facebook_pixel
Best Charity Fundraising Ideas

7 Fun Charity Fundraising Ideas that Get People to Give

Make Connections with In-Person Events

In years past, the most successful nonprofit charity fundraising ideas were in-person events. The social aspect of these fundraising events made them a must for many charitable donors, and often, they took the place of primacy on calendars months in advance. While the digital revolution has made it much easier for more people to give to your charity, it’s also taken the interpersonal relationship out of fundraising. According to prominent marketers who have studied the giving habits of the up-and-coming Millennial generation, that may be a mistake.

Millennials represent nearly 50% of the world’s population, eclipsing even the Baby Boomers, who were typically the go-to audience for charity organizations in decades past. As such, they deserve not only your attention but your respect. If they don’t make up the majority of your donors now, they soon will.

But Millennials are a different breed. Even though they readily embrace technology and all the perks of a digital world, they also embrace live events, interpersonal connections, and the value of philanthropy. Forbes noted that Millennials were by far the most charitable generation, calling them the “most purpose-driven generation”—giving money at a rate of nearly 80%, with at least 70% surrendering at least one hour of their own time to charity.

And what gets millennials to give freely? Live events where they can connect with the cause and see what their contribution is doing for the world. Anytime you get people together for something fun, you generate emotional responses and create social triggers that help make your event stand out. Those internal rewards help to create an experience that transcends simply feeling good about giving. You’re creating emotional buy-in. And that’s a commodity you can never have too much of.

90% of 18-35-year-olds surveyed report regularly attending live events (at least one in the past 12 months). Let’s look at some fun charity fundraising ideas you can use to reach a new generation of philanthropists.

The Best Charity Fundraising Ideas to Engage Your Audience

Here’s a simple rating system to help you gauge the earning potential, costs, and ease of each event listed below.

1. Fundraising Potential – How Much Money Can You Make from ★ to ★★★★

This is just a potential rating. It can vary widely from a few hundred dollars ★ to upwards of $10,000 ★★★★.

2. Overhead Cost – How Much Will It Cost You from $ to $$$$

This includes all the expenses you might incur, from venue rental to entertainment costs and utilities. A $ rating means you could organize the event with a few people and less than $100. A rating of $$$$ could mean you’re renting equipment, a venue, professional services, and vendors.

3. Event Complexity – How Much Time and Effort Will it Take from ? to ????

You’re looking at minimal time if you have everything you need and a couple of volunteers. If you need to hire an IT professional to rig up local networks and a lighting crew for the stage show, you’ll need to allocate a bit more time to planning. If you need to rent out a performance space, line up entertainment, provide catering, and market the event, you’ll need to invest more time and resources (these are often the most rewarding).

Here’s a list of fun charity fundraising ideas your organization can use to bring people together, create memories, and raise money for great causes, large and small.

Battle of the Bands

Fundraising potential: ★★★
Overhead cost: $$
Event complexity: ???

Bringing a band in to play while you promote your organization and raise funds is fine, but bringing in battling bands is better! From a set-up perspective, this charity fundraising idea is no more complex than a dance or date night. You need a sound system, a venue, and donors. The bands can be local—high schoolers, garage bands—or headlines in your preferred musical genre (persuade performers to forego their usual fee or donate a portion of that back to your charity).

You can upsell VIP tickets, combine the concert with food or alcohol, and even add special giveaways or contests to generate more interest and revenue.

Just be mindful of your attendance rate—you’ll want an online ticketing platform that allows you to see ticket sales in real-time to know whether you’ll need a bigger venue.

When and where?

Saturday night is great for band battles. Venues like Elks Clubs, VFW Halls, and School Gymnasiums can usually be rented cheaply; just keep in mind any rules and regulations concerning noise variance and the sale/consumption of alcohol on the premises.

Pub/Restaurant Crawl

Fundraising potential: ★★★
Overhead cost: $$$
Event complexity: ???

Pub Crawl Fundraising Idea

A pub or restaurant crawl is a great way to involve as many local philanthropic-minded businesses in your charity fundraising idea as possible. Set up multiple locations with small tasting plates, drink samples, and maybe even other local products to keep everyone full and happy. Aiming a little higher to pull in a bigger donor pool? Look for corporate sponsors—even nationwide companies—to increase your brand recognition through juxtaposition.

These events can vary in complexity and fundraising potential greatly because you can go simple (a few nibbles at a half-dozen venues), or you can go all out (food options, drinks, and entertainment at each place). Set strict time limits at each venue and have a plan in place to transport participants to and from. (Buses work perfectly).

When and where?

That’s really up to your venues, but it might be easier to plan on evenings when those venues are typically slow or even closed (such as Monday).

Date Nights

Fundraising potential: ★★★
Overhead cost: $$
Event complexity: ???

Speaking of nights on the town . . . themed dinner parties are another one of the wonderful nonprofit fundraising ideas for your event. Use the lure of a romantic or relaxing night away from the family to bring out couples (or singles) and open up those purse strings.

The best part about these fundraisers is you can easily adjust the complexity and earning potential. Dinners, winery tours, sampling events, movies, or live shows—mix and match the resources you have available to create an event scalable to your needs, audience, and location.

You can even ramp these events up to the max and turn them into annual gala events with the help of corporate sponsors and big-name donors. Date night fundraisers can quickly become cherished events within your community and result in sizable giving regularly.

When and where?

Weekends are best as this is the time when partners can often get free time together. For smaller events, a weeknight might be easier to coordinate. As for location, that depends on the scale of your event. An intimate affair might call for a small restaurant, whereas a gala event requires a banquet space. Also, be sure to consider entertainment requirements.

Auctions (Live or Silent)

Fundraising potential: ★★★★
Overhead cost: $$
Event complexity: ????

Silent and Live Auction Fundraising Idea

Auctions are an awesome way to get everyone in the community involved with your fundraiser event. Reach out to local businesses for donations of time, goods, services, and more to create high-value auction packages that turn a profit. You can also enlist the help of local influencers, celebrities, or well-known businesspeople as guest auctioneers. Auctions are a win-win because your charity gets the essential funding it needs while building your brand identity within your community and supporting your neighbors.

Get creative with themed auctions, themed packages, or even all-night combination events like dinner, dancing, or performers to increase your audience and earning potential.

When and where?

Weekends work best as most people can get time away from work. Any venue will do, but preferably one with a large open room (like a gymnasium, auditorium, or dance studio).

Gaming Tournament

Fundraising potential: ★★★
Overhead cost: $
Event complexity: ?

Borrow a handful of gaming consoles, some TVs, a handful of power strips, and you’re ready to go. You can even theme your game nights—go retro for Pacman fanatics or full throttle for racing enthusiasts. Choose a fun, free-for-all, or create a tournament-style atmosphere with prizes for top competitors.

These events are great for families and young individuals but could have great earning potential if you target the right audience.

When and where?

Saturday or Sunday works best. Consider using your facility or renting a hall to get the most bang for your buck. Just be sure the Wi-Fi is working if you need it.

Trivia Night

Fundraising potential: ★★
Overhead cost: $
Event complexity: ?

Trivia Fundraising IDea

Trivia is an engaging way to get large groups of people together, and friendly competition is a great way to build lasting relationships. You’ll need a sound system (unless your Emcee has a very loud voice) and a venue. Google is your best friend when it comes to questions; just make sure you get the answers right. (There’s always at least one know-it-all in the crowd.)

When and where?

Weekends are best. Bars are wonderful places for trivia, but any place big enough to hold between 30 and 100 people will do.

Theater Shows and Performances

Fundraising potential: ★★★★
Overhead cost: $$$
Event complexity: ????

Theatre Fundraising Idea

The theater has long been associated with charity fundraising events. Think of high-end events you may have attended or heard about in the news—operas and philharmonic concerts studded with black-tie high rollers. But you can target donors from all walks of life with a little creative thinking. Why limit yourself to traditional entertainment offerings like operas? Millennials—one of the generation groups most likely to part with money for charitable causes—have expressed great interest in Lucha wrestling events, burlesque shows, cabaret, and even more esoteric events like magic and circus-style shows.

Social media marketing can help you make the most of your out-of-the-box charity fundraising ideas by allowing you to segment and target your audience. Facebook and Google allow you to zero in on potential donors using various lenses—from geographical to occupation to lifestyle choices and hobbies.

That means you’ll also want your online ticketing platform to fully support social media sharing to multiply the effect of that precision marketing.

When and where?

Weekends are best for these types of big-ticket events. Bonus points if you can tie it into a certain season or a specific holiday weekend.

Where depends on the type of entertainment you’ll be providing. For smaller events, you can make use of historic theaters in your area (perhaps even partnering with them for better promotion). For larger events, you might need to rent banquet space, a larger performance hall, or even an outdoor venue like an amphitheater.

Whatever Charity Fundraising Ideas You Choose, Focus on Fun

People remember good times. The more fun they have at your charity fundraiser event, the longer they’ll remember it. If you’re using an online ticketing platform to track attendance, you’ll also have access to many other features that can help you maximize your earning potential.

Ticketstripe lets you create and sell unlimited tickets and donations to generate the most revenue for your charity. In addition, you’ll be able to collect email contact information for every attendee (including those who receive tickets from ticket bundles purchased by their employers). These email addresses allow you to send thank you notes and engage in future marketing after the event.

Turn your charity fundraising idea into a real event! Sign up for a free account, and you’ll automatically qualify for reduced nonprofit pricing, saving you hundreds or thousands of dollars per event.

Let's Team Up

Nonprofit Ticketing and Donation Platform