make your cause front and center. It’s easy to get caught up in the high-pressure environment of event planning, but remember why you’re there in the first place.
When it comes to raising money, individuals and smaller teams have to think creatively to maximize their reach. Although the event may be geared to a smaller group of people, it leaves more room for innovative ideas and unique twists. Let’s take a look at these realistic options for individuals and small organizations.
65. Dog Wash
A dog wash is an excellent way to help the owner cross the chore off of their list! This is a fun event to host on a warm day, as dogs will want to play in the water, too! When washing, remember to use warmer water because dogs have a higher body temperature than people do.
To prepare, check with local pet stores to see if you can buy dog shampoo in bulk for a discounted price. Don’t forget about the hoses either! While dogs and owners wait for your service, sell pet-friendly treats and also refreshments for the humans. This is a doable fundraising event for individuals that’s sure to generate some revenue.
66. Movie Night
Who doesn’t love a good movie? Plus, because it creates an opportunity to spend quality time with friends and family, more supporters will be enticed to participate. To kick off planning this fundraising event, decide what movie to show and where you’ll host the event. This event can be hosted as a socially-distanced outdoor event, too!
Charge a small admission fee and sell refreshments for additional money. This idea takes minimal effort for individual fundraisers and small groups!
67. Craft Show
While this fundraising event idea is doable for small groups, it takes ample planning. Let community members know how heavily the event’s success depends on them. Have them create paintings, knits, and other artistic items. Then, charge a booth fee where participants can sell their items. Remember to announce your group’s text-to-give number at the event and on any marketing materials. That way, you receive additional revenue throughout the fundraiser.
68. Dog Walk
Dog owners with busy schedules might not have enough time to walk their pooch as often as they should. Luckily, a dog walk fundraising event is a great way to raise funds. After receiving enough volunteer dog walkers, map out a route with occasional stops for water and bathroom breaks. Then, charge dog owners for walks based on dog size.
To boost productivity, consider the route time and create a walking schedule. The schedule should list each volunteer and dog during each time slot. Also, consider how many dogs each volunteer can handle at once, what types of dogs each volunteer is comfortable with, and volunteer availability.
69. Karaoke Night
This fundraiser event idea is surprisingly simple for individuals to host. Book a low-cost venue, such as a community center, to get started! Encourage groups of community leaders to volunteer, and set a particular donation goal for each leader or group. During the karaoke event, encourage guests to donate. Once a certain amount is reached, that particular group or person will need to sing. Alternatively, just have people pay a small fee to attend and sing themselves.
Encourage local businesses to donate any decorations, lights, a speaker, and a microphone if the venue doesn’t come equipped with these. Also, take suggestions for a setlist. After the event, turn the recordings into a fundraising CD and sell those for additional revenue!
70. Art Class
An art class can bring your community together in an interactive and educational way. Find a low-cost place to host your event such as a park pavilion, or community center. Then, find a craft to have your participants make that requires minimal supplies or skill level.
Be sure to market your class to your community. Announce which project you’ll be working on as a group ahead of time. You can either ask participants to bring their own supplies or provide some for a cheap cost. Your supporters will have a fun memory associated with your organization and the craft they bring home!
71. Cooking Class
Cooking classes are a fantastic and productive fundraiser for the amateur chefs in your community. Finding a venue may be the bulkiest cost item, as you may need an industrial kitchen. Look to religious or community centers that may offer a larger sized cooking area. If hosted virtually, though, your own home kitchen might work just fine!
Entice your potential participants with marketing the event well in advance. Include the dishes as well as any allergen warnings. Then, charge a fee to participants based on supply cost, as well as some to contribute to your cause. People will remember the fun memories they had when they recreate your dishes at home!
72. Morning Yoga
If your organization has or knows someone who does yoga, you can ask them to donate their time to lead morning yoga classes for supporters. But even if your organization doesn’t have a yoga instructor on staff, you can still lead supporters through yoga stretches and exercises found online for free from websites like YouTube.
Repeat classes that are easy and quick to hold can help build a community of supporters, who are used to going out and supporting your nonprofit.
73. Family Photos
A family photoshoot will create lasting memories for your supporters. This event can be hosted at a very low cost in a public park, for a neutral nature background! Have volunteers sign up to take the photos, and upload them to your website or social media at the end of the event.
This shoot is great because participants will tag or credit your organization in the photos they post to social media. There is also an opportunity to create a hashtag surrounding your event that will lead to increased engagements with your page!
Quick Fundraising Tip: Never underestimate the power of positive marketing strategies. Your team may be small, but when you go the extra mile to spread the word, your fundraising event will be much more successful. From email marketing to social media posts, employ a number of communication methods.
Some of the best fundraising events are coordinated with specific holidays. They get participants in a cheery mood and provide fun for the whole family. Plus, holidays are a great way to earn some revenue. After all, the holidays are when donors are feeling the most generous.
74. Caroling for a Cause
When Christmas nears, encourage volunteers and team members to go caroling for a cause. Like traditional caroling, carolers will go from door-to-door singing popular holiday tunes. Donations aren’t guaranteed but can be encouraged. Whether carolers wear t-shirts with your logo or hand out brochures, make sure observers know that the cheer is from your organization!
75. Gift Wrapping
When the holiday season approaches, set up a gift-wrapping event fundraiser. This is great for any holiday from Valentine’s Day to Mother’s Day to the winter holidays. Get in touch with a high-traffic store or mall in your area, so you can set up a station there.
You’ll need to purchase boxes, tape, wrapping paper, and bows. Then, have volunteers sign up for different time slots. You can either accept donations or charge a fee per gift depending on size. Happy wrapping!
76. Haunted House
To kick off the holiday season, create a haunted house that’s sure to cause some laughs… or screams! Your organization will need to invest in Halloween decorations, find a venue (e.g. a school gym, a hallway, etc.), and find some spooky volunteers. For an extra eerie effect, use a fog machine and frightening music! Charge an entrance fee and let the screams of horror begin.
If your budget isn’t quite what it needs to be for a haunted house, ask generous supporters to lend you their decorations. That way, you’ll save money and put on the best show possible!
77. Easter Egg Hunt
Another great holiday fundraising event is an annual Easter egg hunt. Use a local park, a local school, or a volunteer’s yard as a venue. Then, have volunteers fill plastic eggs with candy or small prizes, and scatter the eggs high and low! Families will enjoy hunting for the eggs and competing to find them as fast as possible. To make it as festive as possible, consider investing in Easter decorations, and maybe even an Easter bunny costume, too!
78. Holiday Symphony
If you have some musically talented supporters, consider putting on a holiday symphony. Whether it’s singing or playing instruments, you’ll be sure to garner some support with this festive fundraising event. Based on skill level, pick some well-known holiday tunes and set up a weekly rehearsal.
Then, sell tickets to patrons who want to be filled with the holiday spirit. If you don’t have many musically talented supporters, ask a local school orchestra or choral group to put on a show where the proceeds benefit your organization. You’re sure to drum up a few extra dollars with this musical fundraiser event!
79. Holiday-Themed Photoshoot
This photoshoot can happen multiple times a year, depending on holidays. Encourage families, couples, and friends to participate in your shoot for lasting memories.
Be sure to include some holiday-themed decorations! If you’re hosting your event around Christmas, include a Santa to take photos with. Be sure to encourage participants to tag or credit your organization in the photos they post to social media.
80. Holiday Dance Party
Invite students and their families to join your holiday dance party. Your participants will enjoy dancing and connecting with other members of their community. This event can be hosted with social distancing rules if hosted in an open location like a covered area in a public park.
Leading up to your event, be sure to pre-sell tickets for the dance! There are many ways to add a fun twist to your dance event. Make sure to prepare a playlist of upbeat holiday songs. Your dancers will be hungry from all of the dancing, so sell snacks and refreshments.
81. Ugly Sweater Contest
An ugly sweater contest is a humorous way to celebrate the holidays with festive wear! This contest can be held virtually, having your participants vote online, or in-person at a community center. Sell tickets to your event, and make it into a holiday-themed celebration event!
82. Pumpkin Patch
A pumpkin patch takes a while to grow, but once it’s set up, it’s the perfect place for yearly holiday photos and gatherings. When Halloween rolls around, consider making an event of your pumpkin patch by offering professional photos, selling pumpkins, and giving guests the chance to make a jack-a-lantern.
You will need a dedicated space for your pumpkin patch, making this a possible event for schools, churches, or other organizations that have a plot of land they can dedicate to their pumpkins. If you don’t, consider checking to see if there is already one in town that might be willing to partner with your organization to raise funds for a good cause.
83. Valentines Cards
Valentine’s cards fundraisers have two components: the cards and the delivery. Offer a variety of eye-catching designs and potential extras, such as candy, for supporters to choose from, and let them write down a special message for the card’s recipient.
Then, on Valentine’s Day, you can either mail out the cards or give each recipient a special delivery. For example, some people might pay a bit more for a delivery with a song, while others might like to have their special message read aloud.
84. Decorating Services
If you have a team of volunteers ready to go out and spread holiday cheer, consider setting up a decorating service. Supporters can purchase your nonprofit’s help decorating their homes for the holidays, and your nonprofit will send over a team to put up lights, wreaths, and any other decorations you have at the ready.
Then, after the holidays are over, your team can go back out and help take down all of the decorations, saving your supporters time (and allowing your nonprofit to reuse those decorations for next year).
85. Ornament Sales
Everyone with a Christmas tree can appreciate a few additional ornaments. Craft and decorate your own ornament for sale or invite supporters to make their own.
You can also consider partnering with an ornament fundraising partner who will make custom ornaments with your organization’s logo on them. These can then be sold specially for Christmas or all year round in your nonprofit’s online store.
86. Gingerbread House Competition
A great way to raise the holiday spirit in your community is through a gingerbread house building competition. Have your participants pay a fee to pre-register, so your team knows the number of supplies to buy.
Host your event in a low-cost facility such as a recreation center, or a school. Then, give each team or individual a kit for each house. Have spectators or a panel of judges vote on the best gingerbread house and award a prize to the winner!
Quick Fundraising Tip: End-of-year giving represents the largest revenue opportunity for nonprofits. People are filled with the holiday spirit and feel extra philanthropic during this time, so make sure you have your well-designed donation page up and running.
If your organization is short on time, there are still several fundraising events that you can pull off. Check out these easy events that involve minimal planning.
87. T-Shirt Fundraiser
If you have a dedicated support base, leverage this by selling branded merchandise. Use an online t-shirt fundraising platform to create and sell customized t-shirts with your logo. Whether you use this to supplement one of your other events or make it a standalone fundraising event, you’re sure to attract several buyers. Plus, it’s great for spreading the word about your cause. Those who purchase your shirt can attract attention to your organization all around the community.
88. Reverse Raffle
This twist on a classic fundraiser is sure to garner some attention. At your event, sell raffle tickets like a normal raffle. Instead of drawing one winner at the end of the night, pull out and eliminate tickets throughout the event. Whoever’s ticket is left at the bottom of the bowl at the end of the night is the winner! Alternatively, you can have a few prizes and randomly assign them to the remaining ticket holders.
89. Balloon Pop Party
Fill hundreds of balloons with helium and raffle tickets. Then, fill a room with the balloons and allow guests to make their choice. Different colored balloons can have a different number of tickets and go for different prices. For instance, green balloons can have one ticket, blue balloons can have two tickets, and so on.
Have participants write their names on the balloons, and once everyone has made their choice, it’s time to pop them. Whoever has the winning ticket(s) will receive a prize. Make sure to have a desirable raffle prize like a gift card to a popular local restaurant. For an additional prize, encourage volunteers to guess the number of balloons in the room.
90. Percentage Nights
When it comes to planning, this classic fundraising event is about as easy as it gets. Coordinate a percentage night with a restaurant in your community. Every time a customer buys a meal, a percentage of the profits will go to your nonprofit.
Remember, customers may have to mention your organization or provide a flyer to ensure you receive the funds. Start your event’s advertising as soon as possible!
91. Used Book Sale
Have extra books lying around? Whether they’re novels you never got around to or textbooks for long finished classes, consider gathering them together to host a used book sale. Ask other members of your organization, including everyone from board members to volunteers, if they have books they can contribute to get a large enough set together for your fundraiser.
From there, all you’ll need are some tables and a space to let people browse your selection.
92. Sip and Paint
Encourage one of your more artistic volunteers to lead this fundraising event class. Invite community members to attend and pay a registration fee to join in on the colorful fun. Remember to make it a BYOB event. That way, attendees can sip on their favorite drink and you can raise the most funds possible.
Quick Fundraising Tip: Look at past successful campaigns for guidance. Mark what went well and what flopped. Then, attempt to emulate the effective practices you learned in your own fundraiser events.
If your organization is running low on funds, no worries! We understand that not every organization can splurge on huge fundraising events. Check out these cheap fundraising ideas that work for any size organization.
Bingo is a classic cheap fundraiser event that’s fun for the whole family! Create admission packages that include entry into your event and game sheets. Make sure to buy plenty of game chips, too. To make money throughout the event, sell individual bingo game cards for when players run out of cards.
During your event, sell refreshments as an added revenue generator. Don’t forget about a few cheap prizes to incentivize participants!
94. Car Wash
Not only is this a classic fundraising event, but it’s also exciting and cools off volunteers on a hot summer day. As an added twist, have participants dress up in their wackiest outfits and blast music throughout the event.
Charge a fee per car and enjoy the cool, refreshing water in the blistering summer heat. Remember to purchase car wash soap, sponges, and a few hoses ahead of time. To save even more money, ask volunteers to bring their own materials!
95. Bake Sale
Not only is a bake sale cheap, but it doesn’t require that much extra effort from nonprofits. Encourage volunteers to make baked goods and then sell them at your event. Make sure you have an accessible, inexpensive venue, too. From diabetic options to gluten-free options, ensure that everyone can participate and enjoy the savory desserts.
96. Guessing Challenge
A guessing challenge is a great, inexpensive way to raise funds quickly. Partner with local businesses or schools, and set up guessing games across town. This could be the classic jelly bean guessing game, where you fill a jar with jelly beans and have participants make their best guess.
To add a twist, theme it around any nearby holidays if you can. For instance, if Christmas is approaching, fill a jar with candy canes or ornaments. Then, have a grand prize for the closest guess!
97. Charity Basketball
A charity basketball tournament can be a fast-paced, energetic fundraising event for any organization. It won’t cost very much either. Encourage the entire community to sign-up. Depending on the number of participants, you can separate by age group and host the tournament bracket-style.
To raise funds, charge an admission fee for spectators or have each participant pay a small entry fee. All you’ll need to buy is a few basketballs. Better yet, if you partner with your community center or a local gym, they’ll likely already have the equipment. Don’t forget to sell concessions, too!
98. Cupcake Decorating
Cupcake decorating works great for both in-person and virtual events. For in-person events, in exchange for an attendance fee, you’ll provide the cupcakes and the decorating supplies. Then, either walk your guests through how to decorate their cupcakes or let them get creative with their own designs.
For virtual events, email guests your cupcake recipe ahead of time so they can be ready with their own batch at home. After your event is over, ask them to share pictures of their cupcakes online (which also makes for great photos for your social media accounts!).
Whether your community has active, young dancers or dads who like to show off their moves at barbecues, consider hosting a dance-off. Charge participants a small fee to enter the contest, then let them perform for the rest of your guests. You can decide whether or not to judge each contestant and award prizes or just let everyone have fun and leave it up to the crowd to decide for themselves who was the best.
Like other talent and performance-based fundraisers, dance-offs are also a great opportunity to sell additional merchandise from baseball hats to water bottles.
100. Balloon Release
Balloon and lantern releases are simple events that can be held to celebrate a holiday such as New Years or remember someone who has passed, including both specific individuals and groups of people (such as holding a balloon release day on Memorial Day).
All you need are some balloons, which can then be sold to attendees. Consider also setting up an additional donation fund, so guests can make extra contributions before and after the release.
101. Yard Sale
Have extra items in need of a good home? Consider hosting a yard sale! Get in touch with other members of your organization to assemble a large collection of items for supporters to browse and purchase. Reaching out to community members to contribute their own items can also help get the word out about the event in the first place, and invite them to come pick up something new.
Make sure you have the necessary space, including tables and displays for smaller items. To maximize funds, try to get as many items donated as possible, and consider offering discounts to constituents the event is supporting. For example, offer veterans half off at a yard sale that funds military and veteran needs.
Quick Fundraising Tip: Sometimes, monetary donations just aren’t feasible for donors. Instead, leverage your professional relationships and inquire about in-kind donations, too. That way, you can lower the costs of your fundraising events, and supporters will know exactly what they’re giving to your nonprofit.
When it comes to boosting revenue, it can be difficult to consistently craft new fundraising events for nonprofits. However, creating unique events and campaigns will make it significantly easier to maintain the long-term support of your donors, volunteers, and neighbors. Hopefully one of the ideas in this guide incentivizes you to take charge of your revenue plan and boost those much-needed funds.
Whenever inspiration strikes for your next fundraising event, be prepared by setting up a Snowball account today. From donation pages to a comprehensive CRM, you’ll receive all the tech you need to fulfill your fundraising potential.
For further reading on best practices to supplement your organization’s next event, be sure to take a look at the following resources.
- Pledge Fundraising Guide. Find out about how pledge fundraising can generate a lot of support for your cause quickly. This guide will introduce you and your team to new strategies, donation tools, and engagement techniques for such fundraising methods.
- Nonprofit Event Management SoftwareAs you’re working to settle on an idea for your next fundraiser, you’ll want to choose an event management software that suits the specific needs of your nonprofit and the type of event you’re hosting. Take a look at this helpful page that’ll help you align your team with the right software.
- Peer to Peer Fundraising Ideas. When your organization wants to put the fundraising aspect on their supporters, look to this guide for some effective ideas that will drive donations!
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