6 Unique Nonprofit Fundraising Ideas We’re Sure You Haven’t Tried

Ashley Lipman

Ashley Lipman

Ashley Lipman

6 min. read

Updated October 25, 2023

Whether you’re raising money for your own non-profit organization or another charity, there are several creative ways to host a fundraiser. Instead of holding a regular gala or dinner, think outside the box and come up with something that’ll delight and thrill your guests.

To get you started, we’ve come up with six unique fundraising ideas we’re sure you haven’t tried yet.

1. Themed and custom accessories

Many fundraisers involve selling unique branded clothing items like shirts, jackets, or caps. Why not get creative and sell custom themed accessories instead?

Imagine having a custom Elite Sport Socks Fundraiser, inviting people to buy footwear featuring their favorite team. You can even host a themed event, allowing attendees to dress up in support of whatever game they love.

Alternatively, opt for a wacky and quirky theme. Sell custom scarves, strange ties, or colorful gloves. The sillier, the better.

Turn the entire thing into a dress-up event and give out small prizes to those attendees who end up looking the strangest. The more tie-dye scarves and pizza-printed leg warmers they’re wearing, the better. Not only will people donate a little extra to get more goodies, but they’ll also have a good laugh while doing it.

Remember, fundraisers don’t need to be serious and glamourous galas. There’s nothing wrong with laughing all the way to the donation box.

2. Scavenger hunts

A scavenger hunt is an exciting activity on its own. However, it’s also a great way to raise money for a cause or charity. The cost of setting one up is generally very cheap, and you don’t need to give out expensive prizes to make the game worthwhile.

Make things interesting by setting up a hunt across the city. You can charge teams a small entry fee, with all the profits going towards the chosen cause. That way, participants will be making donations while having a great time.

To liven things up a little, create donation tiers. When someone donates a certain amount, they can choose an outfit for their team or challenge another group to dress in a certain way. There are various ways you can spice up fundraisers this way.

That said, don’t add any tiers that would ruin the fun for everyone. For example, not all donors will be able to give large amounts of funds. Giving out extra clues for high donations takes a lot of fun out of the game. Instead, make the tiers fun and rewarding rather than essentially offering “cheats.”

3. Escape rooms

Escape rooms have become incredibly popular in recent years. After entrepreneur Victor van Doorn started Sherlocked, these puzzle games have spread across the world. There are now 15 of them, and they thrill and delight players with hours of adventurous fun.

Interestingly, van Doorn claims that it’s not all that difficult to create your own escape rooms. All it takes is a love of puzzles and a little out of the box thinking. Having a good story helps, of course, as would a cause.

Have attendees pay a small fee to enjoy an escape room at your fundraiser. You could even have more than one and allow donors to pick and choose which stories and puzzles they’d like to try. 

Not only is it a very creative way to raise funds, but you don’t need to spend a lot of money to create a thrilling experience. Everyday items can be used to set up the puzzles. In fact, you can use anything from a YouTube mystery music playlist to locked USB drives to build a fun narrative.

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4. Video Game Tournament

Video games used to be something you enjoyed now and then, lounging on the floor in front of the living room television. Today, it’s a massive global industry with tournaments, sponsorships, and multi-million dollar prizes.

Gaming is a widespread hobby, and over 2 billion people enjoy playing video games in some form. Holding a tournament could be a fantastic way to raise money for your organization.

Charge an entry fee, and offer a few good prizes for people who place at the top. Various games would be great for an evening like this.

Pit racers against each other in Mario Kart and have the crowd cheer them on. Alternatively, throw everyone into a Fortnite Battle Royale and see who’s the last man or woman standing. Hearthstone is another excellent option, and the learning curve isn’t too steep.

You could even dig up a few older games to make attendees feel nostalgic if you’re catering to an older group.

5. Non-event fundraisers

Some high-profile non-profit organizations have sizable advertising budgets and spend small fortunes on their fundraising events and galas. Instead of organizing a party to raise money for a charity, have a non-event.

When you send out the “invitations,” let people know what they won’t be getting for their money. For example, make a note of how a $30 donation will go directly to your chosen charity rather than towards a gala dinner.

These types of “events” add a refreshing level of transparency and honesty to charity fundraising. Your donors might even be inclined to donate more, knowing that their money won’t be spent frivolously.

6. Remote and virtual fundraisers

Virtual fundraisers are nothing new. Many popular YouTubers have used the platform to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for various charitable organizations. For example, well-known let’s player, Jacksepticeye, raised $659,000 in a single stream for various relief funds as part of the #HopefromHome online event.

A remote virtual fundraiser can be big or small. You can host a simple stream and with a donation link or create an interactive online bash. Either way, the steps are relatively similar to organizing a regular event.

You’ll need to choose a platform, like Zoom or YouTube, find speakers or performers, send out invitations and decide how to accept donations. There are several online software providers to receive payments from which to choose.

Whether you want to host an action, do a presentation, or enjoy a trivia challenge, your options for a remote fundraiser are almost endless.

Final word

Despite common opinion, fundraisers don’t have to be boring, standard, or follow strict rules. There’s nothing wrong with hosting a fun, creative, and out of the box event to raise money for your organization or a charity.

Sell silly customized accessories like socks, gloves, and leg warmers, and tack on an event to make things a little more interesting. Organize a scavenger hunt, or thrill your donors by hosting a series of escape rooms and stories for them to figure out.

Keep in mind that people want to donate to causes and charities, but they also want to feel like their money is being spent responsibly. Skip the event altogether, and show your non-guests how their donations can truly help.

Whether you choose to host a tournament or party, don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Just because they’re donating to a good cause, it doesn’t mean your donors don’t want to have fun while doing it.

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Content Author: Ashley Lipman

Ashley Lipman is an award-winning writer who discovered her passion for providing knowledge to readers worldwide on topics closest to her heart - all things digital. Since her first high school award in Creative Writing, she continues to deliver awesome content through various niches touching the digital sphere.