Top 60 Event Fundraising Ideas

 

Introduction

Just like people need food for sustenance, nonprofits need funding. That's a given.

And even truer, the same way healthy eaters consume a balanced diet of healthy oils, fruits, vegetables, proteins, whole grains, and water, nonprofits have a varied diet of fundraising sources.

There are annual funds, monthly giving programs, planned gifts, major gifts, seasonal campaigns, end-of-year campaigns, grants, and so forth. The list goes on. As far as the fundraising diet goes, events hold a significant spot in the pyramid.

As important as fundraising events are, it is more important that the organizations hosting them pick fundraisers that match their specific needs and atmosphere.

If you’re in that position, look no further than the list below. No matter your organization's needs, you'll find ideas and inspiration in the 60 fundraising events explained here.

Annual Events

Travel Raffle

Travel Raffle

Cost: $  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

You'll need some great contacts to pull off a travel raffle. But, if you do, one of your lucky supporters will be setting sail (or taking off) on the vacation of a lifetime.

Get your staff together to dream up the perfect getaway. You want the trip to be so enticing that anyone who hears about it will be rushing to enter the raffle, yourself included!

For the prize package, you'll definitely want to secure airfare and wonderful accommodations for two. Seal the deal with included tickets and coupons for activities to fill out the winner's travel itinerary.

Work with a team to secure the various trip items as in-kind donations. It'll take ingenuity to complete the prize. Struggling to find donated plane tickets? See if a frequent flyer will donate her miles. Having difficulty booking a hotel? Ask around for a donated vacation property.

Once the package is finished, set your raffle ticket price and start advertising. You can host a reveal party to pick the winner's name, or fold the raffle into another fundraising event.

Learn more about deciding if a fundraising event will be worth the cost in the end.
Golf Tournament

Golf Tournament

Cost: $$  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

Charity golf tournaments put the fun in fundraising. Sunny weather, beautiful scenery, and bountiful funding.

For your golf tournament, you'll need:

  • A great course to play on.
  • A date that usually has good weather.
  • A committee to help attract sponsors and participants.
  • In-kind donations for event day needs, like golf balls and drinks.
  • Plenty of promotions.
  • A plan for the closing ceremony and awards.

You can sell tickets to individuals, but twosomes and foursomes will be easier to place. Let local companies or community groups sponsor a set number of foursomes (gold level sponsors receive two foursomes, for example).

When the big day finally arrives, make sure you have systems in place to handle registration efficiently and get everyone out on the course as quickly and as smoothly as possible.

Wrap up the day with an awards ceremony and a brief presentation about the cause behind the charity and what the new funding will accomplish.

Learn how your constituent relationship management database can help you manage your golf tournament from start to finish.
5K Walk/Run

5k Walk/Run

Cost: $$  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

Looking for an effective fundraiser with low overhead? Look no further than a charity 5K.

5Ks are easy to promote and easy to fundraise for, thanks to peer-to-peer fundraising. They appeal to your support base, as well as those out in the community who might not have ever heard of your cause.

Casual joggers, road race enthusiasts, mall walkers, and more, all have a place in the event. You'll make your money from entrance fees and most of your expenses will come from securing a venue, refreshments for the racers, and commemorative t-shirts.

In addition to entrance fees and donations that you gather leading into the event, walks/runs have a special fundraising superpower — the participants. Through your main crowdfunding site, racers can create their own pages and solicit donations from friends and families.

Not only will participants be able to raise extra money for your cause, but they'll also be raising awareness. Even if those that they reach out to don't donate to or attend your current race, they might in the future. It's also great for expanding your organization's reach and peer-to-peer fundraising is the perfect platform to do so organically.

Learn how to empower your race participants to crowdfund for your cause.
Auction

Auction

Cost: $$  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

Auctions are events within events, and they pair well with many of your fundraising staples.

The first decision that you'll have to make when it comes to your auction has to be about what kind of auction you're going to have. Silent? Live? A combo?

There's no wrong answer. The decision will come down to the kind of event your auction is a part of. If the auction is a central attraction to the event, go live or go home. If, on the other hand, the auction is accompanying an awards night, silent is the better route.

With a good auctioneer, live items typically sell for equal to or more than fair market value. At silent auctions, you can anticipate raising half of fair market value for each item sold. However, if you have an item that needs to be carefully inspected to sell, it will do better in the quieter, closer setting of a silent auction.

To collect items for bidding, gather a team of volunteers, staff, and board members to reach out to all of their contacts.

Experiences and one-of-a-kind items go over best. Think trips to exotic locales, golf with professional athletes, and dinners from celebrity chefs.

Items like those perform well during big live auctions at formal events. If your auction is smaller in scale, you have the opportunity to play to your audience. For example, an auction for a youth sports club might include four private lessons with a local coach or unlimited babysitting for a month.

Once you have your list, promote some of the items in advance of the auction as a teaser. Anticipation is an auction's best friend.

Learn what size organizations auctions are best suited for.
Oddball Events

Oddball events

Cost: $  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

Stand out from the crowd by hosting an annual oddball event.

Oddball events are those that play off of your cause in some way. They're ideal, because unlike more traditional fundraising events, oddballs are unique to your organization, which makes them especially memorable. Plus, with your cause at the center, you have a built-in strategy for raising awareness.

Take the example of Movember. Each November, The Movember Organization challenges men across the world to let their facial hair grow free for a month in hopes of raising awareness of male health issues. Participants register online to collect donations for the cause through a peer-to-peer fundraising effort.

This fundraising strategy is particularly effective for two reasons: not only is it memorably wacky, but it also forefronts the cause by making a male-specific appeal. The Movember Organization has seen so much success that “Movember” has now become a household name.

That being the case, when it comes to oddball events you can be as creative as possible, so let your imagination run wild! The only requirement is that the event has something to do with your cause. And that it provides you with some method of raising money, of course.

With a little ingenuity, who knows? Maybe your nonprofit’s oddball event will be the next big thing in fundraising.

Learn what size oddball events are best suited for.
Let us show you how Salsa can help you reach your annual event fundraising goals.

K-12 Schools

Trivia Tournament

Trivia Tournament

Cost: $$  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

What's the capital of Alaska? Juneau. How many feet are in a mile? 5280. Which MLB team has won the most World Series? The New York Yankees.

See how fun trivia can be? Your school's students will too.

Pick a night and host a tournament for teams of students to compete in. Charge an entrance fee as well as admission for the audience.

You can make up your own rules for the event, but it will need some structure.

Ask yourself:

  • How many rounds should we have?
  • How many students should there be per team?
  • What topics will the trivia cover?
  • How will students answer the questions?
  • Who will write the questions?
  • How will the questions be recited?

There's tons of flexibility with how you run your tournament. Make it more strategy-based by having students select team members to compete in different categories. Or, keep the categories secret and have the teammates work in unison to answer.

If your tournament is for elementary and middle school students, divide the competition by grade so that the tournament is fair, but grades 9-12 should all be able to compete against one another on relatively level ground.

Depending on the size of the tournament, you might need to do qualifying and preliminary rounds in the weeks leading up the main event, reserving that day for something like the quarters through the finals.

Offer rewards for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place finishes and you'll have students lining up to test their knowledge.

School Wide Yard Sale

School Wide Yard Sale

Cost: $  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

Average yard sales are hit or miss. Sometimes you see a sign and drive up to find nothing that really speaks to you. And other times you end up buying so much that you drive away feeling like you could live the past owner's life. The latter tends to be true when the yard sale is huge. The more items, the more money there is to be made.

Take this principle and run with it by hosting a school-wide yard sale on one of your fields. Ask students, parents, faculty, and staff to donate their gently used items for the sale.

Promote it like there is no tomorrow. The parents of students can post information in neighborhood newsletters. Teachers can reach out to their networks of friends and family. Get the whole town involved.

See if you can get some refreshments and snacks donated for added funding.

Whatever doesn't sell from the day can then be given to a local charity that accepts the kinds of used items that you have.

One man's trash might not always be another man's treasure. But multiple men's lightly used items are bound to turn up something.

I won't come down until...

I Won't Come Down Until...

Cost: $  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

You'll need the person's permission before beginning, but essentially you'll select a well-known member of the school's faculty, like the beloved history teacher or the vice principal, and keep him or her detained until a fundraising goal is met.

Sound strange? It is. But it's also a lot of fun and the students will really enjoy it.

This event is named after someone standing on a roof or sitting in a tree, but if that's not an option, the participant can be kept in an office.

Set the goal and give it a time limit so that the event has urgency. You don't want your teacher held up for too long. The person being detained should fundraise, as well as the student body and the rest of the school staff.

You won't believe the excitement when your goal is reached and your chief fundraiser starts descending the stairs from the roof.

Learn how peer-to-peer fundraising can help your school reach its goal.
Talent Show

Talent Show

Cost: $$  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

We all know how much fun a good, old fashioned talent show can be. Put a twist on it by having both students and faculty participate.

You can sell tickets to friends and family and turn the evening into a real theatrical production.

The show should be about inclusivity, so make sure everyone who's interested gets to join in.

To avoid a ten hour long event, have a committee work with participants to group together similar acts and ensure the show has a nice flow from set to set.

No one wants to see three covers of a Beyoncé song in a row, no matter how talented the performers are. Have the performers combine forces and sing a supercharged Beyoncé medley as a group.

At the end of the night, ask the audience to vote on a student winner, a teacher winner, and an overall victor. Give the winner a trophy to keep until the following year's show. Everyone will leave brainstorming about what their next performance should be and how they can win that coveted trophy.

School Lock-in

School Lock-in

Cost: $$  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

Everyone loves a school lock-in. Kids will be excited to hang out with their friends and participate in fun activities, while their parents will enjoy having some much-needed time to themselves.

For this idea to work, you want the lock-in to be as fun and enticing as possible, so everyone will want to attend.

Start by picking a theme to plan your activities around. It could be anything from a circus with carnival games to a movie night pajama party where kids can stay overnight. Then, make sure to pack the day (or night) with plenty of theme-related activities and lots of snacks and drinks to keep your students entertained.

Once you’ve planned the perfect day, set a fundraising goal that each student must meet in order to be able to attend. Although you want to raise as much money as possible, keep the admittance goal reasonable enough that it won’t discourage students from participating.

Whoever has met your goal by the time the lock-in rolls around will gain admittance to an unforgettable night of fun. 

For more fun school fundraising ideas, check out this additional resource!

Haunted House

Haunted House

Cost: $$  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

Get into the Halloween spirit by hosting a haunted house fundraiser!

Decorate areas of the school with creepy paraphernalia like cobwebs, Jack-O-Lanterns, and spooky spiders. Pump the hallways with dry ice for an extra creepy effect.

To make this event as cost-effective as possible, see if you can get parents or a local party store to donate your decorations.

You'll also need volunteers to play your ghouls and goblins. Recruit some willing students and alumni to act in your haunted house. If your school has one, the drama club is an excellent place to start.

You may also want to find a volunteer who's good at stage makeup to transform your actors from harmless students into scary monsters!

The night of the haunted house, have volunteers dress up in scary garb and then position them strategically around the school to provoke the most screams.

Fundraise by charging a small admittance fee. You can either host the event once or make it a weekly attraction during the month of October to raise even more.

Let us show you how Salsa can help you reach your K-12 fundraising goals.

Colleges and Universities

Alumni Happy Hour

Alumni Happy Hour

Cost: $$  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

Partner with a local bar, preferably a student favorite, and host a happy hour for your alumni. You can host it as part of alumni weekend or as its own event for graduates who have stayed in the area.

You can either sell tickets to raise money or ask attendees for donations.

It's likely that the bar itself will offer you discounted food and/or drinks for those in attendance. They might even be willing to do a profit share during the hours of the event. In that case, your fundraiser makes a preset portion of what's spent by your guests at the bar.

Hire a DJ, run a raffle, and award prizes to those who can answer campus trivia questions that they probably learned during orientation.

Most of the alumni who attend will want to catch up with old friends and reminisce about their glory days of college, but they'll also be just as interested in meeting new people and making new contacts.

Make sure that your event facilitates actual conversations. That means the bar needs to be lit well enough that you can see the features on someone’s face, have the room for a small group to gather, and quality acoustics so that attendees don’t have to scream-talk.

With the right planning, your event will stretch way past the confines of happy hour. Your guests will feel like they are 22 again and your school will have raised a good amount of money.

Casino Night

Casino Night

Cost: $$$  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

Take Vegas to your university with a campus casino night. Pack the guest list with students, alumni, staff, and faculty. Gambling for good. It has a nice ring to it.

The night itself should consist of:

  • A catered dinner
  • Blackjack tables
  • Poker tables
  • Rented slot machines
  • An auction (live or silent, gambler's choice)
  • A raffle

Make sure that every ticket holder gets a set amount of chips and then sell extra chips in exchange for donations throughout the night. Secure a small group of prizes for the attendees with the biggest winnings for the night.

The night can be formal or casual depending on the attendees that you want to attract. If this fundraiser needs to draw money from some of your wealthier alumni, go black tie. However, if you want this to largely be a social fundraiser for your student body, keep it casual and go with a quirky theme instead.

Have students volunteer as servers and look into hiring professional dealers for your card tables. If money is tight, you can always just hire the professionals for the more complicated games. Find the financial balance that works for your university.

When all's said and done, hosting a casino night is a surefire bet for fundraising success.

Learn how to keep things organized with this free event planner.
Alumni Networking Dinner

Alumni Networking Dinner

Cost: $$  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

When you're looking for ways to diversify how your college raises money, you have to consider what you can offer donors in return for their gifts. Educational opportunities? Yes. Networking possibilities? Yes, too!

If alumni are your target prospects, host an alumni networking dinner, or possibly a luncheon. As much as some love to scoff at the overuse of the term, networking is such an important practice for people of all ages, but especially those that are newer to the workforce.

Use the event to help connect your various alumni in similar fields and raise money for your organization.

To encourage attendance, book a guest speaker. You could ask a faculty member who teaches in the field that the event is focusing on or a distinguished alumnus.

Frame the event around a hot topic to best grab the attention of potential attendees. Charge per seat at the meal and serve drinks beforehand if you go for an evening event over a luncheon.

To bring in serious donations, consider running an educational series, with numerous events and speakers over multiple months.

Send out promotions to your entire alumni network and post the event on your social media accounts.

These meals provide ample opportunity to build early alumni-university bonds with recent graduates who will be able to make major contributions at later stages in their careers. Focus on fostering those relationships early and you'll be glad you did.

Learn more about appealing to your millennial alumni through special events.
Student Variety Show

Student Variety Show

Cost: $$  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

Let your talented student body show off their serious skills with a variety show entirely produced and populated by volunteering students.

Appoint a group of students to organize the show and put out an open casting call for talent. Remember, it's a variety show, so variety matters. Luckily, your college is sure to be bursting with gifted performers. Dazzle your audience with the big three: singing, dancing, and acting. But don't be afraid to step outside of your theatrical comfort zone.

Recruit comedians, magicians, acrobats, poets, and more.

Sell tickets to faculty, alumni, staff, students, and parents and you'll have no issue filling the place. You'll probably have to run the show for multiple nights to accommodate all the interest.

Make it a night for the creative arts. Use the performance space's lobby to sell student artwork before the show and during admission. Have your graphic designers put together collectible programs to sell.

Hit the mark out of the gate with this event, and it'll become one of your fundraising staples as the years go by.

Best Seat in the House

Best Seat in the House

Cost: $$  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

Hold a raffle that offers up a prize spirited students won't be able to refuse: the best seat in the house at a big game for your school's top sporting event.

First, find the comfiest sofa you can. Depending on your level of funds, you can either buy a cheap one somewhere or asks students, alumni, professors, or a local store to donate one. Then, scope out the spot with the best view in the stadium. When the night of the game rolls around, this is where you'll put your couch.

Sell dollar raffle tickets at two or three games leading up to the event. To maximize your fundraising efforts, let each person purchase as many tickets as they want.

At the end of the game directly preceding your event, choose the lucky winner.

During the big game, the winner and a friend or two will get to sit on the couch. To really give them the royal treatment, provide the winner and friends halftime dinner or drinks throughout the game.

If it's possible, you can also host a second raffle for the couch at the end of the season.

Learn how you can raise even more money with best seat in the house.
Let us show you how Salsa can help you reach your college or university fundraising goals.

Sororities and Fraternities

Throwback Thursday Dance

Throwback Thursday Dance

Cost: $$  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

If there's one thing college students love, it's reminiscing about their not so distant past. Just look at popular websites for 18-22 year olds. They're about 70% nostalgia for the 90s.

Tap into the popularity of #throwbackthursday and hold a 90s dance. Charge a small fee for admission and really lean into the theme.

Have everyone dress in their 90s best, from high-waisted jeans to oversized flannels to overalls. Craft the perfect playlist of Will Smith, Mariah Carey, Ace of Base, Smash Mouth, and the like. You can even project reruns of shows like Friends.

Most of your attendees will have been young kids in the 90s, so a dance like this would pair well with a children's charity or a youth-focused cause.

In honor of your hashtag inspired title, have attendees bring their most quintessentially 90s photos and display them on a wall. Let your partiers vote on the best pictures and give the winners small prizes.

Remember that with theme parties like this, the more committed you are to the references, the better. Go all out.

Learn why unique fundraising events such as this are best for engaging your classmates.
Campus Carnival

Campus Carnival

Cost: $$$  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

Ladies and gentlemen, sisters and brothers, step right up to your next major fundraising event — a campus carnival!

It'll take a strong team to coordinate the event. To help disperse responsibilities, partner with a few other sororities and fraternities and make it a team effort.

Put together a planning committee with representatives from all participating Greek organizations to ensure that all parties have a voice and the carnival goes off without a hitch.

Try to get permission from your university to host the carnival on the campus green so that the entire student body will see it and attend.

Divvy up the booths according to individual organizations and have members take shifts managing them.

Try to keep the initial expenses as low as possible, so that you can make a big fundraising profit on the day of. Seek out in-kind donations for the various items you'll need. Local businesses will be happy to donate as long as you explain the cause that you're raising money for and your organization's connection to it.

Most of your funds raised will come from tickets and food sales, but don't be afraid to intersperse donation boxes with signage about the cause throughout the carnival.

Campus carnivals can be incredibly lucrative, but they take a lot of planning and preparation to execute well, so make sure you're ready for the commitment if you go this route. A successful campus carnival should raise money and awareness, all while uniting your university's community.

The time and effort will be worth it.

Learn the best strategy for organizing and running the carnival with this event planner.
Philanthropic Pub Crawl

Philanthropic Pub Crawl

Cost: $$  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

Your Greek alumni and your brothers and sisters who are over 21 will love the philanthropic pub crawl. Members get to enjoy a great night out on the town together while raising money. The crawl is all upside.

To start, you'll need to pick the charity that you're fundraising for.

Once that's in place, your crawl needs a theme. If you're raising money for breast cancer research, stick with the breast cancer awareness pink and have everyone dress accordingly. For an animal shelter fundraiser have everyone dress up like their favorite animal.

Map out your route ahead of time and call the bars to let them know about your plan. They'll probably offer discounts for the group.

Appoint a few members to man the donation buckets. Place the buckets on the bar at every pub and see if the servers will let other patrons know about the fundraiser.

You can even promote and spread the word ahead of time around town and on campus.

Make sure your donation buckets are attention grabbing and on theme. Bar patrons that are considering donating should be able to quickly discern the cause and make a donation.

Speed Dating

Speed Dating

Cost: $$  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

With dating apps and online sites, very few couples are meeting the old-fashioned way...in a large room, with a bunch of strangers, at 10 minute intervals.

Speed dating might seem daunting to those who haven't ever tried it, but it is at worst a good way to meet a lot of new people and at best the first day of the rest of your life with your soulmate. Throw in fundraising for a good cause and who could turn it down?

Your sorority or fraternity likely has a large pool of eligible bachelorettes and bachelors that are the perfect candidates for a speed dating fundraiser.

Plan the event and get your single brothers or sisters to volunteer their time for the night. Make sure you post about it on social media and put up flyers around campus and in the student center. You want participants from all walks of campus life.

Reserve one of your college's event spaces and set up a line of tables so that maneuvering between dates can be seamless. As hosts, those from your organization can stake out the seats they want, and the visitors will rotate.

Charge a flat fee for entrance, like $10, and give people somewhere between 7-10 minutes per date. Aim for a balance where you're not totally limiting a great date, or making two people suffer through a less than stellar one. Afterwards, give people time to mingle and reconnect with anyone that they enjoyed from their dates.

Ensure that the charity that the proceeds are going to is promoted front and center. College students might be a little apprehensive about speed dating, but they'll be much more open to it if they see it as a quirky fundraiser.

Learn the logic behind using speed dating as a fundraiser for your fellow millennials.
Date Night Auction

Date Night Auction

Cost: $$  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

Date night auctions are an excellent fundraising strategy, because they give you multiple opportunities to make money.

First, have each fraternity and sorority that wants to participate nominate one or two brave volunteers to be the auction prize. Fair warning: whoever offers up the highest bid will get to take the volunteer on a date, so the volunteer has to be willing to go out with whoever takes interest.

Next, get each group to pick a charity. In the weeks leading up to the event, have each dater create a fundraising page that features a brief personal profile, as well as a description of their charity and a form where people can donate online.

You want your auction to be a special event, so make sure it's a grand affair by:

  • Holding it at a swanky venue.
  • Providing catered dinner and a bar with multiple drink options.
  • Assembling themed date night activity baskets for the participants to enjoy on their dates.
  • Recruiting the services of an engaging auctioneer.

With the auction, everyone's a winner. Although you can up the ante by offering a prize to the organization who raises the most money, at the end of the auction each fraternity or sorority will donate their proceeds to the charity of their choice.

Learn the logic behind using date night auction as a fundraiser.
Fashion Show

Fashion Show

Cost: $  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

Dressing up is a big part of Greek life, so why not take your fraternity brothers' or sorority sisters' passion for fashion and turn it into a fundraising event?

Start by recruiting some bold fraternity or sorority members to be your models. You can either request that they bring their own outfits to show off or see if a local boutique will donate some clothes.

Some organizations will even take this event a step further by having their models make outfits out of unconventional materials like duct tape or newspaper!

The hardest part of planning this event will be finding a venue with a catwalk for your models to walk down.

University theaters and auditoriums work well, or you can mimic a runway by making a long aisle down a cafeteria or gymnasium floor and placing chairs on either side.

Raise money by charging admittance and getting attendees to vote for their favorite outfit with their dollars.

You can either put out buckets to collect donations or have people text their donations through a mobile giving platform.

Let us show you how Salsa can help you reach your sorority or fraternity fundraising goals.

Virtual Participation

Online Petition

Online Petition

Cost: $  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

Online petitions are a great way to encourage your supporters to take action to help you reach your goals. They're a virtual means of bringing your supporters together to work as a unit as one impactful crowd. And, this is all while you're raising awareness of your cause. They can be just the jolt of energy your organization needs to reinvigorate your work and better serve your mission.

The use of online petitions has grown steadily and continues to do so. Although online petitions themselves are not strictly fundraisers, they're often coordinated by fundraising organizations. With the help on an online petition, a fundraising organization can:

  • Raise awareness of their work and bring in new donations through that increase in visibility.
  • Ask for donations alongside their petition requests, coupling supporter action and supporter funding in one step.

Whether you want to re-engage your supporters through new avenues of participation, garner media attention, or establish your organization as an authority, a successful online petition can help you do that. That assistance will in turn enable you to collect more and more donations.

Your online petition will need a clear action. To speak in general terms, the petition's action could be requesting that a supporter signs the petition to encourage a certain politician to take a specific step. In other words, you want to demonstrate a clear theory of change.

Once you have the petition in place, promote it across your communications channels and in conjunction with your donation requests. You'll end up with double benefits — positive change in service of your organization's mission and new funding to help take on even more projects for your cause.

Jail and Bail

Jail and Bail

Cost: $$  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

Supporters are going to willingly volunteer to be arrested. It might sound crazy, but it's just out there enough to call attention to your event and just grounded enough that people will want to participate.

For the event itself, the volunteer criminals get arrested for various silly, cause-themed crimes. For instance, if your organization focuses on providing clean drinking water, a participant might be jailed for "harming bacteria."

Prior to the event, your arrestees will have set up online fundraising pages and promote them and the event itself. Once arrested and bail is set, it's a race to reach that financial goal to freedom.

Detain your criminals with only the items they need to raise the funds to pay bail. There has to be a time limit to prevent people from remaining jailed indefinitely and to incentivize donors to act swiftly.

This event has a few variations, but it always boils down to the same principle.

Fundraising is about being focused, taking the necessary time, and persevering.

Learn how to break out of fundraising jail with this infographic on peer-to-peer fundraising.
Virtual Road Race

Virtual Road Race

Cost: $$  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

Up until recently, the only downside to fundraising through runs and walks was that the events were limited to locals only. The internet solved that problem.

Now you can host and/or enter various fundraising road races virtually, from the comfort of your own neighborhood.

Everything about the event stays the same, minus the location.

Participants are still encouraged to crowdfund ahead of time and secure pledges. Racers still pay a registration fee and get event t-shirts (mailed, instead of picked up). Competitors cover the same distance. It just happens in dozens of parts of the country.

After they have gone the distance, runners report their times. Runners are held to an honor system for telling the truth about their race times.

Encourage nearby racers to run together to help foster communities of support in areas outside of your organization's reach. Fundraising events bring like-minded people together. Strive for the bonding experience no matter the event, virtual ones included.

Virtual Bake Sale

Virtual Bake Sale

Cost: $$  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

Before you panic, don't worry. The sale happens virtually, but the baked goods are very much real.

Bake sales are the comfort food of the fundraising world, organized year after year, all over the country. Taking a bake sale online infuses the event with modern flair.

Post a bake sale menu and donation page that interested parties can browse. As they make donations, they can also put in their order information and your bakers will ship off the requested goods.

Check out popular food bloggers and food-centric social media accounts to learn about food presentation and photography. That way, when you take pictures of the various baked goods for the fundraising page, the items will look irresistible.

Each menu item needs its own enticing description, in addition to its appetizing photo.

The menu itself should have the bake sale classics, but rule out or alter any items that won't ship well. Bake apple pie over apple crumbles, for example. They're equally delicious, but one has better structural integrity for shipping.

What's better than eating pie at a dessert shop? Pie delivered to your door. The same rule applies to all the goodies and sweets that your chefs will whip up. People buy most things online now, so why should bake sale treats be any different?

Learn about other methods of modernizing your fundraising.
Viral Video Challenge

Viral Video Challenge

Cost: $  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

Viral video challenges are an excellent way to bring pledge based fundraising events to the digital age.

First, start by setting the challenge. It can be anything you want, as long as it's just uncomfortable enough that participants wouldn't be willing to do it without a good cause to back them up. The best challenges, however, have something to do with your cause.

Once you've determined the challenge, set a time limit and get each participant to create a personal donation page with a form where people can make pledges. The total pledge amount will be donated after your volunteers have carried out the challenge.

At the end of the fundraising period, your volunteers will record themselves completing whatever activity you requested. They also must share the video on all of their social media pages to raise awareness of the cause and encourage others to participate. Request that they volunteer a willing friend at the end of the video.

The goal is to establish a chain of video challenges that will blow up the web and your fundraising!

Learn about viral video challenge for fundraising.
Let us show you how Salsa can help you reach your virtual participation fundraising goals.

Sports Clubs

Skills Clinic

Skills Clinic

Cost: $$  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

Have your players coach a skills clinic for local athletes in the area.

Parents will gladly donate to your team if it means a healthy and active day for their kids.

Run the clinic by station, according to position.

For example, with soccer, divide your team up between defenders (plus goalies), midfielders, and forwards.

Group the kids attending camp and have them rotate through mini lessons for each position. Each mini lesson should focus on fundamentals, in addition to position specifics.

Have everyone play in scrimmages for the second half of the day, with the clinicians partly coaching and partly playing alongside the kids.

The plan for each clinic will vary according to the sport at hand, but they'll all roughly follow that format — skill-based lessons and then practical applications.

Fundraisers might not be your sports club's forte, but combining one with a clinic gives your organization home-field advantage.

Obstacle Course

Obstacle Course

Cost: $$  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

These events are only gaining in popularity as people realize how exciting and rewarding they can be.

Rather than a normal road race, competitors have to tackle various obstacles as they traverse diverse terrain.

Mud pits, rope courses, climbing walls, and much more make these races exhilarating. The events are great fun and great exercise, but not designed for the faint of heart.

Interested members of your sports club can sign up for an event and crowdfund to raise money.

Participating teammates can train together. It's an excellent opportunity to try a new athletic endeavor and bond with teammates.

Wear matching outfits on race day and stick together. Help one another through the more challenging obstacles. Everyone will have their strengths. One person might soar up the climbing wall and another might crawl through tunnels with ease. Use teamwork to support one another through the more difficult moments.

Start as a team and finish as a stronger team.

Learn how to capitalize on social media when peer-to-peer fundraising for the race.
Heavy Lifter Helpers

Heavy Lifter Helpers

Cost: $  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

Your team is full of young and capable athletes. Put your skills to great use in the community. This is an ideal fundraiser for teenage athletes.

Elderly citizens in your area need help with daily tasks that would never even faze a high schooler. Offer your lifting, moving, opening, and carrying services for a day, weekend, or series of weekends. Ask for donations from the community and the people that you're helping, especially.

For a guarantee, charge a small donation fee for your services.

When you promote the event, provide examples of the work you'll do, so that interested parties know the difference you'll make.

You can:

  • Unload and unpack groceries.
  • Re-organize garages.
  • Sort boxes in the basement.
  • And much more!

Remember not to overstep what you're capable of doing by lifting more than you should.

Your team will be able to assist countless people. After the fundraiser, as you play in your next game, you'll know and appreciate the community that you represent that much more.

Bowling for Bucks

Bowling For Bucks

Cost: $$  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

Bowling for bucks is another way of saying bowl-a-thon. They work well as sports fundraisers because they're active events that appeal to all skill levels, from competitive experts who own their own shoes and bowling balls to those that prefer to bowl with bumpers and spend a lot of their time at the alley's concession stand.

Both ends of the spectrum and any level in between will enjoy your bowl-a-thon. The funds will partly be made up of donations via entrance fees and other miscellaneous contributions, as well as money raised through the participants themselves.

Like with any a-thon, have competitors collect donations and pledges up until the event using the peer-to-peer, or crowdfunding, fundraising method.

Participants can set up their own crowdfunding pages to keep track of all of their donations in one singular location that easily feeds back into the main fundraising pool for your club.

On top of the functionality, the page is shareable via social media and email to maximize awareness through seamless promotion.

Donors can give a set amount prior to the event or they can pledge a certain amount per game bowled or games with scores over a certain number, whatever arrangement the participant is comfortable with.

Get the bowling ball rolling soon!

Wacky Sports Tournament

Wacky Sports Tournament

Cost: $$  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

If you're an athletic organization, it's a given that your members and supporters are into sports. Why not capitalize on that passion for your fundraising efforts?

Tempt donors with a unique opportunity to play a sport they likely wouldn't have the chance to enjoy anywhere else, like Quidditch or canoe jousting. The event will appeal to their competitive natures and allow them to use their athletic abilities in a novel way.

The first step to pulling this one off is to make sure you have all the right equipment to play the game.

With sports that are a little more off-the-wall, it's easy to improvise.

For example, if you were hosting a Quidditch match, you would need broomsticks and athletic balls of varying types and sizes. Or, if you're really tight on funds, you can ask participants to bring their own gear.

  1. Charge individual participants an entry fee and pick teams the day of, or;
  2. Have full teams sign up and raise money by fundraising online.

To increase your efforts, put out donation buckets where spectators can make bets on the winning team. Reward the team who gets the most donations with a pizza party after the tournament.

Learn about wacky sports tournament fundraising.
Hoops for Hope

Hoops for Hope

Cost: $  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

With hoops for hope, your supporters can show off their basketball skills all while raising money for a good cause!

This event is best held as part of a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign.

In the two or three weeks leading up to the event, individuals can share their personal donation pages on their social media sites.

Friends, families, and other peers will donate by pledging a monetary amount for each basket made. For example, someone could pledge $5 or $10 per basket.

For this one to work, you'll need:

  • Lots of basketballs.
  • An available basketball court.
  • A buzzer.
  • Volunteers to keep the time, record the number of baskets made, and collect balls for the participants.
  • The help of an excellent peer-to-peer fundraising software.

During the event, each supporter will have a set time limit to make as many baskets as possible. The more baskets they make, the more money they'll raise!

If you want to heighten the (friendly) competition and incentivize your participants even further, offer a prize to the person who makes the most baskets.

Let us show you how Salsa can help you reach your sports club fundraising goals.

Churches and Religious Organizations

Work-a-thon

Work-A-Thon

Cost: $  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

Have the young people from your organization offer to help finish odd jobs for those in the community.

Volunteers can:

  • Mow lawns.
  • Rake leaves.
  • Walk dogs.
  • Help cook meals.
  • Clean up around the house.
  • And any other odd jobs donors can think of.

You can host the event as a one-time only day where all the volunteers are available, or make it a fundraising event series and offer up workers every Saturday for a month, for example.

Ensure that those outside of your organization's network learn about the event as well, so you have the largest donor pool possible. Speaking of pools, pool cleaning is big in the summer work-a-thon market.

Have your volunteering workers not only collect donations on behalf of their services, but also seek out pledges for hours worked. You'll be creating a wonderful cycle of community service.

Pop-Up Restaurant

Pop-Up Restaurant

Cost: $$  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

Where do you go when you don't feel like cooking after a long day's work? Do you pick up fast food on the way home? Stop in at the local pizza shop? What if you could pick up a home cooked meal and help your church raise money at the same time?

You can with a pop-up restaurant fundraiser.

Organizers should pick a busy weeknight, like Thursday when there's more work the next day and people are already tired from the first half of the week, and cook a meal to sell for an affordable price.

Your biggest cost is going to be the ingredients, but if you buy in bulk you'll more than break even in no time.

The meals can either be premade and easy-to-heat, like roasts and casseroles or freshly made and ready for serving, like hamburgers.

Fancy might be fun, but it isn't universally appealing and easy to cook in bulk. Cook meals that a 75 year old and a 12 year old would be glad to eat. Think home-style and traditional.

People will be lining up to have dinner taken off their hands. And with these events, you can host them over and over again with new food each time.

Wreaths and Wrapping

Wreaths and Wrapping

Cost: $$  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

Santa has his elves, and your community will have your volunteers. Set up shop outside popular stores during the holiday season and offer your wrapping services. To put the icing on the gingerbread house, sell wreaths as well.

Either charge a minor fee for the wrapping or wrap for free with a prominent donation jar.

People will be thrilled to get their gift wrapped before they even leave the parking lot, but they're going to expect quality, so recruit your most gifted cutters, folders, and tapers. Even though the stick-on-bows are tempting, come up with a few standard ribbon designs beforehand so that your team can quickly tie them.

Gather an assortment of paper options and ribbons for your customers to choose from.

As far as the wreaths go, try to get them partially donated or buy in bulk to cut costs. Sell them on the day of your wrapping station event, but don't limit yourself to that day.

Wreath sales are a mobile endeavor, so sell, sell, sell, until you're sold out.

When the holidays finally arrive, your wreaths will be on doors, your wrapping under trees, and your donations are already working towards more great things in the new year.

Caroling for a Cause

Caroling for a Cause

Cost: $  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

This seasonal fundraiser is a must every December. Your church probably already has groups that go caroling. Incorporate fundraising into the mix and you're all set.

Caroling is more about having fun and spreading the holiday spirit than it is about pitch-perfect singing. So don't worry if your caroling group is lacking in the vocal department. Charisma can certainly carry you.

Promote the fundraiser to the neighborhoods that you'll be visiting beforehand so that residents can be prepared.

Stepping outside of the traditional door-to-door caroling model, offer up your singers for carol-grams. Interested parties can send your carolers to various friends and family with specific song requests. Charge according to how many songs they want you to sing.

It's a lot of fun. You’ll get sent to spouses' offices, restaurants, schools, and all around town, spreading holiday cheer wherever you go.

Scratch Card Sunday

Scratch Card Sunday

Cost: $  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

This one's easy: right before you pass around the offering plate, simply provide volunteers with a lottery style scratch card that has 8-10 scratch off symbols on it.

When collection rolls around, participants will scratch their cards and donate the sum of whichever numbers appear. Most participants will love the opportunity to give, but just make sure they're clear on the rules before they do any scratching!

Luckily, this type of fundraiser is also very affordable. You can order cheap customized lotto scratchers online, or see if you can recruit an artistic volunteer to make some for you.

Depending on your results, scratch card Sunday can be a one time event or a monthly recurrence.

Learn about scratch card Sunday.
Pictures with Santa

Pictures with Santa

Cost: $  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

Pictures with Santa is the perfect fundraiser for parents and kids alike.

Kids will enjoy getting to meet their favorite holiday character, while adults will love not having to wait in long mall lines to capture their holiday memories.

Have a volunteer from your church dress up in a beard, red suit, and Santa hat. You’ll also need the volunteer services of an expert photographer with a good camera to provide the congregation with high-quality, professional-level photos.

Schedule the event for a weekend near the beginning of December, and find a good place to set up a photo booth. For maximum authenticity, decorate the booth with faux snow, candy canes, and other decorations from the North Pole!

Set a donation amount that each family must pay to get their picture taken with Santa.

To raise even more funds, you can also offer to print and frame photos or burn multiple images onto a CD for families to take home with them.

Additionally, make sure you have a way to accept credit card donations in the likely event that congregation members won't be carrying cash.

Let us show you how Salsa can help you reach your church or religious organization fundraising goals.

Museums

Night at the Museum

Night at the Museum

Cost: $$  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

There's just something exhilarating about seeing someplace you're familiar with from a new vantage point. For one special night, open the doors to your museum for a big fundraising blowout under the stars.

Your museum night can be a black tie formal affair or have more of a behind-the-scenes feel for families.

The route you take in terms of the audience is going to control the sorts of activities you have planned. A formal affair might have an auction and a five-course meal, whereas the family-geared event could have more educational and interactive experiences.

Rather than a solo event, consider partnering with other local museums to make it a larger scale night for greater numbers of people. Those who might not have ever considered visiting your museum will be drawn in by the occasion.

If you're looking to take a risk, have admission be "pay as you wish." Sure, you'll get less than you might have charged in some cases, but other times you'll see major contributions from patrons that are grateful to have had the option.

What are you waiting for? Switch your closed signs to open and join in your city's nightlife scene for a very special evening.

Local Artists Auction

Local Artists Auction

Cost: $  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

An art auction consisting of work donated by entirely local artists is great for the art museum hosting the event and the culture of the surrounding community as well.

The event will foster relationships between local artists and the museum, showcase new talents, teach the public about what's happening right in their backyards, and promote the museum itself, all while raising money.

Curate the event and display the pieces like you would any new exhibit. Invite members of the community, including your museum patrons. Your patrons can even help promote the auction themselves.

At the auction itself, highlight the artists' stories when discussing each piece of art. People will be more inclined to bid if they feel connected to the work. Have museum staff on hand to offer advice and thoughtful discussion of the work on display.

You want the evening to appeal to a museum regular, while still being accessible for a first-time patron.

The auction is there to raise money, but the event is about promoting local artists and building sustainable relationships with the members of the community.

Learn why an event like this can be a great alternative to your usual fundraiser.
Family Fun Day

Family Fun Day

Cost: $  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

Once monthly, host family fun day fundraisers. Aim for a day like the second Saturday of every month, so that parents and children can attend together.

These are family fun days, but they're geared towards the kids. They should be educational, but by no means boring. If your museum is an art museum, teach painting classes. If your museum is about the history of your state, let the kids dress up from different time periods and act out momentous events.

Outside of the activities, design tours geared towards children. If you handle field trips, your tour guides will already have the script.

When planning the day, think back to the ten year old version of yourself. Would you have been more interested in learning about the emotion behind an impressionist painting or practicing sculpting with clay?

The parents might be bringing their children for the educational opportunities, but the kids won't be interested in anything remotely like school on a Saturday. Appeal to both parties with entertaining activities that have educational undertones.

Once a few families find out and attend, word will spread, and your monthly program will be packed.

Happy parents who discover your museum through this fundraiser could be high-quality donation prospects that you might not have otherwise found. Use the family day to initiate donor cultivation with the parents while the kids are playing.

Learn more about improving donor cultivation to increase major gifts.
Galas

Galas

Cost: $$$  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

Museums were made for galas. The beautiful art is its own theme and decor. People host everything from weddings to proms in museums, so if you already have the location, you should be taking advantage of the venue.

Some of the most glamorous events of the year happen at museums. The Met Ball comes to mind.

Your gala should be a glitzy black tie affair. It can be themed around one of your permanent or visiting exhibits, but make sure that the people in attendance know what cultural efforts their money is funding.

You can sell tables and offer tiered corporate sponsorships.

Success takes planning — way, way, way advanced planning. Begin early and form a staff and volunteer committee to get everything that you need accomplished.

When you're early in the planning process, you'll need to do some projected budgeting to make sure your event won't cost so much that it detracts from the donations. The fundraising component has to be your first concern. Try to keep expenses low by securing in-kind donations and sponsorships. You're already ahead of the curve with your venue set.

When the night finally does arrive, take a step back to enjoy its majesty — but only for a moment! It takes total concentration to steer a gala to glamor, glitz, and glory!

Learn the best practices for managing your next gala through your nonprofit CRM.
Cobweb Scavenger Hunt

Cobweb Scavenger Hunt

Cost: $  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

Chances are, if your supporters are museum patrons, they love history and looking at beautiful, old artifacts.

Take this passion outside of your doors by hosting a cobweb scavenger hunt that challenges teams to find a series of historical landmarks throughout your home city. Scope out the streets beforehand to find some hidden gems, so everyone will have to search a little to find all of the stops on your list.

Participants can join by paying a small entrance fee. You can also encourage groups to create online donation pages where people can make pledges for landmarks found. For example, someone could pledge $5 for each landmark team members locate.

The day of the event, give each team a printed list of destinations and set a time limit. The more locations they find, the more money they raise, so encourage teams to maximize their efforts by splitting up.

Each time they find a landmark, have them take a selfie in front of the location with their phones. If you want to raise even more awareness, request that they share these selfies on their social media pages.

Heighten the stakes by offering the winning team a prize. The friendly competition will be so fierce that they'll be knocking down doors all around the city!

Learn the best practices for managing a cobweb scavenger hunt through your nonprofit CRM.
Let us show you how Salsa can help you reach your museum fundraising goals.

WorkPlaces

In House Competitions.jpg

In House Competitions

Cost: $  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

Who doesn't love a little healthy competition? And what about healthy competition for a good cause? That's even better!

Allocate a set amount of time for the fundraising period and divide your office into teams. Marketing versus sales! I can hear the trash talk now.

Depending on your office's current makeup, you can split the teams according to departments (like the epic battle I’m picturing between marketing and sales); or, try mixing and matching staff to create groups that don't get to work together as often or know each other as well.

Who knows? Maybe the dream office fundraising team is the perfect combination of Jenny from IT, Luke from sales, and Vivian from accounting?

As far as donating the funds, you'll have some flexibility. You can:

  • Pick a charity beforehand.
  • Have each team fundraise for their own charity.
  • Let the winning team choose where the funds should be donated.

With any of the options, a worthy cause benefits and employee morale is sure to benefit, too.

The event can take place over a week, a month, even a few months. You can also piggyback onto a larger event at the close of the competition, like a local charity walk/run.

In order to keep all of the information and donations straight, set up a crowdfunding page for the competition and then let each team run a sub-page. The web platform will organize and track all the donations gathered, and it makes the campaigns easily shareable across email and social media.

Learn campaign sharing techniques with these pre-written email templates.
Supervisor Rental

Supervisor Rental

Cost: $  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

Do you know what's far better than doing busy work or your own errands? How about having your supervisor do them for you?

Find supervisors willing to participate as fundraising incentives. Let them each charge for their time by the half hour or hour and set aside a day for the festivities.

When the day rolls around, employees can schedule their supervisors for various tasks. And if there's competition for someone's time, encourage a bidding war.

The tasks obviously need to be respectable and within reason, but have fun with it.

Is your car in desperate need of a scrubbing? Hand your boss a bucket and a cloth. Have you been meaning to file that huge stack of papers on your desk? Your supervisor probably has the skills to get the job done. What about those 150 envelopes that need stuffing? Your manager can fold with the best of them.

Whoever said money doesn't buy power has never participated in a supervisor rental fundraiser.

Can Collection

Can Collection

Cost: $  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

If your office wants to raise money for environmental organizations, like land trusts or conservancies, in particular, a recycling drive is the perfect event for you.

This fundraiser is as much about cause awareness as it is about the money brought in.

Have employees work to gather as many recyclables as possible from friends, family, neighbors, and the like. If you want to broaden the scope of the event, you can even advertise the drive and hold a collection day for those in the community to drop off their items.

At the end of the drive, bring all the cans and goods to your local recycling center and exchange them for a cash reward. Then, donate the funds to an environmental organization of your office's choosing.

Can drives combine a volunteer spirit with the practicality of straightforward donations. All good things for the environment.

Preminum Parking Pass.jpg

Premium Parking Pass

Cost: $$  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

Ah, the coveted front row of parking spots. Life is easier in the front row. Fewer steps in the rain, the wind, and the heat. You're that much closer to your desk on those days when you pull into the parking lot on two wheels at 8:57am.

In parking decks, you don't have to sit in end-of-day gate traffic. You'll buzz out of the office, windows down, wind through your hair, tunes blasting on the radio.

With your own very special, premium parking spot, you always know it's there, forever reserved.

As long as your office has reserved premium parking, it is the perfect fundraising incentive.

Host a car-themed trivia contest to determine the winner of the coveted spot. Charge an entrance fee to raise money and then let your employees go head-to-head to prove why they're the best driver for the spot.

The winner keeps the spot for a month and then has to defend his or her title in a new round of trivia. Challengers have to pay to play, but the space holder gets waived entrance fees.

It's the kind of event that's silly fun, but something to look forward to monthly. And depending on the size of your office, you could raise quite a bit of money throughout the year. The charity of your choice will be grateful for that.

Embarrass the Authority

Embarrass the Authority

Cost: $  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

Employees love watching their superiors complete embarrassing tasks. See just how much it's worth to them by hosting an embarrass the authority fundraising competition.

Start by choosing an embarrassing task. It shouldn't be anything too mortifying, but it should be embarrassing enough that donors want to see it and participants don't want to do it. A pie to the face, a dunk tank of ice cold water, or a silly outfit should do the trick.

Next, ask a few popular (and good natured!) leadership figures in your office if they'd like to participate. For each person that gives you their permission, set out a small bucket labeled with their name and photo.

Leave the buckets out for a week or so. Employees can vote with their dollars for the figure they'd like to see complete the task. At the end of the week, all the money is donated to your cause. The employee with the most money in their bucket will complete the task in front of the entire office.

It will be a day at the office your staff will never forget!

Let us show you how Salsa can help you reach your workplace fundraising goals.

Tight Budgets

Guessing Games

Guessing Games

Cost: $  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

This one is a classic. It's fun, simple, and easy to execute. You’re going to have participants pay to guess how many pieces of candy are in a clear container. The closest to the number wins the jar, and your organization gets to keep all the donated participation fees.

Step one: Pick out some kind of candy, like jellybeans, M&Ms, or Tootsie Rolls to use.

Step two: Make sure you count the candy!

Step three: Fill a clear jar or container with the candy.

Step four: Decide how much you want to charge participants. You can always use a set amount, or just ask for a donation of whatever amount the entrants can give. In the latter instance, you run the risk of receiving smaller-than-desired donations, but you also have the chance to see donations exceeding what you would have ever expected.

Step five: Promote the game!

Step six: Get the competition going. If you're going to have the jar unmonitored, you can have competitors fill out ballots with any follow-up information and their bid, and place the ballots in envelopes along with their donations. Then provide a deposit box for the envelopes.

Step seven: Find and announce your winner! If there's a tie, use a similar game for the tiebreaker.

These games work well in office and school settings, in particular. If you're looking for a low-maintenance, low-cost fundraising event, the guessing game is a safe bet.

Weight Loss-a-thon

Weight Loss-a-thon

Cost: $  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

Who can resist free pizza in the office breakroom when you're starving? Or, what about those cookies on your kitchen counter that call out to you as you go to bed? And isn’t your snooze button far superior to your morning gym plans?

We all have foods that we can't resist and schedules that are less than conducive to regular exercise. Sometimes it's hard to find the incentive to make healthy choices, especially when the unhealthy choice is as easy as shutting off an alarm clock or opening packaging.

Don't you just wish you had the perfect incentive to hold you accountable to your weight loss goals? You and your supporters can, if you host a weight loss-a-thon.

Yep! You read correctly. Instead of walking laps or biking miles, this a-thon is about dropping pounds. It'll follow the same format, though.

Participants sign up as individuals or as part of teams and work to lose a certain amount of weight over the event's duration. Donors can pledge money for when you reach your target loss, or they can offer a donation amount per pound lost.

To encourage healthy choices, find fitness instructors and/or nutritionists to volunteer their services as donations in-kind. They'll be your participant's mentors and weight loss gurus.

Getting back into your skinny jeans while helping a good cause? People will be lunging to join. Well, in fairness, they'll also be squatting, jogging, and lifting.

Daily Indulgence Drop

Daily Indulgence Drop

Cost: $  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

Whether you like to stop for a cinnamon vanilla latte on the way in to work, or you splurge on dinner out a few too many times a week, there's likely something you pay for and indulge in that you could live without, or even live with less of.

This budget-friendly fundraising idea asks its participants to give up one of the small things that they buy, and don't really need, for a set period, like a month. Instead, the money goes to the fundraiser.

This fundraising event not only raises money, but can help shift people's perspectives about how far their money can go. If someone spends $5 on coffee on the commute into work and donates that for a month, that's a $100 for a month-long event and $1,200 if the donations were to continue throughout the year.

The event connects to the emotion and heart of charitable work, so promote it by telling the story of your cause and the people and/or places that are served by your organization.

Dollars for Dares

Dollars for Dares

Cost: $  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

Do you remember playing truth or dare as a kid? People are usually either in the dare camp or the truth camp, and there's not a lot of switching around. This fundraising event will bring all of your dare supporters out in droves. And those who leaned towards truth can participate by donating, promoting, and supporting.

Dollars for dares fundraising events are the perfect complement to peer-to-peer fundraising. Set up a crowdfunding page, announce the dare that you'll complete if you raise a set amount of funds, promote the page, and watch the donations come in. Once your goal is reached, it's time to live up to your end of the bargain.

If your nonprofit wants to run one of these events, it should pick one dare that all participants sign up for. Or, if you want to do this on your own, the risk is your choosing.

Common dare challenges include:

  • Diving into a lake or pool in the middle of winter.
  • Dyeing your hair.
  • Shaving your beard.
  • Performing a song in public.
  • Wearing a crazy outfit to work and around town.

The dares are honestly limitless. As long as they’re safe, legal, and well-meaning, go for it! What's a little embarrassment or brief moment of fear compared to bringing in much needed funds for a worthwhile cause?

Learn more about peer-to-peer fundraising techniques for this event.
Flash Mob

Flash Mob

Cost: $  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

Exciting and entertaining, flash mobs are the grand gesture that will bring all the right attention to your cause.

Even better? They cost little if anything to organize.

Here's what you'll need:

  • A creative idea for what your participants will do. The most popular choice is usually a choreographed dance routine, but the options are endless.
  • A performance location. Make sure you pick a public space to avoid any legal complications.
  • A volunteer to organize or choreograph the mob.

Once the details are set, ask people in your network to participate and spread the word to others they know. Just remember, you want to have the element of surprise on your side, so avoid posting about it on your website or social media pages.

To fundraise, charge a small fee for each participant. Obviously, you want your mob to be as large as possible so you can raise the most money and create the biggest impact.

Schedule the actual event on a weeknight between 6 and 7PM when the majority of your participants will be off of work. This is also the hour when there are the most people on the streets.

A little before the time of the event, have participants meet at the venue and go about business as usual. Once the set time rolls around, they'll put on a "spontaneous" show that's sure to stop any passerby in their tracks.

Learn more about flash mob fundraising techniques for this event.
50/50 Raffle

50/50 Raffle

Cost: $  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

50/50 raffles are cheap and easy, making them an ideal event for nonprofits on a budget.

This type of event is just like a normal raffle, except without the traditional prize. Instead, all of the money that goes into the pot will be split evenly between the winner and your organization.

50/50 raffles can be a very successful fundraising event, because they have an incentive built right in. The more money your donors spend on raffle tickets, the bigger the prize will be!

For this one, all you'll need are raffle tickets, a big bucket to collect them in, and a busy spot to sell your tickets.

You can either host the raffle to make extra money during one of your other fundraising events or see if a popular local spot will host the raffle for you.

During the event, your goal will be to sell as many raffle tickets as possible, usually priced around $1 or $2 each. Give discounts for bulk buying (for example, if tickets were priced at $2, you could sell 10 tickets for $15) to grow the pot as much as possible.

Because many people don't carry cash on them anymore, it's recommended that your organization also has some way to accept credit cards for ticket purchases.

When people buy, have them write their name and phone numbers down on the back of each ticket before they throw them into the pot, so you can contact the winner by phone. That way, if people don't want to stay for the entire event, they can still participate in the raffle.

Now all you have to do is set a time limit. Once the time for buying is up, it's time to choose a lucky winner and split the earnings!

Let us show you how Salsa can help you reach your tight budget fundraising goals.

Advocacy Events

Tree Planting Party

Tree Planting Party

Cost: $$  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

A tree planting fundraiser is the perfect way to raise money and awareness of your cause while also doing something beneficial for the environment.

Start by deciding where participants will meet up to plant. Get in contact with someone from city hall to figure out where your city could use more trees and to make sure you have all of the necessary permissions.

Of course, you'll also need some trees to plant. In the interest of keeping the event as affordable as possible, see if a local gardening store will donate some trees. If not, you can also buy cheap plantable tree containers and seedlings.

Raise money by selling the trees to people who want to participate. Once the trees are planted, you can also hold a silent auction where people can bid on naming each tree.

Make the event fun by providing refreshments and blasting some feel good tunes while people plant. You'll have a budding forest before you know it!

Animal De-Stress Day

Animal De-Stress Day

Cost: $$  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

Nobody can resist cute pets. If you're an animal advocacy group, take advantage of their stress-relieving qualities to make some money for your cause by hosting an animal de-stress day.

Ask a workplace or college campus in your area if you can stop by for a few hours one day with a group of cats and dogs that need homes.

When employees and students need a short break from their stressful days, they can make a donation to hang out with the pet of their choice for 10 or 15 minutes. You can set a donation amount or simply request that people give as much as they want.

Obviously, for this one to work, you'll need some pets. If your organization also does animal rescue, you're in luck. If not, team up with an animal rescue organization. They'll be happy to lend out some animals that need homes, and especially for a good cause!

The advantages of this event are threefold: not only will you be raising money to further animal related causes, but you'll also be giving homeless animals a shot at finding families and making the days of busy people a little brighter.

Make sure to set up your furballs in a busy outdoor space where lots of people will see them. Then, sit back and let their overwhelming adorableness do the rest of the work for you.

World Market

World Market

Cost: $$  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

World markets can really work for any organization, but they're especially great fundraising events for international advocacy groups.

Celebrate your community's diversity by asking volunteers to make contributions based on their personal heritages.

For example, if one volunteer's ancestors emigrated from Hungary, they could provide homemade goulash. Contributions can be anything that can be sold for donations, such as food dishes, arts and crafts, or small trinkets.

The day of the market, have volunteers set up booths in a local school gymnasium, park, or other large communal space. Encourage them to go all out in representing their heritages by decorating their booths. You'll need to provide lots of fold out tables where they can set up shop.

Each participant will sell their contributions to raise money for your cause. Advertise through all channels available to you to ensure a solid buyer turnout.

Not only will you be raising money, but shoppers will have fun learning about cultures from all over the world!

The Non-Event Event

The Non-Event Event

Cost: $  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

The idea of a non-event event can seem downright silly at first, but humor us for a second.

The main event of your non-event will be a series of compelling email appeals sent to your donor list.

In the first email, explain that you're forgoing an event so that you'll have as many funds as possible to contribute to the cause. Lay out what your goal is and why it's important, then make a heartfelt appeal for donations. You want to be as authentic and transparent as possible so donors will see the logic behind your choice.

Throughout the week, send donors a series of follow up emails reminding them to donate. Remember to send thank you notes to donors who act on your appeals.

Non-events work best when you have an easily quantifiable fundraising goal in mind. A clear goal will be more compelling to potential donors, because they know exactly where their money is going and why it's valuable for you to save every penny. For example, say you're trying to raise $25,000 towards building a local no-kill animal shelter.

With a non-event event, you can save all the money you would be spending on an event and instead put it towards your cause.

Plus, they're especially beneficial for advocacy groups, because they give you a direct opportunity to talk about your cause.

Cause Week

Cause Week

Cost: $$$  Popularity:   Difficulty: 

It seems like there's an awareness week for every cause out there, so why not take advantage of the opportunity and pair it with a series of fundraising events?

Choose a week that raises awareness of an issue related to your cause.

Throughout the week you can plan different fundraising events to supplement awareness with action. The type and number of events you put on are up to your organization. It all depends on how big you want to go with it!

By drawing the event out over the entire week, you'll also have the additional time to host advocacy events as well.

For example, one day of the week, you could throw a letter writing party where supporters get together to draft letters to legislators. Another day you could send out an email campaign with a link to an online petition supporters can sign to voice their desire for change.

During cause week, you can amplify all of your important efforts to reap the greatest opportunity for change.

Learn more about cause week techniques for this event.
Let us show you how Salsa can help you reach your advocacy fundraising goals.