Lets face it, we have all heard about golf tournaments, galas, as well as sporting events, such as walking and running to raise funds for a cause. While millions of people participate in these types of non-profit fundraisers every year, it certainly would be nice to offer up some variety in terms of activities. We did a little research and uncovered some rather creative non-profit fundraising ideas.
A report that came out of the U.K a few years ago showed that over 90 percent of fundraising event participants would consider supporting the same charity over again. If this is true, then investing some time in coming up with a good event concept is well worth it.
If you have a long-standing event that runs smoothly and either reaches or exceeds your goals every year then of course you should stick with it. Why mess with a good thing right? If you are looking for a different approach or you haven’t yet launched any events then here are some inventive concepts:
1. Culinary Competitions
Food competitions on television get wide audiences so some non-profits have adopted the concept for fundraising events. Our Place Society in Victoria, British Columbia recently held a fundraiser that involved a food competition. Guests were encouraged to vote on their favourite dish out of various culinary delights prepared by five talented local chefs. The event raised $145,000 dollars for Our Place Society, which focuses on supporting vulnerable citizens through health, education, and housing services. Speaking of food, perhaps you have heard about individuals raising funds for lifesaving operations by running a breakfast in bed or dinner date initiative. This can be adapted for non-profits. The idea is that you get local restaurants and food suppliers to donate food items and then you have a team of volunteers deliver them to people who have pre -ordered. Payment from meal deliveries like this can go straight to your non-profit.
2. Sensory Experience
This creative approach can be adapted for various non-profits but essentially it means that participants are asked to rely on one or more of their senses (Sight, Sound, Smell, Taste, and Touch) while engaged in an activity. It can be challenging, interactive and raise a significant amount of funds. One simple example is the Canadian Institute for the blind (CNIB). Over the last several years the CNIB has staged fundraising dinners in various parts of the country, but guests are blindfolded to gain a better understanding of what it is like to live without sight. It’s called “Dining in the Dark” and often includes, a sensory auction. Events that can stimulate the senses make a non-profit stand out from competitors.
Not all fundraisers have to be completely interactive. Some non-profits have been able to raise much-needed funds by hosting an evening with an interesting speaker and simply charging a seat fee. While they are not a non-profit organization, you can borrow the concept that the Mitchell Ontario Ringette organization came up with recently. The group decided to host an evening with a world-renowned spiritual medium. People began buying up tickets for this event as soon as word went out about the speaker.
4. Garden/Home Tours
You have likely heard of garden or home tours. Many community horticultural groups put on garden tours in the summer so why not approach people who have outstanding gardens and ask them to open their properties up for a fundraiser? You can charge a small entrance fee with proceeds going to your non-profit. This can be the kind of event that gains momentum every year as the word starts to spread about the tour.
5. Garage Sale
Most people like a good deal and if they can contribute to a good cause at the same time it is a bonus. Some organizations have a general garage sale to raise funds while others take the idea a step further and have a theme garage sale. For example, they might only sell pieces of hand made art.
The Morinville Alberta, HATS (Hands Across the Sea) stage a huge Grandmother’s Garage Sale twice a year. The seniors raise funds for grandmothers in Africa through the Stephen Lewis Foundation. Sometimes, they stage a luncheon along with the sale.
Capitalizing on what is popular, like the culinary ideas mentioned above, can be a great draw and a lot of fun to organize. There is no reason why non-profits can’t develop fundraising ideas around shows like ‘Dancing with the Stars’, ‘Amazing Race’, ‘American Idol’ or ‘America’s Next Top Model’. Think about the premise of shows like this and how you might be able to tweak the idea to capture an audience for your next fundraising initiative.