100+ Unique Fundraising Ideas that Work

100+ Unique Fundraising Ideas that Work

Unique Fundraising IdeasThe success of a fundraising campaign begins with a creative fundraising idea that excites your supporters. Your school or charitable organization can set itself apart from the crowd with these unique fundraising ideas. From handyman auctions to babysitting for charity, you’re sure to find some fun and easy ideas that will work for your organization in the list below. You can skip to the ideas most relevant to your group or browse through all of them for inspiration.

Virtual Fundraising Ideas

Many organizations have been hit hard financially by canceled fundraising events due to COVID-19. There is a way forward. By reworking your nonprofit’s fundraising strategies, your organization can continue fundraising and engaging your supporters virtually throughout this global pandemic. We’ve put together this list of the ten best virtual fundraising ideas to help you get started.

virtual fundraising works for unique fundraising ideas

  • Virtual Walkathons and Fun Runs: Walkathons make great, healthy fundraisers that almost anyone can participate in and enjoy. Add a walkathon theme to make it more fun. Virtual walkathons are great fundraisers for schools that can raise a lot of money with few upfront costs.
  • Virtual Happy Hours and Performances: Get your live stream ready! Virtual performances work great for bands and choir fundraisers.
  • Online Product Sales: Pop-up stores and merchandise sales are a no-brainer for no/low contact fundraising. Our simple stores make it so easy you can get set up and selling in no time. This is another great school or team fundraiser, especially with our peer to peer sales pages.
  • Fundraising Raffles: Online raffles are the perfect way to raise money for many groups. We offer the ability to incorporate peer to peer fundraising in raffles, where fundraisers sell raffle tickets via a personal fundraising page. Our raffle software can even randomly select and notify winners. Just find a prize and go!
  • Charity Auctions: All you need are some great auction items and our software. Simply create your fundraising auction website and add unlimited auction categories and items. Set the time for online bidding and begin advertising your auction via online and social media channels. Bids are made online and via text to bid. Auction winners are automatically charged and winning bid notices can even be automated.
  • Livestreamed Talks or Conferences: If you can find an expert or experts in your field, hosting a paid online conference or livestreamed talk is a great way to raise money and position your organization as an expert in the field.
  • Virtual or UnGalas: Since large-scale galas aren’t possible, some organizations are turning to virtual galas. Pour a glass of wine and don’t worry about finding a designated driver.
  • Bikeathons: Much like virtual walkathons, bikeathon fundraisers can be run virtually with just a few tweaks. Bikers create a personal fundraising page and commit to biking for your cause.
  • Grocery or Food Delivery Campaigns: Since many people are staying in to promote social distancing, why not sell groceries or other items online and deliver them right to your donors? Create and sell online food packages with a theme – for example, Italian Night or Mexican Night. Get supporters to volunteer and deliver the packages.
  • Custom Crowdfunding Campaigns: Mission-driven crowdfunding campaigns are almost always successful. These can be Bird Walks for conservation groups, hit-a-thons for baseball teams, or swimathons for swim teams. Just do what your organization and supporters do best and do it in a virtual format.

No Cost Fundraising Ideas

Sometimes nonprofits need to raise funds, but they don’t have the budget to host a big fundraising event. Here are ten great ideas for fundraisers with no upfront costs to save your organization money and make a lasting impact.

No Cost Fundraising Ideas

  • 50/50 Cash Raffles: A great cost-effective fundraising tool for any nonprofit. Buy tickets for a chance to win 50% of the money taken in through raffle ticket sales. Make it a standalone event (physical or virtual), or use this idea in conjunction with another fundraising event.
  • Give It Up Challenge: Help people give up their bad habits while raising nonprofit funds. Supporters ask family and friends to sponsor them for a certain amount of time to quit smoking, sugar, or drinking – it’s a win-win!
  • Auction of Promises: Get creative and start auctioning off your services as promises. From babysitting to DIY jobs to dog walking or grocery shopping – the list is limitless. Make it an independent fundraiser or seamlessly fit it into other fundraising events.
  • Read-a-thons: Challenge yourself or a group of friends to a certain number of reading sessions and get sponsored for charity. Read-a-thons are a wonderful way to get kids reading, with the added bonus of being free to organize.
  • Video Game Tournaments: Likely to attract a big student crowd, this is a great way to introduce a younger audience to your nonprofit’s mission. Make sure you’re up-to-date with all the popular games, as well as mixing in a few oldies to satisfy everyone’s tastes. Ask people to donate video games, borrow equipment, and promote the event on social media channels to make it a no-cost fundraiser.
  • Yard Sales: Sell household goods and encourage neighbors to drop off any unwanted furniture, clothing, books, and trinkets to a no-cost site you’ve designated (a community center, school, or parking lot). Why not add a raffle and a bake sale to boost donations and attract a larger crowd?
  • Virtual Walk-a-thons: Get people moving and raise funds for a good cause with this no-cost peer-to-peer fundraising idea. The beauty of a virtual walk-a-thon is that supporters have the option to take part on their own time, at their own pace. Boost your nonprofit’s income streams by selling race kits with personalized merchandise, like t-shirts, water bottles, and caps.
  • Community Potluck: Combine a great meal with raising valuable funds for your nonprofit. Charge a small registration fee and ask supporters to come together with their favorite, shareable recipes. Add a theme to the get-together to get everyone into the spirit and compile a memorable charity cookbook with all the recipes.
  • Buy a Brick: Buy or sponsor a brick to go towards a construction project such as a new library or classroom for a school or a community center. Have your brick or paver engraved with a personal name or message to add to this interactive fundraiser.
  • Livestream Something Fun: Take a leaf out of America’s Got Talent’s book and pass the spotlight to enthusiastic, creative performers, such as dancers, magicians, amateur singers, and comedians. Charge a small admission fee and choose a prize for the winner.

Crowdfunding and Peer to Peer Fundraising Ideas

Nonprofit peer-to-peer fundraising provides loads of opportunities to customize and create unique fundraising events for organizations. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Crowdfunding and Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Ideas
  • Color Runs: Walk-a-thons and Fun Runs make great fundraising events, especially when you add a theme. Add color packets for fundraising via a color run.
  • Spin-a-thons: A spin-a-thon is a bike-a-thon on stationary bikes. The great thing about spin-a-thons is that your participants stay in one place, and you can easily promote your cause throughout the event. These events can be run as team relays, as well. Team up with a local gym or YMCA to host a spin-a-thon for your charity or cause.
  • Service Projects: Community serve-a-thons allow organizations to raise money while assisting the local community. A double win!
  • Meditation Sit-a-thons: Great for yoga or meditation centers and organizations that promote mental health. Donors pledge money and participants meditate for a period of time.
  • Bowl-a-thons: Bowl-a-thons are a tried and true crowdfunding event. Mix yours up with a funky 70s or 80s theme and after-party.
  • Swimming Fundraisers: Swim-a-thons can be lucrative, exciting events for large swim teams. See who can swim the most laps and raise the most money.
  • Dance Marathons: Get your supporters to dance the night away for your cause. They’ll love it and bring their friends to join in the fun.
  • Hit-a-thons: An ideal event for baseball or softball teams. See our great blog on how to run a hit-a-thon fundraiser.
  • Clay Shoots: Fundraising clay or skeet shoots are becoming more popular for many organizations. They can be run as a crowdfunding or general ticketing event.

Most Profitable Fundraising Ideas

If you’re looking to attract big donations while making a positive impact, check out our most profitable fundraising ideas. These types of fundraisers often take more effort and resources to organize and are especially popular when funding a major project.

Most Profitable Fundraising Ideas

  • Galas: Who doesn’t like getting all dressed up to raise money for a good cause? There’s no limit to the add-on fundraising events for a charity gala which makes it highly profitable. Tag on a silent auction, make gift baskets, offer dining experiences, and create VIP tables to boost donations.
  • Golf Tournaments with Contests: An incredibly profitable fundraising event that suits many groups. Add extra golf games, challenges, and donation opportunities like Hole in One contests and helicopter ball drops to help exceed your fundraising goals and keep everyone entertained.
  • Winery Tours: A great way to raise funds and build relationships with a local winery. Ask a sommelier to discuss different wines while conducting a fun Q&A about how they’re made. Compliment the occasion by designing your own specialty meal or charcuterie boards.
  • Community Carnivals: Guaranteed fun for everyone! Get some rides and food stands donated for the big day to reduce costs. Offer food, drinks, live music, and activities for all ages and abilities. Why not set up a dunk tank and have a local celebrity dunked by the community for charity?
  • Cooking with a Celebrity Chef: Find a local celebrity chef and ask them to donate an evening of their time to your charity. Raise money through ticket sales and have cookbooks on display for sale to increase your profits. Customize the cooking class around the upcoming holiday for an extra fun experience.
  • Cocktail Party and Trivia Night: Take part in a fun night of signature cocktails and trivia. Sell raffle tickets, have gift baskets for auction, and play games to keep the night entertaining. Secure prizes from local businesses and have one grand prize for the winners of the trivia night. Offer a virtual option and deliver the food and drinks to your donors’ doorsteps.
  • Nonprofit Grants: Start getting those applications into foundations, companies, and governments to obtain valuable non-repayable funds to drive fundraising success, expand your organization, take the financial pressure off, and diversify your nonprofit’s income streams.
  • Corporate Sponsorships: Ask local businesses that align with your nonprofit’s mission if they’d be interested in sponsoring your work. Charitable donations or in-kind support can help create successful and profitable fundraising events, while sponsors receive priceless marketing perks and exposure in return.

Raffles and Auction Fundraising Ideas

Raffles and auctions are classic ways to raise funds at your charity event and are relatively easy to organize. Even better, they are great options for virtual fundraising during COVID-19. Add fun twists to attract more donors and keep people engaged and having fun at your event. Learn how to run a raffle fundraiser and solicit an in-kind donation for your event.

Raffles & Auction Unique Fundraising Ideas
  • Mystery Box Raffle: Put together a mystery box of goods and sell tickets. The winner takes all!
  • Restaurant Raffle: Team up with a local restaurant and offer dinner for two for the winner of the raffle.
  • Cash Prize Raffle: Offer different cash prizes that people can win. The more tickets people buy, the better the chance of winning!
  • New Car Raffle: A raffle for a new car will often draw in a very large amount of people because it appeals to everyone. Sell tickets for $100 or even more!
  • Services Auction: Partner with local businesses that will offer an in-kind donation of their services. Auction off their services, businesses get free advertising, and you raise money for your charity.
  • Themed Gift Basket Auction: Put together themed gift baskets to auction, like a grilling basket, beach party basket – even a holiday gift basket will work.
  • 50/50 Raffle: Sell tickets online for a 50/50 cash raffle. 50% of the proceeds from ticket sales go towards your charity, and the other half goes to the winner.
  • Vacation Auction: Let people bid on different vacation packages, like staying in a hotel in a neighboring town, or taking a hot air balloon ride. For larger vacation packages, see our Auction Travel Packages.
  • Handyman Auction: Team up with a local handyman, and auction his or her services. The highest bidder gets them for a day to fix whatever’s needed around the house.
  • Online Charity Auction: No event is needed, so costs are low. Simply use our charity auction software to post your auction items online.
  • Bachelor Auction: Introduce bachelors to your audience, and people can bid on a dinner and night on the town with the eligible suitor.

Fundraising Event Ideas for Nonprofits

Planning a nonprofit fundraising event is a wonderful way to network with businesses and potential donors while raising money and awareness for your cause. For this reason, most nonprofits and charities include special events in their nonprofit fundraising strategy.

Unique Fundraising Event Ideas for Nonprofits
  • Yoga in the Park: Team up with a local yoga studio to offer a variety of yoga classes and styles throughout the day. Include a yoga marketplace and healthy food vendors.
  • Lunch with a Celebrity: Great for small towns, you can sell raffle tickets to win a lunch with a local celebrity, like the mayor or a news anchor.
  • Jail & Bail: People at your event can pay to put someone in “jail”. People in jail have to raise funds via mobile giving campaigns or on your crowdfunding website to be bailed out.
  • Services Fundraising: Have volunteers provide different services at your event, like valet parking, bartending, and serving. All tips collected go towards your charity.
  • Game Night: Host a game night with different fun games like trivia and Twister. Sell tickets to play each game.
  • Walkathon Fundraiser: A healthy option that gets everyone raising money for your cause. Why not walk around a zoo or botanical garden?
  • Breakfast Networking: Hold a breakfast fundraiser and invite all your donors and other local businesses. It’s a great way to get everyone to network. You can host a raffle to raise additional funds, and charge per plate.
  • Community BBQ: A great way to engage a community is to hold a low-brow event where you grill hot dogs and hamburgers for charity. Be sure to include veggie burgers as a healthy option.
  • Cocktail Party: Team up with a local restaurant or hotel to host a cocktail party. Have a percentage of drink sales go towards your charity.
  • Mini Carnival: Host a miniature carnival at your local park or school. Have different games, contests, and raffles, and sell tickets for each game.
  • Branded Merchandise Sales: While selling t-shirts, hoodies, and nonprofit swag may not seem like a unique fundraising idea, selling them with your funky, unique designs can be. Consider selling via an online eCommerce store to make it easy and fun.
  • Wine Tasting: Host a wine tasting fundraiser and auction off wine-related items. Nonprofit event management software for easy registration is key.

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Best Community Fundraising Ideas

Community fundraising gives your nonprofit the perfect opportunity to bring neighbors, friends, and family together to support a good cause. Check out our top community fundraising ideas and find something for everyone.

Best Community Fundraising Ideas

  • 5K Runs (In person, Virtual or Hybrid): Encourage your supporters to interact with each other, get active, have fun, and embrace community spirit. Charge a participation fee, sell merch and snacks, and encourage supporters to engage their social networks.
  • Tree Planting: Environmentally friendly fundraisers are all the rage. They’re a great way to learn about sustainability and how to achieve a greener future by working together. Just set up a peer-to-peer fundraising page and ask friends and family to donate to plant trees.
  • Community Clean Ups: Organize a neighborhood cleanup to make your community a better place to live. Find an area that needs a little TLC, like an old playground, dirty river, or a messy beach. Recruit volunteers, motivate participants to ask for donations, and secure sponsors to donate supplies like trash bags, shovels, and painting materials.
  • Guest Speakers: Set up a webinar or TED Talk-style community fundraising event. Feature authors, artists, chefs, professors, athletes, or business owners, and add a virtual option for those who can’t participate physically.
  • International Food Festival: Food festivals can be held where restaurants and dedicated volunteers bring home-cooked dishes from different countries. It’s a great way to learn about different cultures and their culinary treats within the community. Take the opportunity to set up an eCommerce store to sell custom merchandise and international recipe fundraising cookbooks.
  • Custom Car Washes: Add a retro car wash theme and wear costumes to match it, play fun music to get people into the giving spirit, and set up a unique waiting area with drinks and snacks on sale. Why not add a bake sale to entice hungry motorists, a bike wash, and a pet wash to boost profits?
  • Community Classes: Do your supports include experts in photography, yoga, or tech-savvy IT geeks? Set up a class or a group of courses to raise money for your nonprofit. Charge a small participation fee and leave a donation jar out for extra giving. Don’t forget to spread the word about your classes on social media and via email.

Tournament Fundraising Ideas

Tournaments and contests can be a great way to put the “fun” in fundraising. Here are some creative ways to host a fun contest or tournament and raise money for your non-profit or charity at the same time.

Tournament Fundraising Ideas
  • Board Game Contest: Hosting a board game tournament is a unique fundraising idea that appeals to a wide audience. Monopoly or Scrabble, anyone? Charge an entry fee to enter a board game tournament, with the winners receiving prizes.
  • Golf Tournament: A classic way to raise funds, host a fundraising golf tournament. Raise money through golfer fees, donations, and solicit local businesses for sponsorships. For a creative twist, consider a Golf Marathon.
  • Bowling Tournament: Sell tickets to a bowling tournament, with a cash prize for the winner.
  • Vegas Night: Set up a casino night where participants can play charity poker and blackjack. Provide great food and entertainment for partners that don’t play.
  • Dance Marathon Tournament: Sell tickets to a dance marathon. Whichever pair lasts the longest on the dance floor can claim a cash prize.
  • Themed Party: Choose a theme for your party, like a Hawaiian Luau. Have guests dress up to the theme, charge an entrance fee, and sell raffle tickets on your fundraising website.
  • Miniature Golf Tournament: This has a wide appeal, especially for families. Team up with local businesses to offer prizes at each hole and charge an admission fee.
  • Pool Tournament: Partner with a local pool bar. For every ball that a player knocks in, they donate $1, with the winner receiving a prize.

Unique Fundraising Ideas for Schools

These creative school fundraisers are perfect for raising money, helping the school community, and keeping things fun. Some are more tailored to high school fundraising and others are great elementary school fundraisers.

Unique School Fundraising Ideas
  • Babysitting Services: Students can offer babysitting services during a fundraising event such as a wine tasting or casino night, with the proceeds going to your charity.
  • School Fun Runs: Students and classrooms raise funds and get exercise at the same time. Consider adding an obstacle course as part of the fundraiser, to make it even more fun for kids.
  • Car Wash Fundraisers: Students can offer to wash cars for $5 or more, with the proceeds going to their charity or group. Don’t forget to include student-made sandwiches and drinks to raise more money. Great idea for high school band fundraisers.
  • Face Painting: Great for elementary and middle school fundraising, students can paint each other or teacher’s faces for a fee.
  • Children’s Cookbook Sales: Kids and parents can write down their favorite recipes and instructions on how to make them. Gather the recipes together and sell the books.
  • Bracelet Sales: Students can create different types of bracelets, like friendship or charm bracelets. Have all of the materials and some expert teachers on hand.
  • Games & Goodies: Have people come together to play board, card, and other games. Charge admission, then sell drinks and other baked goodies to attendees.
  • Can & Bottle Drives: Students collect as many used cans and bottles as they can find. The student who collects the most wins a prize, and everything they collect can be turned in to a recycling center for funds – plus it helps keep parks and streets clean.
  • Door-to-door for Change: Have students go door to door collecting loose change. Great as a contest to see who can collect the most. Be sure that kids go in groups of two or more, for safety.
  • Gas Station Attendant: Great for high school fundraising, team up with a local gas station for students to provide gas station attendant services. They can wash windshields, or pump gas to help raise funds. Works well with a Car Wash.
  • Chore Fundraising: Have students do chores or service projects for those who donate, like gardening or washing windows. Of course, be sure that kids volunteer in groups of two or more and with an adult for safety.
  • Dressing Down for Charity: Great for schools and offices, students, teachers, or workers get to dress casually for a day (or every Friday) if a specific amount of money is donated.

Bake Sales and Unique Food Fundraising Ideas

OK, so a bake sale may not sound like a unique fundraising idea! Bake sales have been used for decades to help raise money for charities and schools because everyone needs to eat. Here are some creative ideas on how to use food to fundraise.

Bake Sales & Unique Food Fundraising Ideas
  • Classic Bake Sales: A classic that’s been used for years, you can bake pies, cookies, or other items and sell them to raise funds. Consider offering gluten-free, low sugar, and dairy-free options, so everyone can enjoy a treat.
  • Goody Baskets: Pack baskets full of candy, cookie dough, chips, and baked goods and sell them. Another idea for a successful fundraiser is to sell raffle tickets with baskets as the prize.
  • Dinner Galas: Host a themed fundraising gala event, including a silent auction and great entertainment. Recruit sponsors to help cover expenses and provide marketing opportunities.
  • Chili Cook-offs: People love to show off their chili recipes. Charge per bowl or plate, and give the winner a cash prize. This event can also be run as a nonprofit crowdfunding campaign.
  • Pizza Party: Pizza parties have a wide appeal because everyone loves pizza. Charge by the slice or whole pie, with the profits going to raise funds for your charity.
  • Potluck Dinners: Great for school or church fundraisers, have everyone bring a dish to the potluck. Sell tickets for each plate and drinks.
  • Coffee and Doughnuts: This is an easy one to set up and great for winter. To raise funds, sell coffee and doughnuts outside construction areas, grocery stores, shops, or schools.
  • Farm to Table Dinners: If your community has local farmers and organic producers, hosting a farm-to-table fundraiser is a unique fundraising idea that speaks highly of your organization.
  • Baked Goods at the Game: Sell baked goods, chocolate bars, and other goodies at your local or high school sports games, with proceeds going to raise funds for your charity.