Hosting a fundraising event is a great way to raise money, awareness, and attract sponsors for your organisation. It’s a much more efficient method than cold calling or emailing potential donors and adds a personal touch, letting you get to know your supporters.
The more quirky your fundraising idea, the more likely you are to engage people. It doesn’t have to be a ton of work, either. With the right charity event ideas, successful planning, and a few key considerations around your target audience, you’ll be on the way to achieving your annual fundraising target.
There are lots of ways to fundraise, from sports challenges and bake sales to virtual activities when in-person events aren’t an option. You don’t even need a huge budget to host a successful fundraising event – all that’s really required to attract attention is a core message and a unique event idea. If you’re wondering how to make a charity event special, we’ve got 48 fundraising ideas to excite all participants, including lucrative donors.
Sports and fitness charity fundraising events
1. School-style sports day
Three-legged races, tug-of-war, and egg-and-spoon are just some of the hilarious events you can expect to see at sports day. Either host your charity fitness challenge in a local park or hold an online event where people record their attempts. People can pay to take part, so you’ll soon build up the donations.
2. Remote fun run
Attendees donate or ask for sponsors beforehand then run the race at a time of their own choosing, so you don’t need to worry about people gathering in large groups or logistical issues such as arranging road closures for the event. They can share their time and route via an app like Strava.
3. Daily exercise challenge
Get people to participate in a sponsored movement challenge, building on what they did the day before. For example, on day one of the month, they do five push-ups, rising to 100 by the end of the month. This is super sharable, and people will be proud to track their progress on social media. Make sure they tag your charity or organisation to receive the full benefit.
4. Charity Zumbathon
Have a longer-than-usual Zumba class with numerous instructors and see how long participants can keep dancing. Attendees can seek sponsorship and compete to be the last person standing. Best of all, it can be done online or off.
5. Wild swimming challenge
Taking cues from Scotland’s Loony Dook event on New Year’s Day, people can raise money for charity by going for a dip in the ocean or a local river. They could seek sponsorship based on each minute they can spend in the icy waters.
6. Goal-kicking contest
See who can score the most goals in a Soccer Saturday-style shootout. Either charge people an entry fee to beat the goalie, or let people bet on who they think the winner will be.
7. Mini golf open
Hold a mini golf tournament with all the seriousness of the PGA tour. Find a patch of land and create your own course, or ask a local mini golf course to donate their space. Ask contestants to pay to take part, then submit virtual scorecards at the end to find out who has won.
8. Quidditch tournament
Believe it or not, some clever Muggles have found a way to make Quidditch a real-life sport. It’s as fun to watch as it is to play, so makes for one of the most unique fundraising ideas. Set up a charity match and let everyone live out their teenage wizard dreams in exchange for a donation.
Arty charity event ideas
9. Wine and watercolours
Host a watercolour painting class along with drinks and nibbles and charge people entry on the door. The relaxed atmosphere means people won’t take it too seriously and you can avoid queues by checking in attendees via the Eventbrite app.
10. Art auction
Ask local artists to donate photographs or paintings inspired by your charity, and auction them off. There are online auction sites you can use to do this if an in-person event isn’t viable.
11. Totes and tees competition
Throw a competition encouraging local artists to design unique tote bags and T-shirts that you can sell to raise money for your charity. These will raise awareness of both your cause and the artist.
12. Bid for a commission
Get a well-known local artist on board to donate a commission – aka a personalised piece of artwork. People then bid for the opportunity to have a piece created in their honour.
13. Craftalong session
Choose an easy craft – such as making pinch pots, designing jewellery, or decorating frames – and have a craftalong session. If holding a virtual session, prepare attendees by sending out the raw materials and instructions well in advance.
14. Tie-dye lesson
Seventies style is back in a big way, especially tie-dye. Ask people to bring along an old T-shirt they no longer wear and show them how to turn it a one-off custom piece. Consider using Eventbrite’s donation ticket types when promoting your event, so people can pay whatever they want.
15. Life drawing class
Teach a life drawing class. This can either take place online or in-person and often sparks interesting conversation. The Anti Diet Riot Club have done this to great effect with online classes raising awareness of body positivity.
16. Collaging classes
Use old newspapers and magazines to create unique collages. These paid sessions can be relaxing and mindful, and at the end, people have a unique artwork they can keep forever. As a bonus, they can be themed around your charity’s goals and shared on social media – with the creator’s permission, of course.
Foodie fundraising activities
17. Cookbook party
Part potluck and part bookclub, choose a cookery book and get everyone to cook one dish from it. Discuss what you liked and disliked about the book while enjoying each other’s dishes. Ask attendees to pay a membership fee in order to raise funds.
18. Reverse advent calendar
Each day of the month, add a staple food – such as tinned beans, dried pasta, or stock cubes – to a box, ready to donate to a food bank at the end of the month. Supply a list for people to follow along with.
19. Cocktail-making competition
Host a contest to see who can whip up the best cocktail in honour of the charity. The winner will receive a cash prize with the rest of the money from entry fees going to your organisation. To make it more inclusive, add an alcohol-free element.
20. Australian-style sausage sizzle
Trust the Aussies to come up with quirky fundraising ideas. At a sausage sizzle, guests pay (inflated prices) for a barbecued hot dog and the proceeds go to charity.
21. Local munch boxes
Get a few local restaurants and cafés on board and put together the ultimate food box, featuring treats from all of them. Either auction them off on Instagram or sell them via delivery sites.
22. Bake sale poll
Choose an issue of the day and create two batches of cupcakes – one to support each idea – and set up a stall. People can show their feelings based on which cupcake they buy. The more contentious the issue, the better, as people will feel more passionate about winning.
23. Cake decorating competition
Choose an elaborate, show-stopping cake and get aspiring bakers to try and recreate it at home. This type of event is ideal for sharing on social media and can take place offline or virtually. As with any competition, you can charge people a fee for entering and reward the overall winner with a prize.
24. Meat-free Monday dinner party
Host a dinner party where everything is 100% vegan. Set the date on a Monday for a quirky way to kick off the week and ask guests to pay for the privilege.
25. Come Dine With Me contest
Based on the popular TV show, get four groups to take part and cook meals for each other. Everyone pays a sum to participate. The winner of each group meets in a final, with the overall winner taking home a quarter of the profit and the other three-quarters going straight to your charity.
Virtual fundraising ideas
26. Big night in
Bring the disco atmosphere into people’s homes by hosting an online DJ night. People can dance along in their living rooms while watching each other party on Zoom. Look to the JUST VIBEZ collective for how to throw an epic party (albeit remotely).
27. Watch party
Use the built-in watch-a-long functions of streaming sites to sit down and watch a movie together, and get guests to donate the amount of a regular cinema ticket. As a bonus, add a fancy dress competition based on the film with a prize for the best (and worst) costume.
28. Online cookalong
Teach a live cooking class on one of the many hosting platforms that people can join straight from their kitchen. Either send them the ingredients or a shopping list in advance. At the end, everyone can sit and enjoy their meals together – virtually, of course.
29. Instagram challenge
Create a challenge that people can participate in on Instagram Stories – for example, sharing a different picture, song, or memory every day. Tie it back to your charity’s goals and encourage them to tag you in every day’s entry. You can easily include a fundraising element by asking people to pay for a share on your page. The more shares they receive, the likelier they are to win a prize.
30. Esports competition
Set up some online fundraising games and stream the matches on a platform such as Twitch. Everyone can pay a small entrance fee to play. The winner gets a portion, and the rest goes to your charity.
31. Online car boot sale
Ask people to donate clothes that they no longer wear and sell them on a site such as Vinted, Depop, or Facebook Marketplace. You could even auction them off using your own social media profiles.
32. Zoom open mic night
Let people show off the new talents they learned during lockdown during an online open mic night. Try to get a variety of acts – singing, stand-up comedy, and dancing, for example – and sell tickets for an evening of entertainment.
33. Karaoke contest
People may feel more comfortable participating in karaoke from the comfort of their own homes. After all, it’s easier to drop your guard when you’re looking at a laptop. You could set it around a theme, such as musicals or ’80s power ballads.
Extreme fundraising events
34. World record attempt
Check the Guinness World Records and find one that could be do-able. How about most socks put on a foot in 30 seconds or the farthest distance to blow a pea? Ask attendees to record their attempt at getting their name in the book and others to bet on who will get closest to, or even beat, the record.
35. Murder mystery
Murder mystery nights are a great way to bring some theatre to regular dinner parties, and can easily be held virtually as well as in real life. Include the likes of props and beverages in the ticket price for an effective way to upsell.
36. Muddy obstacle course
Create your own version of Tough Mudder by hiring a field for the day and putting together an obstacle course. People can enter as teams or solo. The fundraising opportunities are twofold as people pay to enter and ask for sponsorship.
37. Do you dare?
When it comes to funny fundraising ideas, what’s better than wacky dares based on the amount of money pledged by the public? This could take place on a platform like TikTok. It makes it easy to broadcast the dares as they happen and to raise awareness.
38. Bushtucker trial
Inspired by I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here, this challenge has fewer bugs and more food that you can find at home. Think the likes of peanut butter and pickle sandwiches, hot dog smoothies, or chocolate and cheese pizza. Have people pledge money, and as the cash rolls in, ask your at-home challengers to eat the next strange food combination on the list.
Community charity fundraising ideas
39. Create a coupon book
Approach local businesses to donate their time, goods, or services in the form of a coupon book. People can buy it to redeem in their local community, and your charity will receive the book sales profits.
40. Set up a wishing tree
Sending wishes out into the universe can feel very empowering. Set up a space for people to post their anonymous messages in the local park. It doesn’t need to be a tree – an old piece of fence will do. Charge a small fee to add a message to the wall. Once complete, it will look great on social media.
41. Chalk mural trail
Have local artists create chalk art – which can easily be washed away at the end of the day – to raise awareness of your charity. Charge visitors a small amount to visit the chalk trail, just as if it was an outdoor gallery.
42. Swap shop
One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. Get everyone on the street to bring things they no longer want, and let them swap with each other. Whatever’s left can be donated to your charity, or you can sell it on.
43. Community colouring contest
Create a black-and-white design that can be printed out so people can colour it in creative ways. The finished article can be displayed in windows, and everyone can vote on the winner. Get sponsors involved by asking them to donate a prize or experience.
44. Gardening service
Help out elderly, infirm, or simply busy people in your community with a gardening service. Cut the grass, plant flowers, and trim bushes for a small fee to go toward your organisation.
45. Host a street party
Sometimes, the best fundraising ideas are the simplest ones. Apply to the council for a special license to close down the street. Host a potluck dinner and get to know your neighbours. If mingling isn’t on the cards, restrict it to doorstep drinks with a donation.
46. Junk donations
Old printer cartridges, worn-out laptops, and ancient cables can still fetch good money from recyclers. Offer to take them off your neighbours’ hands and benefit your charity at the same time.
47. Seedling sale
Raising houseplants from seed is extremely rewarding and has proven to be a popular pastime during lockdown. Set up a plant sale, selling cuttings from your favourite plants to raise money for your chosen charity.
48. Scavenger hunt
Create a scavenger hunt based on the little things that might be seen on a neighbourhood stroll, from a jogger to a red postbox. People can enter by sending photos of each item by email or social media sites like Instagram. The first person to find them all is the winner.
Stand out in the events space
Fundraising can be a competitive marketplace. The more unique your events are, the more likely they’ll be noticed and raise the funds that you need. People need a reason to sit up and take notice of your cause, so get brainstorming. We can’t wait to see what you come up with.
Whether you’re hosting a neighbourhood scavenger hunt or an online murder mystery, create your next fundraising event with us.