If you run a charity, chances are you’re often looking for creative ways to fundraise. Asking for donations isn’t easy, but holding events, offering services, and using online donation tools can help your organization come up with the extra money you need to keep supporting your cause.
JotForm offers a variety of resources for nonprofits that include streamlining your donation process, gathering volunteers, managing events, and more!
Here are 100-plus charity fundraising ideas that will make your donors excited to contribute to your organization.
Events and services
- Cupcake showdown
Similar to the popular food competition TV shows, have the best bakers in town sign up for a friendly (or not-so-friendly) baking competition. Get some volunteers to be the taste testers. The winner gets a new baking tool or a gift basket of high-quality ingredients.
- Pie contest
Bring this county fair tradition to your fundraiser by taking applications for a pie contest. You can create categories like best fruit pie, best chocolate pie, most creative pie, and more. It will certainly be easy to find judges.
- Spaghetti dinner
Spaghetti is one of those cheap yet delicious meals that can really draw a crowd. Get everyone together for a spaghetti banquet, and charge a flat fee for a dinner that includes spaghetti and sauce, garlic bread, and beverages. You can purchase frozen meatballs in bulk to cut costs. Cue the accordion and dig in!
- Eating contest
For New Yorkers who grew up going to Coney Island in the summer, a good old-fashioned eating contest may bring back nostalgic memories of Nathan’s hotdog eating competition. Choose any food that’s cheap to produce in large batches, and make a trophy or a fun belt for the winner.
- Wine and beer tasting
Ask local breweries or wineries if they’d be willing to host a tasting to raise money for your charity. Charge a flat fee for a flight of beer or five samples of wine. Remember to tip the sommelier on top of their flat rate.
- Potluck dinner
What’s the best part of a potluck dinner? Aside from not having to cook the entire meal, you can try new dishes that you might never make on your own. Charge an entrance fee for an all-you-can-eat dinner, and allow the serious eaters who make it to the end to take the food home.
- Chili cook-off
A big bowl of warm chili is perfect for a fall fundraiser. Hold a call for entries (with JotForm’s easy-to-use competition entry form) and charge a small entry fee. Let attendees try unlimited samples and vote on their favorite one. The winner gets a prize, and your nonprofit gets to keep the proceeds.
- Pancake breakfast
A giant plate of pancakes screams comfort food, so who wouldn’t enjoy a pancake breakfast that raises money for a charity? Buy the pancake mix in bulk at a local wholesale supplier, and don’t forget the maple syrup.
- Cocktail class
Is there a swanky new bar in town that people would love to lounge in for a night? Set up a cocktail class with one of the bartenders. Make sure to have a tip jar for the bartender and a collection for extra donations for your nonprofit.
- Ice cream social
A sundae with all the fixings is sure to put a smile on your face. Large buckets of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry ice cream are pretty easy to locate on the cheap from a wholesaler. You can also purchase toppings in bulk. The entrance fee for the event minus the cost of supplies can go straight into your nonprofit’s bank account.
- Food festival
Food has a way of bringing people together, and there’s no greater way to celebrate cultural diversity than with an all-you-can-eat food festival. Charge attendees a flat fee to eat through tables of food samples from various restaurants around the city.
- Cooking class
Couples love a good cooking class as a fun date night activity. Ask at local restaurants if any of the chefs would be open to teaching a class on how to cook one of their signature dishes on a slow weeknight. It will not only raise money for your nonprofit but also get the word out about the restaurant too.
- Food trucks
If you live near a city, chances are there are food trucks that would be open to working with your nonprofit on a food truck event. Ask if they’d be willing to split the proceeds or offer a flat fee that won’t eat up too much of your profits. Bonus: Set up a photobooth so families can remember the night once they’re done tasting the fare.
- Costume contest
Have a great idea for a Halloween costume but nowhere to show it off? Hold a costume contest that can be either an in-person event or an online event. Create categories like scariest, funniest, and most creative costume, and get participants to register for the event with JotForm.
- Easter egg hunt
Easter egg hunts are fun for the whole family, and they’re the perfect way to welcome in the spring season. Find a large public place to hold your event and raise money for your nonprofit. The entry can come with a festive basket, or you can have attendees bring their own. Make sure the eggs are filled with wrapped treats or small toys.
You don’t need an amazing singing voice to enjoy a night of caroling this holiday season. Put out a call for talented singers and pay them a flat rate to sing carols in a public, heavy-traffic area. You can take donations in person or provide a link to JotForm’s nonprofit donation form.
- Thanksgiving potluck
Hold a potluck event a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving. This way, people can try out their recipes before the big day, and they won’t be sick of turkey yet! Charge an entry fee for a night of all-you-can-eat feasting, and let the last attendees take home the leftovers. Ask all attendees to clearly label their dishes, and enjoy.
- Fourth of July cookout
A giant neighborhood BBQ in the summer can be the highlight of the season. Grill up hamburgers and hotdogs, and ask attendees to bring a side dish. Make sure you get a variety of dishes by having your donors sign up ahead of time with a JotForm signup form.
- Photos with Santa
So maybe not all children are excited to meet Santa, but that only makes for a more memorable photo. Find a jolly volunteer who’s great with kids (or hire a Santa if nobody fits the bill) and charge a fee for a photo with the big guy. Don’t forget the mini candy canes.
What’s better than one Santa? Dozens! SantaCon is a fun and festive way to ring in the holidays. The only rule is that all participants must wear a Santa costume and sign up via JotForm’s event registration form. Ho ho ho!
- Pumpkin carving
Get ready for a spooky night of carving and, if you dare, classic Halloween horror movies. Check with a local farm to see if they’d be willing to sell pumpkins to your event at a bulk discount, and charge a fee to attend. Just make sure to include the carving supplies and lots of bins to take care of that messy pumpkin cleanup!
- Handmade holiday cards
Holiday cards can look pretty generic year after year. Create handmade cards for those looking to spice up their holiday cheer. Sell the cards at a market or create a quick online order form via JotForm.
- Gingerbread house contest
The warm, spicy smell of gingerbread immediately puts people in the holiday spirit. Hold a gingerbread house contest with either real gingerbread or the cheaper alternative, graham crackers, with lots of candy decorations. This is a great activity for kids, but you can also give awards by age group. The winner will take home a very sweet prize.
- Haunted corn maze
If you live in a rural area, finding a farm with a corn maze during the Halloween season is probably an easy feat. Locate one willing to let you rent out their maze on a weeknight and get volunteers to dress up as spooky characters.
- Pet costume photo contest
So Fido might not be thrilled to don his hotdog costume this year, but with enough treats and squeaky toys, you might be able to get a great photo. Let pet owners enter their photos in a contest for a small fee. The winner gets a gift certificate to a local pet store.
- Ornament swap
Tired of hanging the same old baubles since the 80s? If they don’t carry any sentimental value, you might want to trade them at an ornament swap. Bonus: Set up some craft tables where kids can make their own ornaments out of cheap crafting supplies and fish hooks.
- Window decorating challenge
It always makes the season a little brighter when local shops get into the holiday spirit. Why not make it a competition? Ask shops along a popular route in your nonprofit’s town to take part in a window decorating competition.
Set a date for the big reveal, and sell hot cocoa and candy canes while locals vote on their favorite. The winning shop will receive a portion of the proceeds and free promotion of their store.
- March Madness tournament
Basketball fans will jump at the opportunity to join a March Madness bracket tournament. Just collect a fee to participate, and the winner will get to keep a portion of the proceeds — the rest goes directly to your nonprofit.
- Gift wrapping
When the holidays roll around, most people have a lot on their plate. You can set up a gift-wrapping service with permission from either a local mall or other public venue where people can bring their items and get them wrapped on the spot. Make sure to have a variety of paper, ribbons, bows, and gift tags to make it worth the price.
- Holiday decorating service
Some people may have trouble getting their house decked out for the holidays, whether they’re elderly or just don’t have the time. Offer a decorating service where people can sign up to have a professional hang up their lights and decorate their homes for a fee.
- Art show
You don’t need to travel to a popular museum to check out high-quality art — there may be artists in your hometown. Hold a call for entries and display the art in an accessible location where people can come together and take in the local culture.
- Battle of the bands
How many people related to your nonprofit play an instrument? There may be more than you know. Introduce them to each other, and set up a “battle of the bands” competition. Once you have enough bands registered via JotForm’s handy application, hold an event and charge an entrance fee. Let the audience vote on the winning band, which will receive a prize.
- Open mic night
Warm up those vocal cords and hold an open mic event. Gather 10 pitch-perfect competitors and find a stage space. Try asking around for sound system equipment at local coffee shops that have previously held live events, as they will be best equipped with mics and speakers.
- Upcycled fashion show
It’s amazing what ideas people can come up with when given a pile of junk. Use old scraps of fabric paired with a bin of recyclables to come up with runway-ready upcycled fashion. At the end of the competition, hold a fashion show event, and sell tickets to the public via JotForm’s ticket-buying form.
For those who aren’t afraid to laugh at themselves, hold a caricature night. Find a couple of caricature artists in your area and charge attendees a fee for each drawing. Couples and family drawings will cost extra, but people love caricatures as goofy souvenirs. To make it even more enjoyable, set up other artistic activities like Pictionary games and drawing tables for the kids.
- LEGO building competition
Feel like a kid again with a LEGO competition. Get competitors to register for a spot via JotForm’s signup form. Set up long tables with buckets of LEGOs so attendees can build anything from their wildest imagination. Create categories for ships, buildings, objects, and more.
- Paint and sip
If you haven’t been to a paint and sip event, there’s no better time than a fundraiser. Put out a call for a local artist willing to lead the event, and charge a fee for a night of artistic indulgence. Each attendee gets a canvas, shared paint and paintbrushes, and a glass of wine. Cheers!
- Standup comedy
Know any friends that crack you up on the regular? Ask them to take part in your nonprofit’s standup comedy show. People love a night of good comedy, and all you need is a good event space and a JotForm event signup form.
- Improv show
For those less professional about their comedy, an improv show is a great way to get people out of their comfort zones. Sign up teams of four to take the stage and have a host give them prompts. At the end, let the audience decide on the winning team.
- Put on a play
Not everyone’s an actor, but when the night is to support your nonprofit, you don’t need professionals. Collect audition forms from anyone interested, and hold rehearsals weekly for a month so it’s not too much of a commitment, or allow actors to use their scripts on stage! With proper costumes and a great script, the event will surely bring in some donations.
- Karaoke night
The great thing about karaoke is nobody cares when you’re out of tune. Often the less professional the singers, the more entertaining the night. Rent some karaoke machines or just find some songs on YouTube for an easy and fun way to get people together and raise some money for your nonprofit.
- Film festival
Sure, you can go all the way to Cannes to see high-quality films, but if you’re looking to collect money for your nonprofit, hold a local film fest in your town. Many local filmmakers would love to see their work on the big screen. Rent out a local indie theater and sell tickets for a fun-filled movie night.
Sports and wellness
A marathon is a great way to get sponsorships to support your nonprofit. Order T-shirts from a cheap online retailer and include them in the registration fee for the run.
If you’re feeling even more ambitious, make the marathon a triathlon. Participants will compete in a running, swimming, and biking event to support your nonprofit. It’s no easy feat, so get the best athletes in town to register. Don’t forget to recruit businesses to sponsor your event.
Dance till you drop at a dance-a-thon event. Hold an event where the last dancer (or couple) standing wins a cash prize. Come up with a theme for the music or the whole event for an even more unique fundraising event for your nonprofit.
- Get healthy event
Hold an event focused on health and wellness for people in your neighborhood at a local park. This can include an exercise class, healthy cooking demonstrations, smoothie samples, and speakers on the subject of healthy eating or exercise.
- Field day
A field day isn’t just for kids — get adults to take part in a field day fundraiser for your nonprofit. Come up with various activities like a sack race, egg toss, obstacle course, or even a three-legged race if your attendees are feeling extra coordinated.
- Bowling tournament
Even less-experienced bowlers will love a night at the bowling alley for a friendly competition. Split the participants into beginners and more advanced bowlers to make the tournament fair. Charge a fee for a night of bowling, and give the winning team a bowling trophy that you can easily have made at a local trophy shop.
- Yoga night
Yoga is a great way to unwind after a hectic day. Try holding a yoga night at a local studio on a weeknight or a Sunday before the start of the work week. Make sure to mention that it’s a beginner’s class to get participants who may be new to yoga. Use one of JotForm’s class registration forms to gather your yogis. Namaste!
- Beach volleyball tournament
If your nonprofit is blessed to be by a beach, take advantage of your location with a volleyball tournament. Pick a bright, sunny day to take to the sand and play tournament-style beach volleyball. Teams can sign up via JotForm’s tournament registration form.
Fitness wearables are wildly popular nowadays, and most people can even track their steps via their smartphones. Use an app like Fitbit to set up teams of steppers. The team that has the most steps at the end of the competition wins a portion of the cash raised.
- Kickball tournament
Kickball isn’t just for gym class; it’s a fun and easy sport that people love to play with a team of friends or coworkers. Have employees at your nonprofit and their families sign up for a tournament where the winning team gets a trophy (and office bragging rights).
- Free-throw competition
Free throw like the pros at a local park with a basketball hoop. Have employees of your nonprofit raise donations via JotForm’s nonprofit donation form, and then let the competition begin. The competitor with the greatest number of free throws gets a trophy.
- Hula hoop contest
Hula hoops aren’t just for kids — adults will have a blast at your company’s hula hoop-a-thon. Get some confident hula hoopers to pay an entry fee to compete. The last lucky contestant still hooping at the end will win a portion of the proceeds.
- Employee T-ball game
If softball seems too ambitious, try a T-ball game for an employee-based fundraiser. Allow employees to sign up their children to teams as well for a full day of family fun and profits for your business.
- Roller disco
Head to the roller rink and lace up your skates for a fundraising roller disco. Rent the rink for a few hours, and charge an entrance fee to raise money for your nonprofit. Don’t forget the tunes.
- Zumba class
Zumba is the perfect combination of dance and cardio, and many people would love the chance to take a class on a weeknight after work. Have participants register for the event online and get an energetic volunteer to host the class.
- Trivia night
Movies, music, and history — all perfect topics to test your trivia chops. Collect participants for your nonprofit’s fundraiser trivia night using one of JotForm’s signup forms, and create teams of four to compete at a local bar. The winners will get a free round of drinks.
- Speaking event
Do you have someone in mind who could speak about a major issue related to your nonprofit? Ask them to present in TED talk style and have attendees register to be in the audience via JotForm’s event registration form.
- Sleepover at the museum
Check with local museums to see if they’d be willing to rent out their space for an overnight event. Kids love a slumber party, and dinosaurs, a planetarium, or other fun exhibits make it even more enticing. Just charge an event fee and wrangle up some volunteers with JotForm’s volunteer registration form for a fun and educational night.
- Themed parties
The great thing about themed parties is there are a million ways to celebrate. You can choose from a fun decade like the roaring 20s or the swinging 50s, a movie theme like Grease or Harry Potter, or base it on the foods you want to eat. Whatever you choose, people will enjoy a night out at a fun venue or even at your office.
- Board game night
Chutes and Ladders, Monopoly, and even checkers can create a fun-filled evening. Hold a game night where participants can gather their friends and buy drinks and snacks to benefit your nonprofit.
Bingo is the most popular activity in retirement homes for a reason. People love the thrill of hearing their winning number called. Charge an event fee to attend, and hold several rounds of Bingo with increasingly impressive prizes.
- Car wash
A car wash is never a bad idea when it comes to fundraising — unless of course it’s raining out. Gather volunteers and grab your buckets for a donation-based car wash event. Don’t forget the sunscreen.
- Fancy hat gala
Take a page out of the British Royal Family’s book and hold a fancy hat gala. If you make it a black tie affair, rent out a classy venue and charge for tickets that include drinks and hors d’oeuvres.
- Dog baths
In the same vein as holding a car wash, set up a dog washing service. You’ll need some doggy shampoo and large storage bins that can be filled with water to hold different sized pups. Gather some animal-loving volunteers or work with a local groomer to hire some professional dog washers.
- Movie in the park
A movie in the park can be a great way to close out the summer season. Local parks are often open to holding movie nights with projector screens, and they usually take little effort. Just secure an open space for people to lay their blankets down and enjoy a night under the stars.
- Fortune teller
I foresee your nonprofit taking in lots of extra cash if you hold a fortune telling event. People love the mystery of a crystal ball, and whether they actually believe in it or not, it can be fun to imagine what your future might hold. In addition to a fortune teller, you can have a tarot card reader, a psychic, a magician, and more.
- Park or beach cleanup
A public space cleanup can benefit both the environment and your nonprofit. Ask donors to help clean up a popular park or beach in your city. You can ask for volunteers from your company to sign up via a JotForm volunteer registration form. Make sure to provide the cleanup supplies and bottles of water.
- Scavenger hunt
A scavenger hunt can be a fun way to see a different side of your city. Put together clues to find lesser-known landmarks and require participants to take photos when they find them. Set a popular bar or restaurant as the meeting point. The first team to find all the landmarks will win a round of drinks.
- Petting zoo
Check with local farms to see if they’d be willing to let you hold a baby animal event on their property. You can charge an entry fee or make the event free to the public. Ask for donations on food items, or charge for one-on-one time with the animals or a goat yoga class.
- Dog show
Every dog owner is proud of their pup and would love to have them strut their stuff in a neighborhood dog show. Gather participants via JotForm’s registration form and set up a few obstacles for the dogs at a public park.
- Speed dating
Even though online dating has become the norm in recent years, there’s something exciting about an in-person speed dating event. Put a call-out on social media for local singles who would be interested in meeting potential dates at a venue space you can rent out. Charge an entry fee and let the matchmaking begin.
- Silent rave
If you’ve ever watched a silent rave, you’ve probably been dying to jump in. There’s something so cool about a group of dancers moving to no audible music. Hold the rave in a public space to make it even less expensive, and remind people to bring their own headphones.
- Casino night
Try your luck with a casino night to raise money for your nonprofit. Rent out a large event space where you can set up tables to hold various card games like poker or blackjack, and rent a roulette wheel to make it extra authentic. Recruit volunteers from your nonprofit to act as croupiers (dealers), and offer snacks and drinks to the patrons of your casino.
- Game show night
Is there an employee at your nonprofit who just oozes charisma? Sign him or her up to be the host of a game show night. You can follow the rules of classic shows like Jeopardy or Wheel of Fortune, or come up with your own game. Register audience members via an online form.
- Cookbook sale
Who doesn’t love a good cookbook? To cut costs, make a digital version that you can share via email. All recipes can be submitted by restaurants in the community or employees of your company.
- Valentine’s Day candygrams
For those looking to do something a little different for their special someone, start a signup for candygrams a few weeks before Valentine’s Day. Make sure to check out JotForm’s simple online order forms when you’re ready to take your orders for sweet treats.
- Earth Day tree sale
April 22 is Earth Day, and most people would love to do something to make our planet a better place. Sell saplings or plants and flowers of different varieties and, for an extra fee, offer assistance with planting.
- Book sale
Can you ever have enough books? Take donations of old books and sell them at a warehouse event for a small amount, like a dollar each. It’s a cheap way to make some money for your nonprofit, and everyone can benefit from a good book.
- Holiday wreath sale
For some, it isn’t the holidays until you hang a festive wreath on your door. After Thanksgiving, start selling wreaths either using an online order form via JotForm or set up a table at a local marketplace.
No event needed
- Silent auction
The silent auction is a classic fundraising technique for a reason — people love the thrill of bidding, especially when there are valuable prizes like a trip, appliance, or piece of furniture. For an even easier option, hold a virtual silent auction using JotForm’s silent auction bidding form.
- Coin drive
Most people have a jar of coins somewhere in their home, and chances are they won’t get around to rolling them all. Instead, ask for donations via a coin drive. People can bring their jars of coins to a location and receive a thank-you coupon to a local business in return.
- Shoe drive
Small children are constantly outgrowing their shoes. Put them to good use with a shoe drive. Ask families in your neighborhood to bring their gently worn shoes to your nonprofit, and Funds2Orgs will help you turn the donations into cash.
- 50/50 raffle
A basic 50/50 raffle is an easy way to bring in money for your nonprofit. You can have donors sign up online if you’re not holding an event or add a raffle to any one of the events mentioned above. Fifty percent of the proceeds go to your nonprofit, and the other 50 percent goes to the winner. Use one of JotForm’s raffle ticket forms for a free number generator!
Try a crowdfunding site like Indiegogo or Kickstarter to raise money via multiple donors, anywhere in the world. Crowdfunding sites also offer the ability to give your supporters perks as a bonus incentive for people to open their wallets in the name of your nonprofit.
- Social media challenge
Not everything that goes viral on social media makes perfect sense, but it can be a great way to build cash and notoriety for your nonprofit. Come up with a quest that’s fun and challenging, and send it around via social media. Start the challenge on your company’s main Facebook account, and then get your employees’ help sharing with friends. Encourage each participant to complete the challenge, donate, or both!
- Email campaign
Craft an eye-catching subject line and story, and collect donations via an email campaign. JotForm offers a donation template for nonprofits that allows your donors to contribute directly from an easy-to-use form.
- Text to give
If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to raise some money for your nonprofit, try a text-to-give app. Some of the top text-to-give services include Snowball, which is a popular fundraising tool for churches; OneCause, a good option for event fundraising; and Qgiv, which allows donors to add their contribution to their cell phone bill.
- Lawn care service
When summer comes, most people would rather be sitting poolside with a drink instead of mowing their lawn. Offer lawn care services like mowing, weeding, or hedge trimming with the proceeds going straight to your nonprofit.
- Pool cleaning
Those people sitting poolside probably don’t want to struggle with pulling out the skimmer to clean their pools either! Grab some volunteers to offer a pool-cleaning service in your neighborhood. You may be successful going door to door and taking donations for a quick pool skim.
- T-shirt sales
Funky T-shirts are a great way to raise money for your nonprofit, and if people love wearing your shirts, you’ll have a nonstop promo! Make sure to get a memorable design or super comfy fabric to make sure they don’t get tossed into the donation bin. Check out JotForm’s various T-shirt order forms to make the process quick and easy for your nonprofit.
- Can and bottle drive
After holidays like the Fourth of July or New Year’s Eve, many people have bags of cans and bottles to get rid of. Instead of recycling, ask people to donate their cans and bottles to your nonprofit. The deposits really add up.
- Advertise on social media
There is no doubting the power of social media advertising. In 2020, people worldwide spent, on average, 144 minutes per day on social media sites. Buying ads on Facebook or using hashtags on your company’s Instagram account could bring in new donors to your cause.
- Gift basket raffle
A gift basket chock full of goodies can appeal to a wide group of people. Try a raffle with various gift basket prizes catered to foodies, bookworms, golf enthusiasts, or even children. Try JotForm’s nonprofit donation form to gather your contributions and pick winners at random for each prize.
- Phone banking
It may be a bit retro, but phone banking to politely ask for contributions to your nonprofit often raises a good amount of money. Offer donor gifts that increase in value the greater the donation amount, and make sure to keep the conversations about your nonprofit friendly and informative. Even if people don’t donate, it’s a great way to get the word out about your company.
- Google ad grant
Google offers $10,000 a month in free ads to nonprofits. Use it to promote your fundraising events or just to get the word out about your business and ask for donations.
- Community coupon book
Reach out to businesses in your community that would be willing to donate free or discounted services to create a valuable book of discounts. Some examples include spas and salons, restaurants, lawn care services, and entertainment businesses like mini golf or movie theaters. Charge a fixed amount for the books to raise money and give people a great book of deals.
- Golden ticket
You don’t have to offer a chocolate factory tour, but a golden ticket fundraiser is a fun way to earn some money for your business. Sell candy bars with one lucky golden ticket inside. Chocolate is good on its own, but with a large prize at stake, your proceeds will be even sweeter.
- Private movie screening raffle
What’s better than a night at the movies? A night at the movies with just you and your friends! Work with a local independent movie theater to rent the theater for a night. Take donations to be entered into the raffle online.
- Behind-the-scenes tour
Is there a business in your town that could give a very entertaining peek behind the curtain? Try reaching out to their PR contact (you can usually find this via their website or a LinkedIn search), and choose one random donor to your cause to be the lucky recipient.
Games, rides, and funnel cakes make up the perfect late summer fundraiser. Hold a carnival-themed celebration and keep the proceeds from tickets, food, and activities for your nonprofit.