Top Ten Fundraising Event Ideas

Since fundraisers can be run exclusively online, it’s tempting to think of fundraising events as optional. The fact is, in-person events offer benefits you can’t get from virtual fundraising. We strongly recommend adding one of our fundraising ideas for events (or several) to your fundraiser.

Start an event fundraiser

Connect with your community and create momentum

Events give you the opportunity to personally connect with friends, family, and people you may not even know yet. When everyone sees how much time, effort, and passion you and your fundraising team have devoted to your cause, it adds energy to your fundraiser in a way people can see and feel.

  • Your event can strengthen bonds and offer light at the end of the tunnel. If your fundraiser is in response to a stressful situation, gathering neighbors helps ease the emotional weight.
  • If you’re raising money to achieve a positive goal, or to support a friend or a charity in need, an event can inspire everyone, creating a positive energy that carries your fundraiser to the end.
  • If your beneficiaries can attend the event, donors and potential donors get a chance to connect with them—and see the importance of their contributions firsthand.

Top ten proven fundraising event ideas

1. Art exhibit fundraisers

Ask friends and community members who are artists—for example, painters, photographers, sculptors, or jewelry makers—to donate a piece to the cause.

  • All artwork available for sale at the event can be sold in exchange for donations.
  • You could also sell raffle tickets at the door, with the top prize being a donated piece of artwork.

  • Want to auction the art instead? See our next tip.

2. Auctions at events

Hold a dinner, reception, or party (perhaps at a public space, restaurant, gallery, or private home) and conduct an auction. It can be a silent auction or a live event with an auctioneer. Winning bids are paid in the form of donations.

  • For auction items, ask for donations from individuals and businesses. Ask restaurants, tour companies, wineries, spas, gyms, hair stylists, artists, lawyers, and any others who can donate goods or services.
  • Donating to your cause gives them the halo effect and some promotion, creating a win-win situation.

3. Bicycling, running, or walking event

With these events, participants usually ask donors to give a certain amount based on total number of miles completed.

  • Have sponsors make their donations directly to your fundraising page.
  • Participants can set up teams, issuing challenges or competitions between teams.
  • Ask local businesses to match donations, or contribute a portion of proceeds to the cause for a period of time.

4. Party or banquet

Hosting a dinner party or charity banquet is a great way to gather a large group of people together, enjoy a good meal, and gather donations.

  • Invite your friends, family, and neighbors.
  • Parties and banquets can be hosted at a home, clubhouse, or banquet hall.
  • Try selling tickets in exchange for donations.

5. Benefit dance

Hosting a benefit dance (or better yet, a themed benefit dance) is a fun way for adults and kids to come together and raise funds.

6. Charity sports event

Host a charity sporting event—maybe a baseball game, basketball game, or a golf tournament.

  • Sell tickets in exchange for contributions to your fundraiser, and ask that players also make a contribution (or get sponsors to donate).
  • Ask local sports organizations and teams if any of the coaches would be willing to help coordinate the event.
 Amateur leagues may already have a following that you can tap into.

7. Skate-a-thon

If you’re raising funds for a child (or an adult) who loves skateboarding, throw a fundraising skate-a-thon at your local skate park where kids and adults can skate for a good cause.

  • Tickets should be purchased with a donation to your fundraiser.
  • Try reaching out to pro skaters—maybe they’d be willing to sign a few skateboards that you can raffle at your event in exchange for donations.

8. Customized promotional items

Create and sell t-shirts, bags, cups, and other items for your fundraiser.

  • Look for companies that sell customized marketing and promotional items or custom corporate gifts.
  • You can customize all kinds of items with the name and image of the beneficiary, or a design that seems fitting for your fundraiser.
  • Include the fundraiser name and URL somewhere in the design. That way, anyone wearing your merchandise becomes a walking promotion for your fundraiser.

9. Car wash

Car washes have long been a popular way to drum up support for a cause.

  • Advertise your car wash on your fundraiser page and on social media.
  • Let donors know they can receive a car wash on a certain date.
  • You can sell tickets in advance in exchange for a donation, or take donations at the event.
  • Get out in the community and spread the word of your fundraiser. Washing cars can also help your fundraising team bond while working together.

10. Barbecue night

Host a summer evening barbecue, add a dash of music and entertainment, and you’ve got yourself a fundraising event.

  • Ask volunteers to help out by bringing side dishes such as potato salad, fruit, vegetables, dessert, chips, and drinks.
  • See if you can find a local band or musician open to donating a performance.
  • Toss in outdoor games—maybe cornhole, three-legged races, bocce, croquet, or horseshoes.
  • Ask guests to make a suggested donation in exchange for tickets. Give them a chance to donate during the night as well, via a donation station.

Make your crowdfunding fundraiser an eventful one

Ready to get started with one of these fundraising event ideas? Get more inspiration from our fundraising ideas and creative fundraising ideas pages. With our tips, event fundraising just got easier—and your event is sure to be effective, fun, and memorable. GoFundMe is free for fundraiser organizers, and you can begin withdrawing funds as soon as you start receiving donations. Start your event fundraiser today.