These fundraising events can help increase donations

Client Highlights

January 11, 2022

4 Best Fundraising Events That Encourage Generous Donations

Whether your organization has a well-established presence in your community or is attempting to bring attention to a new initiative, hosting a fundraising event will always be a gamble.

After all, there are dozens of obstacles that could keep you from reaching your financial goals, and no one wants to sink precious time and resources into an event that ends up dead on arrival. From struggling to find the best software to run your event to properly marketing the program, picking the proper fundraising initiative for your organization to roll the dice on can be a scary prospect.

Luckily, we’re confident that this quick guide will have at least one solution for everyone. Regardless of your program type, budget, or limitations, your team will walk away with strong fundraising event ideas to accommodate your needs and inspire your next big campaign.

We will go in order from least expensive to most, with every event having the potential to attract significant support if managed correctly:

  • Shoe Drive Fundraisers
  • A-Thons and Fun Runs
  • Auctions and Raffles
  • Festivals and Carnivals

After more than a year of battling fundraising hurdles, it’s time for your organization to turn the tide and launch a fundraising campaign that will bring in the big bucks and leave your community hungry for more.

Shoe Drive Fundraisers

People are always on the lookout to recycle or repurpose their old clothes. The pandemic has taken spring cleaning to a new level with home-stuck individuals constantly cleaning out their closets and tossing out the unnecessary clutter they’ve accumulated over the years.

A shoe drive fundraiser is a perfect solution to address their cleaning needs and convert unwanted items into revenue for your organization.

This fundraising initiative is extremely cheap and easy to implement. No matter how small or financially limited, any organization can host this fundraiser.

Plus, donors can participate for no cost at all. And it makes your marketing and promotion efforts easier than ever, as the focus of your advertising switches from having to convince donors to spend to simply making sure that the word is out about the program. Clearly, this is a far easier sell, and donors will be all too happy to pass off their unwanted items.

Better yet, these initiatives are highly flexible and can easily occur in careful accordance with COVID-19 restrictions for a socially-distanced experience. Once your organization finds a shoe drive fundraising coordinator, all donors do is collect their gently worn, new and used shoes and indicate their address and intent to donate. Then, a fundraising contact will swing by their doorstep for a contactless pickup.

Your organization can pull these ongoing initiatives off on a shoestring budget with very minimal planning required, and you will receive the proceeds when the drive coordinator resells the items to the collection contact. Overall, shoe drive fundraisers provide a consistent, reliable, and cheap way to encourage donations and thoroughly engage your community in a simple and fun initiative.

To learn more about shoe drive fundraisers and spark inspiration for other initiatives you can pursue, take a look at this Funds2Orgs master list of 100+ unique and easy fundraising ideas.

These fundraising events can help increase donations

A-Thons and Fun Runs

Spin-a-thons, read-a-thons, fun runs, and similar community fundraisers are always a safe bet, providing a reliable, fun, and engaging way to encourage community participation.

Big or small, these programs are a great choice to infuse some healthy competition into your fundraising efforts. You could even bring a greater sense of engagement and fun rivalry to these events by including small prizes, badges, and certificates for your outstanding participants.

Typically, the financial model for these events includes setting up a dedicated donation page where supporters can pledge a certain amount of money for every “X thing” that a participant completes. It could be pages read, words spelled, or whatever the given metric is for the event.

Merchandising is also a popular option for additional revenue. Water bottles, shirts, and bracelets are the most common souvenirs that participants want to commemorate their accomplishments and experience. Consider some of the following a-thon events and fun run fundraisers to bring out the competitive spirit in your donors:

  • Walk-a-thon. As opposed to run-a-thons, Walk-a-thons are better suited for community members of all athletic abilities and ages, particularly the elderly and younger children. These programs are a great way to encourage local participation with a low commitment, low stakes, and high engagement activity. For an in-person walkathon, you’ll want to book a dedicated space for this event. For a virtual walk-a-thon, rent fitness watches or encourage walkers to use a free fitness app to record their steps on their own time over a set period.
  • Hit-a-thon. These silly competitions are great for various types of sports fundraising. Take advantage of your donors’ sense of local pride by inviting your local sports leagues and players to compete and represent the program. You simply have to reserve a dedicated space or a remote logging system, as well as a database for contributors to submit their pledges for every “X” amount of hits that their chosen participant completes. Here, the goal is to foster a sense of personal accomplishment for your participants and create an event for the greater community to cheer.
  • 5K. The 5K is a tried and true fundraising favorite. Not only do they promote fitness and draw in support from local sponsors, but they also can be carried out at practically any time of the year with a variety of themes and styles to increase engagement. For example, glow-in-the-dark and costume 5Ks add an extra element of fun to what is already a high-energy event. Find a great route, secure your permits, break out the water bottles and t-shirts, and let your supporters go for it!

Keep in mind that these events are also highly attractive for volunteers, because there’s so much that goes into setting up these events. If you’d like to learn more about volunteer management and how to coach your volunteers through the event process, check out Double the Donation’s ultimate guide to volunteer management.

Whether you’re raising money for a major nonprofit organization or you’re searching for church fundraising ideas for a local ministry, these events are a great way to foster community spirit, raise revenue, and get your organization’s name out there for future giving.

Auctions and Raffles

These bidding-centered programs are one of the most lucrative events you can host, with auctions consistently listed as one of the best opportunities to attract generous donations.

Of course, hosting a successful auction or raffle will be a big time and financial commitment, no matter how you go about it. For one thing, you have to pick high-value items that will sell, which will take some extensive research and a bit of investment.

However, once you’ve got your items selected and you’ve heavily promoted your event to the right donors, all you have to do is sit back and watch as participants pledge their bids, and your auction software will help to manage the rest.

While raffles are relatively straightforward, there are a few different kinds of auction bidding to choose from:

  • Absolute or ascending bid. This bidding style is what people typically think of at auctions. Attendants openly announce their bids while an auctioneer keeps a running record of what is currently at the top of the heap. Bids will continue, climbing higher and higher, until the highest bidder is left uncontested and declared the winner.
  • Minimum bid. Before the bids begin, a minimum price is set on the products. This type of bid offers a bit more security for the product seller and your organization, but it may be slightly less attractive to donors. It guarantees that your item will sell at a reasonable price, but it might discourage initial bidding as donors are held to a mandatory payment level.
  • Sealed bids. During these auctions, bids are submitted privately, with donors guessing what they hope will be the winning highest payment for the auctioned item. This type of bid can be a little riskier, yet it has one of the greatest potentials for maximum rewards as bidders throw out offers well over the product’s price to ensure that they win the item.

Auctions can be grand in-person events, simpler community activities, or even virtual gatherings with the right technology. Regardless of what method or style you choose, your auction can be a hit with plenty of forethought and planning!

If you have taken the time to understand your donors’ interests properly, selected the right items, and effectively promoted the event, then your auction can be a huge success. You will keep the price of attendance if there is one, and all of the bids can go directly to your organization after paying for the items you auction off.

These fundraising events can help increase donations

Festivals and Carnivals

Everyone loves a good festival. With food, entertainment, and a space for attendees to let loose and enjoy themselves for hours at a time, this fundraising event is a huge moneymaker that’s notable for its high attendance rate.

These large fundraisers make the bulk of their profits through price-of-attendance ticketing. However, additional fundraising opportunities can take place at the venue, such as paid mini-games, concessions, and merchandise sales. Furthermore, the dates and times for these events can be highly flexible, spanning over a day, a weekend, or an entire week of programming. It is all up to your organization’s taste, time, and budget.

Aside from its capacity to attract vast amounts of revenue, this event is also a great way to bring the local community together and attract significant publicity for your organization. Here are a few of the most popular choices for festival fundraising initiatives:

  • Concerts and music festivals. Not only is this fundraiser popular across all age groups and demographics, but it also provides an excellent opportunity for merchandise sales. Food, apparel, and product sales are a huge financial draw-in at these events, as hungry attendants eat their fill and invest in memorabilia that will remind them of this fun day. Whether you’re hosting a big, multiday event series or a smaller single-day festival, the prospect of live talent and food is a surefire hit to attract your local community.
  • Funfair. These initiatives are especially attractive if your target donor base is primarily children, younger teens, and parents. Like music festivals, this event type is noteworthy for its high attendance, flexible date, and size range, and boosted revenue from merchandise and food sales. The booths, games, and rides that your organization offers are flexible, ranging from mini-coasters to a volunteer face painting station. Just make sure to promote your event to the right audience, such as schools, and have fun.
  • Local arts festival. If you want to connect with your community in a more meaningful way and save a bit more money than a big blowout festival, local arts events are a cheaper and more understated way to connect with your donors. While a music festival would require you to pay for the talent, the artists at these events would pay for their booths. On top of that, these events uplift the entire community by supporting local talent and programs, and they tend to attract “patrons” who are more willing to donate outright.

Clearly, these events hold considerable potential for bringing in revenue, but they are also far more involved and require a large commitment of resources. Luckily, your organization doesn’t necessarily have to develop, launch, and invest in this event type alone. Many festivals are put together by several organizations coming together to pitch into the initiative.

Furthermore, to streamline planning for your team and your potential partners, you might even consider investing in a dedicated festival event software. It will help you better manage the program planning, registration, and marketing, and you’ll be much more prepared to launch these more complex fundraisers effectively.

It has been a tough year for many local nonprofits and fundraising organizations, with the pandemic magnifying the already difficult challenge of encouraging community participation, donations, and involvement.

However, we hope these tips and suggestions have pushed you into a better space to strategically launch your next fundraiser and set yourself up for maximum success. No matter the limitations you may be facing, you can now confidently leap into your local community, engaging your supporters and collecting donations like never before!

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