Best Charity Fundraising Ideas

7 Fun Fundraisers for Nonprofits that Get People to Give

As anyone who’s worked in nonprofit fundraising knows, the most successful charity fundraising events are those that bring people together not just for a cause but for a great time as well. The social aspect of fun fundraisers is what makes them a must-do for many charitable donors and sponsors alike, allowing them to network and ‘see and be seen’ supporting your worthy nonprofit. By promising an enjoyable experience, these fun fundraisers effectively attract more participants and donations, making selling tickets for what promises to be a great time one of the best strategies to raise a lot of money for your cause.

But to stand out as the must-attend fundraiser, your nonprofit needs unique and engaging fundraising ideas to help you reach your goal. Consider one of these event ideas, all designed not just to raise money but to ensure your attendees have fun doing so. After all, the essence of fun fundraisers lies in creating memorable experiences that encourage generosity and build community support around your organization’s mission.

Fun Fundraising Ideas: Your Key to Success

Refer to this key to help you gauge the earning potential, costs, and ease of each event.

1. Fundraising Potential – ★ to ★★★★

Any event can be a great way to raise money for your cause, and, realistically, any of these events has unlimited potential. That said, typically, you’ll raise funds anywhere from a few hundred dollars (★) to upwards of $50,000 (★★★★).

2. Overhead Cost$ to $$$$

This includes all the expenses you might incur, from venue rental to entertainment costs and utilities. Again, any of these events can fall along the entire spectrum. A $ rating means you could organize the event with a few people and short cash. A rating of $$$$ could mean you’re renting equipment, a venue, professional services, and vendors.

3. Event Complexity – 🗓 to 🗓 🗓 🗓 🗓

At a minimum, your fundraiser will need a venue—assuming it isn’t a virtual event—and something to do or see that gets people out (🗓). At the other end of the planning spectrum (🗓🗓🗓🗓), you might need catering, audio/video services, not to mention a virtual army of volunteers.

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 even better! From a setup perspective, this charity fundraising idea is a little front-heavy on the complexity. Only because you’ll need to book a venue with a stage and a sound system and recruit your entertainment. The bands can be local—high schoolers, garage bands—or headliners in your preferred musical genre, though you may need to persuade performers to forego their usual fee or donate a portion of that back to your charity. You’ll also need a prize for the winner.

To hit your fundraising goals, you can upsell VIP tickets, offer food or alcohol for sale, and even add special giveaways or contests to generate more interest and revenue. The bands themselves can be charged with managing their own fundraising campaigns to garner support via peer-to-peer fundraising. Ticketstripe offers a free fundraising page, unlimited ticket types, and the option to give others their own promoter pages—all with no additional fee to add to your overhead costs.

Battle of the Bands is not just a fundraising opportunity; it’s a fun fundraiser that promises an unforgettable night of music and competition. Encourage the bands to get creative with their performances to keep the energy high and ensure everyone has a great time.

When and where?

A Friday or Saturday night is great for band battles. Venues like Elks, Kiwanis, or Rotary clubs, VFW halls, and school gymnasiums can usually be rented for a small fee; 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 Fun Fundraisers Idea

A pub or restaurant crawl stands out as one of the most engaging fun fundraisers, offering a unique opportunity to bring together local philanthropic-minded businesses to support your nonprofit organization. Set up multiple locations in a popular neighborhood 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? Recruit corporate sponsors to increase your brand recognition through co-promotion.

These events can vary in complexity and fundraising potential greatly because you can go simple—charge a small fee for entry, then a la carte for each drink or snack at a half-dozen venues—or you can go all out with tiered tickets offering food options, drinks, and entertainment at each place. Both are options with Ticketstripe, but in our years of experience, the fewer steps your buyers have to take, the better. An all-inclusive ticket means a single scan with our app, and they’re on their way to a fun-filled night. Be sure to set strict time limits at each venue and have transportation for your guests, which may mean buses or limousine rentals.

When and where?

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

Date Night

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

Speaking of nights on the town, themed date nights are another fun nonprofit fundraising idea for your event. Use the lure of a romantic or relaxing night away from the family to bring out couples, or singles looking to mingle.

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 up these events 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 donations to your nonprofit organization.

When and where?

Weekends are best as this is the time when partners can often get free time together. For smaller events or singles mixers, a weeknight fundraiser 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.

Live or Silent Auctions

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

Silent and Live Auction Fun Fundraisers 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 or services to create high-value auction packages for great fundraising potential. Get creative with themed auctions, themed packages, or even all-night combination events like dinner, dancing, or performers that are otherwise unavailable for purchase. Auctions can be made into virtual events, with a good online streaming and bidding setup. For live events, enlist the help of local influencers, celebrities, or well-known businesspeople as guest auctioneers and charge an entry fee for those who just want to witness the spectacle.

Auctions are a win-win as an easy fundraising idea because your charity gets the essential funding it needs while building brand identity within your community and supporting your neighbors. The complexity really comes down to how elaborate you want to get with number of prizes on offer and your execution.

When and where?

Weekends—days or evenings—work best as most people can get time away from work for several hours. Almost any venue can work, but preferably one with a large open room, like a gymnasium, auditorium, or dance studio.

Video Game Tournament

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

Hosting a video game tournament is not only a modern and exciting idea, it’s also one of those fun fundraisers that appeal especially to schools, youth programs, and groups, or any organization that helps kids. Just borrow a few gaming consoles, TVs, and power strips, and you’re set to create an event that’s not just about raising funds but also about providing a genuinely fun and competitive environment for participants.

You can even theme a video game competition: Go retro for Pacman fanatics or full throttle for racing enthusiasts. Create a tournament-style atmosphere with small prizes for each round’s winners and bigger prizes for the winners.  To enhance the fundraising aspect, consider integrating peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns, encouraging competitors to rally support from their networks.

When and where?

After school or Saturday or Sunday afternoon 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, especially for online games.

Trivia Night

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

Trivia Night idea for Fun Fundraisers

Trivia Night is an intellectually stimulating addition to any list of fun fundraisers, perfect for engaging a broad audience in a night of knowledge, laughter, and community spirit. And friendly competition is a great way to build lasting relationships that translate into more money for your nonprofit. You’ll need a trivia master and a sound system—unless your emcee has a very loud voice—and a venue. Google is your best friend when it comes to creating the questions; just make sure you get the answers right. (There’s always at least one know-it-all in the crowd.)

Teams will expect prizes for the winners, especially if you charge a fee for registration; consider asking the venue to offer a gift card or comped check for the top team. Or perhaps go 50-50 from the signup fees, with half of those fundraising dollars going to the winner and half as money for your mission. Oftentimes, the bragging rights are enough, and the winner will donate the money back to your charity.

When and where?

Any evening will do! Bars with a communal seating area work especially well for trivia, but all you need is any place big enough to hold tables that seat between 30 and 100 people.

Great Performances

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

Theatre event for fun fundraising

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 yours doesn’t have to be the most elaborate or expensive undertaking for effective fundraising. Attract donors from all walks of life to attend your fundraiser 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 more eclectic tastes. Events like lucha wrestling, burlesque shows, cabaret, and magic and circus-style shows can be great fundraising ideas for nonprofits to attract this affluent and generous audience.

Social media marketing can help you make the most of your unique fundraising idea by allowing you to segment and target your audience. Facebook and Instagram in particular allow you to zero in on advertising to 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?

Weekend evenings 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. The location depends on the type of entertainment you’re showcasing. 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

Whatever charity fundraising ideas you choose, focus on making them fun fundraisers. People remember good times. The more enjoyable the experience, the more likely participants are to return for future events. By using Ticketstripe to manage your event, you’re not just organizing a fundraiser; you’re creating an enjoyable community experience that will be remembered and talked about long after the event has concluded.

Ticketstripe lets you customize your event’s online fundraising page, create and sell unlimited tickets, and collect online donations to raise money for your organization. We offer nonprofits and charities incredibly low service fees that you can pass on to the buyer, ensuring 100% of your proceeds go to your cause. In addition, you’ll be able to collect contact information for every attendee, including those who receive tickets from ticket bundles purchased by their employers. This allows you to send thank you notes and market them with future fundraising opportunities.

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