The reason being…?
It’s pretty easy to find a good cause nowadays. In our informed day and age, we can see the need everywhere, and that’s a good thing!
But just being aware of the hurt around us doesn’t go very far in helping resolve the issue, does it? I mean, we can talk about it all day on social media and not really get much done.
That’s why fundraising is a vitally important part of many philanthropic efforts, and it isn’t going away any time soon. In fact, 2017 was actually a record-breaking year for charitable giving!
So, we’ve established that there’s a lot of awareness and giving going on, but once you’ve picked something worthy of throwing your weight behind, how do you tap into that stream of passion and donations for your own cause?
That’s where a comprehensive list like this can come in really handy.
I’ve gathered together over 151 of the BEST fundraising ideas, no matter what your situation. I’ve organized them into several categories, so go to the section that applies to your current situation and look for the best ideas that will work for you right now, and see which ideas jump out at you as perfect for your church or organization.
Or… If just want the highlights, watch this video:
Prep Your Online Tool Kit For Optimum Fundraising Efficiency
Cleaning up and optimizing your online presence is a modern necessity if you want to get the most out of your fundraising efforts.
Hint: If someone is willing to give their hard-earned money to help further your work, you can pretty safely assume that they care on some level!
Chase those leads!!!
So go over this section carefully and try to pick at least some of these items as action points to prep yourself for the fundraising efforts that are in your future.
1 – Create a Website (or Clean Up That Website Five Year Old Dino of a Site!)
If you’re a bigger operation, you’ve probably got this covered already, but in this day and age everyone can (and should!) have an online presence to back up their fundraising efforts. Make sure that your website is clean, clear, and communicates your goals and mission efficiently.
2 – Make Sure Your Website is Ready for All of that Traffic
This one is a subtle but important one. Especially if you’re a larger non-profit organization, things like website loading speed, mobile-friendly site design, and content above the fold are going to be crucial factors in making sure you can handle the traffic when you’re fundraiser proves to be a smashing success. So once you’ve got your website set up, make sure to comb over it and get everything running as smoothly as possible before you start directing people to visit.
4 – Take Your Store to the Digital Level
This one is a great idea for anyone trying to sell something (obviously!). For real, though, online stores are not only effective, they’ve become super easy to set up. Whether you’re using an Etsy shop, a cheap Shopify storefront, or even a free WordPress site, there is a myriad of options to get your products available on the web.
5 – Set up an Email Lists
Building and maintaining an email list is a great way to keep people updated and aware of current fundraisers. You can create a free email list through something like Mail Chimp. Then send relevant, meaningful info on at a reasonable frequency to provide value and to keep your crowd ready to hear about occasional opportunities to support your cause!
7 – Set up a Bank Account if You Need One
This one depends on the scale of your fundraiser as well as where you live. Find out if/how you need to track the funds you earn, and if necessary, set up a bank account for your nonprofit so that you can keep track of the funds as they come in.
8 – Team Up With a Graphic Artist
While not necessary, this one is helpful when it comes to promoting whatever event you decide to go with. Catchy logos and eye-popping ads and images designed specifically to go along with your fundraiser can be the perfect way to help get the word out. You don’t need a “professional” artist, either. Just someone who knows how to work photoshop!
9 – Use a Virtual Thermostat to Track What You’ve Raised
This is a great idea if you have a specific goal you’re trying to reach. After all, one of the rules of the internet nowadays is to make everything VISUAL! Representing your goals via a thermostat, pie or bar chart, or some other visual icon can make it easy to promote how you’re doing and get people’s attention.
10 – Create Other Images and Visuals to Let People Know About You
Along the same lines as the last idea, take whatever meaningful information you have on your fundraising subject and turn it into infographics! These are pictures that are visual, attractive, and loaded with information. People like to share them, and they can help spread the word, raising awareness… and funds! Remember to include your organization’s website and any other relevant info on each one.
11 – Utilize Facebook’s “Donate Now” Button
Facebook provides a very helpful donation button that allows you to ask for donations right on Facebook without sending users scampering off to other sites where they’re left trying to figure out how to get their donation to you. The Facebook donation took also allows you to update your donors and even provide live video feeds of your organization’s activity or events.
Ideas for Fundraising Online
12 – Set Up a Text Campain
One of the most undervalued yet effective modern fundraising solutions, a well-cultivated text campaign can bring money in for your cause lickety-split (and with minimal effort!) Just find a good source (like digigiv.org) to help set up your campaign and then start gathering the phone numbers of willing participants who care about your cause and want to get updates on events and fundraisers. Texts are EASY to create. No need for fancy email or social media image creation. Just a short, simple text with a call to action and you’re donations should start rolling in no time!
10 – Create Other Images and Visuals to Let People Know About You
Along the same lines as the last idea, take whatever meaningful information you have on your fundraising subject and turn it into infographics! These are pictures that are visual, attractive, and loaded with information. People like to share them, and they can help spread the word, raising awareness… and funds! Remember to include your organization’s website and any other relevant info on each one.
13 – Crowdfunding Your Cash
This is a tried and true fundraising method of the modern era. Using a tool like Go Fund Me or Indiegogo you can raise money for your cause at the push of a button. Just set up the campaign, set your goal, and spread the word to your (hopefully) carefully cultivated social media, email, and text lists and groups. It’s a minimal effort way to get in front of a ton of people.
14 – Host an Online Raffle
Taking that concept of a raffle online can be a great fundraising option. Once again, there are a number of different sites like Rafflecopter or Rallyup (you can easily Google many others) that can make running a raffle online a sinch! Be warned though, most of them will take a cut of the action. Also, make sure to figure out what the raffle rules are where you live. In Texas in the U.S., for example, you can’t offer cash and must own the item being raffled.
15 – Have a “Goofy Selfies” Photo Contest
Use your social media outlets to host a “Goofy Selfie” photo contest! There are a few ways you can go about this one. The easy way is to create a Facebook post or other social media feed for everyone to post their selfies in. Then have them like and share the post as part of their entry and make sure to include a donation option. The other way is to have an “entry fee” either for posting selfies or for the right to vote on them. There are new platforms coming out all the time that help streamline these options.
16 – Crowdsource a Recipe/Cookbook or Other Online Content
If you’re part of a larger organization or have a lot of loyal fans, this is a great way to get them involved. Have everyone chip in by offering a recipe and then gather them into a fundraising cookbook! The best part about doing this digitally? No printing! Just create a doc or pdf and pop it up for sale on that online shop you hopefully have running by now!
17 – Have an Online Giving Event
This one is as simple as it sounds. Sometimes raising funds can be as easy as explaining how desperate the need is for your organization to do what it has to do, and then asking for a donation by directing people to a donation link. It’s very important that you don’t just use emotional pleas in this kind of a fundraiser, though. Make sure to do your homework and bring solid facts to the table to help explain your case.
18 – Find a “Matching” Partner
Finding a person or organization (or a group of them!) that is able to match donations is a classic way to help boost your fundraising efforts. People are almost always more willing to give when they know their hard-earned money is being doubled at the same time!
21 – Online “Silent” Charity Auctions
This one is a great way to bring the power of an auction to the internet. Gather donated items (if they’re physical make sure they’re not heavy to ship!) and set up a page with the items available to bid on. You can try to set up something more sophisticated on your website or just pop each one up on a social media platform and have people comment their bids!
22 – Start a Profile Picture Challenge
This one involves challenging social media users to change their profile pictures to one that represents your fundraiser for a period of time. All you need to do is create an informative graphic to replace their current profile pictures, a description of the fundraiser, and a donation link. Then provide all three of these to your supporters and followers via your social media and email outlets to start the fundraiser and watch it go from there!
23 – Sell Products Online To Support Your Cause
This one works really well when you already have that online storefront (idea #4) all set up and running. What you sell on the store can be something that you or your fundraising compatriots have pulled together, or you can even try to find something that is produced by the same group you’re raising funds for too!
24 – Sign up for an Affiliate Programs
An affiliate program is usually simply a program that allows you to become, in a sense, an online “vendor.” You are usually given some sort of unique link to a product or service, which you then use to promote and market to your followers. You then get a percentage of each purchase made.
25 – Use Amazon Smile
One specific affiliate program idea that is designed with fundraising and nonprofits in mind is AmazonSmile. When you register your organization on Amazon Smile you then get access to a number of marketing options to promote to your followers so that they can shop on Amazon (just like normal) and YOU get .05% of everything they spend.
26 – Search for Any Local Grants
It isn’t technically an “online” fundraising idea, but the internet would be the place to start with this one. Search for any grants that would apply to the specifics of your church or nonprofit!
27 – See if you Qualify for a Google Grant
A Google Grant is a special grant that Google offers to eligible businesses that gives each one $10,000 a month in free Adwords advertising. Just imagine how much help that kind of money could be in promoting your cause! As is always the case with these kinds of things, there are restrictions and qualifying conditions, so head on over and check if your nonprofit is eligible!
Always try to be growing your network in everything you do. Trust me, it’ll make long-term fundraising much easier once you’ve developed a loyal fan base of donors who believe in your cause.
Ideas for Fundraising Individually
28 – The Nice Smell Approach
In an era when everything has become automated, the olfactory attraction of a scented candle is still holding its own. Either look for a reseller who will share part of each sale with you or simply purchase the candles in bulk and then resell them marked up a bit!
29 – Appeal to the Sweet Tooth
An easy one to purchase in bulk, candy bars have been a tried and true fundraiser for time out of mind. Buy them in boxfuls and sell them individually. You can bring them to large gatherings, ask permission to set them up outside of a busy storefront, leave a box in a local restaurant, or even offer them to that uncle with a weakness for candy…he’ll take a whole box!
30 – Bust Out Those Coupon Books
Coupon books scream value, even if $5,000 in savings really means $20,000 in purchases! Coupon books allow donors to feel that they’ve both supported you and saved some money in some of their day-to-day purchases at the same time. Whether you find a preassembled coupon book or solicit local businesses to participate, this is a great option to consider.
31 – The Garden Option
This one is more of a seasonal idea, as you want to catch people when they’re prepping their gardens. Selling plants door-to-door can be a great avenue for earning some cash for your cause. All you need to do is find a local nursery That’s willing to work with you and give you a decent percentage of each sale you make!
32 – Host a Direct Sales Party
Another, more “business-y” idea along the lines of a selling fundraiser is hosting a direct sales party. It doesn’t matter if you’re helping to sell make-up, clothing, or whatever else, these can offer great ways to help support your cause.
33 – ‘Tis the Season
In the same vein as selling plants, look for any other seasonal items that you can sell. Christmas wreaths or poinsettias, Valentine’s Day roses, 4th of July fireworks (where they’re legal!), Mother’s or Father’s Day gifts, or even a Thanksgiving turkey are all options. It always is a bit more fun raising funds when everyone is in a festive spirit!
34 – Wrap Up Those Goodies
Offering a gift wrapping service can be a great way to help raise some cash for your cause. While there are always those occasional stand-outs who want to do it themselves, the reality is that many, many, MANY people out there just don’t want to do the wrapping. Be their hero …and support a good cause at the same time!
35 – Bathing and Grooming
Not you, your pets! Set up a pet bathing and grooming service. You can have everyone bring their pets to you or even charge enough to cover the costs in order to bring the service right to their house …or offer both options!
36 – Babysitting Services
Offering parents with children a chance to have a break and unwind is literally priceless, that is until you make it a fundraiser! And while surviving a night babysitting kids can be downright perilous at times, once it’s done you’ll have some raised funds from some very happy donors!
Ideas for Fundraising Individually OR with a Group
37 – Have a Good, Old-fashioned Phone-a-thon
This idea takes the text fundraiser back a few decades. But don’t underestimate its effectiveness! While texting can help you keep in touch with people who have already donated to your cause, this option can help with both reaching out to old and new donors with a more personal touch.
38 – Box-on-the-Counter Method
This one is a pretty simple concept. Create several sealed boxes with a donation slot on them and label them with information about your cause. Look for any storefronts, restaurants, government buildings, churches, etc. that will let you place a box on their counters. Then, go around once in a while to collect the money that’s come in.
39 – Set Up A Giving Kiosk
This one is a bit more modern and mainly accessible to larger organizations, particularly those that have a permanent location. Giving kiosks, which can be literal kiosks or even just an app, are great because, as I’ve already mentioned, not everyone carries cash with them anymore. To remedy that, a giving kiosk can come equipped with an electronic, drum roll please, credit card option!
40 – Do the Band Thing… !
Who doesn’t love a good t-shirt to help them brag about what they believe in …or look cool …or look like a rebel… why do we wear these again? Whatever the reason, t-shirts are still a great way to make some affordable merch and then sell them. You can do it in person OR online, with a group OR individually, making this one a truly diverse fundraising option.
41 – Make DIY Jewelry
Another great idea is to create and sell jewelry. This allows you to target those who aren’t necessarily going to spring for a more “in your face” option like a t-shirt. Often you can even tailor the jewelry to fit your fundraiser precisely (Hint: see the next idea…).
42 – Step Aside, Live Strong…
We all know about those Livestrong bracelets. But, just like t-shirts, that doesn’t mean it’s a trademarked idea! In fact, you can order a batch of bracelets designed and tailored with information specifically about your cause! It provides a more subtle, easily wearable way for donors to show they support your cause with a memento emblazoned with your organization’s info!
43 – The Human Snow Plow
Whether you have a large group or are an army of one, shoveling driveways is never out of reach. The only thing you need is… snow! If it’s that time of year, though, making some calls to potential donors during a snowstorm (or even a lighter snowfall) can be a great way to provide a service and simultaneously be able to get some decent donations in the process.
44 – Become a Lawn Artist
Once that snow melts away, hang up your snow shovels and break out your garden tools, it’s time to start offering landscaping services! While landscaping can be done throughout the year in many areas, you really want to try to have this one when everyone is busy cleaning up from the snowy, stormy, wet (or whatever rough chunk of weather you have annually) season.
45 – Cut Some Green to Make Some Green
On the opposite side of the year from the snow, we have lawn mowing. People actually mow lawns for a living (the same goes for the snow plowing), so this isn’t chump change you’re working with here. Offering to mow lawns is another great way to bring in cash at a decent clip, and leave some very satisfied donors in your wake.
46 – Rake Up Some Funds
Finally (have you notices Those leaves look beautiful as they change colors… until they fall off the trees. Then they’re just a pain in the butt! But for the fundraiser looking for ways to offer a valuable service and simultaneously raise some money, it’s a perfect opportunity! Rake ‘em up!
47 – Do Some Seasonal Decorating
Depending on the season, you can offer to help decorate someone’s house, put up lights for Christmas, set up a cornucopia for Thanksgiving, or get patriotic on the 4th of July. If you brainstorm ideas beforehand and come to the table offering a legitimate, valuable service, people will sign up lickety-split!
48 – Set Up A Dog Walking Service
This one requires some organization and time management on your part, but, if you live in an area with lots of dog owners, having owners donate to have you walk their dogs is an easy way to help raise money and get some exercise at the same time.
49 – Offer General House Cleaning Services
Whether you’re a team or a one-man show, cleaning is cleaning. It also happens to be something that very few people actually like to do. (What? No way!) Once again, it offers a great “high-value service” that can leave your donors satisfied that they supported a good cause and got a clean house, workspace, church, etc. in the process.
50 – Organize a Letter Writing Campaign
Ah, letter writing. In our day and age, it’s come to mean something more than just a way to deliver information. It’s become a personal way to deliver information. Writing personalized letters to potential donors is a way to show that you’ve done your homework, you’re addressing them personally, and you don’t take your cause lightly.
51 – Organize a Walk-a-thon or a Run-a-thon
This is a great way to foster unity and comradery, and perhaps even some competition amongst donors and fundraisers alike. A walk-a-thon keeps the stakes fairly low and makes the event accessible for anyone who wants to participate, while the run-a-thon brings out the athletes in force! Either one provides various ways to raise funds, from registration fees for participants to corporate sponsorships and pledges from non-participants.
52 – Turn Up the Volume!
While walking and running are completely reasonable ways to raise funds, the real question that needs to be asked is: why are you running when you can DANCE? You can have participants pay to participate and then compete to see who is the best dancer of them all! Just make sure to lock down a good DJ to keep those feet moving.
53 – Freeze for Funds!
O.K., don’t literally freeze, please! (Consider that my official disclaimer.) But seriously, a cold water plunge can be a great way to raise the stakes and get everyone excited. After all, let’s face it, we all love seeing someone jump into freezing water. Why? We’ll never know. What we do know is that it’s a cool way to raise funds and entertain the masses at the same time.
55 – Collect Used Shoes
This is an idea that might look a bit stinky on the surface, but it can be an effective fundraiser nonetheless. Shoes are thrown away by the millions each year, and often without being really worn out. If you take just a little effort to try to collect some of these, there is usually an organization like Funds2Orgs somewhere nearby that you can take them too and exchange them for cash!
Ideas for Fundraising with a Group
56 – Offer Your Services To the Community
When you have a group your options suddenly skyrocket. Look around your own organization and see what skills are present. Do you have painters, construction workers, landscapers, mechanics? The list goes on. Take a “skill inventory” and then see how you can market these skills as a fundraising opportunity. You can take donations per job, per hour, or on a “give as you feel led to give” basis.
57 – Have a “Rent-a-worker” Auction
This idea leverages your group’s work for donations, much like the last idea. However, this time, rather than offering a specific service, you offer to “rent” out people from your group to help with any projects that require a lot of manual labor. It’s a great way to help raise funds and at the same time help donors clear out their garage, cut the grass, mulch their gardens, clear sticks from their yards, stack firewood, or whatever else is needed
58 – Have a “Rent-a-talent” Auction
Again along the lines of offering a service, this one involves “renting” out your group’s time, but this time on a higher skill basis. Again, take a “skill inventory” of everyone in your group that possesses a more refined skill like accounting, writing, sewing, decorating, construction, etc. Then rent them out for cash!
59 – Collect Those Bottles…
A classic option, especially for younger youth group ages who might not have as many honed skills yet, is a bottle drive. Get some volunteer drivers (who don’t mind if their cars smell like beer for a while!) and have your group split up throughout your local neighborhoods collecting every bottle and can anyone is willing to give them. You can target this one as well. For example, right after certain major holidays like 4th of July or in college towns around graduation can be prime bottle drive targets!
60 – Declare a “Penny War”
Usually, war is a bad thing, but not in this case! Split your group into opposing sides and have each one go around raising as much spare change as they can find. Set a deadline for the final battle, and when you reach it count up which side has raised the most cash. Make sure to declare a winner in the conflict!
61 – Leader Payback
Who doesn’t love to see their coach, principle, or organization’s leader dye their hair blue? Or wear a clown suit to work? The idea of dangling a ridiculous incentive like this in front of your group can be a HUGE incentive to keep your momentum going and keep everyone working together. This one works particularly well with other fundraising ideas as well, as it can help add some drive and avoid adding any additional cost to your fundraiser, too!
62 – Dunk ‘em for Cash
Once again, playing on that weird human obsession with watching people “suffer for a good cause” (admittedly, playful suffering, of course), a dunk tank is an excellent option to help whip up some excited and funny support for your cause. Of course, you need to find a place to rent one, but if you have an event where you know you’ll have plenty of people ready to line up for a chance, this one is sure to make a splash.
63 – Pie in the Face
The next on the list is another “I’ll go through the gauntlet if you donate” idea. All you need is someone (preferably a leader character like a coach, principle, or even the president of your organization) who is willing to take a pie to the face for your cause. You can either make a big show out of one pie to the face or charge a hefty price for individual pies to the face. In this case, though, make sure to talk it over with… the fundraising victim!
64 – “Do Without”
Much like Lent or the 30 Hour Famine, this fundraiser focuses on challenging people to “do without” something important for a time. You can have everyone who donates join in the challenge to give something up or have your group “do without” and look for people to pledge support. You can also collectively give something up or have each person give up something a little bit more personal to them like their Xbox or sweets or even… coffee! (I’ll forgive you if that last one is just too hard.)
65 – Have a “Great Seats” Ticket Raffle
Whether it’s something as simple as a seat at a local concert or sports stadium or as valuable as a couple of backstages passes at a big-name concert or sideline tickets at an NFL or NBA game, holding a raffle for a chance at for the best seat in the house is a stellar fundraising idea. All you need to do is find an event that holds genuine value for your potential donors early enough to secure good tickets and then promote and facilitate the raffle either in person, online, or both.
66 – The Parking Spot
Along the same lines as the “Great Seats” idea, in this case, you raffle something a little bit closer to home, a good parking spot! Whether it’s a great space at your organization, a workplace, a school, or a church, set up a raffle and give it away! Consider making a plaque for the parking space with the name of the fundraiser too, that way you can auction it away on a monthly or even weekly basis.
67 – Rock it up with a Rockathon
Grab your knitting needles, it’s time to rock! When you have a rockathon you have your group commit to rocking for as long as they can. Set a time for the event and then set out to find some donors to pledge either a total amount or a “per hour” basis. Then, rock it up! You can also provide a prize for the longest rocker as an incentive to keep those chairs swaying!
68 – Run Some Laps
This is a great one for adults and kids alike. Simply select a fairly small track that goes in a loop and have your group commit to running as many laps as possible. Then look for donors who can sponsor the participants on a lap-by-lap basis.
69 – Have a Car Wash
If you have a group, all you need is some water, soap, sponges, and a parking lot and you’re ready to go! And who doesn’t like giving a donation and getting a sparkling car out of the deal? It’s a win for everyone involved. Make sure to make up some promotional signs though, so everyone driving by during the event knows what’s going on!
70 – Crowdfund Physical Labor
This one is specifically helpful when your need doesn’t just involve finances, but physical labor as well. If your organization has something that needs to be done, don’t be afraid to crowdsource the job! Keep in mind, this can require quite a bit of organization, as you don’t want dozens of people showing up only to stand around, but as long as you know what you need done, send out the word and look for anyone willing to donate a few hours of good, honest work!
71 – Organize a “Dress for Awareness” Day
This idea works really well both to boost awareness for your cause and also to help raise funds. And it requires very little work on your part outside of organizing it in the first place! Pick a day and decide what unique piece of clothing should be worn on that day (make it something odd, like a crazy hat or a specific color so that it will stand out!) then use your social media outlets to spread the word. Make sure to provide your followers with current information on your cause for when they are asked about their clothes and tell them where to direct people to donate!
72 – Collect Boxtops
Once again, if your need extends beyond finances, this is a great way to get support while minimally impacting the lives of your donors. All you need is to do is conduct a little research and provide a list of boxtop items that you are fundraising for. Then watch as families connected to your church, school, or organization begin collecting and the boxtops start rolling in!
73 – Host a “White Elephant” Ornament Swap
A great way to celebrate the Christmas season in fundraising style, a White Elephant ornament swap is a fun community event where everyone pays an entry fee and comes with an ornament or two to enter into the swap. By the end of a night filled with fun, drinks, snacks, and great conversation, everyone has a couple of new ornaments, and you have some raised funds!
74 – No Shave [Pick Month Here]
Most of us know about No Shave November, right? But who says that November should have all of the hairy fun? Have your own “no shave” month and then have it double as an awareness/fundraiser for your cause! Make sure to have easily available information and donation links at the ready
75 – Grow a Beard Challenge
Starting a “grow a beard” challenge is nice for a couple of reasons. First, it’s not restricted to a time period like a “no shave month.” Second, a month isn’t always enough time for genuine beard growth. If you leave an open-ended challenge, it will give time for those participating to genuinely start to look different, increasing that awareness each and every shave-less day!
Ideas for Fundraising using a Large Event
76 – Host a Coffee House
Who doesn’t love a cup of coffee with some friends? This one has loads of potential, too. Along with coffee you can do a raffle, silent auction, sell baked goods, and even have a local artist or musician come to help with entertainment. If you have live music, make sure to hook up a Facebook Live Feed of the event as well (along with a donation link)!
77 – Have A Good, Old-Fashioned Bake Sale
When you bring baked goods into the picture, a fundraiser becomes as easy as pie. After all, who doesn’t love that tingly feeling of knowing you supported a good cause AND got a piece of cake in the process?
78 – Eat That Pie!
Speaking of baked goods… who wants some pie? Hosting a pie eating contest can be a great way to put on a show that is sure to entertain a host of potential donors. You can charge an entry fee for the event or even have people pledge on a “per slice eaten” basis.
79 – Have a “Cook-Off”
Whether it’s chili, burgers, or ribs, gather up the best chefs in town and have them compete to see who is the king of the kitchen! Charge a fee for attendees to enter and join in the taste testing and voting, and before you know it you’ll have your culinary victor picked and your funds raised.
80 – Calling All Food Trucks
If you’re in a town with a good number of food trucks, try reaching out to get them all together for a “food truck night,” where a percentage of each sale during the event would go to support your cause. Bringing the community together for an evening of good food is a tremendous way to fundraise and build relationships all over a meal from the food truck of your choice!
81 – Host a Fundraising Concert
Do you know any local musicians? Anyone who can draw a crowd? Call them up and see if they’d be interested in playing a charity show to help you out. You’d help them get some exposure in the process, and it opens up the chance to weave in some other fundraising ideas like raffles, door prizes, and even merch sales! Remember that Facebook Live option with a donation link, too!
82 – Have a Battle of the Bands
Why settle for one band when you can have several? A battle of the bands is a great way to bring your local musical world colliding together in an epic clash of talent! Sell tickets at the door along with other merch, snacks, etc. Also, make sure to promote the details of your organization or mission and build those email and text lists!
83 – Organize a Talent Show
This one is a blast just by itself. After all, who doesn’t love seeing the hidden talents of your friends, co-workers, or fellow churchgoers? Each person performing is a little individual marketing nucleus that will bring their own group of friends and family, creating the perfect environment for an evening of fun and a chance to raise some funds for your cause!
84 – Host a Singing Competition
Love it or hate it, reality hit shows like The Voice or America’s Got Talent are watched by TONS of people. So why not use that same concept to help meet your financial goals? Have a singing competition with judges to rate the competitors (just don’t invite Simon Cowell unless you want people crying). Charge an entry fee and make sure to promote your cause from every angle you can reasonably think of throughout the show.
85 – Karaoke the Night Away
If an actual singing “competition” is too intense for your tastes, just host a regular ol’ karaoke night. Apart from an entry fee, you can provide beverages, snacks, and any other fundraising ideas like raffles or door prizes with the items donated by local businesses.
86 – Have a Face Painting Competition
This one can be done on its own or within the larger context of a something like a carnival or a concert. It doesn’t even have to be an event you’re running. If there’s a local event in town, see if you can set up a face painting booth! Charge for each painted face and make sure to take the opportunity to spread the word about your organization’s mission, goals, and the reason you’re fundraising!
87 – Put on a Carnival
This is one of the bigger items on the list as far as work, prep time, and upfront investment goes. You don’t need to go renting a roller coaster (although that would be awesome!), but things like obstacle courses, bounce houses, competitions, and, of course, cotton candy and popcorn, are all good ideas for a carnival, and fairly easy to pull together too. Charge an entry fee or per ride, and provide snacks, merch, raffles, face painting, and more!
88 – Host a Summer Festival
This one is similar to the carnival idea, but is usually a bit less about rides and competitions, instead focusing on an attraction like a concert, artistic display, or even something like a scarecrow competition! Whatever the main attraction, though, the same “large event” fundraising principles apply. Promote your cause, fit in other, smaller fundraising ideas, and make the best of all of the work that goes into throwing such a large, attractive event!
89 – Have a “Family Fun Day”
Another idea along the theme of carnivals and festivals is a “family fun day.” Rather than focusing on a performance, rides, or competitions, this idea zeros in on one idea in particular: family fun. Center the event around group games, food, and anything else that can help bring families together. Charge a fee to attend and put out a jar for extra donations!
90 – Large-scale Scavenger Hunts
These are really fun to put together, and charging an entry fee can turn it into a great fundraiser, too. All you need to do is come up with a list of items that need to be found! Consider turning each item into a riddle. Most people love competing with riddles involved! Also, offer extra “clues” to help with the riddles for those who donate on a higher level. Make sure to try to offer a good incentive for the winner as well. Here is a company that puts on scavenger hunts all over the place. It might good to take a look a there website for some inspiration.
91 – Host a Charity Auction
This one starts by going to any local businesses you think might be interested in donating to your cause and try to get items worth auctioning off. Once you have these in hand, set up and promote the auction itself. Creating a good vibe is crucial with this one, as you want everyone participating in the bidding. Make sure you find a good auctioneer, as that can make or break an event like this one.
92 – Shhhh… Have a Silent Auction
This one still begins by looking for valuable and/or unique items from any local or online businesses. Once gathered, rather than preparing for the “performance” of an auction, just set them out along with sheets and pens for private bidding. If you or someone in your group has the ability, you can also take these online via a number of different bidding apps or sites, combining the power of online and in-person auctions into one, awesome fundraising experience.
93 – Host a Spaghetti Dinner
Getting back to some of the tastier ideas out there, consider hosting a spaghetti dinner. The stuff is both cheap to make and leaves you with some satisfied donors with very full stomachs. You’ll need a proper facility to cook, but if you have one you can get your hands on for little to no cost, this is a great way to fill up some stomachs and your nonprofit’s coffers at the same time.
94 – Have a Pancake Breakfast
If the idea of a dinner fundraiser didn’t float your boat, how about a breakfast one? Pancake breakfasts are, once again, easy to pull off in bulk without breaking the bank buying your supplies and, at the same time, very satisfying for anyone who pays for a meal!
96 – Have a Cultural Food Night
Man, the food ideas are cooking, and I’m getting hungry! Seriously, though, food has such an amazing power to bring people together in support of a cause! Another great idea is a cultural food night. After all, culture is such a huge part of community in the first place. And with the world shrinking more all the time, what better way to bring everyone together at the same time than over a culturally diverse meal? Charge an entry fee at the door and then have your donors spend the evening taking a global culinary adventure.
97 – Have a Community Potluck
When all other food options fail, you can always fall back on the trusty potluck dinner option. You can have donors or your team members (or both!) bring dishes to share, buy a few pizzas and some drinks to “fill in the gaps,” and then charge an entry fee, put out that donation jar, share those crowdfunding links, build your email list, etc. while you all have a great night of eclectic food fun!
98 – Intermittent Fasting Challenge
If you can’t get a meal fundraiser going, how about getting rid of a meal instead? Intermittent fasting is currently all the rage for weight loss, but it can also be a great idea for a fundraiser as well. Have members of your team commit to skipping a certain meal (usually a proper intermittent fast involves not eating for at least 12 hours a day) and then look for donors to pledge to support them throughout the challenge
99 – Host a “Pick-up” Sport Event
Some people are born to play sports. They can’t get enough of the competition. A “pick-up” sports event tries to harness some of that competitive spirit into a fundraiser that appeases the athletes’ need to play along with your need for funds. Just pick a sport (soccer, flag football, volleyball, softball, etc. …or more than one!) and find a place to host the event. Charge a participation fee, and then make sure to provide some structure so that it doesn’t just become a hectic free-for-all. Have some volunteer referees on hand and make sure to cycle participants into games on a regular basis so that everyone gets a chance to compete.
100 – DIY Drive-In
Talk about nostalgia! A drive-in is a classic way to spend a fun, entertaining evening, and the best part is that you can host one yourself! All you need to do is track down someone with a good outdoor projector, find a good place to project onto or set up a temporary screen, pick a movie, and then let everyone know about it. Make sure to have some popcorn and candy on hand too!
101 – Have a Used Book Sale
In a world of electronics, nothing quite beats that feeling of cracking open a book and smelling those printed pages. And a used book sale? That adds in the feel of a treasure hunt! It’s also a great way to raise funds for your organization too. Send out the word asking for used books and then find a space with tables (you’ll need a good amount of them to display everything!). Make sure to get some volunteers on board for this one, as you’ll want to sort the books as much as possible to help people find what they want!
102 – Have a Used Clothing Sale
Along the same lines as a used book sale, in this case, spread the word that you’re looking for clothing donations. Once you’ve gathered a decent amount (and had your team go through and pick the stuff worth selling) hang it up, fold it, organize it, and sell it!
103 – Set Up a Temporary Consignment Shop
Think Goodwill “pop up shop” This one is similar to the concept of a used clothing sale, except this time you are selling the clothing for the clothing owners who keep a portion of each sale. The benefit here is that you’ll usually get better clothing and be able to charge more for it since it’s not just the stuff that is being given away. Keep in mind, though, that it requires a bit more organization to track the sales and pay all of the consigners once it’s done.
104 – Run, Baby, Run!
Hosting anything from a 5k run to a full-blown marathon can be a great way to ramp up support for your cause! If you aim for a shorter distance you’ll get more participants, but if you’re capable of reaching a larger group of donors, a marathon can be an attractive challenge as well. Either way, you can charge a registration fee or have runners look for personal pledges.
105 – Organize a Swim-a-thon
If running isn’t your crowd’s cup of tea, consider swimming! This can be done in a lake, river, Olympic sized pool, or even a big pond! Donors can support the swimmers on a “per lap” basis. The smaller the space, the less money per lap and vice versa.
106 – Have a Bike-a-thon
If long distance is your thing, then break out those bicycles and have a bike-a-thon! Whether it’s a lap driven fundraiser or you have participants pay a registration fee, this can be a great option for those who love both the peace and the challenge of a good bike ride.
107 – And Then There’s the Triathlon!
You saw this one coming, right? If you’re already reading through these thinking, “Running? Biking? Swimming? Oh, my!” Then consider organizing a triathlon! This triple header brings all three of these athletic elements together in a great challenge for any competitive athlete. Participants can pay a registration fee to help support your cause, while prizes for the first few winners to cross the finish line can be a great finishing touch!
108 – 10,000 Steps A Day Challenge
This one takes the idea of a single athletic challenge event and spreads it out so that anyone can do it anywhere. Have members of your team commit to walking 10,000 steps a day and then look for donors to pledge support for each day that the fundraising goes for. You can have participants keep track of their steps by purchasing pedometers or (even cheaper) having them download step tracking apps on their phones!
109 – The Pet Walk
A much tamer spin on all of these athletic options is the “pet walk.” As the name implies, in this one you set up a course similar to a 5k race and encourage donors to commit to walking the course with their pets. If you think you’ll get a lot of participants, you can charge a registration fee but having the walkers gather pledges of support may be the better option. See, the nice thing here is that you can make the pet the participant collecting pledges! Sure, their owner is walking them, but who wouldn’t want to pledge $10 to support Feefee the chihuahua?
110 – Corn Maze Challenge
Another less competitive spin on the “walking a long distance” idea is organizing a corn maze challenge. Now, obviously this is a seasonal one, but if you can find a good maze near you, reach out and try to see if they’d be willing to give a portion of each ticket sale to your organization when participants mention your group’s name.
111 – Organize a School Picnic
This one is nice because your donor crowd is already isolated and easy to find… the students and their families! Reach out to a local school and try to set up a day to have a picnic. This can be on a school day, although you may get more full family participation if it’s in an evening or even on a weekend. Sell tickets and then plan out what food and drinks you’ll have available. With that many kids in attendance, it’s nice to also plan out some fun activities and games… even a face painting station (see idea #86…)!
112 – Let Your Inner “Country Mouse” Out… Have a Barn Dance!
If your crowd likes to dance, hosting a barn dance can be a really fun way to get everyone moving. Keep in mind, though, that with large collective dances like these, you’re going to want a good DJ (or even better, a live band!) to run the music and teach everyone the dances. This is also a great event to incorporate other ideas like bake sales, raffles, and even a general donation jar.
113 – Have an Art Show!
If you have connections with any local artists, an art show could be a great way to both bring your local art community together and support your cause at the same time. Keep in mind that you’ll need a good facility to host an event like this, but if you have a space, all you’ll need is the artist and their artwork to show off! Charge for tickets at the door, and even consider asking if any of the artists would be willing to donate a piece of art to raffle or auction off during the event!
114 – Host a “Highland Games”
This one is for all of you Scotsmen out there! Hosting a Highland Games event can be a blast! From tossing cabers and tug o’wars to throwing hammers and the shot put, the competition at these games can be both novel and intense. If you know anyone who can play the bagpipes as well, that’s the perfect cherry on top! You can sell tickets at the door or have a fee to participate in each game. Organize some food and drinks and spread the word, laddy. The highland games have come to town!
115 – Have a Scarecrow / Angel Making Contest
This one can be a blast! You can choose a theme like scarecrows, angels, etc. Have people sign up to enter their own scarecrow and see what kind of imaginative scenes they can create. When the day for the event comes, have each display set up in a row and have attendees pay to vote on which one they think is best. Think of it as a low-pressure art contest!
116 – Have a Local Vintage Car Show
Put out some feelers throughout your community and see if you can rally all of your local vintage car owners to your cause! Then set a date and have them come to show off their cars! You can charge an entry fee or use the cars as the main attraction and set up other things like popcorn, face painting stations, balloons, and baked goods (Idea #77) to help raise your funds! If you really want to get the most out of this fundraising idea take a look at some the ideas Autoblog.com posted about the topic.
117 – Have a Big Fat “Nothing’s Going to Happen” Event
While all of these events are fun, exciting, and good ideas for fundraisers, sometimes things are so busy that you just need to throw a non-event. What’s that, you ask? Well, a “nothing’s going to happen” event is when you pick a time in the future and then promote it as a “non-event,” asking people to donate to your cause and then pledge specifically to DO NOTHING during the event. We’re talking stay home along and lay on the couch watching TV. Doesn’t sound so bad, does it? Just make sure to have a good donation link ready to go, as you won’t be seeing people face to face for this one!
Ideas for Fundraising using a Smaller Event
118 – Have a Garage Sale
A great way to simultaneously declutter and raise some money is to have an organization-wide garage sale. Have your team members bring anything and everything they don’t need together, get everything priced and labeled, find a good location with easy public access where you can set up some tables, and start selling! Make sure to promote the sale anywhere you can as well! Make signs, post on your social media, and even pop some ads up on Craigslist, Facebook marketplace, etc.
119 – Host a Barter Sale
Along the same lines as a garage sale, a barter sale encourages people to bring their unwanted items in order to trade them for other things. While this removes the financial element of the garage sale, it still can be a good fundraiser if you charge for access to the event or even a fee per item brought to barter.
120 – Have a “Pajama Day” at Your Local School, Youth Group, etc.
If you have a local school, church, or other organization you are a part of, consider having a pajama day. This is an effective way to raise money with minimal effort. All you need to do is promote the day of the event using newsletters, word of mouth, social media, etc. and let potential participants know that they will have special permission to wear pajamas to school/youth group/etc. on the day of the event. Then, when the day comes, go around and collect everyone’s “pajama fee.” Easy as pie!
121 – Host a Board Game Night (The Relaxed Version)
The “ultimate version” of this one is further down (idea #151). For smaller groups, though, a relaxed game night with gamers paying to play can be a great way to bring people together to support your cause! These can be anything from classics like chess and checkers to others games like Codenames or Risk. Don’t forget to provide snacks!
122 – Game Console Night
While this one requires a little bit more technical setup, it can be a great way to appeal to the geeks in your crowd by offering a night of game console fun. Provide some junk food and soda to keep everyone going and don’t forget to charge a fee for everyone to attend!
123 – Lock Yourself In
Another great way for a smaller group to have some fun and help raise funds is to have a lock-in at your church or organization. This one can work as a fundraiser on its own or as a central event that serves as a catalyst for other fundraisers. Don’t be afraid to use it as an opportunity to draw attention to your cause and inspire those who are going to be “locked-in” to conduct other fundraising ideas to support the event.
124 – Dog Wash (Event Version)
I know I already included a pet grooming service option for individuals to go around offering, but this one is a more stationary, “event” version rather than a traveling service. Find a place with running water, get soap, towels, pet grooming brushes, etc. and then spread the word so that everyone knows when to bring their dogs!
125 – Have a Barbecue
Who doesn’t love a barbecue? Seriously… I think I might take a break from this to go and grill something really quick. But before that, let me just say that a barbecue is a great way to raise some money and host an event that leaves your participants satisfied with full bellies. Considering the cost of meat and the slower cooking time, however, unless you’re a large-scale operation, this idea tends to lend itself more to smaller events where you won’t have large lines of people waiting for that next burger to finally finish cooking.
126 – Just Relaaaax with a Spa Day!
Few things have as relaxing a reputation as a spa, which makes it a GREAT idea for a fundraiser. When someone knows they’re going to be getting some quality “me time” and can support your church or organization while they do it, it will bring donors flocking! While you can recreate a number of spa elements like pedicures, manicures, etc. with the help of your team, also consider trying to ask any professional masseuses, nail technicians, or any other local relaxation specialist who are willing to volunteer their time and get some free marketing as well!
127 – Release the Balloons!
A fairly simple one, this idea has captivated the imagination for generations. All you need to do is rent a helium tank and buy some balloons and string. Have your team fill up the balloons (and maybe attach a piece of paper with some info to each one about your fundraiser) and then have people purchase a balloon to release!
128 – Light Up the Sky
This one is the “nighttime edition” of the balloon release. Rather than balloons, though, this time make it Chinese lanterns! They may cost a little bit more than a balloon, but the draw of a sky loaded with Chinese lanterns is too good to miss, and, if it’s well advertised, you should have no problem finding a donor for each lantern.
129 – Have a Movie Night
While I already included a drive-in movie option, this idea is a little bit more intimate. Try hosting a movie night! A church, school, or any other facility with a projector and a screen works perfectly, allowing you to turn the place into a virtual movie theater for an evening. Make sure to sell some popcorn while you’re at it, too!
130 – Have a Movie Marathon
Continuing with the movie theme, consider hosting a movie marathon. Select a day and pick a multi-part movie series like The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean, or something more kid friendly like Toy Story or Ice Age. Have people buy tickets and provide some snacks and drinks. Then sit back and enjoy the show!
131 – Have a Live Sports Watching Event
One more large-screen option you may want to consider is hosting a live sporting event. Now, this one requires a bit more detail in timing, as you can’t start and stop it whenever you want. But the truth is, people love watching live sports. Whether it’s the World Cup, the Super Bowl, or the NBA finals, hosting an event with food, drinks, and a live stream of the game can be a great way to sell some tickets and raise some cash for your financial needs.
132 – Host a Memorial Dinner
While this one is never fun to have to do in the first place, hosting a memorial dinner to help the family of a loved one who has passed can be an amazing way to bring a community together to both love and financially support grieving relatives. From selling tickets to raffles, auctions, selling baked goods, etc. this is a truly effective option to help a hurting family in your community.
133 – Host a Trivia Night
Who doesn’t love a good old-fashioned trivia night? This idea can vary widely in how it’s done, too. For example, you can make it a generic trivia night with drinks and snacks, or you can make it themed after something like sports, fantasy, sci-fi, etc. Have people purchase tickets to attend and have a great time seeing who is the trivia king!
134 – Bingo Night
Another veteran fundraising idea is having a bingo night. Fun for adults and children alike, you can raise money by having donors pay to play. You can pick up some prizes on your own for the winners or reach out to local businesses to donate something as well. In case you need a little inspiration when it comes to communicating your event, there are a ton of funny photos on Pinterest.
135 – Parent’s Night Out
Parenting is an exhausting job, guys. Trust me, I know. Why not give the parents in your community a well-deserved night off? Host a parent’s night out fundraiser! Have parents donate in order to drop their children off for a set amount of time during which they can go out for dinner, to the movies, or whatever they feel like they want to do with their freedom. After all, it’s their night!
136 – Obstacle Course Challenge
This is a great one to do with a smaller crowd, as you can make it a fairly challenging course and can avoid it getting dangerously clogged up with participants. Make it as big, long, and complex as you want to! Just make sure to market how challenging it will be as well. Then charge a registration fee to participate, time each entrant, and have a prize ready for the winner! A great example of an organization doing this amazingly well is the Grand Rapids Mud Run. You can check out their site for a little inspiration.
137 – Host a Fiction-Themed Party
Calling all fiction fans! Hosting a sci-fi or fantasy themed party can be a great way to bring out the inner nerd in us all. You can focus the party on one topic like Star Trek or the Lord of the Rings, or leave it open-ended and see how everyone chooses to dress up! Research some themed snacks for the occasion and charge extra for anyone who doesn’t show up in costume!
138 – Host a Pool Party
Nice people, fun, food …and swimming, this is what a good party is all about, right? Like with most of the party ideas we’ve talked about, provide some basic snacks (or even have a “potluck” approach to spread the snack duties out amongst your team or other guests) and charge a fee for anyone who attends with all proceeds going to support your cause!
139 – Have an Epic Ping Pong Tournament
Ping pong… it’s an odd sport that both fasscinates and baffles us. Is it even a sport? Of course… right? Either way, people get crazy about ping pong tournaments! If you can get a ping pong table or two, host a full-on ping pong tournament with everyone paying to compete. As always, provide snacks, have some prizes, and try to work in some other smaller fundraiser ideas for those who are eliminated from the competition early and need something else to do.
140 – Have a Tea Party
This is one of the most genuinely refined options on the list. If having a pool party, a carnival, or a live sports event is just way too much action, consider this one. First find a church, school room, or some other space conducive to a more eloquent event. Then reach out to anyone on your team or in your organization in general who might have china, teapots, tea cups, teaspoons, tablecloths, and any and every other thing that can help make a tea party a success. Charge a fee at the door, do some raffles or silent auctions, and sell baked goods to go along with the tea and sparkling conversation. The only question is, will you have one lump or two?
141 – Fundraising Dinner with an Expert
This idea is pretty neat. If you know anyone who is popular, famous or a particular authority on any interesting subject, ask if they’d be willing to be the guest of honor at a dinner. Then, sell tickets to the dinner where all donors will be able to listen to the expert talk and even have a chance to pick his or her brain. You can even charge an extra fee to take people’s specific questions ahead of time so that the expert can have clear and detailed answers for their “special donor questions” during the event.
142 – Say Cheese Fundraiser!
A photo booth is an iconic way to raise some money, either as its own event or in conjunction with another one. You can rent actual photo booths if you want to, or you can just set up a great photo booth space with a cool background, nifty props and a good camera on a tripod. Another cool variation is renting Polaroid cameras and having donors pay for their Polaroid picture to be taken! Flip Give wrote a pretty good article on this fundraising idea with a little more context.
Ideas for Fundraising with Limited Attendees
143 – Have a Gym Rat Session
If you or anyone in your group loves working out, you can use that to your advantage …as a gym fundraiser! Organize a group session for anyone passionate about both lifting weights and your cause! You can charge a participation fee or have a general donation jar out.
144 – Let Your Inner Artist Out
Another great idea is to host a “group painting event.” Find a local artist (who is good at teaching their craft) to and ask if they’d be willing to donate their time to teaching an art class. Make sure to charge enough per ticket to also cover the costs of the paints, paintbrushes, and canvas or whatever else you choose to paint on!
145 – Host a “Black Tie” Restaurant Fundraising Event
Do you know any good cooks? I’m talking gourmet chefs (or something close to that, anyway.) Then consider putting together a “Black Tie” restaurant for an evening! Create a detailed menu full of high-quality dishes, find a nice location, and recruit a team of kitchen aides, waitresses, and a host or hostess to help run the night. Then, sell tickets to the event like they’re rare stuff! If you make the event as high-caliber as possible, you’ll lock in a reputation for future events of the same nature too, making them even more successful.
146 – Survive a Murder Mystery Party
Put on your detective hats! This idea takes the novel thrill of a murder mystery party and turns it into a fundraiser for your cause! Murder Mysteries are often very limited in number, which means you’ll need to sell tickets at a decent price and make sure that anyone who commits to the event genuinely commits. Otherwise, it can throw things off for the whole group. Here is a company that provides you with an “out of the box” type of murder mystery fundraising experience: The Murder Mystery Company
147 – Have an RPG Adventure!
Another cool “role-playing” idea for a smaller fundraiser is to host a Role-Playing Game Night like The One Ring or Tales From the Loop. Find a good game master who can work well with both experienced and inexperienced players and pick a style of game that would be attractive to your fan base. Charge a fee for a spot in the game and then provide snacks and drinks for the event itself.
148 – Host a House Party or Concert
Having a “donors only” house party can be a fun way to bring a splash of exclusivity to your event. If only certain people are invited, doesn’t that make it the place where everyone wants to be? The event also doesn’t have to be a party necessarily. You can also find a local band and make it an acoustic house concert!
149 – Organize a Golf Tournament
This is a tried and true method to raise funds. Reach out to all of those avid golfers in your community and set up a day-long tournament that they can purchase tickets to attend. To make this process much easier on you as the organizer I’d recommend taking a look at the Golf Registrations. Golf Registrations is a software built to make all of the administrative efforts of a golf outing fundraiser super simple! You can thank us later.
150 – Organize a “1 Day Cup” Sports Event
Similar to the golf tournament idea, you can organize a “1 Day Cup” event for most sports from volleyball to soccer, basketball, and more. Figure out the number of players who can sign up, set up a bracket, and then have the teams play until there’s a winner!
151 – Board Game Night (The Ultimate Version)
We end on a slightly more intense version of idea #121. Host a competitive board game night. However, rather than choosing a bunch of random games to play for fun, this time pick something specific like Settler of Catan and have a limited number of people sign up so that you know you can have time to play all the way down to one winner.
Which one is your favorite idea? Which ones have you tried before? How did they go? I’d love to hear about your experiences with them!