In a world of crowdfunding and social media challenges, there have never been more in-person and online event ideas that creators can use to raise money for a worthy cause.
Events are a great way to promote charitable causes because they give people the chance to connect with others and with the principles at the heart of your organisation. With the rise of virtual fundraising events, guests can even attend without having to leave the comfort of their homes.
So, how can you come up with a fundraising strategy that will inspire participation and donations to make an impact? Here’s a list of 75 unique fundraising ideas that are sure to get you started – or spark a new idea of your own.
Social charity event ideas
1. Fashion show
Got a catwalk? Got models? Got some haute couture? You actually don’t need any of the above to pull off an in-person or virtual fundraising fashion show. All you need is floor space (or a livestream), benefit T-shirts, and a few staff members willing to put themselves out there. You’ll be selling your organisation’s merchandise in no time.
2. Auction a date
This idea works great if the date is someone well-known or beloved in the community. The bidding and date itself can all happen online, making the whole process easier for all involved.
3. Silent auction
You don’t have to auction off gift baskets. Get creative with the auction items, and think about experiences instead of things. Perhaps you have a donor willing to grant access to a nearby holiday home or to provide a VIP service, for instance.
With health and safety measures in place, organising a carnival is always a fun way to raise funds. Skip the kissing booth and focus on setting up a coconut shy, hook a-duck, and bat the rat to keep the event socially distanced.
5. Treasure hunt
Use an app like Actionbound to set up a treasure hunt that combines a real-life experience with augmented reality on a device, and charge attendees to participate.
6. Pamper yourself festival
Curate a selection of stalls or a virtual marketplace offering things like luxury beauty treatments, wellness items, and clothing from local boutiques.
7. Virtual open house
Invite the public to virtually tour your charity grounds and see what happens behind the scenes. Those who buy tickets to the tour will feel involved at the ground level.
8. Singles charity night
Bring dating hopefuls together to honour a cause with activities that tie directly back to your organisation. Think about making dog toys for a local rescue centre or cooking meals for the homeless. This can be done in-person or online using a virtual platform like Zoom.
9. A night in
Host a relaxed, laid-back gathering at a venue or from the attendees’ own sofas (dress code: PJs or leisurewear) and ask guests to donate what they’d typically spend on a big night out.
10. Ugly jumper party
We all have that one horrible jumper that a well-intentioned family member knitted us. It’s time to put it to good use on a livestream.
11. Morning dance party
Hold an alcohol-free virtual dance party with fancy mocktails made from energising fresh-squeezed juice. Send attendees pre-made drinks in advance for an upgraded fundraising experience.
12. Themed costume party
Consider a historical theme like “Come as your favourite feminist” or “Guess which inventor I am?” If hosting virtually, you can put together a decoration pack and charge attendees extra to give their homes the ultimate retro vibe.
13. Reusable cup party
Host a cocktail party and have participants buy reusable cups at the door or online ahead of the event at an inflated price to be donated to your cause. A way to do this online is to put together boxes to send to attendees and host virtual demonstrations to show guests how to mix their own cocktails.
14. Silent disco
There’s no need to hire a professional DJ or performer. Simply plan a killer playlist and provide each attendee with a headset when they enter the door or ask people to turn their microphones off if you’re hosting it virtually.
15. Sky lantern send-off
Host an evening celebration where partygoers make a wish on a paper lantern, light a flame inside, and send it off in the sky. They can even do it from their own back gardens.
Artistic event ideas
16. Theatre or dance livestream
Consider partnering with local theatre or dance companies willing to stream a live or pre-recorded performance and charge for access.
17. Photo exhibition
Have participants contribute photographs they’ve taken that relate to your charity and hold an art auction where event-goers buy a ticket to attend. This can take place at a venue or online, with the latter option opening the event up for attendees who might not live locally.
18. Craft fair
Get a bunch of artisans on board and charge tickets either at the door or for the virtual event. This idea is perfect for the festive season, when people are keen to buy unique, original gifts for their loved ones.
19. Drawing auction
Invite people to bid on framed artwork by the community that you’re raising money for.
20. Neighbourhood street party
This is a great way to make money for a local cause or a recent tragedy. Have neighbours get together in-person or virtually and donate cash or goods to your cause.
21. Community car boot sale
Most people have tons of stuff they are secretly dying to get rid of. Have them donate it to a neighbourhood sale (which could also be held online) with the proceeds going to your charity.
22. Clothing swap
Everyone brings along a bag of clothes they don’t wear anymore. Set everything up on retail racks, and let participants “shop” the swap for one new piece of apparel. Donate all the rest to charity. As a virtual alternative, participants can post pictures of their items in a Facebook group for others to claim on a first-come-first-served basis. This can be done as a clothing auction, too.
23. Coupon book
Ask local businesses to participate by offering awesome deals on their products and services. You can then sell the books for charity.
24. Tip night
Ask a local restaurant or café to donate tips or a percentage of sales for the night to your charity.
Competitive fundraising ideas
25. Golf tournament
If there’s a golf course nearby, ask the owners to donate some less popular hours to your cause.
26. 5K run
Fundraising runs are a timeless way to raise money for a good cause. Make yours stand out with a costume requirement or unusual location.
27. Goal-kicking contest
Let contestants battle it out with a goal-kicking competition. Charge for entry or take bets on the winner.
28. Rounders tournament
For a lot of us, this was the first sport we ever learned in school. Everyone knows the rules.
29. Tennis tournament
Host round-robin tennis matches with doubles teams, and sell refreshments to participants and viewers.
30. Poker tournament
Host an in-person or virtual tournament where proceeds will go to charity, but the winner gets acclaim and a grand prize.
31. Climbing challenge
Rent a climbing wall or team up with a local climbing gym to hold a race to the top.
32. Quiz night
Host a quiz night and have participants pay to play. Apps such as House Party have proved very popular for hosting these kinds of community events online.
33. World record attempt party
Give guests a list of “highly attainable world records” that they can attempt to break and set up a a webpage where they can post videos of their attempts.
34. Buddy run
The buddy in question is your dog, so think of this event as a canine-friendly 5K. It’s a great idea for fundraisers benefitting animals.
Recreational charity themes
Bowling is a crowd-pleaser, and this one’s a great rain or shine activity. You can set up informational and merch booths in the bowling alley, too.
36. Casino night
Take the in-person or virtual gambling up a notch with multiple card games, costumes, and cocktails.
37. Dunk tank
Rent a dunk tank and charge participants for a chance to dunk willing local celebrities.
38. Game night
Rent arcade machines or old Nintendo games for a throwback game night. Alternatively, organise a virtual version with participants’ favourite video games.
39. Activity marathon
Dream up an activity that volunteers can try to do for 24 straight hours, and stream it live or get the local news to cover it. Dance marathons are the most popular variation, and can easily be organised both online and off.
40. Skating event
Host a roller skating or ice skating event and charge an admission fee.
41. Workout class fundraiser
Ask a local workout spot to host a special one-time online workout class with everyone’s favourite instructor.
Culinary fundraising ideas
42. Dinner en blanc
An elegant pop-up dinner where diners wear only white. To lower your expenses, transform it into a picnic at a beautiful local park.
43. Alice in Wonderland tea party
Find a whimsical spot to serve mid-day earl grey and biscuits with “eat me” signs on them.
44. Chilli cook-off
Charge by the steamy, spicy bowl and ask a few local microbreweries to donate the beer to wash it down. You could even work with a local delivery partner to deliver the food and drinks.
45. Food van extravaganza
You simply need a car park, a permit, and a handful of local food vans willing to attend. Charge for entrance, and the vans can still charge their normal prices inside.
46. Bake sale
This is an oldie but definitely still a goodie. Stand out with a theme that’s on point with your fundraising focus, like baked goods made from locally sourced ingredients to benefit local farmers.
47. Ice lolly stand
Great for summertime fundraising needs, this event allows you to freeze anything that’s liquid in an ice lolly mould. Be creative with your flavours, like Margarita pops sprinkled with salt.
48. All-inclusive pancake breakfast
Make sure you offer options for everyone – the gluten-free, the vegan, the sugar-free, and the foodie who will eat anything.
49. Pie-throwing contest
Invite people to come and take out their frustrations while indulging themselves.
50. Distillery tour
Team up with a local spirits distillery that doesn’t offer tours to the public every day. Include an additional donation for personalised or white-label bottles from their special collection. You can organise a virtual tour, too, to extend your reach to those who live further away.
51. Celebrity cooking class
Find a local chef willing to host an online cooking class from their kitchen and end the lesson with an intimate virtual group dinner.
52. Mentorship auction
Set up bidding for one-on-one chat sessions with thought leaders or participating celebrities. The conversations can happen remotely, thanks to the variety of video chat technology that’s now available.
53. Text message campaign
Text apps such as Donr can help you raise funds for your campaigns with bold, short messages and easy, instant payment collection from donors.
54. Film screening
Is there a documentary related to your cause? Host an open air cinema with car-to-car popcorn and sweets sales. Alternatively, films can be streamed online straight to attendees at home.
55. Seedling sale
Set up in a busy car park and ask departing drivers to purchase seedlings of plants or trees. Call it a “carbon exchange” – for the pollution their cars emit, drivers purchase a seedling, and you commit to planting it.
56. “Junk” donations
Some stuff isn’t worthy of a car boot sale, but it’s still worth money. Have community members donate their used ink cartridges, defunct electronics, and old magazines. You can resell these to recyclers for a profit.
57. Tote bag sales
Team up with a local store that’s interested in encouraging customers to bring their own bags. You can supply the bags for a fee that ties directly back to your environmental cause.
58. Guided hike
Host a guided hike in an area of local beauty that’s led by an expert who can point out why our natural world is so valuable. Charge attendees for the privilege and use the profits to benefit your chosen charity.
59. Meatless Monday dinner party
Giving up meat just one day a week can have a positive impact on our environmental footprint. Promote the idea of “meatless Monday” with a hosted dinner cooked by a celebrated vegan chef and hold it online if in-person isn’t an option.
60. Plant a community garden
Invite those with aspiring green thumbs to come together and plant a community garden to benefit communities in need.
Musical charity ideas
61. Battle of the bands
Invite some local guitar heroes and give your donors a chance to support your cause and enjoy the performance, whether it’s in-person or online.
62. Talent search
How many of us have rock ‘n’ roll dreams? Here’s everyone’s chance to try out for a band. “The band” is one you’ll put together for an in-person or online event that you’ll charge guests a small fee to attend, where winners can sync up and play together.
63. Karaoke contest
Recruit a local celebrity or two to judge participants willing to put themselves out there, X Factor-style. Alternatively, you can host an online sing-along to celebrate your cause.
Youth-based fundraising ideas
64. Youth ambassador board
Appoint a board of young, well-connected people who are supportive of your cause and can help set up a crowdfunding campaign or share the word on social media.
65. Family-friendly mud run
Create a down-and-dirty obstacle course and invite the kids to dive in.
66. Used book drive
Ask people to drop off books that they’ve already read to stock a new children’s library.
Virtual fundraising options
67. Dare fundraiser
Sponsor a social dare contest in which participants agree to do outlandish things (such as shaving their heads) if sponsors contribute a certain amount of money.
68. 50/50 raffle
At the end, the winner gets half the pot, and the other half goes to your charity of choice.
69. Baby photo contest
Charge a small entry fee for participants to upload their baby photos, and then have the crowd vote on categories like “cutest,” “sassiest,” and “grumpiest.”
70. Personal appeal letter
Have board members or other stakeholders hand-write letters to people who have donated in the past.
71. Call sprint
Send out flyers or virtual links ahead of time to let targets know you’ll be calling and asking for a donation. Then assemble volunteers to make as many calls as they can.
72. Donations on your event page
Make it easy for people to give, even if they can’t attend your event, with donation buttons on your event page.
73. Themed T-shirts
Teefunder is one website that allows you to create a T-shirt to support your cause. You don’t have to pay for a big print run upfront. Instead, share details of the memorable merch via social media. T-shirts ship straight to your donors when the fundraiser is over.
74. Shared photos
Use Fundography to allow event attendees to upload and share photos from the event. Other attendees can then purchase these photos, and the proceeds go directly to your cause.
75. Fundraising bracelets
You can craft bracelets bearing a relevant message by working with a local designer, and then sell them for your cause.
Time to plan your fundraising strategy
The popularity of online events combined with the option to hold in-person events (where appropriate) means that there have never been more ways to fundraise for your organisation or chosen charity. Choosing your unique fundraising theme is just the beginning and every organisation is different, so brainstorm with your colleagues and donors to see what type of event they’d like to participate in.
Got your event idea and now wondering how to make money at a fundraising event? You just need to draw in the right people. Market and promote your idea to your target audience with these effective strategies.