Charity Event Ideas to Help Drive Donations 

|8 min read Fundraising Event

Throwing a charity event is one of the best ways to bring people together around the common goal of doing good. Charity fundraising events also help you make new contacts and connect with supporters on a deeper level—all while raising funds to make a difference.

So what type of event should you host? If you have dozens of questions about how to raise money for your nonprofit, we share tips about how to get started, as well as 10 of our best charity event ideas.

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What is a charity event?

You might think only red carpet galas or fine art auctions qualify as charity events. In fact, a charity event is any gathering where the proceeds are used to support a nonprofit. This can mean anything from a simple car wash to a massive charity walk to a crowdfunding campaign—and everything in between.

Planning a charity event

Hosting an event is a fantastic way to boost your nonprofit’s yearly fundraising. To make the most of your charity event, it’s important to do the necessary planning beforehand. Read on for some tips.

1. Decide what type of event you’d like to host

The possibilities here are truly endless, but it’s wise to give your event a theme that supports your nonprofit’s mission and educates others about what you do. If you know you want to host an event but haven’t narrowed your options, consider throwing a charity concert, a popular option with nonprofits and supporters alike.

2. Plan out the logistics

Here is a general checklist to follow when planning a charity event:

  • Make a list of supplies you’ll need, and take note of what supplies you already have.
  • Research possible venues for your event and reach out to them.
  • Create a guest list.
  • Research top charity fundraising sites for inspiration.
  • Enlist the help of a few friends or family members. The more help, the better.
  • Find fundraising event software that makes the process simple for guests.

3. Create a budget

A budget helps you determine just how simple or elaborate your event can be. It also prompts you to think about what sources of funding are available to you. Set aside time to price check supplies on the list you created, then crunch some numbers so you know exactly how much money it will take to make your charity event a reality.

Throwing an event to raise money for a good cause sometimes requires a bit of money upfront. If you’re short on funds but determined to host a stellar event, starting an online fundraiser for those initial costs is an easy way to raise money fast.

4. Promote your event 

Now that you’ve taken care of the nitty gritty details, it’s time for the big reveal!  Not sure how to promote a nonprofit event? Here are the best ways to get the word out:

  • Make a public Facebook event and invite your network of supporters. Ask them to share the invitation with their network of friends to double and triple the number of eyes on your cause.
  • Send an email invitation to acquaintances, coworkers, and anyone else you can’t reach through social media. Be sure to provide background information on your nonprofit and explain why this event means so much to you—this will help encourage charitable giving.
  • For a more casual approach, text or call close friends and family members about the event to gauge interest.
  • Print out flyers and post them on bulletin boards in coffee shops, libraries, music venues, and anywhere else in your community that gets a lot of foot traffic.

Ideas for charity events

If you know you want to host an event but aren’t sure which direction to take, we have 10 charity fundraising event ideas to get the creative juices flowing.

1. Pet beauty pageant

This takes the classic idea of a beauty pageant and adds a dose of silliness and, well, fur. Invite attendees to donate a specific amount to your cause, or set a flat rate for tickets.

To mimic a real beauty pageant, bestow your own set of awards on contestants—the funnier the better: “Most luscious locks,” or “Best hidden talent” just to name a few. Audience members will love gawking at cute animals while getting to vote on their favorites.

2. Charitable happy hour

Take your fundraising to the pub and get others to raise a glass for a worthy cause. You can work with a local bar or restaurant to lend their venue for your fundraising happy hour in exchange for the business you’ll bring in. Some venues even donate a percentage of drink or food sales to a charity.

3. Potluck with friends

Hosting a potluck at your home is an intimate way to gather family and friends together and share your fundraising goals. One main advantage here is the low overhead cost and low-pressure environment. Even if people choose not to donate, they can still share a good meal with friends and learn about your organization and its goals.

4. Online fundraising bonanza

Sometimes the best way to drum up support for a cause is to let everyone know you only have a limited amount of time to raise a specific amount of money. This propels people to take action fast. Ahead of starting your fundraiser, tell everyone you know that you’re about to launch a fundraising contest to see how much you can raise in a given time period.

To encourage donations of all sizes, tell your network that even giving up their daily latte in exchange for a $5 donation will make a difference.

5. Fashion show

To host a fashion show that helps bring in donations for your nonprofit, you’ll need to partner with a local clothing boutique and find people willing to model their garments. The proceeds from ticket sales will go to your charity, and the boutique may even donate a certain percentage of items they sell that day.

6. Personal challenge 

This fundraising idea is all about committing to a task that’s intentionally challenging, brave, or embarrassing, all in the name of charity. For example, many people pledge to shave their heads if they raise over a certain amount of money for a cause, while others promise to jump out of planes or run grueling races.

7. Community yard sale

A yard sale not only helps others get rid of unwanted items, but it can bring awareness to your nonprofit. Start by rounding up a group of neighbors and friends who are ready for some serious spring cleaning. Ask them to donate a certain percentage of sales to your charity in exchange for the work you’ll do collecting and selling their unwanted items.

8. Employer donation match

Loop more individuals into your fundraising efforts by making them aware of employer donation matching programs. Many people may not know about their company’s existing program, or the possibility of their employer matching employee donations to a given charity. You can mention this idea to supporters in your organization’s monthly newsletter.

9. Cleaning frenzy

Recruit your most fastidious friends to put in some old fashioned elbow grease for a good cause. You’ll want to compile a list of potential customers who need their homes cleaned or cars washed. It’s up to you whether you’d like to set a flat rate per cleaning, or accept donations for a job well done.

10. Auction or raffle event

This is a classic fundraising idea for a reason: people love the thrill of potentially winning something. Reach out to local businesses and ask if they would be willing to contribute in-kind donations for your auction or raffle in exchange for a bit of publicity at the event. Or perhaps you have crafty friends who could create items for the event or even donate gently used items. Remember to keep with a theme related to your nonprofit. For example, if your nonprofit helps children with cancer, focus on collecting children’s toys and clothes.

Raise money and awareness for your cause with an event

Throwing a charity event requires some work, but it can also be an incredibly rewarding experience—not to mention a truly effective way to raise money. Now that you have the know-how, start planning your charity event today. If you lack the finances to make your event a reality, GoFundMe Charity can help you encourage your supporters to start peer-to-peer fundraisers that support your event. Sign up today to take advantage of our enterprise-grade software with no platform fees, no subscription costs, and no contracts.

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About Jenna Davis

I'm passionate about helping both nonprofits and supporters find new and creative ways to make a difference in the world.