According to the NCCS, there are currently over 1.5 million nonprofit organizations in the United States. A large number of those nonprofits host, support or encourage local fundraising events. That’s a lot of events!
The events of choice for nonprofit organizations are typically walks and runs. While these events can be successful fundraisers, because of their proliferation they do little to make your nonprofit stand out or reinforce your message.
With a little creativity, your nonprofit can come up with a unique fundraising event that not only raises money but also creates stronger connections to your brand and calls greater attention your cause.
In today’s post, we’ll provide a handful of creative event ideas for your inspiration.
A Dozen Creative Fundraising Event Ideas For Your Nonprofit
Consider testing these unique fundraising event ideas—or simply use them as a springboard to come up with your own distinct and memorable event…
1. Comedy Show
People like to laugh. People like to give. Why not bring the two together with an extended night of comedy featuring local or national comedians?
2. Bracket Tournament
As March Madness proves every year, people love a good bracket. You can create your own tournament bracket around trivia, rock/paper/scissors, water balloon toss, Connect Four, or any quick game with a clear winner. Best of all, you can make you brackets as big as they need to be—from 16 to 64 to 256 and beyond!
3. Board Game Night
Board games have a very broad appeal; to men and women, old and young. Get a bunch of classic board games and host a night of competition. Crown champions of each game. Give away board games as prizes.
4. Retro Party
Tap into nostalgia for the past with fun events based around a specific decade. For example: You could have a disco party where people wear 1970s clothes and wigs or a roller-skating party with 1980s music and attire.
5. Virtual Marathon
The digital world provides a number of option for hosting a marathon where you can provide content (interviews, music, discussion, etc.) for people to watch or listen and encourage them to make donations to help you reach a specific goal. You could do a YouTube marathon, a podcast marathon, or a live-streaming marathon via Periscope.
6. Obstacle Course
From the Tough Mudder to the Insane Inflatables 5K, crazy obstacle courses have become hot events in recent years. These can be indoor and outdoor, giving you a lot of options. They may not be for everyone, but people who do participate tend to have a lot of fun—which can build positive buzz for the event moving forward.
7. Drive-In Movie
Alternately, you can also do a movie night in the park. But a drive-in movie is a little more unique, distinct and appealling—especially if you can play a popular drive-in movie like Grease, E.T. or Star Wars.
8. Murder Mystery Dinner
Give couples an exciting and unpredictable way to spend a night that’s delicious, entertaining and interactive. You can even tailor the content of the program to reflect your organization’s mission in some way and reinforce your message.
9. Lip Synch Battle
Thanks to shows like The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and Lip Synch Battle, lip synch performance competitions have surged in popularity. They can be both fun to compete in and fun to watch. This is another idea you could turn into a bracket tournament to name the ultimate Lip Synch champion.
10. Haunted House
There are a lot of haunted houses around Halloween time, but what about other times of the year? Why not give people access to fun and scares during the spring or winter months? Great for attracting a young crowd.
11. Ultimate Yard Sale
This is a clever event idea that helps people get rid of stuff they don’t want anymore and can raise a lot of money for your nonprofit. For a small donation, individuals can drop off items large and small and others can come to browse and buy the donated items. Everyone benefits!
12. Costume Race
If you’re going to do a run or walk, why not make it look a little different? Adopt a theme—maybe it’s a specific decade or encouraging people to wear animal costumes—to add a unique element to your walk or run and make it stand out from all the others.
Tie Your Event to Your Message and Mission for Greater Impact
A final thing to remember if you want to create a signature fundraising event for your nonprofit that stands out from the crowd: Be thematically relevant. Make sure you tie your event with your cause and what you want to achieve.
One way to do this is by giving your event a strong branded title. A couple good examples of this are The Race for a Cure and Movember. A title like this attaches some overarching branding with your local events to make them more consistent and memorable on a larger scale.