20+ Impactful Memorial Fundraising Ideas

New tips to propel your Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

Do-It-Yourself or DIY fundraisers are on the rise. With DIY fundraisers (aka supporter-driven, or third-party fundraising), your supporters are able to ‘Fundraise Their Way’ by hosting events, creating challenges, donating for occasions, and personalizing their passion for your cause.

As nonprofits look to create a peer-to-peer DIY fundraising strategy, gathering ideas for types of DIY fundraisers is a great starting point.

Memorial and tribute fundraisers are one way that your supporters can tap into DIY fundraising. Losing a loved one is one of the hardest things anyone can go through. Fundraisers have been channeling their focus and efforts for raising money in honor of their loved one for a cause that had an impact on or was important to them.

We’re here to help guide you through memorial fundraising so that you can better support and empower your fundraisers.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  1. What is memorial fundraising?
  2. What are the most effective memorial fundraising ideas?
  3. How can I maximize the impact of a memorial fundraiser?

What is memorial fundraising?

A memorial fundraiser is created to honor the life and legacy of a loved one and raise money for a cause that was near to their heart.

These campaigns bring a community together to provide powerful testimonials, support a grieving family, and create something good out of loss by supporting a worthy mission.

At OneCause, we know fundraising is important 365 days a year. That’s why we are helping nonprofits tap into DIY fundraising. The reason why DIY fundraising is so great is that rather than being tied to the specific timeframe or event, supporters can spin up a fundraising page anytime they want. This provides evergreen fundraising opportunities for you and your supporters.

Memorial fundraisers raise more and reach more with a powerful peer-to-peer fundraising solution, with the opportunity for those involved to create their own fundraising page and give tribute to honor their loved one.

What are the most effective memorial fundraising ideas?

We’ve gathered 25 of the most effective memorial fundraising ideas for you to share with your supporters and grow your fundraising in personalized ways.

1. Memorial auction

A memorial auction is a great way for your supporters to honor their loved one. Now, with the help of mobile bidding tools, it’s easier than ever to increase your reach and impact.

To host a memorial auction, your supporters should procure a wide range of auction items, set up their Giving Center, plan engaging activities, and start promoting.

They may even consider taking their memorial auction virtual. In many ways, virtual auctions are even easier and more cost-effective to plan than traditional live or silent auctions. The benefits of virtual auctions include…

  • Larger audience reach. Supporters are no longer limited to a certain number of tickets at a specific location. They can share their fundraising site far and wide.
  • Lower cost. Overhead cost is significantly reduced without a venue and similar event planning costs, which means more money for what matters most – honoring their loved one and raising money for your cause,
  • More flexibility. Virtual auctions can be designed to suit the mission of the cause they’re fundraising on behalf of, their community, and their goals with the flexibility of being online.

2. Personalized Memorial Campaign

Personalized campaigns are an online fundraising method that many fundraisers find success with. First, supporters will create a campaign page that explains what they’re raising money for (you cause). Then, they’ll include the story of their loved one – who they were and what legacy they’re leaving behind.

Then, you’ll want to encourage your supporters to spread the word about their campaign far and wide. We recommend using social media as a main source of marketing, as it’s inexpensive and highly effective. The more likes, comments, and shares your supporters get on their posts, the more likely you are to:

  • Reach more people with your story.
  • Attract new supporters.
  • Raise more funds.

3. Engraved brick sale

Supporters may be planning on using a pathway or building as a memorial for their loved one. If that’s the case, encourage them to consider an engraved brick sale to help with the cost.

We love this idea because it’s a win-win for their and their donors’ supporters:

  • Donors will love that their gift has a physical representation that stands out and is unique.
  • Your supporter’s family will love that their loved one’s legacy lives on and they’ll be able to see all the lives they’ve touched as they browse the names on the bricks.

TIP: Those who use this idea should check to see if there are any local companies that they could work with that do this type of work. They may even offer their services as a donation.

4. Memorial potluck

Memorial potlucks are a great way to bring the community together. People can spend quality time with one another, sharing food, stories, and memories together.

To get started, your fundraisers should come up with a date, time, and menu then send out invites that include a link to their donation page.

A special idea is to ask guests to bring a version of their loved one’s favorite dish or maybe a dish that reminds them of their loved one. It’s an easy way to make a big impact.

5. T-shirt sale

Another unique idea for your supporters is creating a t-shirt design that commemorates their loved one and selling it for donations. They could incorporate a:

  • Favorite Quote
  • Favorite Lyric
  • Go-To Vacation Spot
  • Hometown
  • Family Crest

Not only does this idea help boost fundraising revenue, but the merchandise also serves as a constant reminder about their loved one for years to come.

6. Memorial website

One of the simplest and most effective ways to honor a loved one is to create a memorial website. If you have the right fundraising software, memorial websites are easy to set up and promote to your network. Encourage supporters to include:

  • A donation form
  • Photos
  • Videos
  • Stories
  • Quotes
  • And what a donation would mean to them.

7. Tree-planting event

Hosting a tree-planting event is a gift that keeps on giving! Doing good for your community is the perfect way to honor a loved one. Plus, your supporter can always visit the tree throughout the year and even decorate it for the holidays. The opportunity is really special – and it can even be opened to the community to make it an even bigger fundraising event.

Here are the steps your supporters will need to take:

  • Partner with your local nursery for some baby trees.
  • Find an ideal spot to plant – maybe in a park, on a street, or at a church.
  • Offer the opportunity to dedicate a planted tree in exchange for a donation.
  • Spread the word! Use social media, text, email, and word of mouth.
  • Host a tree-planting event where donors can come and continue to show their support.

8. Walk-a-thon

Hosting a run or walk is one of the most popular peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns, and they can be a great option for raising money in honor of a loved one. We love these fundraisers because they really bring the community together. Participants can form teams or fundraise on their own, giving them various options for how to be involved.

One of the basics of any peer-to-peer campaign is giving participants fundraising tools that are social, mobile, and fun to raise donations on. When designing a walk-a-thon, have your supporters think through these questions:

  • Are you making it as easy as possible to give?
  • Do you need to include any virtual elements?
  • How will your honor your loved one in the day-of activities?
  • What’s your launch timeframe?
  • Who and how will you promote?

If your nonprofit has the right peer-to-peer technology, you should be able to check all these boxes and support your fundraisers’ walk-a-thon efforts.

9. Restaurant partnership

Similar to a memorial potluck, partnering with a local restaurant is an easy, low-stress way to bring people together to share a meal and memories.

Fundraisers should meet with the restaurant to discuss the date, time, and menu before the event. Then, they can use the time in between to promote the get-together with friends, family, and supporters.

They should think about asking a few people to say a few words before dinner. Since the location and food is being taken care of by the restaurant that’s hosting, they’ll be able to relax, reminisce, and focus on raising important funds for your cause.

10. Flower sale

During a hard time, flowers bring that little touch of brightness to the room. That’s why flower sales are a fan favorite for memorial fundraisers.

Supporters can offer a loved one’s favorite flower as well as a few popular ones like roses, tulips, and sunflowers. Then, they should have a table at a restaurant, shop, or park and set up shop! The link to their donation page should be easily accessible so additional donations can be made.

Flowers are relatively inexpensive, which means:

  • More profit going toward your cause
  • Less stress on your supporter

11. Candle sale

Another thoughtful way of raising money for your memorial fundraiser is a candle sale. This unique fundraising method is great because supporters can truly make it their own. Our favorite ideas include:

  • Selling holiday candles
  • Selling candles with scents that remind them of their loved one
  • Selling taper candles and have a vigil with the community

Candles are easy to buy in bulk or supporters can share their story with a wholesaler and ask them to donate.

12. Video Challenge

Effectively communicating your cause via social media is simple and doesn’t require a large team or a giant budget—making them a popular DIY fundraising idea.

For this memorial fundraiser idea, your fundraiser can challenge their friends and family to:

  1.   Create a video that educates viewers about your cause and honors their loved one.
  2.   Promote it on social media and ask for donations.

Be sure they include a dedicated hashtag to keep up with the challenge and clear instructions for donating to your cause online.

13. Memorial gala

While it will take quite a bit of time and planning, a gala is one of the most tried and true ways of raising money for a cause. Even better, it’s a time to bring the community together to honor a loved one.

The options are endless for how your supporters would like to raise money for your cause. They should think about what their goals are and what time commitment they want to have, then think through these options for driving donations and funds:

  • Ticket sales
  • Table sales
  • Raffle tickets
  • Silent auction
  • Live auction

While supporters can pick and choose from the list above, what we do recommend is making sure the night is extra special, by incorporating as many elements of their loved one’s life as possible. If they do, it’s sure to be an unforgettable night.

14. Text-to-give

With a text-to-give campaign, all you need is a phone number and short code to share with your friends and family. It’s as simple as that!

Once the number and code are shared with your supporter’s network, they can them with their network and so on, making it easy to spread a loved one’s story and raise funds.

If you want to kick your text-to-give capabilities up a notch, find a text-to-give solution that includes a scoreboard. Scoreboards allow your supporters to:

  • Track donations in real-time
  • Display real-time fundraising thermometers
  • Feature donors’ names for acknowledgement
  • Keep donors engaged with your goals

OneCause offers text-to-donate capabilities through our Text2Give solution – perfect for an easy text-to-donate fundraiser.

15. Movie night

Another fundraising idea that’s sure to be a hit is a movie night. You could choose themes such as a scary movie marathon, old Hollywood movies, arthouse cinema, classic rom-coms – but our favorite idea for a memorial fundraiser is to compile old videos and photos and create a movie to honor the life of a loved one.

Supporters can charge for:

  • Entry
  • Snacks
  • Drinks
  • A copy of the movie
  • And more!

All they need is a projector and a screen and they’re good to go.

16. Lantern Release

Lantern releases are a special way to honor a loved one and bring people together to help reach a memorial fundraiser goal.

Your supporter should invite friends and family to an open field, share stories about their loved one, and then release the lanterns into their air.

It’s a beautiful site! They can charge per lantern, but a general donation may be a better option. They’ll just send the link to the giving site out beforehand via text or email so that when people are called to give, they can do so easily and instantly.

17. Social media fundraiser

Social media is a great avenue for sharing memories, stories, photos, and videos of a loved one. Even more, it’s an avenue for raising money for a memorial fundraiser on behalf of an awesome cause.

Social media fundraisers have helped to normalize giving and make it a part of our daily life. Which is why they have become so effective!

  • First, supporters should identify your target audience.
  • Then, create posts that tell their story and the ‘why’ being giving to the memorial fundraiser.
  • Finally, watch the donations roll in!

18. Photo book sale

One of the best ways to honor your loved one is through a photo book sale. Not only will it help you raise funds for your campaign, but it will also serve as a wonderful walk down memory lane. Similar to bake sales, empower your supporters with this two-step process.

  1. Reach out to friends and family of your loved one and gather photos from each stage in their life. You’ll probably be surprised and find ones you’ve never seen before!
  2. Work with a printing company who can give you a discount when buying in bulk. Combine the photos into a book and then sell them to those who helped by submitting photos.

19. Benefit concert

Encourage your supporters to tap into the power of music with a benefit concert for their loved one! Maybe they had a favorite local artist, loved the sound of the piano, or listened to Jazz every Friday night. Whatever the case may be, they can find something that connects them to their loved one and then offer the community the opportunity to buy tickets and donate to your cause.

Be sure your supporters are marketing the event well to the community, using:

  • Social media
  • Text messages
  • Email
  • Hand-written invites
  • And word-of-mouth

But don’t leave them empty handed in doing so! Templates, graphics, photos, and impact statements are important to share so that your supporters are set up for success.

20. Paper Train Fundraiser

Another memorial fundraiser that is easy to execute is a paper train fundraiser.

All your supporters have to do is set up shop with the supplies they need and watch the support pour in. People can make a donation in exchange for a piece of the train and then write their names. (Your DIY fundraiser may even want to prompt them to write their favorite memory of their loved one!) It’s simple.

Plus, they’ll be able to see the impact that their loved one had on the community when they see the final product of the train.

21. Dog walk

Nothing brightens a day quite like the love of a dog. In this DIY memorial fundraiser, supporters can invite their community to bring their furry friends for an afternoon walk. They’ll just need to:

  • Partner with a local shelter or pet store
  • Promote the event
  • Set up a 1 -mile course
  • Gather donations from participants
  • Have dog bowls and treats for sale

22. Board game tournament

A board game tournament is a great idea for those looking to bring people together and raise funds. There’s nothing quite like the escape of a fun game night with some friendly competition!

For this memorial fundraiser, it’s a good idea to require a minimum donation to be entered. Then, supporters can work with local companies and restaurants to procure prizes for the winners – like gift baskets and gift cards.

This light-hearted idea is all about quality time and raising money for your cause.

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How can I maximize the impact of a memorial fundraiser?

Allowing your supporters to fundraise on your behalf requires the right strategy. When you put in place these best practices, you can have successful, on-brand memorial fundraising campaigns without the heavy lift.

Provide detailed instructions to DIY fundraisers

To ensure their campaign goes off without a hitch and is a huge success, introduce your supporters to the technology they’ll be using and the marketing for their campaign.

  • Walk them through how to set up and personalize their fundraising pages
  • Show them how donors use the technology to make a donation.
  • Highlight the marketing efforts your team has in place.
  • Go over all social media guidelines, including hashtags they should use, accounts they should tag, graphics to include, etc.
  • Prepare your supporters before their fundraising campaign. Arm them with resources and information so they can be amazing advocates for your cause and reach their fundraising goals.

Follow up and provide support throughout the campaign

To help your DIY fundraising participants feel empowered and encouraged, be sure to set them up for success and provide support throughout their campaign.

By making it fun and easy, you not only help your supporters raise more money and reach more donors, but you also make them want to do another campaign in the future!

Here are a two top tips to ensure a pleasant experience for your fundraisers:

  • Create a toolkit: When your supporters are unleashed to begin promoting and fundraising for your mission, it’s important to give them the right materials to do so successfully. A toolkit with your mission, logo, branded images, social graphics, and impact statements can help your supporters craft their personal story while still staying on brand. And it makes your supporters feel, well, supported!
  • Give them examples: Highlighting successful DIY fundraising campaigns can be just what your supporters need to get started. It can spark creativity within them and help identify best practices that they too should follow to be successful.

Thank your fundraisers and donors for their contributions

The final (and most important) best practice to follow is to acknowledge your supporters, thank them for their time and money, and communicate the impact of the funding!

If your organization has the capacity, consider these options for a thoughtful indication of your gratitude:

  • A video from your nonprofit’s constituents saying thank you.
  • A brochure, pamphlet, or report detailing what your nonprofit is working on.
  • A shoutout in your monthly newsletter.
  • Highlighting a ‘Fundraiser of the Week’ on social media.
  • Swag with the name of the campaign, your logo, or any branded gear that connects them to your mission.

When you continue to engage with your supporters post-campaign, you emphasize to them that they are an important part of your nonprofit’s community. And in the nonprofit world, nothing is more important than maintaining healthy relationships with your supporters.

When you show your gratitude, it makes it more likely that they will want to keep creating new campaigns, sharing your mission, and raising money for your cause.

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