While annual fundraising events can draw big crowds, sometimes doing the same-old same-old gets, well, old. If you need some fresh fundraising ideas for charity events, we’re here to help. It’s not a stretch to say that we’ve seen organizations dream up some of the best and most creative fundraising ideas. Here are a dozen of the most successful fundraising events for nonprofits.
1) Set the Stage for Giving With a Big Show
One of the easier types of nonprofit fundraisers to sell tickets to is a show of some kind. After all, people love to be entertained! Contact local entertainers such as comedians, musicians, magicians, hypnotists, or theater troupes about possibly donating their time and resources to raise funds for your organization. Or solicit amateurs for a talent show that will draw support from family and friends.
Apart from the entertainers, all you really need is a venue to host the event, like a school gymnasium, and a reliable, low-fee ticketing and fundraising platform like Ticketstripe so you know how many people will attend. You can sell tickets to your event online in advance, with an additional or alternative donations-only option for those who can’t make the show, as well as charge a small amount more for event tickets sold day-of at the door.
2) Win Hearts With a Charity Meal
From potluck dinners to catered multi-course feasts, meals make excellent fundraising events for nonprofits. But when it comes to fundraising events, you want yours to stand out from the crowd. Accordingly, here are some charity fundraising ideas for meals:
- Turn a brunch event into “breakfast in bed” by having your guests dress in their sleepwear and encourage “sleepwalking” with an omelet or waffle buffet.
- Celebrate everyone’s Unbirthday with an Alice in Wonderland-themed tea party, complete with a long charcuterie board and a make-your-own sundae bar.
- Be a citizen of the world with an around-the-globe tasting party, with tables featuring bites from different cuisines.
Decreasing your costs is the key to fundraising success. You can decrease your overhead costs by asking restaurants and caterers for discounted rates or go homegrown (and lower budget) by enlisting an army of volunteers to help you cook. Additionally, set your ticket prices and offer sponsorship tables appropriate for the venue, the crowd, and the food being served, or consider pay-what-you-can pricing plus donation options (suggested or open), depending on what you think will be most effective to raise money for your nonprofit. Ticketstripe offers custom ticket options and automatically collects the contact info of attendees to make it easy for you to let them know about your next fundraiser.
3) Tap New Energy By Partnering With a Local Youth Group
Involving local youth groups is a wonderful way to get the community involved in giving—and groom the next generation to keep your charity going. Reach out to schools, church groups, and organizations like your local Boy Scout or Girl Scout troops to see if they’d like to help your nonprofit put on an event or other fundraising campaign.
Fun fundraisers that work best with help from these groups include scavenger hunts, physical challenges (such as field days, races, or obstacle courses), and sales events (like bake sales, garage sales, and so on). Or simply see if the group might agree to help staff whatever event you’re already planning—such clubs are often happy to pitch in for a good cause. Although you’ll want to do plenty of promotion leading up to the event, Ticketstripe’s app allows you to easily sell tickets at the door to accommodate those last-minute attendees who waited to see if their friends would be going. (Charging only a reduced admission fee for folks under age 18 will help bring the youth out, as well.)
4) Make Noise with a Silent Auction
Whether it’s your marquee event or a supplement to a charity meal, a silent auction is a great fundraising event idea for nonprofits because it generates a sense of urgency without putting attendees on the spot to spend money for your cause.
When planning a silent auction as a fundraiser, start gathering items early. The more swag you have on offer, the more you can raise funds for your cause! Approach local businesses like bookstores, day spas, hotels, restaurants, mechanics, home delivery services, and so on to donate items or gift certificates for you to auction off or even to offer resources you can use during the auction itself, such as tables and chairs. If you’re able to get a cool venue to host your event or a lot of high-ticket items, you can even charge a small fee for admission to the event!
5) Rack Up Earnings with a Raffle
Like silent auctions, raffles are a successful way to raise money for charities because they can be used on their own as a virtual event or as a secondary fundraising effort at any other nonprofit event you host. You can pair them with dinners, auctions, walkathons, sports tournaments—any event at which people congregate. Or make it a peer-to-peer fundraiser and enlist your organizations’ participants to sell tickets.
As far as nonprofit fundraising ideas go, there’s way less pressure to gather a ton of high-value prizes with a raffle than a silent auction. And tickets are generally an easy sell because they’re often relatively cheap and the potential for a “big win” is high. That doesn’t mean you can’t use the fundraising strategies of higher-end prizes and higher-cost tickets—just know your audience before deciding what route to go.
An especially easy fundraising idea is to do a 50-50 raffle, where half the proceeds raise money for your cause and half go to the winner. (Not-so-spoiler: A lot of times, the winner of a nonprofit’s 50-50 raffle donates the money back to the charity!)
6) Clean Up With a Service-Based Fundraiser
Everyone’s seen (or been a part of) charity car washes—they’re a favorite fundraising event of high schools and scout troops. But what about everything else that gets dirty? Think outside the box and host a different sort of “wash” for your next fundraising event. What about a dog wash, a bicycle wash, or even an RV wash as fundraising ideas for nonprofits?
Generate more interest by partnering with local service-based businesses, like pet groomers, bike shops, or campgrounds, for a creative fundraising twofer: Attendees get their dog/bike/camper washed by a pro—and the pro gets a chance to earn a repeat customer.
7) Dress for Success With a Themed Dance Party
Few can resist a good theme, especially when it means you get to play dress-up! A dance party is one of the best fundraising ideas for nonprofits, but make your next event a true ball with a Bridgerton-inspired gala, where guests will revel in the glamour of the Regency era and waltz the night away. Or spin your partner round and round to Dolly and Garth for a country music shindig sure to rustle up an audience. Or recreate Studio 54 in all its glory with a disco extravaganza full of glitter and go-go dancers. Or bop and hop to classic rock n’ roll with a 1950s sock hop featuring a high school jazz band or hired big band.
In other words, pick a theme and run with it to make the event a little more special. With Ticketstripe, you can completely personalize your invitation and event page, so it, too, will be on-brand.
8) Roll Out the Red Carpet With a Movie Night
Here’s a relatively easy fundraising idea for your nonprofit: Screen a movie that speaks to your charity’s goals—or simply appeals to your target audience. Plenty of venue options abound, from renting out a local movie theater to hiring a screen-rental company to set up in a high school gym or local park to hosting a drive-in in your nonprofit’s parking lot.
Make it even more fun by having people dress up based on the movie you’ll be showing—Hollywood glamour for a classic film screening, for example—and set up a “red carpet” photo booth to sell keepsake pictures for attendees. Because Ticketstripe lets you create unlimited ticket types, you could offer a discounted early bird special, a general admission, and a VIP option, where these high spenders get early private access to the red carpet photo booth and gourmet snacks—and yes, VIP seating.
9) Take Your Charity Drive To Go
Do you have a local sightseeing company, museum, or transportation organization that offers rides in airplanes, boats, or historic vehicles? Approach them about partnering with your nonprofit organization to create an event that raises money for you and generates exposure for them. For example, there’s a Civil War era fort in Maine run by a nonprofit that partners with a “pirate” ship to offer guests a ride back in time for a not-so-small donation to support your nonprofit. Such an event taps into a person’s sense of adventure but also an existing interest to create a ready-made audience to which you can sell tickets.
10) Outsource Fundraising With ______-A-Thons
Walk-a-thons, ride-a-thons, rock-a-thons, bowl-a-thons, read-a-thons—the “thon” list goes on and on. Basically, anything measurable that anybody can do for a given period of time can be turned into a potential peer-to-peer fundraising event for nonprofits. Ask participants to collect pledges from donors either per unit of time (or number of miles traversed or books read) or in a lump sum. Then promote the event on social media and by contacting local media outlets. “Thons” make good virtual fundraising ideas, too, as long as you make the most of social networks. Furthermore, you can pair these types of events with other nonprofit fundraisers, such as bake sales, silent auctions, and raffles for even more effective fundraising.
Ticketstripe’s “Promoter” feature lets you give each of your ______-A-Thon participants a personal fundraising page, which gives them credit for every penny they raise toward your cause. Just don’t forget to offer some cool prizes to the participants who meet their fundraising goals and the one who raises the most money for your nonprofit!
11) Go Full Swing with a Golf Tournament
Golf tournaments offer a fundraising opportunity that allow people to get together socially, show off their skills, and have a good time doing it. Such sporting events tend to appeal to wealthy board members, community leaders, and social groups, as well as corporate sponsors, because as a fundraiser, a nonprofit golf tournament tends to draw big crowds.
But the logistics of pulling off a charity golf tournament can be a bit daunting. Start by looking for any freebies (or low-cost) items you can get. Speak to your local golf course about giving you a discounted rate or even donating the venue. Approach corporate sponsors like beverage companies and local restaurants for refreshment donations or discounts. Reach out to corporations active in your area for monetary donations and offer them top billing on your event page.
12) Make a Fundraising Event Your Own
These are just a few of the fun and successful fundraising ideas you can use to generate charitable donations for your nonprofit. The key to hosting the best fundraising event for your charity—possibly one you can turn into an annual draw—is to get creative. Use these top fundraising ideas for nonprofit organizations as a base plan. Then add your own flair that’s unique to your organization.
Raising money for a historical society? Host a themed gala dinner in a historic mansion. Fundraising for a youth group? Incorporate the community by generating a concrete result the community can use like a public garden. Have something unique and interesting in your town? Use that business, building, statue or whatever it is as in a fun way for your next fundraiser.
Ticketstripe’s online ticketing platform helps you plan, promote, and manage nonprofit fundraisers, from neighborhood bake sales to international gala events. We help event planners create amazing fundraising events for nonprofits using:
- Simple-to-create event pages to promote your event
- Unlimited ticket types to increase fundraising potential
- The ability to collect donations from your event page
- Easy ticket sharing by Sponsors or Table purchasers
- Reduced service fees for nonprofits
See how Ticketstripe can make planning and hosting your next charity fundraising event easier.