Event Planning

4 Fundraising Event Ideas to Help Your Nonprofit Stand Out

The key to hosting a successful fundraising event is always thinking outside the box. Level up your fundraising approach with these unique event ideas.
Raise more with these event ideas for nonprofit fundraising professionals.
The key to hosting a successful fundraising event is always thinking outside the box. Level up your fundraising approach with these unique event ideas.

It’s time for nonprofits to start thinking bigger and better when it comes to fundraising events. It’s not enough to just put on the same event year after year and expect great results. After all, that’s the definition of insanity! It’s 2023 and your supporters are looking for something different. It’s up to you to stay on top of trends, explore new fundraising ideas, and embrace innovation.

Read on for some new ideas for fundraising events—from golf tournaments to charity livestreams—to capture your audience’s interest, raise more money, and help your nonprofit stand out.

Idea #1: Charity Golf Tournament

If golf isn’t already in your fundraising portfolio, you’re missing out on a hole-in-one fundraiser. Not only can you raise a ton of money, but you get the chance to engage with golfers and sponsors to build relationships, raise awareness about your organization’s work, and get to know your supporters even better.

Golf tournaments are typically held in the scramble format, which makes them more accessible and attractive for golfers of all ages and skill levels. Sponsors love golf tournaments, too—according to GolfStatus, sponsors are looking for exposure to the golfer demographic, which typically includes individuals with a higher than average net worth and a tendency to give.

Best of all, you don’t have to be a golf expert to put on a top-notch, profitable golf fundraiser. The right golf tournament management solution makes it easier on everybody—you, your team, golfers, sponsors, and even the golf facility.

Idea #2: Concert or Music Festival

A benefit concert or music festival for charity will surely excite your music-loving supporters for an unforgettable experience. Start with your planning team, board of directors, or regular volunteers to see if anyone has any connections to local artists or bands. Use these networks or reach out to musicians directly to see if they’re willing to donate their time and talent for a great cause—and widespread exposure to your community.

You can drive revenue by charging admission to attend, seeking sponsors to cover fixed costs (like the venue, any audio/visual equipment, food and beverage, etc.), and selling food and drink tickets.

Idea #3: “Taste of” Event

Food has a way of bringing people together. A tasting event appeals to the foodies in your network as well as those who enjoy trying new things and building community connections. Much like a benefit concert, you can turn it into a fundraiser by selling tickets to attend and finding sponsors willing to contribute dollars or make in-kind donations of food, drink, or a venue. Pick a theme for the types of food or drink that people will have the chance to try, like food from around the world, food trucks, farm to table, locally-owned, or unique food and drink pairings.

Reach out to restaurants, food trucks, breweries, wineries, coffee roasters, or even caterers that align with your chosen theme to pitch the idea of a collaboration for a food-focused fundraiser. Be sure to explain how they stand to benefit from donating their time and goods—not only will they get a ton of positive exposure for their business, but they can connect with others in the food and beverage industry to establish partnerships and support a worthy cause.

Idea #4: Charity Livestream

A charity livestream is basically this century’s version of a televised telethon. Laugh if you want, but back in the day, telethons raised a ton of money by providing live entertainment and stories of impact while collecting donations in real-time. In this case, instead of on television, it’s online, where your supporters can tune in from anywhere, on any device that can connect to the internet.

Decide what activities or entertainment will be part of your livestream that will draw viewers. This could be interviews, a speaker, an auction, or a call-in segment.

You could also build a livestream component into a charity golf tournament, run/walk, or dance-a-thon. You might also find a local celebrity or personality to emcee the event and keep it running smoothly.

You’ll also need to decide which platform or platforms you’ll be streaming on. There are a ton of options available, from webinar services to YouTube or even Facebook and Instagram. Look for options to collect payments and contributions from viewers. Some platforms, like Facebook and Instagram, have built-in options for nonprofits to collect money without leaving the app, so make sure you’re following all the rules so you don’t lose any revenue. Sponsorships can also be incredibly valuable for such an event. Consider finding a presenting sponsor, a sponsor willing to match gifts made during a certain time period, or a sponsor for the streaming platform (if necessary).

Bonus: Revenue Boosters

Every fundraising event can stand to benefit from components that boost revenue—and make the fundraiser even more fun. Consider these ideas:

  • Silent auction: Adding a silent auction to your fundraiser has never been easier. Tech makes it super simple—just pick a silent auction platform that supports mobile bidding, ticketing, and auction page customization and start sourcing donated items. In-kind gifts are a great addition to your silent auction. For instance, if you’re holding a golf fundraiser, look for things like exclusive golf trips or memberships that nonprofits can auction off to their supporters.
  • Branded merchandise sales: Create merchandise with your nonprofit’s logo or unique items specifically for the fundraising event. Offer them for sale before, during, and even after the actual event to make attendees feel special and exclusive. Popular items include t-shirts or other apparel, coffee mugs, stickers or window decals, and water bottles. Be sure to build in a markup on each item’s cost to determine the selling price and bring in more dollars for your cause.
  • VIP tickets: Sell a limited number of VIP passes to your event that include extras that don’t come with standard admission, like a branded swag bag, early access to a tasting event, backstage passes to meet the musicians from a benefit concert, and premier seating.
  • Add-ons and games: If you’re holding a golf tournament, look at adding interactive games on a few holes, or having contests (like hole-in-one or longest drive), or selling mulligans as revenue boosters.

Wrapping Up

If you’re content sticking with the same-old, same-old routines for your event-based fundraising, you’re missing out on the chance to flex your creative muscle, re-energize your supporters, increase your events’ profits, and set yourself apart from other nonprofits in the space. Take a critical look at the events you're currently holding and push yourself to think outside the box to take your nonprofit to the next level.

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