Posted by Pamela McLeod


Your nonprofit organization has significant goals and dreams. You want to make a difference in the community and better the lives of the people you serve, but all of that can be hard when you struggle to find the funds necessary to fulfill your mission. In the end, there’s no way around it: Money is important. But as a nonprofit, you can only do so much to raise money for your cause. If your nonprofit organization could use a boost, check out these top 10 creative fundraising ideas for creating events that will send your donations through the roof.

(If you see an idea that interests you right away, click to jump ahead.)

  1. Community Yard Sale
  2. Car Wash
  3. Golf Tournament
  4. Holiday Caroling
  5. Restaurant Fundraising Night
  6. Costume Contest
  7. Scavenger Hunt
  8. Walkathon
  9. Dance Marathon
  10. Trivia Night


1. Community Yard Sale

A community-wide yard sale is a quick and easy way for your nonprofit to make money without having to invest too much beforehand. Promote the event a few weeks in advance and ask existing supporters to bring in donation items to put up for sale. Aim for a wide variety of items—the more you have, the more likely shoppers will find something to take home.

Advertise the yard sale and, if possible, host it for more than just one day. See if local businesses or restaurants would donate snacks or refreshments for the sale. In the end, you’ll have raised money for your nonprofit and could have leftover items to donate to another local charity.


2. Car Wash

Fundraisers have used this technique for years, and why? Because it works! Host the car wash at your location or see if a local business will donate their parking lot for the day. Arm team members and volunteers with sponges, buckets, soap and water, then advertise the wash around the community before and during the event. For donations, decide if you want to ask for a freewill contribution, minimal charge or provide a special deal for pairs of cars (e.g., $10 for an individual car, $15 for a pair). You could also see if a local restaurant will contribute snacks or beverages for people to purchase while they wait.


3. Golf Tournament

A golf tournament fundraiser can be a challenge to plan and carry out, but has potential to incredibly impact your nonprofit’s donation goals. Contact local golf courses to find one willing to work with your nonprofit on using the course, planning and running the event. Offer online team registration for twosomes, threesomes and foursomes to sign up and participate in the tournament with a minimum entrance fee. You can even approach other local business and community groups to sponsor teams or support your event.

Finally, offer prizes for the winning group, the group that raised the most money or the group who shared their donation page most creatively. Work with the golf course and see if any of these prizes can go through them (e.g., a free month of golf) or offer a monetary prize (perhaps a small percentage of your earnings from registration fees).


4. Holiday Caroling

Holiday caroling is a great fundraising idea for your nonprofit organization to spread cheer, stay current on people’s minds during the giving season and raise money at the same time. Get a group of team members or volunteers together to go door to door in the community singing holiday carols. Have a variety of different songs available to let people choose what they want to hear. Ask for freewill donations as you go around in person, or set up a texting donation campaign, where donors can send a text message to your group and donate a specific amount. For example, “Text CAROL to **** to donate $10 and help the homeless during the holidays.”


5. Restaurant Fundraising Night

One creative and easy idea for a fundraising event is utilizing local restaurants. A variety of chains offer fundraising nights that your nonprofit can take advantage of. Contact restaurants and see if they would be willing to donate a percentage of their funds from the evening to your cause. Constituents often need to bring in a flyer from the restaurant or claim your organization while ordering to direct the funds towards you. However, if you promote the event beforehand, this is no problem. Some restaurant chains that already offer fundraising nights include Chipotle, Krispy Kreme and Panera Bread.


6. Costume Contest

The holiday season tends to inspire donors to give more than any other time of the year, so why not get a kick start by hosting a Halloween fundraiser? A costume contest requires very little preparation and is a fun way for the community to get involved with your nonprofit. Keep the contest among team members and their families or open it up to the surrounding neighborhood. All you need is a location, minimal decorations and snacks or beverages.

Advertise and promote the event throughout the area and online. Ask for a minimum donation amount for participants to enter the costume contest and allow viewers to vote on their favorite costumes by putting money in participant jars. If possible, offer a prize to the winning costume (you could even see if a local business would donate a prize).


7. Scavenger Hunt

If your nonprofit organization is active in the youth community, try hosting a scavenger hunt to include local elementary or middle school students. A scavenger hunt creates a sense of community by getting local groups together to work towards a single mission. Ask each child’s family to donate a minimum amount to participate, split kids up into groups or leave it as an individual challenge and then provide a prize for the winner. You can also use it as a teaching opportunity for your cause. With each scavenger hunt item found, include an information sheet with a fun fact about your cause and what your nonprofit does.


8. Walkathon

A walkathon can raise a significant amount of money for your nonprofit group. Walkathons help raise funds by having participants collect monetary pledges for walking a predetermined distance. You can accomplish this in a number of ways:

Make sure to share this event in your local community, map out a course that involves the area and offer any refreshments for those walking/watching. A walkathon is an awesome fundraiser for constituents to get together and support your cause, while keeping active.


9. Dance Marathon

Get down to the music by hosting a dance marathon. This is an entertaining charity event that can get community members of all different ages and backgrounds involved in your cause. Participants can ask friends and family members to sponsor them through donations. The longer participants dance, the more money they can raise.

Promote your event for individuals to come watch and encourage donations from them. Participants can raise money by finding donors to sponsor them or by getting voted on for the best dance moves. Your nonprofit organization can even sell snacks and refreshments during the (potentially long) event.


10. Trivia Night

Who doesn’t love a good trivia game? A trivia night is a simple event to host that can raise a lot of money for your nonprofit group. Share the event throughout the community and encourage participants to make their own teams. Charge a small entrance fee for teams and attendees or offer snacks and refreshments for a nominal price. Come up with some challenging trivia questions that participants can compete against each other on and offer a prize for the group that gets the most answers right. If applicable, you do a fundraising text campaign throughout the event, for example, “Text TRIVIA to **** to donate $10 and help end childhood cancer.”

For a nonprofit organization, significant donations can mean the difference between success and struggle. Make sure your nonprofit is on top of its game by utilizing these 10 creative ideas for your next fundraising event. Stay tuned for even more fundraising ideas on our blog so you can maximize donations and help those in need.

Need assistance promoting your creative new fundraisers? Firespring can help. We provide firsthand support on managing your events online and in print. Learn more about how our marketing tactics can help you by calling 877.447.8941 or email hello@firespring.org.


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