Planning a successful fundraising event can be a daunting task. There are hundreds of different ways to raise money and choosing the right one can be difficult. If you’ve decided that working with another company to sell products and raise money isn’t for you, then you’ll need to plan an event. There are 5 basic steps to planning an event:

  1. Set your goals and budget
  2. Create a plan
  3. Promote your event
  4. Achieve your goals and enjoy your event
  5. Thank your supporters and ask for continued support

We discuss each of these steps in more detail in our blog, 5 Steps to a Successful Fundraising Event, but first, you have to decide what type of event you want to put together. This blog will lay out different fundraising ideas, with tips on how to plan these events and what types of organizations will benefit the most from them. It’s time to raise some money!


Peer-to-peer fundraising is a great way to gather funds and support for your cause. Participants will ask sponsors to pledge an amount of money for each mile, or whatever amount they choose, that they walk. This is a good option for school clubs and sports teams, as it takes little money to set up and you can use your school track. 

However, plenty of organizations could benefit from a walk-a-thon. You need somewhere to host your walk registration forms to get started. Your participants lead the way in raising funds. 


There are plenty of ways to go about hosting an auction. First, do you want to host a live or silent auction? Silent auctions allow for more mingling and networking. However, depending on what you’re auctioning, you might need to do a live auction. 

Next, you have to figure out what you’ll auction at you! Start by asking local businesses if they would be interested in donating items, gift certificates, or anything else to your auction. 

Maybe you have some interesting people in your network who would be willing to donate their time. You can auction experiences at places or with people, like a cooking class with a local chef, a spa package, or a vacation package. This is one of our favorite fundraising ideas simply due to the different ways you can make this event happen.

Movie Night

This one can get a little tricky if you don’t have your own space to project your movie or display a large it on a large enough screen. You can work with local theaters to find a venue, but there will be a lot of extra work, and possibly money to rent the space. 

Once you decide your venue you can pick your movie, figure out snacks and refreshments, and start selling tickets. 

Trivia Tournament

We love trivia tournaments because they’re easy to organize and have relatively low costs. See if a local restaurant or bar to host your event or find a space big enough for your groups. 

You can set a minimum amount required to donate to enter the tournament. You can ask local businesses to contribute to the prize pool so you can count every dollar towards your goal, with limited costs. 

Car Wash

A car wash is a classic fundraiser, weather permitting. You only need a warm day, a hose, car cleaning supplies, and materials for signs. Think buckets, microfiber rags, and a decent soap for cars. You’ll need people on the nearest sidewalk trying to get vehicles into your pop-up car wash. Signs and social media will be your biggest ways to advertise. 

Talent Show

This is a great pick for clubs and school groups, I’ve also seen several churches make this event a success. Get people to sign up with any and all talents. I’ve seen a 15-year-old with a yo-yo win a charity talent show over singers and dancers. 

Set a ticket price for attendees and a registration fee. Make sure to have additional ways to donate available at the event. When people see how amazing your group is, they might want to give more!

You’ll need to secure a venue with a stage or a gym floor with bleachers, which should be easier for churches and school groups. This fundraising event can be relatively low cost, you’ll need to advertise and provide refreshments, but that’s the minimum to get this started. 

Art Auction

Another great fundraising idea for schools and churches with talented participants. An art auction fundraising event is another chance to show a unique side of your organization while getting the opportunity to network and mingle during your event. 

As for the art itself, I’ve seen art auctions with incredible paintings and pottery, but I’ve also seen a crochet gift sale for auction. Let anyone with a material creative skill set to use their talents. You can also ask local artists to offer donations in the form of art to sell if you need to fill out your display. 

Craft Show

If you have a talented crew but an auction doesn’t seem feasible, a craft show might be better. This will open up your options on what to sell, as you can, again, invite artists to donate to your craft show. You can 

Gala or Banquet

This might be one of the toughest to pull off, but if done correctly, it can be a huge boost to your nonprofit’s fundraising efforts. Again, this event is an amazing opportunity to network and showcase some of your top talent and staff within your organization. Inviting families and friends that are associated with your charity or the cause your supporting is also a great way to get more support. 

There will be a lot of planning that goes into this. You’ll need a venue, catering, decorations, and entertainment. You might want to add an auction to your gala to raise even more money. If you want to learn more about planning a gala fundraising event check out this blog from Forbes.


Who doesn’t love a good cook-off? Invite local chefs to partake, they’ll love the free exposure. Ask them to bring enough to serve X amount of samples of any dish, or ask for a specialty dish from them. You’ll need a location, supplies for serving and decorating, and tickets to sell. You’ll also need a way to track votes, either paper or digitally. 

This is another fundraising idea that pairs well with an auction. You can auction off cookware sets, chef experiences with the chefs in attendance, and other baskets filled with goodies from these chefs’ restaurants. This fundraising event will take some time to plan, but it’ll be a memorable one for your organization and the community you serve. 

 Sports tournament

Sports tournaments are great for schools and churches, but any organization can make this work for them. I have seen dodgeball, basketball, and even golf tournaments. Once you decide what sport you want to do, you’ll need a venue. Next, you need to get teams to sign up with a registration fee. Once you have enough teams signed up, create your bracket and get ready to have fun! 

This is a great event to reach out to local businesses for sponsorships. They can sponsor the event as a whole or they can sponsor teams. Sponsorship packages would be extremely beneficial for this event. 

It’s important to remember that this is just a list of fundraising ideas, there will be a lot of research and planning involved after you choose your event. Some of these events, like a car wash or bake sale, are lower dollar amount fundraisers. They also need less initial funds to start. Other events, like a gala or banquet, are going to take extensive planning and funding to pull off. You can check out our blog on planning events to help get you started.

Cultural Impact LLC