Fundraise Smarter

7 Effective Event Ideas for Nonprofits

Posted by Logan Montone on May 21, 2019 3:26:00 PM

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We may not have noticed it, but the world is increasingly driven by experiences. As consumers, we no longer focus solely on the products or services that we buy. Experience evokes feelings that create long-lasting memories and build relationships. At the same time, these feelings affect the choices we make, where we spend our money and our time, and where we place our loyalty. With this in mind, nonprofit organizations must create inspiring experiences that will allow them to connect to their supporters and build their brand along the way.

It’s all about moments. A fundraising event can get the ball rolling for a long-term campaign, get through a mid-campaign slump, or be the solution for an emergency situation. With the right event and strategy, a nonprofit can generate much-needed revenue for their cause.

In search of a good fundraising event idea? Here, we’ve compiled some of the most effective fundraising event ideas that are sure to rally supporters to help you raise money for your nonprofit - all while having fun.

1. Hosting A Marathon or Walkathon

The most basic of all event ideas. Running marathons, walkathons, or other similar activities are some of the most lucrative fundraisers out there. They’re exceptional event ideas that work best if you’re looking to capitalize on a huge network of supporters for raising money.

Participants can ask their own networks to give a certain amount based on the number of miles they’ve completed. Your nonprofit can then opt to have these participants set up their own fundraising pages by reaching out to their friends and relatives. Otherwise, you can ask them to make donations directly to your nonprofit organization’s own fundraising page. You can also ask local businesses to make donations or become event sponsors.

2. Holding a Dance or Zumba Class

Holding a dance or Zumba class is another fundraiser that never fails to bring in a flood of attendees. Not only is it just a fun activity, it’s popular among all ages. Consider reaching out to local dance or Zumba instructors and see if any of them want to help with your cause, by leading the class for free.

Once you have secured instructors, you can then promote the event on social media and by word-of-mouth, in your community. You can charge a small fee for participants who wish to attend the class and raise money while everyone’s having fun!

3. Yard Sale

Together, members of your organization can collect second-hand clothing, homeware, or collector’s items, and then host a yard sale. If there are valuable goods such as first-edition books or signed collectibles, you can put them up for auction at the end of the event. You can also open up donations on the side.

To generate a buzz around the fundraising event, make sure to post photos of the items for sale, and post them on your nonprofit’s social media pages. Who knows, you might just find your next major sponsor online, while drumming up excitement around your fundraising event.

4. Movie Night

Nothing could be a cozier fundraising event idea than a movie night with your supporters. Not only is it fun for attendees, it’s effective for nonprofits, too. You can adapt it to suit your nonprofit’s needs. Simply choose a movie, like a classic or a newly released title. Proceed with the necessary movie license applications, pick the right venue for the screening, and you’re all set!

Whether you’re planning to organize the fundraising event in a cinema or just put up a large screen and speakers in a certain location (like in a park or the schoolgrounds), you need to make sure you have plenty of space ready for your audience. You can then charge for the entrance and raise more money on the side by selling snacks and drinks.

5. Trivia Night

Trivia nights are quite popular and are a weekly occurrence at bars. That’s because they’re easy to organize, budget-friendly (for the host), and can be customized to appeal to the participants. Best of all, they’re challenging and exciting!

For nonprofits, you can start by finding and asking a local bar or restaurant to host your fundraiser where you can encourage donations at the door. Once you have enough participants, you can divide them into teams and have them compete against each other. Depending on your audience, you can choose a theme for your trivia night, like music, general information, local trivia, pop culture, etc. You can also focus on questions that will challenge the competitors’ knowledge on your cause.

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6. Talent Show

A talent show is a quick and effective way to crowdsource entertainment and raise funds for your nonprofit’s cause. You can be as lowkey or high-end as you want, so make sure to get the right vibe for your participants and audience.

If you’re simply looking to provide your supporters with a fun event while expanding your nonprofit’s reach, consider getting a permit and hold the talent show at a school or local park. You can also take it up a notch by holding auditions, requesting participants to raise funds, and asking a local theater to host your event.

Once everything is prepared, you can charge for entry fees, while attendees can donate any amount to cast their votes. Additionally, you can ask local vendors or sponsors to provide prizes for various award categories.

7. Live Artist Event

Want to spruce up your fundraising event? Add some zest with live art! Invite various artists and pair them with a glitzy gala dinner or an auction, where they can put their art pieces for sale. This type of fundraising event is sure to entertain your guests and encourage them to enjoy and mingle. What’s more, they’ll get to meet such awesome talents!

You can serve cocktail drinks and appetizers to your guests, and hire a DJ to add that much-needed ambience. You can raise funds by encouraging donations from guests or by getting a small share from the artworks being sold at the auction.


Fundraising events are some of the most effective and interactive ways to raise money for your nonprofit. The possibilities are practically endless when it comes to keeping your supporters and donors engaged.

Hopefully, the ideas mentioned above will get you inspired and help you generate the most revenue for your cause. Remember to choose one that best fits your nonprofit’s mission, appeals to your target audience, and falls within your budget. Most of all, remember to have fun! Good luck!


About the writer: Carol Duke is very keen on teaching students new, effective ways of learning. When not freelancing and blogging on marketing-related matters, Carol enjoys traveling, taking immense pleasure from visiting new countries.

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