6 Event Fundraising Ideas and the Tools to Make Them Happen

Adam Weinger March 21, 2017 Nonprofits

Hosting a charity event can be very rewarding. Events give organizations the opportunity to interact with donors, as well as broaden their fundraising and raise more money.

Perhaps you’re wondering what type of event will best fit your mission and help you reach your goals.

While it can be challenging to narrow down the right event, the difficulties don’t end there. You also have to consider how you’re going to organize your event.

Luckily we’ve got some awesome fundraising ideas and recommendations on the best tools to make your event a reality.

Take a look at our top event fundraising ideas:

  1. Casino Night
  2. Travel Raffle
  3. Carnival
  4. Silent Auctions
  5. Walkathon
  6. Ice Cream Social

Let’s get started!


1. Casino Night

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Bring your donors together for a fun night of Las Vegas-style games by hosting a casino night! Your casino night will take a considerable amount of planning, so recruit a solid team to help you and get familiar with all the legal restrictions associated with hosting a casino night.

Organizing a casino night as one of your fundraising ideas has potential to raise a lot of money for your cause.

Your nonprofit can raise funds through multiple sources, including:

  • Ticket sales
  • Concessions
  • Additional “funny money” purchases.

Entrance into the event usually includes a certain amount of “funny money” that can be used to play the casino games.

We suggest giving each guest $100 of “funny money.” The amount is enough to get them started, but not too much where they won’t make additional donations to purchase more “funny money.”

You can sell tickets at the door, but selling them in advance is the best approach. When donors register in advance, you’ll have a sense of how many people are attending, and entry into your casino night will run smoother.

Set up an online registration page specifically for your event using an online donation tool. That way, donors can learn more about your event and register at their convenience.

Sending out invitations to your donors with information on how to register and linking to your registration page on social media are both ways you can promote your event.


2. Travel Raffle

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Hosting a travel raffle is a fantastic way to bring excitement to your year-end fundraising. Your supporters will enjoy the chance to win a fantastic trip to a new location.  

Nonprofits often host raffles because they’re easy to plan and can be combined with other fundraising events to raise even more.

A travel raffle requires two important things: a prize for the winner and a plan for how to sell tickets.

The prize, of course, should be something travel-related, such as plane tickets, hotel accommodations, or travel-related gear. See if you have any connections or resources in the travel industry you can use to procure in-kind donations.  

Whatever you choose, just make sure that donors are interested in your prize. The more unique and rare the prize is, the more excitement you’ll generate (which could lead to more donations!).

Traditionally, raffle tickets are sold by volunteers to their family members and friends and during events (like charity auctions).

For instance, when a church hosts a raffle fundraiser, a few congregants sell tickets to their network of friends and family members by explaining how the money will be used and sharing their personal connection to the cause.

While these in-person sales are effective, volunteers can only reach so many people.

Did you know that you can also sell raffle tickets online?

With the right fundraising tools, you can sell fixed items like raffle tickets on your event registration page.

Selling raffle tickets online can boost the funds you raise, and here’s why:

  • You can reach more supporters, by sharing your page on social media or via email.
  • If donors decide to purchase tickets from a volunteer and later decide to buy more, they can quickly make additional purchases online.
  • Donors don’t have to worry about having cash available to purchase raffle tickets. They can use their credit or debit cards online.

Use both methods — in-person and online raffle ticket sales — to maximize the funds you raise.


3. Carnival

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Who doesn’t love a day filled with games and great food? Carnivals are fun family-friendly events, which make them well-suited for school fundraisers. But any organization can host a carnival to raise funds.

Donors can pay to play traditional state fair and carnival games like ring toss, cake walk, and bobbing for apples.

Additionally, if you want to have rides at your carnival but don’t want to dip into your budget, you can ask businesses if they’d be willing to sponsor a ride to help with the costs.

Promoting your event is key to making your carnival a success.

For instance, if you’re hosting the event to raise money for your high school, make an announcement during a pep rally or another school-wide event. That way, the entire student body is present and excited.

Your carnival doesn’t have to be a school-only fundraiser; extend the invitation to community members and their families and encourage your students to invite their friends.

Whether you’re a school or nonprofit organization, you can post flyers around your community and share the event details on social media.

The more people that attend your carnival, the more opportunities you have to reach your fundraising goal!


4. Silent Auctions

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Charity auctions are tried-and-true nonprofit fundraisers, but auctions — especially silent auctions — can also work well for schools and universities.

Silent auctions work in a similar way as live auctions, but they don’t require an auctioneer; all bids are made on bidding sheets or via mobile phones.

Silent auctions work well for charity events because they allow supporters to make bids without having to announce their financial status.

Without an auctioneer present directing the event and encouraging attendees to make bids, it will be up to you to engage your donors throughout a silent auction.

Using mobile bidding is a great way to interact with donors and keep them updated on popular items.

Before your silent auction, your organization can use event software to manage auction item procurement and create a catalog, as well as sell tickets to your event.

At your event, guests can register for mobile bidding by filling out a mobile form with their personal and payment information. When guests are outbid, a text notification will be sent to their phone.  

Mobile bidding helps your event run smoothly and keeps donors engaged.

If you’re interested in planning a silent auction, you’ll need more than event software. You’ll also need:

  • Staff and volunteers to help plan and set up your event.
  • A venue for your charity auction.
  • Rare and unique items to auction off.

Silent auctions require a lot of planning, but they also have the potential to raise a lot of funds for your nonprofit. If you need help planning your silent auction, read Fundly’s event checklist.


5. Walkathon

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Walkathons unite supporters in an active way to raise money for your cause. Your nonprofit can map out a course and have donors pay a registration fee to participate in the walkathon, as well as sell branded merchandise.

Additionally, walkathons can make great celebration events at the end of a peer-to-peer campaign. Before the walkathon, your supporters can ask their networks of friends and family members to donate to your nonprofit.

Fundraisers usually set up a personal page with a goal and their story. Fundraising pages usually explain why supporters are passionate about your mission and their personal connection to your mission. These stories usually speak to their friends’ emotions and persuade them to give.  

Of course, you’ll need to plan both your peer-to-peer campaign and the walkathon. For your peer-to-peer campaign, recruit your fundraisers and help them set up their individual pages.

It’s important to keep the momentum going throughout your campaign, so send progress updates and encouraging messages to motivate your fundraisers.

When planning your walkathon, use the following tips:

  • Pick a location, plan your route, and obtain all the necessary permits.
  • Request police to direct traffic and ensure the safety of your supporters.
  • Bring first aid kits and other medical supplies just in case of an emergency.
  • Set up a donation table at the event, so that people can make additional contributions.
  • Have water stations placed throughout the route to keep your walkers refreshed.

After your peer-to-peer campaign and walkathon are finished, make sure that you update your donor database with all the new donors’ information and thank your supporters for contributing.


6. Ice Cream Social

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Hosting an ice cream social is a way to bring your supporters together for a family-friendly event and raise money.

When you host an ice cream social, you have plenty of opportunities to get to know your donors and listen to the reasons why they support your cause.

An ice cream social is a versatile fundraiser that works for any nonprofit or cause, and you can combine your event with raffles, t-shirt sales, or other fundraisers to raise even more funds.

Hosting an ice cream social is simple; all you need to do is pick a day and location for your event and supply the ice cream.

Schedule your event during the summer or spring when it’s warm enough to enjoy ice cream outside.

In addition to timing, location plays an important role. Pick a location that has enough space for guests to eat and talk with other supporters. You also need a cool space to store the ice cream.

An ideal location for your ice cream social could be:

  • Inside an ice cream shop
  • At the park
  • In a local restaurant

Whichever location you choose, remember to set up a table where people can learn more about your nonprofit and its mission (and potentially make another donation!).

Don’t forget to spread the word about your fundraiser through social media and by posting flyers around the community.

Now that we’ve gone through six event fundraising ideas, you have the necessary tools to reach your fundraising goals.

Hopefully, you’ve found one or two ideas that you can use for your next event!


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