Host the Perfect Fundraising Event: 6 Incredible Ideas

Published on 15 Mar 2017 by Auctria

Host the Perfect Fundraising Event: 6 Incredible Ideas

Fundraising events are some of the most effective ways to raise money, spread awareness for your cause, and bring your supporters together. Plus, they’re usually pretty fun.

There are tons of great fundraising event ideas to choose from. One of the biggest challenges of hosting an event of your own is that, well, there are tons of great ideas to choose from.

How will you determine which idea will be most profitable for your organization? After all, you don’t want to risk getting stuck with empty seats or unsold tickets (or otherwise fall short of your fundraising goal).

Since every organization is different, the perfect fundraising event will vary, too. That’s why we’ve broken down the top event ideas for:

  • Schools
  • Churches
  • Non-profits

Each of these organizations tends to serve a unique community of supporters with diverse needs and expectations.

The events we suggest can be tweaked and used interchangeably, but we’ve curated the following list to best suit the constituents of each type of organization.

Let’s take a look at the best ideas for each organization.

Top School Fundraising Ideas

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One of the most important considerations for hosting a school fundraising event is inclusion. Schools often serve students of various socioeconomic backgrounds, so it’s important that everyone feels welcome in the community.

How can schools host an affordable fundraising event, while still pulling in the cash they need?

Try these top-tier ideas:

  1. Raffles
  2. Teachers in Jail

Let’s discuss each in more detail.


A raffle is a great, exciting way to involve your student body and raise a ton of funds. Since raffle tickets are generally low cost, almost anyone can participate by purchasing as many or as few tickets as they’d like.

There are several different types of raffles that you can host, including:

  • 50/50 raffle. In this raffle, the prize is half the amount of funds raised. So, if students contribute $1,000, the raffle winner will earn $500! This raffle can generate tons of excitement and engagement as students give more and more to watch the prize soar!

  • Balloon raffle. A balloon raffle is just like an ordinary raffle, with a slight twist. All of the raffle tickets are placed in balloons. When it’s time to announce the winning ticket, everyone pops the balloons for a loud, dramatic climax!

  • Straw draw. In this raffle, students pay $1 to draw a straw. Each straw will have some kind of grade-appropriate privilege attached to it, such as extra time at recess, a better parking space, or a homework pass. The most valuable prizes will be the rarest so that students keep on drawing!

Raffles aren’t just affordable for students; they’re versatile. You can host them during the school day, or you can host an event after school so families can attend, too!

Plus, you can pair a raffle with another fundraising event or a crowdfunding campaign to maximize profits and engage your community. For example, you can create a fundraising goal or an amount of raffle tickets that you need to sell and encourage your students to rise to the challenge. Or, you can host a raffle in conjunction with a school dance, a sports game, or a pep rally.

Teachers in Jail

A teachers in jail fundraiser won’t literally put your staff behind bars, but it will create an exciting school day that’s sure to generate some cash.

Here’s how it works: each classroom has a fundraising goal. If students raise the right amount of funds, the teacher is put “in jail,” and students have the entire class period to themselves.

This fundraiser is a win-win-win:

  • Students get a break from the stress of school.
  • Teachers have an entire class period to grade papers or catch up on other work.
  • Your school raises money!

Everyone is sure to get a kick out of this fundraiser, and it’s incredibly easy to execute. Simply charge volunteers with collecting funds from each classroom!

Top Church Fundraising Ideas

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Churches and religious organizations are in a unique position when it comes to fundraising events. For one, congregants already give to a church through consistent tithing.

For that reason, it’s especially important that churches clarify how event funds will be used, whether they’re for the youth group, a mission trip, the music department, or a specific cause.

Our top fundraising event ideas for churches include:

  1. Themed Youth Group Party
  2. Noisy Sunday

Let’s take a look at each one.

Themed Youth Group Party

A themed party is perfect for youth groups, but it can also be applied to other groups in your church.

The concept is simple. Guests pay a small fee to enter the party. Those who are dressed to suit the theme get a slight discount, while those in “normal” clothes have to pay full ticket price!

A themed party works well for youth groups because it’s a way for preteens, teenagers, and young adults to have fun in a controlled environment.

There are tons of themes to choose from, such as:

  • Ugly Christmas sweater party
    • Decades party (70s, 80s, 90s)
    • Neon party
    • Hawaiian theme or luau

The possibilities are endless. To really engage your young congregants, encourage them to post about the party on social media and invite their friends for fun and fellowship.

Look into Snapchat geofilters to help your youth spread the word. Everyone will want to come to the party when they see your youth group having a blast!

Noisy Sunday

Noisy Sunday is a simple, effective fundraiser that you can host during a normal church service.

On Noisy Sunday, everyone will fill the pews as usual. But there’s a twist.

Volunteers will run up and down the aisles shaking jars with loose change.

To get the noise to stop, everyone needs to contribute and pay up. Once the jars are full, the sermon can continue!

Noisy Sunday is a great fundraising idea for the following reasons:

  • Since it occurs on a regular Sunday, all of your usual congregants are already at the “event.”
  • Almost everyone has spare change in their pockets or purse. Even if a church member forgot to bring cash, they’ll likely have something to contribute.
  • It’s incredibly low-cost. Not only is it affordable, but it won’t take up a large investment of time or resources, either.
  • Noisy Sunday is the perfect activity to engage your youth group or Sunday school classes. What kid wouldn’t want to run around the aisles of your church making a ruckus?

If you like Noisy Sunday, you’re in luck! You can host this fundraiser as many times a year as you’d like.

Not sold on these ideas for your church? Don’t worry — Booster has 45+ for you to try!

Top Nonprofit Fundraising Ideas

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Nonprofits generally engage a wide variety of donors, from the average everyday person to multimillionaires. It’s important that nonprofits host fundraising events that can accommodate such a diverse range of constituents.

Whether your nonprofit favors healthcare, the environment, animal welfare, or poverty, these fundraising events can help you promote your cause and raise funds.

Specifically, we recommend:

  • Walkathons and fun runs
  • Charity auctions

Ready to dive in? Let’s get started!

Walkathons and fun runs

A walkathon or fun run gets everyone in your community up and active. These events are incredibly popular because they’re accessible to all kinds of people, from fitness junkies on their 100th race to couch potatoes on their first.

Though walkathons and fun runs may take extensive planning, nonprofits who strategize their approach can see a huge return on their investment.

For example, walkathons are especially profitable when paired with peer-to-peer fundraising.

In peer-to-peer fundraising, fundraising teams solicit donations from their friends and family members on behalf of your organization. They can ask for donations directly, call their relatives, share donation forms on social media, or otherwise reach out to their personal networks to achieve a fundraising goal.

Of course, participants can also seek cash pledges for every mile they run or pay a fee to participate.

No matter which fundraising model you choose, you should sell branded merchandise to bring in additional funds.

One of the most effective strategies is selling custom, branded t-shirts or allowing each fundraising team to create their own t-shirts and sell them to raise money. With t-shirts, everyone can band together and run for a good cause!

Some other popular choices for walkathon merchandise include:

  • Water bottles
  • Sweat bands
  • Frisbees

Anything that promotes an active lifestyle is perfect for bringing in extra funds!

Charity Auctions

We’ve saved the best for last — there’s nothing quite like a charity auction to bring donors together and raise funds.


Charity auctions are fun and competitive. The added incentive of receiving an exclusive item can encourage donors to give more than they normally would.

Which is why, more than anything else, the key to a successful charity auction is procuring stand-out items.

There are plenty of ways for nonprofits to do just that without breaking the bank.

For example, nonprofits can:

  • Seek in-kind donations from sponsors or donors.
  • Use consignment auction services, so that nonprofits only pay for the packages that sell.
  • Solicit smaller in-kind donations (which will be easier to procure), and package them together in themed baskets.

No matter how you go about getting items, it’s important to brand your auction and tell a story that will compel donors to bid.

Picture this: you’re sitting in the audience of a live auction.

The next item up for bid is a piece of custom artwork, but it’s not the auctioneer who’s presenting it; instead, it’s the artist.

She explains how this artwork represents her connection to the nonprofit and that she is actually a recipient of the organization’s aid. After an emotional, powerful speech, she opens the floor for bids. In just a few short moments, she’s raised the value of the artwork by connecting with the audience, which in turn can increase the bids that the artwork will receive.

Just like in this example, the key is to connect donors to your cause even amidst the competitive and fun spirit that auctions entail.

For more information, check out these top auction tips!

As a note to our readers, we want to clarify that while charity auctions are mentioned specifically in this post, you do not have to be a charity and have 501(c)3 status to host an auction. Anyone can host a fundraising auction and use the advice here and in our other resources to raise money.

Whether your organization is a school, church, or nonprofit, there are plenty of fundraising event ideas to choose from. With this article, you should have more direction of the kinds of events that work well for different constituents.

Do you have additional advice or ideas for fundraising events? Let us know in the comments!

Thanks to guest author Andrew Hurley for these creative fundraising ideas!

Andrew Hurley is the Director of Ecommerce at Booster, Created by CustomInk. Booster makes it risk-free to raise funds and awareness by giving you a platform to sell custom t-shirts and collect donations.