Now is a great time to plan out your calendar of events for the rest of the year, and we have some creative fundraising ideas to inspire philanthropy all year round. Try some of these creative ways of engaging your community in fun experiences while raising funds for the great causes you support.
- New Year’s Eve – New Year’s Eve is a great opportunity to celebrate new beginnings. Are the funds that your organization supports that helps people start anew? Throw a party where the donation receipt is your ticket to access the fun!
- Polar Plunge – Jumping into a freezing body of water is quite the rush and it draws an enthusiastic crowd! Use the event to draw awareness to people that don’t willingly choose to face harsh elements (homelessness, emergency relief, etc). Jumpers can be challenged to raise funds digitally in advance of the jump and both cash and digital gifts should be accepted by spectators on the big day.
- Fashion Week or the Oscars – Do you have programs related to fashion merchandising, studio arts, theater design and stagecraft, fashion marketing, textiles, trend analysis and forecasting, playwriting and screenwriting, film/cinema, costume design, or directing and theatrical production? Draw attention to their needs by telling their stories in conjunction with the incredible pageantry of Fashion Week or the Oscars. Hold viewing events, your own runway show, VIP showing to performances or cinema, and use that as a platform to educate about creative projects and needs right within the community.
- Valentine’s Day – Hold a bachelor / bachelorette auction/raffle! Each contestant should be challenged to raise funds as the event approaches. Use the amount of funds raised to determine the order of the auction for the live event. Use the event as a place to educate and collect cash and digital gifts to continue the support.
- March Madness – There are 70 million March Madness brackets filled out each year. Capitalize on the national consciousness and showcase the accomplishments and needs of your athletics teams. Pit teams in head to head competitions to leverage the competitive spirit that’s heavy in the air.
- Mardi Gras or St Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl – Who doesn’t like a good bar crawl? Approach local organizations about sponsor t-shirts, rides, drinks, etc. Sell tickets to be a part of the crawl (get t-shirts for participants) and bring along a bucket to collect gifts from other people out on the town celebrating. If you have enough participation, pit teams against one another to see who can raise more online during the day or from strangers. Use social media to post updates throughout the day on all the good coming from the revelry.
- Earth Day – Do you support causes geared towards conservation, ride-share programs, recycling, gardening, or composting? Maybe you have fields of study that relate to nature like biology, oceanology, meteorology, chemistry, physics, etc. Use this day of awareness as a platform to draw attention to your incredible programs. Consider a day of giving in which each of these areas can tell their unique stories and how a gift of $x would help them do so much more.
- Easter – Consider an educational spin on an easter egg hunt. Sticker your campus to draw attention to all of the places where it has benefitted from philanthropic gifts. Was land donated? Sticker it. Did the funds for the seats in the audience come from gifts? Sticker them. Are meal plans provided by gifts? Call that out. Think of it as educational ambush to showcase how generosity plays in important factor in everyone’s day to day life. An alternative idea is to leverage a large gift, break it into many small components, and use those small gifts to inspire a campus-wide easter egg hunt. Put notes or stickers into the eggs that tell people that it represents a gift of $x, given to a fund of the finder’s choice! Make sure to include instructions on how the egg should be redeemed (bring it to an office, take a selfie with it, etc).
- Alternative Spring Breaks – Not everyone is looking for boozy beach vacation to kick off spring. Many groups use the break to spread good in the community by giving of their talents and sweat equity. In anticipation of the trips, allow the teams to raise money for travel, accommodation, supplies, etc. Consider a page dedicated to all your alternative spring break groups, where each team has their own unique story to share. People will be able to see the funds raised by each team, and also to cumulative support that these alternative trips inspire.
- Mother’s Day – Do you have have programs that support mothers? Use this national day (or the Friday prior) to tell that story and raise funds so you can support more moms! Showcase successes, obstacles, and how the support is used. Try to have local businesses sponsor gift cards as rewards that people can claim in exchange for their gift to the cause. Another option, if it would help your program, is to allow people to purchase or earmark their donation for gift cards at local (participating) businesses.
- Lawn Game Tournament – Spring brings nice weather and we are all looking for excuses to get outside and soak up the nice weather. Does your community rally behind cornhole, croquet, or frisbee? Have a tournament around that (or multiple) lawn game(s)! Choose a fund (or multiple) to receive the gifts from this event and have your different teams raise funds in advance. This can be online, offline, or a combination of the two. Meeting a threshold for gifts is their entrance fee for the tournament. You can even use the amount raised as a way to determine the order in which teams play. The more funds the team raises, the more prime the competition slot. Alternatively, in the face-off, instead of a traditional coin flip, the team who raised the most funds is considered the winner. Use the event as a way to share the story about the fund (or funds) being supported and continue to collect digital and cash gifts during the competition.
- Summer Solstice Sunrise Hike – On the longest day of the year, get back to nature and draw awareness to funds linked to conservation, restoration, and outdoor pursuits. Raise awareness and educate with a sunrise hike to celebrate the beauty of the day.
- 5k – Beautiful spring days are a great time to get outside and get the blood pumping. Host a 5k walk/run to raise awareness for a cause and have your participants raise funds digitally, with a minimum threshold necessary as the entrance fee. If you have multiple funds that you’d like to receive support, allow the runner or even the supporter to choose how their gift will be be allocated.
- 4th of July Volleyball or Kickball Tournament – Take advantage of a day of celebration to host a tournament. As an entrance fee, have teams raise funds in anticipation of the day. The event itself can be an opportunity to raise awareness, educate, and collect additional funds.
Swim-a-thon – Do you have a pool or beach available? Host a swim-a-thon! Participants can raise funds online or offline in anticipation of the live event. Choose whether all the gifts go to a fund of your choice or if the swimmer can choose from multiple funds to contribute his/her support.
- BBQ Cook-Off – Fire up the grill for a good cause! Host a BBQ cook-off and let people flex their grill-master prowess. Are there local business that can sponsor or donate sides, beverages, or other accoutrements? Make it a community event by getting everyone involved. The contestants raise their entrance fee for a fund of their choice (you can give options) while educating people about the supported cause. Consider leveraging another gift to the organization as prize money, awarded to the winning team, that goes to the fund of their choice.
- Open-Air Movie Night – Take advantage of the warm nights to host a family-friendly outdoor movie night. A gift (digitally or cash) is the entrance fee and the funds go to support an area of your choice. Make sure to have lawn signs to help educate about the cause. Consider engaging the wider community by having local businesses sponsor things like popcorn, ice cream, or beverages.
- Dorm Decorating – If you are a school, the final months of summer bring the students back to campus. Host a competition between dorm rooms, floors, or wings to see who can get the most creative with their decorating. Pick an on-campus cause (maybe a scholarship deferring room and board) or have funds go to an unrestricted fund for the dorms or infrastructure. During the competition, pictures and videos can be posted to social media to showcase the decor and engage a greater audience in peer-to-peer fundraising. Vote with your dollar! The team with the largest number of funds, wins.
- Club Showcase – As student clubs gear back up for a new year, host a giving day or week where each club can be represented and share about their unique projects and needs. Each club raises funds to help support their objectives for the next number of months.
- Zombie Run/Crawl – Like a 5k or pub crawl, but more goulish! Host a pub crawl or 5k walk/run to raise awareness for a cause and have your participants raise funds digitally, with a minimum threshold necessary as the entrance fee. If you have multiple funds that you’d like to receive support, allow the participant or even the supporter to choose how their gift will be be allocated.
- Giving Tuesday – Get in the worldwide stream of consciousness and be a part of something big!
- No Shave November – Men and Women alike can commit to a month without shaving while drawing awareness to and funds for a good cause. Stress pictures along the journey and host a clean-shaven event at the end of the month to celebrate those that were involved and stress the impact the funds will have in their areas.
- Caroling – If you support musical groups, caroling is a fun way to showcase talent while raising funds for their needs. Consider selling singing or playing telegrams. Giving levels can correspond with different carols or with how involved the performing group becomes. Higher giving levels might also get costumes, different performance locations, etc.
- Santa or Ugly Sweater Snowball Fight – Get into the holiday spirit while working off the extra delicious goodies! Raise awareness for a cause and have your participants raise funds digitally, with a minimum threshold necessary as the entrance fee. If you have multiple funds that you’d like to receive support, allow the participant or even the supporter to choose how their gift will be be allocated. Consider team entries where reindeer, santa and elves, three wise men, Santa and Mrs Clause, etc can show off their festive creativity. Make a greater event out of it by also providing hot chocolate, cider, cookie decorating, etc.
- Holiday Movies – Do you have access to a projector, theater, or cozy conference rooms? Show holiday classics during the season of merriment (and stress). If a larger theater is being used, consider using the donated gift as the admission ticket and having funds support the theater or arts program.
- Giving Tree – If you have small, tangible needs, consider displaying them on a giving tree in a prominent, well-trafficked place or on a digital tree for online giving! Create a brief description of what is needed and let people know where and when to drop off the item or how to fund it online.
If your annual plan is feeling starched, break out the calendar and plan something new, different, and fun during the next couple months! These fundraising ideas are just a starting point, get creative and find something that will work for your audience.