Master the Art of Nonprofit Fundraising with These Event Ideas

Becca Bloch March 28, 2016, by Becca Bloch

Nonprofits without fundraising are pretty much the equivalent of fish without water- it is a basic necessity. No matter the size, cause or location of your nonprofit, fundraising is a primary requirement.

For a nonprofit, fundraising plays an all-encompassing role of keeping your organization moving in the right direction, growing your mission, and helping maintain its daily functions. Therefore, your fundraising ideas need to be unique, engaging and generate interest. Remember to distribute flyers, create a social media hashtag, advertise in online/ print newsletters, and get the word out well in advance to get people excited and ready for the events.

Below are some creative event ideas that put the FUN in nonprofit FUNdraising.

1. Community Involvement

Community events are a great way to get your friends, neighbors, and public working together to raise money and advocate for your cause. These events get a great deal of action due to the fact that members enjoy and feel more comfortable participating when it is with people they know. And, better yet in their own backyard!

  • Pancake Breakfast: Everybody loves some good old flapjacks! Charge and entrance fee at the door for a stack of pancakes and extra for toppings!
  • Car Wash: An all time classic. Either partner with your local car wash or do it on your own! It is easiest to charge per car, but don’t be afraid to offer some discounts!
  • Battle of the Bands:  Raise the roof and raise funds. Take advantage of the musical talent in your area. Anyone - young, old, rockers, folk singers you name it and I'm sure your community has it! This is a great way for the artist/ band to gain exposure and your nonprofit to bring in the funds.
  • Trivia Night: Another classic to add to the list. Trivia nights have an endless opportunity- from history to pop culture you have a wide variety to choose from. This event can be set up as a game show, Who wants to be a Millionaire or just a simple game of trivia! Charge participants an entrance fee, ask for donations, and make sure to give away prizes throughout the night!
  • Cook- off: Invite participants to compete for the title of MasterChef while you charge guests to come, sample, and vote for the best dish.

2. Activities for Kids

Fundraising events geared towards kids can sometimes be tricky and difficult to come up with, however, if you get creative they are definitely worth it. Exposing children to nonprofit fundraising at an early age will encourage their philanthropic involvement for the future.

  • Talent Show: Encourage the kids to show off their talents for a great cause. Pick a location, organize the program of acts, and you can even go as far as choosing a panel of judges. The kids will thoroughly enjoy this. Charge an admission fee for those coming to see the show.
  • Art show: Get crafty! Kids love arts and crafts and better yet when they get to show them off. Set-up an art fair, where all the proceeds go to your nonprofit's cause.
  • Carnival: This fundraising event is always a highlight for kids (and parents as well)- prizes, games, food, it has it all! The majority of your incoming funds will come from ticket sales, raffles, and food. That being said, it is always a good idea to have donation boxes around the event as well.  A carnival nonprofit fundraising event takes time and energy to execute, therefore, make sure you are ready for the commitment.

3. Work Events

Get your co-workers involved. Work events not only raise money and awareness for your nonprofit's cause but also build employee morale. Work fundraising events are a great way to take a break from the daily work environment, have some fun, and give back to the community.

  • Eco- fines: This idea is a simple way to implement fundraising in the workplace. For those who forget to turn the lights off, leave the water running, don’t recycle, really anything that could harm the environment, have them donate to the cause. Raise money and save the planet all in one.
  • Comfy Day: This is a no-brainer fundraising event. Organize a day at the office where employees are allowed to dress down- pajamas, sweats, and active wear. For those who come to work in their normal attire, they are required to donate to your nonprofit's cause.
  • Office Olympics: Have colleagues make a donation to the cause as their “in” to participate. From there the office will divide into teams where they will compete in various activities. Some examples may include: office chair races, paper airplane competitions, creating the biggest rubber-band ball in 20 seconds, etc. Get creative and have fun with this one as there are many options!

4. Sporting Events

Just as the title suggests, these fundraising events get participants up and moving . No matter one's athletic ability, they are encouraged to participate. Sporting events are a popular way to get individuals and their friends involved!

  • Kickball: Kickball games are typically events that people participate in voluntarily so why not make it for a good cause! Get teams together, a field to play on, and event gear made. This way players feel official and a part of something. Charge to participate and include an additional charge for the t-shirt (or gear) provided.
  • 5k Walk/ Run: Whether you're an avid runner, an occasionally jogger, or a steady walker everyone is welcome to participate in this event. 5k Walk/Run is unique in the sense that apart from paying an entrance fee, participants can solicit donations on their own.
  • Ping Pong Tournament: You can never go wrong with ping pong. Get your friends together for an epic ping pong tournament. For this event, you will need to find a space that has tables and paddles for your nonprofit to use. Although this may be difficult, once you have got that covered the event will be a hit! To participate in the event, have players donate to your cause.

5. Holiday Spirit

The holidays are known to be a popular time to donate. Which is why your nonprofit should take full advantage and plan fundraising events around these dates.

  • Valentine's Day: Run a flower sale, chocolate sale, and/or bake sale where all proceeds go to your nonprofit organization.
  • Halloween Pumpkin Carving: Nothing says Halloween like pumpkin carving! Get people together to explore their creative side and celebrate the fall holiday. Have participants pay per pumpkin, and extra if they want to add glitter, ribbon, paint, etc.
  • Holiday Gift Wrapping: Yet another classic on the list, nonetheless, it always seems to turn out pretty well. Everyone is looking for their gifts to be wrapped during the holiday season, so why not offer this service for a small charge. Get some awesome wrapping paper, gift bags, and bows, and you’re good to go!

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By implementing creative nonprofit fundraising ideas, your organization not only gets to directly interact with the community but at the same time raises fund- ultimately a win-win situation.

Becca Bloch

Becca Bloch

Becca Bloch is the communications & partnership manager at Elevation, a full- service nonprofit web design agency. As a lifelong volunteer for nonprofits, Becca has taken her passion to the next level assisting nonprofit organizations in developing an online presence in order to influence greater change within their community. When she isn’t working, Becca enjoys snapping photos, Netflix movie marathons, and catching up on her favorite blogs.

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