Over the course of the pandemic, more people than ever relied on nonprofit organisations and community resources – even at times when it was hard for those nonprofits to fundraise as usual. In order to keep the doors open and continue their mission, many organisations innovated by hosting nonprofit events, hybrid fundraisers, and more.
Now, as creators begin to return to in-person events and the holiday season approaches, many new nonprofit organisers are relying on hybrid events as a unique opportunity to reach a much larger audience than a typical in-person event. Whether you’re event planning for a nonprofit organisation for the first time or shifting your focus to hybrid events, Eventbrite can help you put on quality events to raise money and build community during the holidays.
Take a look at our list of 30 examples of fundraising events for nonprofits if you need some fresh ideas for upcoming fundraising events.
Why are fundraising events important during the holidays?
Fundraising is a crucial aspect of the work that nonprofit organisations do all year long, but it’s especially critical during the holiday season when many people in need of aid are feeling increased financial and emotional pressure. The holiday season also prompts many people to reflect on the privileges they have and their capacity to give back to others who may not be as fortunate. This combination of increased need and increased generosity make the holiday season a great time for special events for nonprofit organisations, when people are giving of their time or resources.
Even if you don’t work for a nonprofit or charity organisation, planning holiday events that incorporate a fundraising drive or donation aspect is a great way to support your community and give back. Choose an organisation that works for a cause that reflects the values of your particular event or organisation, and consider reaching out to local organisations so you’re helping people right at home.
Ideas for fundraising and nonprofit events in 2021
There are lots of ways to raise money for your organisation, but it’s important to tailor your event to both your organisation’s aim and the holiday season. In case you’re tired of running the same kind of fundraiser every year, but aren’t sure what other kinds of events to look into, we’ve pulled together 30 examples of imaginative fundraising events to help get your creative juices flowing.
1. Charity baking events
There’s a reason bake sales never go out of style: people love sweet treats, especially during the holiday season. Organise local nonprofit events where community members bring their best baked goods to be sold to raise money for charity. If you’re looking to spice up the event, try holding your very own “Bake Off” where local bakers compete for a prize. Have treats evaluated by a judging panel or voted on by attendees. The winner will get the title of Best Baker, attendees will get some goodies, and you’ll raise money for charity.
2. Gifting charity drive
No matter where you live, there are sure to be people in your community who are struggling during the holiday season. One way to give back is to organise a gift drive where you collect particular items to give to families in need. Work with local organisations to see what the people they work with need the most, whether it’s toys for children, clothes, or food. In addition to a general drive to collect items, you may also look for volunteers to help wrap the items or arrange them in a gift basket so they are ready for gifting.
3. Christmas fashion show
Work with local boutiques and fashion designers to organise a holiday fashion show for your community. Have participating shops or designers put together ensembles that attendees might be interested in wearing during the holiday season, and showcase styles that guests can purchase. Consider allowing your participants to sell some of their items from booths after the show or share their business information to attendees, so they can generate new business from the event while still supporting a charitable cause.
4. Craft fair
Craft fairs tend to pop up during the holidays for good reason. Shopping events in general are great nonprofit Christmas fundraising ideas because they support local artists, craftspeople, and businesses and give shoppers a chance to hunt for unique holiday gifts. Raise money by requiring a booth fee for vendors and either selling tickets to shoppers or providing food and drink for purchase at the event. Another way to raise money, and to keep things fun, is to have raffles or prizes that guests can buy tickets to potentially win. Have a set time to pull the winning tickets so your shoppers know to stick around.
5. Food market
A holiday food market can be hosted in much the same way as a craft fair, by charging booth fees to vendors and having attendees buy tickets to the event. Consider inviting other local vendors to participate as well, so your attendees can do some shopping while waiting in line for food, or after they’ve had their fill. Consider having local performers during your market as well for entertainment. One way to raise funds if your tickets are free is to sell beverages to your attendees, which not all food vendors worry about providing. Check IDs if you’re selling alcohol and consider using a wristband system to determine which attendees are of age.
6. Festive treasure hunt
Scavenger hunts are easily adapted to different themes and can make for a kid-friendly, parent-approved event. Treasure hunts aren’t only for kids though, just as long as you tailor your clues and prizes to your audience. Scavenger hunts are great if you’re working with a large event space, particularly if your event is outdoors, so your teams of attendees have room to rush around looking for their next clues. Come up with a holiday theme or mystery to centre your hunt around. When everyone needs a break, provide a spread of holiday snacks and beverages to give your treasure hunters a second wind.
7. Christmas sweater party
Looking for quick and easy fundraising event ideas that you can throw together at the last minute? Throw a Christmas sweater party! Encourage attendees to get creative, either decorating or searching out the most eye-catching, or just plain crazy holiday sweaters. Organise awards for the best sweaters chosen by a panel of judges or voted for by all of your attendees. Consider having a fashion show before the judging or voting commences so everyone can see all of the sweaters that have arrived, and attendees can have some fun strutting their stuff.
8. Christmas musical
If you have an organization full of people who love to entertain, tap into that and organise a Christmas musical. Whether you perform your own take on A Christmas Carol or simply have your secretly talented colleagues perform a holiday cabaret, a performance is a fun way to sell tickets and let your creativity shine through. If you and your colleagues aren’t musically talented, consider a comedic performance, or sing anyway if you think your friends and family would buy tickets to see you try!
9. Fun run
A community fun run or 5k race is the kind of event that can be adapted to many different themes, and the holiday season is no exception. Plan a Santa run where all of your participants are encouraged to dress up as the jolly figure, or allow your attendees to dress according to the holiday traditions of their choice. Develop a great t-shirt to give participants on the day, covered by their entry fee. The rest of your proceeds should go to overhead costs and the charity or organisation of your choice. Consider partnering with local restaurants or convenience stores to provide complimentary snacks and water to the runners once they finish the race.
10. Sports tournament
Is your community sports-obsessed and competitive? Consider a charity sports tournament, where local residents form their own teams and collect donations from their family and friends. Teams can pay a flat fee to participate or have a fundraising goal that they need to reach. Partner with local businesses to come up with a prize for the winning team or teams. Choose something everyone will love, whether it’s a free dinner from a local restaurant, gift cards for local businesses, or a selection of donated prizes.
11. Pop-up dinner
Does your community have a locally famous chef or an exclusive restaurant where it’s impossible to get a table? Work with the restaurant or chef to organise a pop-up dinner for charity, where attendees buy tickets to a unique experience. Find an event space that will hold the number of people you want to serve, such as a barn or a recreational centre, and allow the chef to create a memorable experience that you wouldn’t have at their regular restaurants. These kinds of tasting menus are coveted by foodies and allow your attendees to experience a range of flavours.
12. Christmas karaoke
If you and your guests are prone to bursting into holiday sing-alongs, why not just hold a Christmas karaoke event? Depending on your budget and your local resources, you can choose to reserve a private room at a local karaoke bar, rent or borrow a karaoke machine, or hire a karaoke DJ to work your event. For fundraising purposes, set a cover charge or have each song request cost a small amount like $1 to raise money for your chosen charity. Consider encouraging attendees to sing in the style of their favourite artists or award prizes to the best, or most entertaining, performers.
13. Polar plunge
Not for the faint of heart, a polar plunge event is a fun way to raise money during the holiday season. Participants in the plunge seek donations from friends and family in the lead-up to the event, which is then donated to the Special Olympics. On the day of the event, participants take a dunk in a local body of water. Provide warm drinks to your brave participants afterwards and remind them that their donations are going to an organization that supports programs for individuals with intellectual disabilities in your community.
14. Holiday gala
Galas are one of the more common fundraising event ideas for nonprofits during the holiday season and are typically organised with the intention of raising large amounts of money for a nonprofit organisation. Attendees will often pay premium prices for their tickets to these events, and there are further opportunities to shop or bid on auction items at the event to raise even more money. The items or experiences sold and auctioned off at galas are donated by local vendors or public figures. It’s also important to invite attendees who are willing and able to spend the kind of money you’re hoping to raise, so organising a gala will require a large amount of coordination and planning. When executed well, galas are fabulous events that can raise tremendous sums for charity.
15. Candle or wreath-making workshop
Who doesn’t love a great holiday craft? Get your attendees into the spirit with hands-on candle or wreath-making workshops that could make for easy virtual fundraising events. If you plan to have virtual attendees, think about whether you want to send them the materials for the craft prior to the event, or provide a list of items they need to get on their own. This type of event is great for families or for attendees who prefer to hand-make the holiday gifts they give. Your attendees will receive the satisfaction of having made something themselves and of supporting the charity that their ticket cost is donated to.
16. Community potluck
One of the best ways to learn about your neighbours, and to steal their best family recipes, is to have a community potluck. Potlucks are typically free events, but they support the community by providing a wholesome, hot meal to families in your area who may be struggling. Families are encouraged to bring a dish to share with the group, prompting socialising and connection between people who may not have otherwise run into one another. Consider asking your attendees to bring a family favorite recipe and a copy of the recipe to share with the group – as long as it’s not an old family secret!
17. Holiday lights tour of the local community
No matter how old you are, there’s always something magical about seeing houses decorated with lights during the holiday season. Embrace different kinds of fundraising events and set up a tour of your local community. Allow attendees to drive or walk past the local light show for a reasonable fee that goes to charity. Consider turning the show into a competition, encouraging residents to come up with the best lighting design, or having everyone work according to a particular theme. If you’re doing a walking tour, have a guide, or the homeowners themselves, talk about their lighting designs, hand out a guide for attendees in their cars, or put together a simple website that can be accessed via smartphone.
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18. Virtual music event
Bring together local musical artists to put on a charity concert for the holidays. The Breakthrough Show Network is hosting A Musical Evening of Giving, to raise money for Overcoming Odds and The Weiss Scholarship Foundation. They are offering different tiers of tickets, with all ticket holders receiving a virtual swag pack and VIP ticket holders receiving swag bags of merch. This event is being held virtually, but a concert is a great candidate for a hybrid event where people are able to attend both in-person and online.
19. Online holiday marketplace
Chic Events DC hosts a variety of online virtual markets for the holidays, including an upcoming Thanksgiving Virtual Holiday Market and a Fine Art, Jewelry, and Photography Virtual Holiday Christmas Show. Virtual marketplaces are a great way to support local businesses if you are working without a venue or just trying to navigate safety concerns related to COVID-19. With a good marketing plan, you can draw in attendees beyond your community and raise more money for charity and introduce new customers to your vendors.
20. Holiday book event
Give attendees the opportunity to hear from their favourite authors and get expert advice on the best new books to read or gift during the holidays with a charity book event. Random House is hosting their 2021 Holiday House event on Zoom. The lineup includes a fiction panel of four authors, a holiday entertaining and cooking panel with cookbook authors, and book recommendations from Penguin Random House CEO Madeline McIntosh. When hosting a virtual event like this, consider sending the recorded event to attendees afterwards so they can re-watch, like Random House plans to do.
21. Cooking class
Teach attendees to cook fabulous holiday dinners with an online or in-person cooking class. Milk Street Live Online Cooking School is hosting a cooking event called Elegant Holiday Vegetables, during which attendees will learn how to cook two recipes from their latest cookbook. Interpret this idea for your charity event by teaching attendees how to cook holiday favourites so they can wow their guests at any upcoming parties they’re hosting. If you’re hosting a virtual class, make sure to send your attendees a list of the equipment and ingredients they will need beforehand.
22. Holiday wine, beer, or liquor tasting
Partner with local wineries, distilleries, breweries, or all three for a holiday tasting event. Attendees can learn about and try beverages that they might want to serve at their next event or purchase as gifts. Consider incorporating raffles or prize giveaways that attendees can buy tickets for during the event. Encourage your vendors to have stock of their products to sell and ask them if they would feel comfortable donating a portion of their profits to your chosen charity.
23. Charity beauty event
Work with local salons and cosmetologists to create a beauty-centric event that provides attendees with skincare, makeup, or hair care consultations so they can look and feel their best during the holidays. Have speakers demonstrate how to recreate trending makeup looks or hairstyles, or discuss the types of skincare products that help to target particular concerns. Organise prize giveaways of products that attendees can buy tickets for. Consider creating different tiers of tickets that allow attendees to choose how in-depth their consultations are or allow them to purchase tickets for different types of consultations.
24. Job fair or networking event
The holidays can be a difficult time for many, especially those who have lost their jobs or are struggling to find work. Organise a job fair with local businesses who are hiring, or put together a networking event where local professionals mingle with job seekers to make connections and offer advice. Give attendees the opportunity to work with resume writers to polish their CVs so they can put their best foot forward when applying for jobs. Consider incorporating mock interviews where job seekers can practise their skills and gain confidence.
25. Charity bingo
Host a light-hearted bingo event to raise funds, either in-person or online. If your event is virtual, you’ll want to give attendees the opportunity to purchase their bingo boards when they purchase the tickets and then ship them right to their door so they have them on the day of the event. Give your bingo event a holiday theme and encourage your attendees to dress up or wear holiday sweaters to get into the spirit. Have holiday-themed prizes for your bingo players to win, too.
26. Historic holiday tours
If your town or city has historic buildings or areas that it’s known for, offer holiday tours where the proceeds from ticket sales go toward a charity, or perhaps toward the care and keeping of the historic sites. Many historic mansions decorate for the holidays, and often they have a theme or they keep to the décor that you might have seen during the time period when the structure was first built. Have tour guides teach your visitors about the history of the site while adding in holiday facts and information.
27. Holidays around the world
Teach children and adults about all of the different winter holidays that are celebrated around the world with an in-person or virtual event similar to the one USA Girl Scouts Overseas has organised for December. The event involves learning about different holiday traditions and making a craft. Attendees are encouraged to make a suggested donation that supports USA Girl Scouts Overseas and you can use this system when creating your own event. This type of event could be great in communities where children don’t often interact with people from other cultures.
28. Holiday-themed workout class
Raise money for charity by raising people’s heart rates. Organise a holiday-themed workout class, where attendees will sweat to holiday music and get into the spirit while keeping fit. Online workout classes are great virtual fundraising event ideas, and you can have multiple time slots to allow lots of people with different schedules to attend. Encourage your fitness enthusiasts to dress in holiday-themed workout wear or festive colours. Ask your instructors to have fun with the workout routine to inject some light-heartedness into everyone’s exercise for the day.
29. Holiday happy hour or mixology event
Host a happy hour event where attendees learn to make, and then get to drink, holiday-themed cocktails that they can recreate for their friends and family. This is a great idea for a singles event that will encourage people to connect with others during the holidays, all while learning something fun. Have a mouth-watering spread of food and encourage your guests to mix and mingle with an added dash of holiday cheer.
30. Trivia tournament
Test attendees’ knowledge with a holiday-themed trivia tournament, with attendees forming teams and coming up with a festive name for their team. Encourage groups to coordinate their outfits and dress for a seasonal theme, and put together questions that explore topics like historical holiday facts, holiday movies, and holiday music. You can also serve themed drinks and food and give out silly holiday prizes to the winning team. If teams end up tied at the end of the game, make sure you have some questions in reserve for a tie-breaker to increase the competition.
Plan charity fundraising events with Eventbrite
If you’re not sure how to get donations for nonprofit events, or how to make a successful fundraising event, Eventbrite makes it easy with donation ticket types. Unsure how to promote a nonprofit event? You can expand your reach and your audience with Eventbrite Boost.
If you’re ready to start selling tickets to your unique fundraising events, get started with Eventbrite today.