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Fall Fundraising Ideas For Nonprofits In 2021

Author: WildApricot
October 22, 2021
🕑 8 min read

This is a guest blog post by Vish Vass, Senior Vice President and Managing Director at GiveCentral.

Fall is here! Changing leaves and cooler weather means it’s time to prepare for the thick of fall fundraising. For many, this is the time to gather family for a pumpkin carving event—a time to make merry and create memories. For nonprofits, it’s time to gather your donors for fall fundraising events and campaigns, online and in-person alike.

When it comes to hosting a successful fundraising event, preparation is key. There are a lot of factors at play. You might be choosing the right fundraising idea your nonprofit can experiment with, or figuring out the logistics for an event—especially taking into account your area’s COVID-19 restrictions.

As your organization gears up for the tail end of the year, we’ve put together a fall fundraising for nonprofits guide to help you smoothly navigate the season. We’ll cover:

  • Peer-to-peer fundraising
  • Family-oriented events
  • Silent auctions
  • Creative showcases
  • Seasonal events
  • Corporate sponsorships
  • Classes

Peer-to-Peer Fall Fundraising Ideas

Donors are more likely to give when they know the person who’s asking.

A peer-to-peer fundraising strategy lets your supporters raise funds on your behalf. Their networks become your network: friends, family members, and neighbours alike. It’s all about building on pre-existing relationships. Plus: the people who are already supporting you are more likely to know people who want to support you.

But how do you get started? Here are some ideas:

  • Virtual House Parties – In this virtual fundraiser, bring your audience together for a “house party”, hosted by your peer-to-peer volunteers. Encourage one of your biggest supporters to invite their friends to participate in activities that make sense with your nonprofit. If you’re a dog rescue organization, you may put together a “Barkchelor” night where attendees pick their favourite dog to adopt. Or if you’re an ecological nonprofit you may put on a quiz night about park conservation. Close the night with your supporter speaking to guests about your nonprofit. They can share why your organization’s mission is so meaningful to them and different ways their guests can support you. Finally, make sure your supporter shares how to stay connected with your organization.
  • Donate & Dare – In this fun activity, your supporters promise to perform a fun (and safe!) dare if their target fundraising goal is reached. For instance, the donor soliciting support from their friends and family could commit to 150 pushups once they meet their fundraising goal. The video of the challenge can then be posted on social media and shared as a way to build engagement and challenge others to participate.
  • Board Member Support Page – When it comes to peer-to-peer fundraising, your board members are a great untapped source of support. Board members already play a huge role in your organization and their respective personal networks can be quite beneficial for you as well. Reach out to a couple of your most involved board members and ask them to create a support page to share with their network. The page can include their own personal story about why their involvement with your organization is important to them and how their peers can help.

Family-Oriented Events

Your nonprofit’s mission statement could be focused on families and children or your supporters have children of their own. Either way, fundraising events that engage kids as well as adults are a great way to boost your donation efforts this season.

  • Trivia or Game Night – Host a family-friendly evening of fun and games as a way to raise funds. For game nights, pick a theme like a carnival and bring it life with games of chance and skill. Or, if you decide on a trivia night, include questions around your current campaign and the mission of your nonprofit! This event can be easily turned into an online one with the help of a live-streaming platform like a.
  • Volunteer-Driven Service Fundraiser – Rally your supporters to join a volunteer-driven fundraising activity aimed at helping their community. Host a car wash, or encourage volunteers to spend the day mowing neighbors’ lawns or raking and bagging leaves. These services can be offered to your community for a small fee, and the collected money can go towards your organization. Families can roll up their sleeves, spend time together, and help raise much-needed funds to support your mission!
  • Scavenger Hunt – A fun and cost-effective fundraiser idea for families is a scavenger hunt. Charge a reasonable registration fee for participants and ask local businesses to help out. They can provide the prizes for winners and post-hunt refreshments to help you net more.

Silent Auctions

Auctions (whether online or in-person) are a popular way to add an element of excitement when it comes to fundraising for nonprofits. The event is a win-win; both the donors and the nonprofit get to walk away with something. They’re fairly inexpensive, can help diversify nonprofit revenue streams, and can help encourage your community to mobilize for a good cause. Plus, they’re just plain fun! It’s also a type of event that works for all types of organizations and audiences. Whether you choose to have a conventional auction or a silent auction, here are some suggestions on items you can include:

  • Travel – You can auction travel-related items such as train tickets or a hotel stay. Or make it a package! Include luxury items like noise-cancelling headphones, a leather passport case, or a luggage bag!
  • Food Items – We all love food! Ask local restaurants to donate gift certificates for your silent auction. Or auction off seats at a private dinner by a local chef. Your supporters and volunteers could even create and donate a food basket including cooking utensils and homemade desserts.
  • Experience Packages – Think tickets to sporting events, plays and more. Pair tickets with dinner gift certificates so bidders can make an evening of it!

Bank On Creativity

Celebrate the creativity of your community of supporters by hosting a fundraiser that showcases their talents, interests and abilities. Design your talent showcase to feature a wide range of entertaining acts like singing, dance, poetry reading, magic, and more. You can raise funds through event ticket sales and a concession stand. Last but not least, don’t forget to announce and promote the show several weeks in advance to get people excited.

Seasonal Fall Fundraising Ideas

Centering your event around a seasonal theme or holiday is a great way to build a fun fundraiser. Take Halloween! Organizing an in-person or virtual Halloween party complete with costume competition can be a great way to spice up your event!

Depending on the COVID restrictions in your area, you can even host a 5K walk with your supporters in their costumes. You can take inspiration from the Halloween Hustle 5K and Costume Trot organized by The Gulf Coast School for Autism last year (2020). You can also host an online costume competition over social media.

You can also build an event around your favourite fall activities. For example, have a cozy meal cook-off or a back-to-school supply fundraiser. You could even host an autumn dinner that spotlights local vendors, chefs, and bakeries.

Consider Corporate Partnerships

Corporate and nonprofit partnerships can be a powerful way to raise awareness about your organization while accessing financial support. Whether you’ve been approached or are considering approaching a business about a partnership, there are many factors to consider when choosing between donations and corporate sponsorship.

When considering partners, be sure to keep these topline guideposts in mind:

  • Make sure that the corporate organization believes in your mission and cause. Do your brands complement each other?
  • Get to know the employees of the local organization you’re partnering with and invite them to get involved with your event as attendees and volunteers.
  • See if they have a matching gift program for their employees and work with them to promote it and your nonprofit.
  • Be sure to work with the corporate organization to promote the partnership and talk about the campaign and your mission in their communication materials such as emailers, websites and social media channels

Organize Classes

Have you ever thought of organizing a fundraising event where people get to learn something new? Your staff and volunteers already have tons of unique skills. Tap them, and ask them to lead a “Master Class Workshop” as a fundraiser.

Set a reasonable registration price to encourage supporters to join the fun. This type of fundraising event is perfect to host via a livestream. Once the class is over, the participants can post their final product or creation on social media to promote your organization.

Here are some ideas on the type of Master Class workshops you could host:

  • Arts & Craft Classes – You can organize this type of fundraising class and make it all about your mission. For example, if your aim is to help provide more clean water, you can teach how to make beautiful paintings that tell a story about the importance of water conservation.
  • Cooking Classes – Get your supporters to join a cooking class where a volunteer can lead the workshop and teach others how to cook or bake delicious meals and cakes. For an online workshop, send the ingredients to your attendees beforehand so that they can be ready well in advance.

Workshops that share tips and tricks on topics (like gardening or interior design) are great ways to offer something valuable and fun to your audience. They keep your supporters connected to your organization and create greater donor engagement. By sharing what they love on behalf of your organization, your supporters’ relationship with it is more personal.

Bringing Your Fall Fundraising Ideas to Life

The potential of fall fundraising for nonprofits is immense and a great segway into end-of-year fundraising. Gather your team to brainstorm fun fall fundraising ideas you can implement this year. Be sure to leverage helpful giving tools such as online giving and text-to-give to make it easy for your donors to join the fun and help raise funds. Throughout your fundraising, make sure that you communicate with your donors, provide updates and recognize each milestone. Good luck!

Looking for a hub for your fall fundraising? Take advantage of WildApricot’s donation page feature. It streamlines your campaigns and turns your website into a powerful tool for donations, making fundraising easy. Learn more here.

Vish Vass
Vish Vass believes in helping to perfect the act of giving. In the process of helping nonprofits fulfill their mission through the power of GiveCentral, Vish has had immense learning that he loves sharing with fellow professionals. Modernizing nonprofit fundraising with the use of technology is Vish’s core focus, blending with the trend helps in bringing about the necessary growth.

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