Published on November 15, 2022
Looking for some fun fundraising ideas and aren’t sure where to begin? Try these popular strategies that work for all types of nonprofits
When you work in the nonprofit industry, fundraising is your lifeblood. If you want the money to fund your organization’s mission, you have to go get it.
Some parts of fundraising are a given. Writing appeal letters, applying for grants, and meeting potential major donors aren’t just necessary, they’re an essential skill for most nonprofit workers.
With other parts of fundraising, though, there are myriad ways to entertain and engage donors and supporters. And when you find ways to include plenty of fun, fundraising ideas can improve awareness of your organization’s mission, allow for community-building, and of course, boost profits.
“Whatever you choose to do, providing opportunities for your donors and prospects to network and enjoy each other’s company can provide a strong sense of belonging and ‘family’ for donors, which in turn increases donor loyalty and happiness,” writes Joe Garecht from The Fundraising Authority.
Increase donations online by promoting a catchy hashtag, then keep track of your efforts by displaying everyone’s social posts in your office and on your website.
10 Fun fundraising ideas to get your donors buzzing (and donating)
Some types of fundraising ideas are versatile enough to help promote many different causes. If you’re not sure where to begin, this list is an excellent place to get started.
People love eating and they love contests, so why not host a fundraising event that involves both? Chili cook-offs are probably the most well-known, but it can really be any type of food. Invite 10 local businesses to donate a booth and compete, and then charge admission to excited eaters.
Everwall would be great during a cook-off, too. Set up a few screens around your venue with live streams of what attendees are saying on social media with your event hashtag. Set up a leaderboard of most engaged eaters, and you can even have them vote for their favorite business over social media using a live poll.
2. Fun runs/walks
According to a survey of event planners by Software Advice, fun runs and walks are the best major event for nonprofits of all sizes—they’re easy to plan and deliver a high return on investment. Fun runs and walks don’t include marathons, half marathons, 5Ks, or other high-profile race events, though. Your event can be as simple as students using the school’s track or a group using an existing park or trail for a run/walk event.
3. Silent auction
Silent auctions can help you raise a lot of money if you’re able to secure some big-ticket items from donors. These events can also be quite versatile. Incorporate one into a larger fundraising event, like an annual gala, or make it totally online with digital participants. Adapt a silent auction to fit your organization’s needs and budget.
4. Trivia nights
A trivia night is one of those fun fundraising ideas where the sky’s the limit. You can ask questions related to your nonprofit’s mission, or general pop culture questions. Use Everwall to show the questions and answers on a large screen where everyone can see. Charge a fee for teams to play, or have teams raise money before the event even happens. Get creative!
Ask a business (or two, or three) for attractive prize donations that people will want to win. Tie those prizes to an online fundraising campaign and say that every donor who hits a specific level will be entered to win.
6. Yard sales
Yard sales are another one of those fun fundraising ideas that can be as big as you want them to be. Some nonprofits do digital yard sales and post items on social media with details and an event-specific hashtag. Or, have a big in-person yard sale where members of the community are invited to pay a fee to sell their stuff. During the yard sale, you can have a 50/50 raffle, sell food, offer face painting or other fun activities.
7. A-thon events
In one survey, Software Advice found that a-thon events—dance-a-thons, bowl-a-thons, etc.—have the lowest cost per dollar raised. So, if you’re working for a smaller nonprofit, some type of a-thon event could certainly be a good match for your budget.
8. Social sharing blitz
Try a one-day social media fundraising blitz. Choose a date that’s important to your organization and actively encourage donations and sharing through all your social channels. Create a hashtag for the day and then monitor its use live in your office via a social media wall.
For example, Nebraska’s Wabash College ran a very successful social media blitz for their “4/30 Wabash Day of Giving.” Their goal was to get donations from 430 donors in 24 hours to earn an extra $43,000 in pledges from alumni. By the end of the 24 hours, Wabash had received 2,329 donations and raised over $465,421. The social media buzz they generated was one of the biggest drivers—their hashtag #Wabash430 received 694 unique mentions that day.
9. Paint nights
Paint nights—where an instructor teaches everyone how to paint the same scene—have grown in popularity in recent years. They can be adults-only, or encourage folks to bring the whole family. Charge a fee to paint and incorporate any other money-making opportunities, like selling food.
10. Viral video fundraisers
Remember the ALS ice bucket challenge? Of course you do. This viral video campaign raised an estimated $115 million during the summer of 2014 and created a ton of awareness for The ALS Association. Think of an idea that matches your organization and then encourage your social media followers to upload videos with your fundraiser’s hashtag in the post copy. You’ll be amazed to watch how far fun fundraising ideas can travel online.
There are truly so many different fundraising formats that can work for a variety of nonprofit organizations. The key is to put yourself in your donors’ shoes and think about what types of events you’d think were fun and what you’d be willing to pay for. Pretend you’re an outsider looking in and get creative with your fundraising.
Start building your social wall today, and get real-time analytics on your social fundraising campaigns. We track volume, unique reach, total reach, who the influencers are and more. And since we know it’s important to you, we keep the data forever.
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