23 Phenomenal Fundraising Event Ideas to Skyrocket Giving

There’s no doubt about it: fundraising events work. With over 33% of donors reporting that they attended nonprofit events in the last year, your nonprofit has a prime opportunity to bring in major fundraising dollars.

However, a well-executed event can do more than just bring in revenue! Fundraising events are a great way to engage supporters, promote your cause, and create a memorable experience for your team and community.

To help you plan a show stopping event, we’ve created a list of the top fundraising event ideas that your supporters will look forward to all year long:

Scan through these winning ideas top to bottom or jump to the section that’s most relevant to your nonprofit’s interests. By filling your calendar with inspiring fundraising events, you’ll be well on your way to meeting your mission!

Our Favorite Fundraising Event Ideas

1. Silent Auction

What’s the Fundraising Event Idea?

Silent auctions are truly a staple in the fundraising world! During a traditional silent auction, guests can peruse items placed around the venue and place bids using paper bid sheets. However, collecting and keeping track of bids can quickly become disorganized, leaving your nonprofit with much more work than necessary to execute a smooth event.

With the right auction software, you can take paper bids out of the equation and replace them with user-friendly mobile bidding tools. This empowers your bidders to conveniently submit bids right from their phones, making the bidding process much more rewarding.

Let’s take a closer look at the top features to look for when investing in silent auction software:

Silent auctions are a great fundraising event idea but you’ll need the right technology to pull them off with ease.

  • Event management: Whether you’re hosting an auction live, virtually, or as a hybrid combination of the two, your fundraising software should support planning and managing events of all types. Specifically, look for an auction solution that allows your team to facilitate express check-in and out using QR codes, customize ticket packages, easily capture guest information, and send segmented communications to create excitement.
  • Mobile bidding: Along with placing the bidding power in your donors’ hands, the ideal solution will also send your supporters outbid notifications so they can jump right back into the bidding action. Plus, donors should be able to set maximum bids for items and purchase fixed-price items.
  • Item management: Procuring appealing items for your silent auction shouldn’t be a hassle! The right auction solution will make it simple to generate solicitation letters for donors and corporate sponsors, assign items to specific volunteers to procure, track the status of each item, log each item’s location, and bundle items into packages.
  • Gamification: Spark friendly competition among your bidders by leveraging a solution with leaderboards and fundraising thermometers that you can easily display during your event. If you’re planning to host an online auction, ensure your software comes with engagement drivers like live chat to bring your community together.
  • Data tracking: Data can tell a powerful story about how you can improve your auction strategy in the future. For example, your software should point you to the items that were most and least popular among donors, the engagement tactics that resonated with your audience, and how you can optimize your fundraising. Ensure you have auction software on hand that will produce reports so you always have a clear picture of how your fundraisers perform.

As you research silent auction software options, pay special attention to whether a given solution can provide value to your organization after your auction. Your best option is to invest in an all-in-one fundraising solution so you can plan auctions, galas, peer-to-peer walkathons, and any other events with ease!

Why Does this Fundraising Event Idea Work?

As far as fundraising events go, silent auctions are about as versatile as it gets. You can adapt your auction to fit any audience and venue — from a casual school event to a fancy art gallery party and anything in between. You can make your auction one of several fundraising activities at your event or make it the star of the show!

Plus, silent auctions will give your fundraising team plenty of face time with your donors. As they browse your perfect auction items, you can mingle with your guests and get to know your supporters better!

Why is it Recommended?

Silent auctions bring in a significant amount of funds for your mission and can have low overhead costs if you work with donors and corporate sponsors to receive item donations.

Additionally, they pair well with other events and can bring in money while another fundraiser, like a charity golf tournament, is occurring. Just make sure you have the right fundraising technology on hand to make hosting your event as smooth as possible!

OneCause is the perfect silent auction software to meet all of your event needs and master fundraising. In fact, more than 11,000 nonprofits have leveraged OneCause to reach their fundraising goals, amounting to over $6.5 billion for causes around the world. Take a look at the OneCause Event Fundraising solution to bring your fundraising event ideas to life!

2. Golf Tournament

What’s the Charity Event Idea?

When warm weather rolls around, why not enjoy some fun in the sun while raising funds for your favorite cause? Plan a golf tournament where supporters donate a preset amount to participate on a team with friends, with the winners taking home a big prize!

Why Does this Charity Event Idea Work?

If your supporters enjoy a little athletic activity and healthy competition, a golf tournament is hard to beat.

Golf tournaments are especially successful if you have board members or fundraisers on hand to connect with supporters one-on-one and encourage day-of donations. Make sure to scope out prospective major donors ahead of time so you can use this event to cultivate strong relationships and kickstart lifelong partnerships.

Don’t forget to seek out local companies to sponsor your tournament, too! Golf tournaments, while lucrative, require a lot of planning to pull off. By having sponsors take some of the logistical burden off your shoulders, you’ll be primed to enjoy your day at the country club!

Why is it Recommended?

Golf tournaments are a promising major gift opportunity. Nonprofits typically recruit corporate sponsors and donors with major gift potential to play, so this event gives you an excellent chance to court prospects, especially since they’ll be on the course with your staff and board for hours.

3. Charity Gala

What’s the Charity Event Idea?

If your donors would appreciate a night of glitz and glamor, a fundraising gala might be the perfect event for you! A gala traditionally consists of a formal dinner, entertainment, and plenty of activities to keep the fun (and fundraising!) going all night long.

Why Does this Charity Event Idea Work?

Though galas require a great deal of planning and investment, when executed properly, these charity events can be the perfect way to secure large donations and reinforce key relationships, especially during a major project or capital campaign.

Fundraising galas are one of our favorite fundraising event ideas because they allow you to engage with donors closely.

Fundraising galas give your nonprofit a prime opportunity to:

  • Engage with donors and build lasting relationships that will benefit your organization for years to come.
  • Highlight your nonprofit’s accomplishments to add credibility to your cause and encourage donors to give towards your future goals.
  • Raise awareness for your cause among supporters who may not be as familiar with your mission.
  • Boost funding through ticket sales, live appeals, raffles, peer-to-peer fundraising, auction bidding, and other engaging fundraising activities.

Like silent auctions, you can adjust your charity gala to fit your donors. Not interested in a seated dinner? Mix it up with a live band, a comedic speaker, or a unique theme. (Think: poker tables at a casino-themed event or a jazz band at a Roaring ’20s gala.) The possibilities are endless when you get a little creative!

No matter what spin you put on your gala, remember that the best part of these events is getting the chance to connect with major donors in person, share updates about your organization, and rally your supporters around your cause.

Why is it Recommended?

Galas are often flagship events for large nonprofits, but that doesn’t mean smaller or newer organizations are excluded. In a nutshell, galas give your supporters the chance to unwind and connect with other community members and your organization.

Galas are also inherently flexible and can take many different shapes and forms. Are your supporters spread out across the country? Host your gala virtually using livestreaming tools and invite your supporters to dress in black-tie attire to feel truly connected to your event! Need to save funds? Make your event hybrid so only your VIP supporters attend in-person and the rest of your supporters can take part online.

To bring your galas to life, you’ll need an intuitive event fundraising platform in your back pocket. The OneCause Fundraising Platform makes it easy to host high-energy virtual, live, or hybrid events. Backed by powerful event-planning tools, you can make hosting a gala a stress-free experience.

4. Walkathon

What’s the Charity Event Idea?

Walkathons combine two of the best things around: fitness and fundraising! Using peer-to-peer fundraising software, your donors can form teams to raise funds for your cause in preparation for the big walk. Then, enjoy a day walking through the community and promoting your cause!

A walkathon is a high-energy fundraising event idea that all of your supporters will love.

To make your walkathon a success, keep these tips in mind:

  • Decorate your route with themed banners and use signs that motivate your supporters to keep going.
  • Include arrows to keep participants on the right path to the finish line.
  • Open booths for food and merchandise sales to maximize giving.
  • Set up hydration stations so participants can refill their bottles and stay refreshed.

Want to take your walkathon to the next level? You can use this same core concept and apply it to jogging, running, or biking, too!

Why Does this Charity Event Idea Work?

Walkathons, like many other active fundraising events, thrive on group participation. When you motivate your supporters to engage their own communities in your cause, you’ll be amazed at the fundraising results!

With the right peer-to-peer software, supporters can easily create their own fundraising pages, add custom touches like their personal connection to your cause, set a goal, and share their campaigns widely with their networks on social media. This way, you can bring in new donors and boost your visibility.

Not only will you bring in substantial donations from the walk itself, but you can also sell merchandise to encourage additional gifts and promote your event at the same time. Custom fundraising t-shirts, water bottles, and hats are all great complements to a walkathon, but your options are pretty much limitless!

Why is it Recommended?

Walkathons made this list because they are exceptional at capitalizing on massive networks of supporters to raise money. You might even make walkathons an annual tradition for your organization so your supporters always have something to look forward to!

For example, UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center hosts an annual “Mito 5k Angels & Warriors: Run, Walk, and Roll” event and raised nearly $100,000 for mitochondrial disease research in their last event!

A walkathon is a great fundraising event idea because it can help your nonprofit earn substantial funding.

They accomplished this amazing feat with the help of OneCause Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Software. By working with the right tools, your organization can emulate this success and make a significant impact on your mission!

Simple Charity Event Ideas

5. eCard Campaign

What’s the Charity Event Idea?

Looking for an easy way to boost awareness for your cause and fuel donations? An eCard campaign invites your supporters to submit a donation in exchange for the ability to send a branded digital greeting card to a friend or family member. These can be hosted in alignment with holidays like Valentine’s Day or Thanksgiving or cover a variety of occasions like:

  • Birthdays
  • Anniversaries
  • Graduation
  • Thank-you notes
  • Get-well messages

Kick off your eCard campaign with a high-energy event that connects your community members and generates excitement! For example, you might host a virtual happy hour that allows your different donors to get to know one another and learn more about your nonprofit’s latest progress updates.

Why Does this Charity Event Idea Work?

eCards can help your nonprofit bring more exposure to its cause and attract new donors. For example, let’s say a devoted donor sends a “Happy Birthday!” eCard to their friend who is unfamiliar with your mission. Upon receiving the card, they’ll immediately see your logo and nonprofit name, putting your organization on their radar.

Plus, by pairing your eCard campaign with a fun get-to-know-you event, you can boost your audience’s sense of community and belonging in your mission. Record notes on what you learn about your donors so you can reference these later in your stewardship activities.

Why is it Recommended?

You can’t attract new donors if they don’t know about your organization to begin with! eCards empower your nonprofit to bring awareness to your powerful cause and highlight why it’s worth their time and attention to get involved. Plus, in the process, you’ll earn plenty of funds to go back to the community you serve!

6. Serve-a-Thon

What’s the Fundraising Event Idea?

A Serve-a-Thon fundraising event helps your organization raise money by performing some needed community service! Just like a walkathon, your participants can accept pledges for the amount of trash they pick up or hours volunteered in other ways.

One of the top charity event ideas is a Serve-a-Thon because of its fundraising potential and community-building element.

Why Does this Fundraising Event Idea Work?

Since there are very few communities that are entirely spotless, this will be an easy event to promote and involve your community in!

Your participants can ask for donations from their families, friends, and peers. Pledges can serve per item of trash or per pound of trash! For example, someone might donate a dollar for every aluminum can you pick up or $5 for every pound of garbage you collect.

All you’ll need to do is recruit volunteers, collect pledges, and get to cleaning!

Why is it Recommended?

This fundraising event is widely beneficial. Your nonprofit raises money and your community is being bettered in the process. It’s a win-win!

7. Concert

What’s the Fundraising Event Idea?

If you’re looking to host a fundraising event that’s a little more unique than your average 5k run, try hosting a concert! This easy-to-put-together event just requires a fun musical act and the right sound and lighting equipment. With the help of local artists and both their networks and your own, this event will be easy to pull off.

Why Does this Fundraising Event Idea Work?

A charity concert is mutually beneficial for both your organization and the artists performing!

While you’ll raise funds, the artist will gain exposure. While your event will help promote your cause, it’ll also help your artists promote their music and themselves. Plus, you can encourage additional donations by hosting a text-to-give campaign in conjunction with your concert!

Why is it Recommended?

Concerts are inherently flexible events that can take place either in-person or online, indoors or outdoors. You can even recruit talented volunteers to cut down even more on costs to serve as the musical act!

8. Trivia Tournament

What’s the Philanthropy Event Idea?

For all the amateur Jeopardy! contestants out there, there’s nothing more fun than a little trivia competition. Encourage your donors to show off their brain power by donating to form small trivia teams. Don’t forget to offer a killer prize for the winning geniuses!

Why Does this Philanthropy Event Idea Work?

Anyone can compete in a trivia tournament, but more importantly, almost anyone can plan one with next to no hassle. They’re among the easiest events to host in terms of planning.

All it takes to host a super successful trivia night is a venue, a host, and some interesting questions. Keep it simple or spice it up by offering concessions or arranging a seated dinner.

Most importantly, break up the evening with a number of donation appeals and quick reminders of your fundraising efforts. You might even frame your trivia categories around your cause so that your evening is both entertaining and extra-educational.

Why is it Recommended?

People love trivia! Why not turn that enthusiasm into donations? Plus, if you can partner with a local restaurant to host the night, you can even reach new prospects who just happen to be patrons of the business.

9. Craft Fair

What’s the Philanthropy Event Idea?

craft fair is a vibrant fundraising event that typically features a variety of handmade crafts, artisan goods, and homemade treats, all offered for sale to support your nonprofit’s cause. To take a twist on this classic idea, you can also invite donors to art classes where they can make their own crafts for a small donation!

Craft fairs make excelling fundraising events because they shine light on local businesses and boost revenue for your cause.

Why Does this Philanthropy Event Idea Work?

A craft fair gets the creative juices flowing for a purpose! Not only will your nonprofit be able to earn considerable funds for your mission, but you’ll be able to highlight local businesses in a big way. Charge a fee for your vendors to set up a booth and sell their products, and sell tickets to attendees.

Why is it Recommended?

Craft fairs offer something everyone will love! Make sure to sell a variety of different items so all your attendees can find something they’d like to purchase. These fairs are a great way to bring the community together and boost awareness for your organization.

Kid-friendly Event Ideas

10. Obstacle Course

What’s the Philanthropy Event Idea?

An obstacle course is the perfect fundraising event and can be a fun challenge for kids, teenagers, and adults alike. You’ll want to set up plenty of obstacles and games to make up your course and offer participants the option to register online.

Why Does this Philanthropy Event Idea Work?

Your supporters will have the option to participate as individuals or in teams. Offer a prize to the winner to spark some friendly competition and bring energy levels up. Your obstacle course event is sure to leave your supporters with smiles on their faces and your organization with plenty of donations.

Why is it Recommended?

Obstacle course fundraising events get your supporters outside and participating in some good old-fashioned athletic competition in the name of charity. It serves as a team-building event, and further builds connections between your network of donors, volunteers, and staff.

11. Fun Run

What’s the Charity Event Idea?

A fun run is just as fun as it sounds! This themed race encourages friendly competition and is a fun event for every age. Your supporters won’t be able to turn down this chance to support your cause and have an exciting afternoon.

A great fundraising event idea is a fun run because it gets your supporters up and moving for a great cause.

Why Does this Charity Event Idea Work?

Your participants’ excitement will be contagious. To support your peer-to-peer fundraising efforts, participants will accept pledges from family, friends, and peers for how far they can run. It will be easier than you think for participants to accept pledges if they’re fired up about your event!

Remember, just because your participants might be doing some fundraising doesn’t mean you won’t have work to do! But don’t worry, your fun run will be easy to host with the help of your peer-to-peer software.

Why is it Recommended?

Like walkathons, fun runs are popular because they are healthy, active, and lucrative. As long as you have the right resources and team to accomplish a fun run, they are a surefire choice.

12. Field Day

What’s the Fundraising Event Idea?

Charity field days are a fun way to get the whole community together and raise money for your cause. Plan a full day of games, food, and (friendly!) competitions that appeal to kids as well as adults. Pro tip: since field days are best held outdoors on a warm, sunny day, keep a backup location or rain date in mind in case the weather isn’t on your side.

Why Does this Fundraising Event Idea Work?

Field days combine a lot of mini-games and fundraising activities into one jam-packed day. While this does mean you’ll have to put some thought into planning, it also means that almost everyone will find something they love at your event (and you’ll raise more because of it).

For example, you can offer the following activities:

  • Sack races
  • Relay races
  • Tug-of-war
  • Sports tournaments, like soccer or kickball
  • Water balloon toss
  • Arts and crafts stations

You can charge by event or for a full day’s admission. Don’t forget to offer concession stands, donation booths, and merchandise tables to really maximize fundraising potential!

Why is it Recommended?

As long as you plan accordingly and promote your field day fundraising event in advance, you’re bound to raise money while entertaining existing and new supporters all at once. Field days are the perfect way to welcome summer while fundraising.

13. Carnival

What’s the Charity Event Idea?

Everyone loves a night at the carnival, so it makes perfect sense to pair one with your fundraising campaign! Get as elaborate as you want with this event by hosting larger-than-life rides or keeping it simple with classic games that no one can say no to.

A carnival is a family-friendly fundraising event idea that your entire community will love.

Why Does this Charity Event Idea Work?

There are few fundraising events that truly appeal to any demographic, but the carnival is certainly one of them. A carnival-themed fundraising event is family-friendly and adaptive enough to provide entertainment for attendees of all backgrounds.

Carnivals are more than just fun and games, though; these fundraising events have the potential to be serious money makers for your cause. You can charge an admission fee and bring in extra donations with concessions or branded products for sale (as well as a donation booth, of course).

Why is it Recommended?

First, if you budget carefully and get most of the necessities donated, you stand to raise a lot of money. And second, carnivals build community and give your supporters of all ages the chance to come together and have fun in the name of your cause. Throw in some tools that make it easier to donate like text-to-give, and you’ve got a stellar event!

14. Scavenger Hunt

What’s the Fundraising Event Idea?

Everyone loves a classic scavenger hunt! With this fundraising event idea, participants form teams and compete to complete a list of tasks or find specific items within a designated area or timeframe. Charge your supporters an entry fee to participate and award the winners with a prize that will “wow” them!

Why Does this Fundraising Event Idea Work?

Scavenger hunts typically require minimal resources to organize, making them cost-effective for nonprofits looking to maximize fundraising impact. Plus, they bring people together and foster a strong sense of teamwork, strengthening relationships among supporters of your organization.

Why is it Recommended?

Scavenger hunts appeal to a broad demographic, including families and corporate teams, resulting in higher participation rates and potential for greater earnings. You can host your scavenger hunt practically anywhere, like inside your nonprofit’s headquarters or at a nearby park. Lay out clear rules for your scavenger hunt, such as the amount of time supporters have to find the items, so everyone is on the same page.

Cost-saving Philanthropy Event Ideas

15. Shoe Drive

What’s the Charity Event Idea?

Each year, Americans throw away at least 300 million pairs of shoes. Why not turn those shoes into cash?

A shoe drive is an excellent fundraising event idea that is both sustainable and profitable.

A shoe drive fundraiser is an amazing fundraising event where you can help eliminate waste and raise money for your cause all at the same time! All you have to do is partner with a company that can turn your shoes into donations.

Why Does this Charity Event Idea Work?

Companies like Funds2Orgs make for perfect partners for these types of events. All you have to do is host your fundraiser, collect the shoes, and then contact Funds2Orgs to pick up your collection. From there, they’ll ship your shoes to micro-entrepreneurs in developing nations!

Why is it Recommended?

At the end of your event, you’ll be left with a check and you’ll know you held a socially responsible campaign that helped those in need.

16. Car Wash

What’s the Philanthropy Event Idea?

A car wash is an easy and profitable fundraising event for nonprofit organizations. Between the event’s simplicity and outdoor setting, it’s hard to find a better fundraiser! You’ll just need to invest in soap, sponges, and buckets. Your nonprofit’s staff and most loyal volunteers can help wash cars the day of.

Why Does this Philanthropy Event Idea Work?

Who can say no to an inexpensive car wash that will support a good cause?

Make sure a few volunteers stand near a busy road with signs to promote your event the day of and you’re sure to see a flux of dirty cars with supportive drivers. This fundraiser is a classic because it works! Your nonprofit will be walking away having helped your community out and raised plenty of money.

Why is it Recommended?

Car washes are fundraising staples that speak for themselves. They’re low-cost, quick, and easy ways to bring in funding.

17. Movie Night

What’s the Fundraising Event Idea?

Grab some popcorn! Movie nights are a terrific way to raise money and enjoy a cozy night with your favorite flick. While you will have to secure the rights to the film of your choice if charging admission, the rest of the planning for this fundraising event is relatively simple: find a venue with ample space and a big screen (or projector), sell some tasty concessions, and you’re all set.

One of our favorite fundraising event ideas is a movie night since it’s simple to put together.

Why Does this Fundraising Event Idea Work?

Movie night fundraisers are perfect for churches and schools since you won’t have to worry about securing an alternative space. If you’re a nonprofit, consider hosting an outdoor movie night at your local park or another easily accessible venue.

Depending on the type of fundraising event you’re hoping to throw, you can choose a feel-good film that’s strictly entertaining or opt to screen an educational film that relates to your cause. Either way, your donors will appreciate a chance to relax with other members of their community and enjoy a good movie.

If you want to add even more fun to the event, consider going all out and incorporating a theme that relates to the film you’re showing. Most importantly, provide plenty of donation opportunities at your event, including a donation booth and advertisements for your text-to-give options.

Why is it Recommended?

Movie nights put fun first, which your donors will appreciate. They’re the perfect chance to get all your supporters together and make a big appeal — just hold an announcement session immediately prior to the screening.

18. Matching Gift Drive

What’s the Fundraising Event Idea?

A matching gift drive is a time-bound event where donors only have a certain amount of time to give to get their donation matched. This involves setting up a partnership with a corporate sponsor or individual major donor who would be willing to match gifts. For example, a local restaurant might offer to match every dollar donated up to $25,000 at a 1:1 ratio for the week!

You might pair this fun challenge with any of the event ideas listed on this page or with a live or virtual kick-off event. During your event, take the time to educate your supporters about matching gifts and their impact. Make sure your donors know that they can play a greater role in your mission at no additional cost to them!

Why Does this Fundraising Event Idea Work?

1 in 3 donors reported that they’d make a larger gift if matching is applied to their donation. Take advantage of this opportunity to earn more by bringing a corporate sponsor or major donor onboard! A matching donation challenge can be incredibly lucrative and your nonprofit doesn’t have to spend a dime.

Why is it Recommended?

On top of earning matching donations from your corporate partner, your donors might be eligible for additional matching funds through their employers! Add a matching gift widget to your donation page so your supporters can easily look up their eligibility and earn more for your cause. With matching gifts, you might make triple the amount of what a donation would originally be!

19. Tour of Homes

What’s the Philanthropy Event Idea?

During this unique event, participants have the opportunity to visit and tour a selection of private homes. These might belong to your donors, board members, or other stakeholders who would be willing to show off their houses. Attendees purchase tickets to participate in the tour and can buy add-ons like snacks and drinks to maximize your fundraising potential.

Why Does this Philanthropy Event Idea Work?

This is a great community-building event that can open your nonprofit up to brand new donors! For example, if a few historical homes will be a part of your tour, interested community members who are intrigued by the event but aren’t familiar with your mission might sign up. Then, you can mix in educational elements about your cause within the tour to boost awareness.

Why is it Recommended?

This event can take place at no cost to your organization. However, there is a bit of leg-work you’ll need to do to organize the tour and get homeowners involved. Start planning the tour in advance so it can go off without a hitch!

Creative Fundraising Event Ideas

20. Talent Show

What’s the Fundraising Event Idea?

Though most popular with schools, a talent show can be an amazing fundraising event for practically any audience or cause. Like some other fundraising events, you can make your talent show as over-the-top or low-key as you’d like. Simply charge an entrance fee for contestants, sell tickets to spectators, and sell concessions for extra donations.

Why Does this Fundraising Event Idea Work?

Who doesn’t love a good show? When your community can all come together to celebrate the amazing talents among them, everybody has a blast.

Organizing a talent show will take some resources like renting sound equipment and an appropriate venue, but it can also seriously boost your fundraising results. To maximize profits (and fun), make your show as inclusive as possible by opening it up to all ages and talents.

Add a lucrative twist by having the audience vote with their donations. Set out tip jars with each contestant’s name and photo, or allow your guests to give online and indicate their favorites to a volunteer.

Why is it Recommended?

Talent shows are ideal fundraising events for churches, schools, and other organizations that already have stages, sound equipment, and other performance essentials. They capitalize on existing resources and become all about raising money while enjoying a showcase by your supporters.

21. Cook-Off

What’s the Charity Event Idea?

Looking for big money fundraising ideas that tap into your supporters’ love of food? We’ve got you covered! A charity cook-off is a classic way to engage your supporters and raise some money for your cause.

To pull off this event, you’ll need some sort of theme (bonus points if it relates to your cause!) and plenty of willing participants. Charge a small entrance fee and sell tickets to the big event for all your hungry guests.

If you’re looking for a charity event idea that will excite your entire community, consider hosting a cook-off.

Why Does this Charity Event Idea Work?

Simply put, no one wants to turn down delicious food or the chance to prove that they’re a master chef.

While you should encourage any and all local foodies to submit a dish, you might also want to reach out specifically to restaurateurs and well-known culinary experts in your community.

Engaging with local businesses or prominent individuals will help you promote your event to their loyal customers and fans, and might lead to potential sponsorships down the line.

Why is it Recommended?

Charity cook-offs are low-cost and offer a high return on investment. They also do a stellar job of encouraging engagement from your supporters, which is beneficial for your donor retention.

22. Penny Social

What’s the Philanthropy Event Idea?

penny social is a hybrid of a silent auction and a raffle—so you get the best of both worlds! Instead of having supporters place bids through a mobile bidding app or writing down a monetary value on a paper bidding sheet, they’ll purchase tickets before the event.

During the auction, your supporters will place their tickets in the bin next to their desired item. The more tickets they drop in, the more chances they have at winning!

Why Does this Philanthropy Event Idea Work?

Most of your supporters have participated in silent auctions and raffles before. With a penny social, your donors can try a twist on two classic big money fundraising ideas! This fun, engaging event will encourage your supporters to come out to support your cause.

Plus, with this event, you’ll still harness the competitive spirit of an auction as your supporters will want to place the most tickets in the bowls of their favorite prizes to outbid others.

Why is it Recommended?

Penny socials are a practical fundraising event because they can be standalone or accompany a larger event. They’re especially popular with school fundraising events. While a penny social may seem like a big event to take on, the right event fundraising software will help you manage every aspect with ease.

23. Gift-wrapping Drive

What’s the Philanthropy Event Idea?

gift-wrapping drive is the perfect holiday fundraiser to end the year with a bang! To pull off this event, set up a booth in a local shopping center where a few skilled volunteers wrap newly purchased gifts in exchange for a small donation. Or, you can host this event at your nonprofit’s headquarters and invite community members to come to you to get their gifts wrapped.

Why Does this Philanthropy Event Idea Work?

The holidays are a busy time for everyone, and wrapping gifts isn’t always at the top of the priority list for many. Plus, gift wrapping can be challenging and eat up too much time. Members of your community will love this fundraising idea because it’s practical, solves a need, and lets them give back in the process!

Why is it Recommended?

This fundraising event idea has few expenses and is in high demand during the holiday season, meaning your nonprofit can end up making a ton of revenue. Make sure to recruit volunteers who would be willing to donate their time and gift wrapping expertise to your cause. You might even partner with a gift-wrapping store and ask if they’d be willing to help out!

How to Promote Your Fundraising Event

Once you settle on a fundraising idea, you’ll need to put together a winning marketing plan to get the word out. After all, you can’t attract donors if they don’t know your event is taking place in the first place!

To amplify your messaging, take a multichannel approach. This way, you can create multiple touchpoints with your supporters and keep your event top of mind. Specifically, leverage the following key channels:

  • Social media: Create engaging content across platforms your audience most frequently uses, such as Instagram or Facebook. For example, you might create graphics that highlight your fundraising needs, share videos of your nonprofit’s leaders explaining the fundraiser’s purpose, or post photos of your beneficiaries to appeal to supporters’ emotions.
  • Email: Highlight your event in your email newsletter and individual communications and create a strong call to action to register. Make sure to link to the appropriate landing page where supporters can sign up!
  • Direct mail: Include all of the logistical details of your event, including date, time, and location, and add a QR code to your digital resources so supporters can learn more online.
  • Website: Develop a visually appealing and informative landing page on your website that dives deep into the purpose of your event and why donors should attend.

Even if your website is in top shape, you might struggle to garner enough traffic. A free way to improve the visibility of your website on search engine results pages is with Google Ad Grants. These free monthly advertising credits, awarded by Google to eligible nonprofits, are worth over $10,000. Using Google Ads, you can bid on relevant long-tail keywords and promote specific pages on your site related to your fundraiser.

For example, let’s say you’re an animal shelter hosting an adoption palooza in the near future and in need of volunteers. You might bid on the keyword “animal shelter volunteering” so that your event volunteering page or volunteering application pops up at the top of Google’s search engine results.

Google Ad Grants is a great marketing tool to use as you plan your fundraising event idea.

This way, you can bring in more traffic to your important web pages and boost registration numbers, volunteer support, and donations! If you’re not sure how to optimize your Google Ad Grants strategy, you can always work with a Google Ad Grants agency that specializes in helping nonprofits maximize their advertising credits.

Get Started with OneCause

If you’re ready to host a fundraising event that will “wow” your audience, you’ll need the right tools on hand. The OneCause Fundraising Platform makes giving modern, flexible, and seamless to drive deeper engagement and grow your revenue over time. This all-in-one solution comes with everything you need to pull off a successful event, including:

  • Integrated ticketing
  • Contactless check-in and out
  • Table and seating management
  • Mobile bidding tools
  • Donor and sponsor management
  • Engaging communication features
  • Real-time data analytics

All New OneCause Fundraising Platform


Take a look at this versatile all-in-one fundraising software that meets the expectations of today’s donors, supporting any in-person, virtual, or hybrid event.

Wrapping Up

Now that you have a wealth of fundraising ideas to choose from, it’s time to bring these exciting ventures to life. Mix and match ideas or make them your own to appeal to your unique audience. With a little hard work and some creativity, your next fundraising event can be a massive success!

For more inspiration, explore these additional fundraising resources: