100 Fundraising Ideas for Nonprofits, Schools or Any Organization
Looking for a fresh idea to raise money for your favorite nonprofit group, school, sports team or church mission? Try one or more of these 100 ideas to help your organization reach its money-making potential.
- Iron Contest - This is not your traditional athletic competition, but rather, it is a speed ironing contest! Ask members of the audience to pledge money per shirt ironed, per contestant.
- Adult Spelling Bee - Teams of three or four adults compete for a grand prize. Charge an entry fee per team and an admission fee to each member of the audience.
- American Idol Contest - Sell event tickets ahead of time and set up a concession stand to make additional money on the night of the contest.
- Parents Play - Athletes on the stands and parents on the field — it’s a role reversal event! Make money by selling tickets and concessions. Genius Tip: Try out these concession stand ideas to make more money.
- Battle of the Bands Family Edition - Sign up local bands made of families with kids. Charge entry fees and admission for audience members and name each act after their family name. You’ll need judges, refreshments to sell and a grand prize to give away to the winner.
- Board Game Tournament - Entrants pay an admission fee to compete for the chance to win prizes. Host a variety of board games and an official awards ceremony for the winners.
- Badminton Tournament - Have participants get sponsored for every game they play then let the tournament begin.
- Cardboard Regatta - Contestants build floating cardboard boats. Host a raffle for the chance to win boating themed prizes and hold a special award ceremony for race winners in various categories (race winner, most creative design and longest time afloat).
- Darts - All participants pay an entry fee to this darts tournament, plus you can sell food and beverages for hungry spectators. Recognize the top three winners with prizes and take their winning photos.
- Dog Show - Invite contestants to show their dogs in a best in show contest. Participants pay to enter and attendees pay a small admission fee. Hand out prizes for the best in show, best groomed, most-obedient dog, etc.
- Golf Tournament - A well-organized golf tournament can be the most profitable fundraising event you’ll ever do. Genius Tip: Check out how a choral group raised money at the PGA championship with SignUpGenius.
- Master Chef Competition - Contestants create their best dish with a specific ingredient. People pay to taste and cast their votes.
- Paper Clip Race - Participants compete to create the longest chain of paper clips in a given amount of time. Charge an entry fee and award the winners.
- Photo Competition - Charge people to enter and ask a local camera shop to donate a prize and judge the competition, which will be good publicity for them.
- Poker Tournament - Host a poker night and donate the proceeds.
- Winter Snow Sculptures - Throw a snow sculpture contest. Charge admission and award prizes. Serve hot chocolate and sweet treats and ask for donations at the event.
- Tug of War - Sign up teams to compete in a tug of war competition for your next fundraiser. Each team pays an entry fee and has the opportunity to win a prize.
- Mini-Golf Tournament - Ask a mini-golf course manager to sponsor a tournament to help raise money for your group. Ask if they’re willing to donate the use of the course for free or at a reduced rate to help your fundraiser to be more profitable. Consider including an advertising opportunity for the business in your event materials.
- Pumpkin Carving Contest - Around Halloween, hold a pumpkin-carving contest. Award prizes to the top design or best pumpkin by a carver under the age of 16, most humorous, etc.
- Volleyball Tournament - Get teams to pay to enter and local businesses to donate prizes in exchange for advertisements. Hire a food truck and ice cream truck.
- Funniest Home Movies - Encourage participants to submit their funniest home movie and compete with others to win prizes.
- Sand Castle Building Contest - Teams pay an entry fee to compete in a variety of categories. Award prizes such as the tallest, most artistic, best in age category, etc.
- Get Social - Plan a social media challenge. Pick a challenge idea, theme and a hashtag, then recruit a group of motivated and passionate social media gurus to get this one going. Will yours be the next viral sensation?
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All the A-thons
- Trike-a-Thon - Kids can go out and get donations per lap they ride on their tricycles or collect flat donations. This can also be entertaining with adults participating on big wheels! Have a photographer come and snap pictures that you can sell to the contestants after the race.
- Yoga-a-Thon - Participants raise pledges for how many minutes they can compete or how many poses they can perform for a good cause. Hold this event at a local park and serve (healthy) concessions.
- Ecology Walk - A walk-a-thon with a twist — pick up trash along the way. Get pledges for each bag of trash you fill up and award prizes to the top trash collector.
- Sled-a-Thon - Obtain pledges for each trip down a big hill at a local park. Promote it as a family event and coordinate a potluck lunch afterwards.
- High Heel Race - Runners don high heels to be a part of a big race. Charge an entry fee and award the winners.
- Pitch-a-Thon - Rent a radar gun and measure how fast individuals can throw a baseball at the target. Charge per try and give a prize to the fastest individual.
- Rock-a-Thon - Who doesn’t love to rock in a rocking chair? Have contestants collect pledges for every hour they can rock to the music.
- Shoot-a-Thon - Kids and adults collect sponsors for every basket made, free throws or slam-dunks.
- Read-a-Thon - Charge admission to an evening of great stories, jokes, and tall tales. You may even plan this close to Read Across America Day!
- 5K Walk - A walk-a-thon is an easy athletic event where a broad range of people can join in. Collect pledges to participate, sell refreshments, and give the top fundraiser a prize.
- Stair Climb - Choose a building or stadium with lots of stairs. Participants then collect pledges in support of their climb to benefit their organization.
- Shave Your Head - Participants who are willing to have their head shaved for charity can ask friends and family to sponsor them. At a given time and place, invite everyone to watch as the hair cutting begins.
Ready to Party
- Barn Dance - Find a farmer willing to lend his barn for a good cause and throw a fundraising party!
- Charity Ball - Hire a DJ or a full band and host the ball at someone’s home or rent a formal space. Advertise and sell tickets in advance.
- Concert with a Local Band - Plan a concert, sell tickets and food to raise money for your group.
- Fashion Show - Approach a few retail stores asking them to provide clothing and accessories in exchange for free advertising. Promote the show to the community. Charge a fee at the door and serve refreshments and treats for added sales.
- Floating Affair - Find an outdoor rafting company to host a rafting adventure at a reduced cost to benefit your organization.
- Indie Film Festival - Have participants enter their own unique productions. Attendees can give a certain amount of money to cast their votes for their favorite films.
- Guest Speaker Seminars - Every community includes individuals who stand out for their service and their honorable achievements. Ask these individuals to speak for an hour to help your organization raise money. Sell tickets to anyone who wants to attend including friends and family of the speakers.
- Lego Night - Invite kids and adults to make creations with an assortment of Lego blocks. Charge a small admission fee to cover the cost of food, beverages and supplies. Give prizes to those with the best creations and ask for donations to your organization.
- International Dinner - Organize individuals from various ethnic backgrounds to make traditional ethnic foods. Charge an admission fee to eat at the international festival.
- Line Dancing Party - It’s easy for everyone to participate in a line dance! Hold a line dancing party and charge for tickets. Host a lesson before you get started so everyone knows the traditional moves and can improvise.
- Mystery Dinner Theatre - Enlist teen actors and sell tickets. Collect food donations to make the most out of this entertaining “whodunit” fundraiser.
- Rooftop Dinner - Change up the location of a fundraising dinner by hosting it on a rooftop. Diners will enjoy being outdoors and taking in a scenic view.
- Stargazing Bonfire - Build a bonfire and hand out constellation maps. Sell s’mores and hot chocolate to generate profit.
- Tie Dye Party - Host a get-together with materials for people to make their own tie-dye shirts and charge an entrance fee. Ask a local company to donate T-shirts, or offer them at wholesale prices.
- Salsa Dancing - Organize a fun evening out by offering a salsa dancing class. Hire an instructor and collect admission at the door.
- Picture Yourself with a Local Celebrity - Recruit a local celebrity and charge admission for a meet-and-greet, luncheon, or photo opportunity.
- Treasure Hunt - Create a treasure hunt and challenge participants to find hidden items. Pay to play and give out awards.
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Food & Drink
- All You Can Eat Taco Bar - Try to get all the food and supplies donated, so the bulk of the money goes to profit.
- Barbecue Contest - It’s a crowd favorite, so roll up your sleeves, fire up the grill and let the games begin. Raise money through contestant entry fees and make sure to award prizes!
- Chocolate Gala - Reach out to local bakeries and restaurants for donations in exchange for free advertising. Chocolate lovers will eagerly pay an admission fee.
- Carhop Grill Out - In a parking lot, invite the community to come and eat at the new restaurant your group has created. Have participants go and take orders, then deliver meals to the cars.
- Chili Cook-off - A tried and true fundraiser — who doesn’t enjoy a warm bowl of chili? Charge an admission fee to all chefs. Award the top winners for best spicy, best vegetarian and best chef under the age of 16.
- Cookies, Milk and Movie Night - Charge a flat admission to include a movie with cookies and milk. Make sure you have the copyright permission to show the film.
- Coffee Tasting - Hold a coffee tasting by offering a variety of flavors. Throw in a breakfast treat or afternoon snack for a flat fee.
- Dessert Café Play - Are you organizing students for a play? Add on a light dessert or coffee reception so you can raise the ticket price. Ask local restaurants and bakeries for donations to reduce your cost and increase the overall profit.
- Wine Tasting - Host an evening of fine wines and appetizers. Charge a ticket price.
- Home Brew Tasting Event - Contact a local brewing group to see if they’re willing to partner together for a sampling fundraiser.
- Pancake Breakfast - It’s not surprising that a pancake breakfast is one of the most commonly held fundraisers. It is ideal on a weekend morning at a large facility with a kitchen and plenty of seating.
- Noodles & Doodles - Host a pasta dinner and art auction. In advance, sell tickets to attend. After dinner, hold an artwork auction.
- Spud Night - Everyone loves a good potato. Find the biggest potatoes and create a grand potato bar with all the fixin’s.
- Soup & Sandwich Luncheon - Try to get all the soup and sandwiches donated by grocery stores, employees or members of your group, to reduce costs and raise the profits. Charge a flat price for lunch.
- Spaghetti Dinner - Reach out to local grocery stores for donations to reduce cost. Recruit volunteers to cook and serve the food. Sell tickets in advance.
- Signature Chefs - Solicit chefs to donate their time and cook at a given location for a party. Charge admission.
- Restaurant Night Out - Host a night out at a local restaurant that is willing to donate a portion of their profits from the members of your organization who come in for dinner.
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Auctions, Sales & Raffles
- Auction of Promises - Ask members of your group to promise to wash cars, mow lawns or do yard work for the highest bidder.
- Bachelor or Bachelorette Auction - Auction off dates to the highest bidder.
- Blind Auction - Wrap up valuable real items plus some duds in a variety of shapes and sizes of boxes. Bidders can examine the gift-wrapped boxes, and then auction the boxes off. Allow time for winning bidders to unwrap their boxes.
- Bring and Buy Sale - Encourage donations from your group by suggesting they box up anything they haven’t used in 2 years. Your organization gets 100% of the profits and your members get a clean house.
- Flower Sale - Reach out to nurseries for donations or reduced prices. Set up shop and start selling.
- Flowers in Red - For Valentine’s Day, sell flowers in every shade of red to raise money for your cause.
- Play It Again Auction - Collect old sports equipment and auction it off.
- iPad Raffle - This fundraiser is simple and effective. Sell tickets to raffle off one or more iPads.
- One-Day Vacation - Choose a popular destination within 2 or 3 hours of your hometown and organize several one-day outings to that location. Sell raffle tickets for a chance to win.
- 50-50 Raffle - No prizes are raffled off, only cash. The winner wins half of the proceeds brought in from ticket sales.
- Dollar Drive - Simply encourage people to donate $1.00 for your mission.
- Spare Change - Whatever big fundraiser you are doing, put out a jar for donations of spare change. Decorate it with quotes, pictures and anything to attract someone’s attention.
At Work or School
- Bring Your Dog to Work Day - Charge admission to employees who bring their dog to work on a given day. Make sure the dog owners provide proof of current immunizations.
- Dress Down Day - Apply a charge to staff members who want to participate, but be sure to provide a clothing restriction list.
- Duct Tape the Principal or the Boss - Participants pay $1.00 per strip about a yard’s length to tape their principal or boss to a wall.
- Plan a Parking Lot Car Wash - Ask department heads to wash employees’ cars in the parking lot for a donation. Proceeds benefit your chosen cause. Genius Tip: Plan car wash shifts with an online sign up.
- Lunch and Learn - Recruit individuals with a given talent that are willing to share it. Ask them to volunteer during a lunch hour. Charge admission for each class and attendants can eat lunch while they learn something new.
- Reserved Parking - Throw a prime parking space auction. Everyone wants to park closer to work and school.
- “Guess Who” Baby Photo Contest - Display baby photos of staff, teachers and even throw in some celebrities. Those who wish to guess can make a donation and those who guess correctly win a prize.
- Zany Dress Day - Charge a fee for participants to get to wear a zany costume for the day. Award prizes to the best dressed.
See more potluck planning tips here!
Goods & Services
- Babysitting Day - Hold a babysitting day in early December, so parents can get some Christmas shopping done. Parents can reserve slots and even pay ahead of time via SignUpGenius!
- Buy an Engraved Brick - If fundraising for a school or nonprofit organization to build a school or building, have people make donations to purchase engraved bricks.
- Cat Nap - Sell 15-minute nap vouchers at work or school.
- Doggie Wash - Dog owners love to have a clean furry companion. Your group will need a large space with access to warm water. Sell refreshments to dog owners and end their furry companion’s bath with a treat.
- Enrichment Classes - Ask adult volunteers who are experts in their field to teach a class in cooking, yoga or dance. Charge participants a small donation to attend.
- Hold a Sports Clinic - Have a high school or college team put on a clinic for young players. It will raise money and bring enthusiasm to their team.
- Plant Trees - Ask a nursery for seedling donations and get individuals to sponsor a tree.
- Professional Photography Sessions - Arrange for a professional photographer to take family and individual portraits. Book time slots for interested parties and your organization earns a commission.
- Rent-an-Athlete or Rent-a-Student - Your organization can offer to rent-an-athlete or rent-a-student to mow their lawns, do yard work or walk their dogs for a given amount of time. This is a 100% profit fundraiser.
- Rubber Wristbands - Sell thin silicone bracelets with your organization’s name, logo or motto. It will help raise funds and awareness.
- Lucky Duck - Sell rubber duckies and number the bottom of each. Set them afloat in a swimming pool and pick various winning ducks to win prizes.
Selecting the right fundraiser for your group will make all the difference. Choose more than one and mix them up from one year to the next. Best wishes for fundraising success!
Sara Kendall is a freelance writer and mom of two daughters.