9 Most Popular A-Thons for Fundraising Success in 2024

Whether you're a seasoned fundraising pro looking to spice things up or a brand new fundraiser hoping to raise more, a-thons can be a wonderful way to do both! In this article, we'll walk you through nine popular and creative a-thon fundraisers to bring in more money for your cause.

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9 Most Popular A-Thons for Fundraising Success in 2024

Do you need help coming up with new and exciting event ideas? Something that will not just help raise money but also get your mission to new people? A-thon fundraisers are an excellent way for nonprofits to encourage more participation in their events and reach a new donor base.

A-thons are packed with peer-to-peer fundraising possibilities which enable them to bring in new donors and even more donations. You can include additional contests and prizes to encourage more participation.

Since many donations from this type of event come from new donors, nonprofits can start and build new donor relationships that will help their long-term success.

What is An A-Thon?

An a-thon fundraiser is an event where supporters participate in an activity like walking, running, bowling, or others, and collect donations based on their participation time or another amount.

There are 3 primary reasons a-thon fundraisers work for any nonprofit.

  • You don’t need a lot of volunteers and these events are easy to create.
  • Supporters from around the world can participate since an a-thon can be an in-person as well as an equally effective virtual event.
  • Participants help raise more money from friends and family through peer-to-peer campaigns.
  • You can get creative and have fun – there are no limits to what you can do.

With an effective and one-stop-shop fundraising platform like Donorbox that lets you run peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns and create event pages to easily sell tickets, it would be even more fun and easier for you to host an a-thon event. Check out this successful peer campaign for a stair-a-thon event created by the Barbarians Group on Donorbox.

stair a thon example donorbox peer to peer

Fundraise for Your A-thon - Sign Up!

We have plenty of such useful examples in the sections below. Read on!

9 Most Popular and Creative A-Thons for Nonprofits

The following list of a-thon fundraisers will give you an idea of the various options available for any size organization.

1. Draw-a-thon

The best thing about holding an a-thon fundraiser is that it can be an in-person, virtual, or hybrid event. A draw-a-thon is an excellent example of how it can be all three.

Draw-a-thon is primarily an all-ages event where participants should draw on walls and floors and participate in workshops led by local artists. With this event, nonprofits can help cultivate innovation and creative thinking in the minds of the youth and the community.

It’s also a fun way to engage adults and kids and have them spend an entertaining day at your nonprofit. For example, Antenna’s 24-hour draw-a-thon lets people come to their facility anytime during the event to participate. People can donate online on the below fundraising page they’ve created to support the event.

draw a thon example

Other draw-a-thons let participants create art online, start their campaign page, and collect funds while developing their masterpieces. This can be a fun way to promote art-based nonprofits or encourage more student participation in your art class.

You can merge the idea of an in-person and online draw-a-thon to create a hybrid experience to target as many people as possible. Invite your participants to raise funds from their friends and families with peer-to-peer fundraising and help you reach more people.

2. Dance-a-thon

Dance-a-thons have had a rebirth in the new millennia. Nonprofits hold today’s dance-a-thons to raise funds for their organization or specific projects.

You can hold this event at your location, rent an open space, or hold it outdoors.

Participants find a partner and dance the whole night. People can attend the event to support their favorite dancers or enjoy the festivities.

You can stream the event for the whole community and your online audience. This will help get more donations online. You should share the link to your online donation page or text-giving details so your online audience can give easily.

Finally, don’t forget to invite your participants to create their own campaign pages to raise funds online. Donorbox Peer-to-Peer makes it a breeze – just create a fundraising campaign and easily enable peer-to-peer fundraising. Invite your participants right from the tool and they’ll receive invitations from Donorbox to sign up and start fundraising for you!

Check out this example of a dance-a-thon fundraiser that was created by St Louis High School on Donorbox to raise money for the school.

dance a thon

Create a Customized Fundraising Page

This event can be fun for any kind of charity, but high schools or organizations with a younger donor base may have an easier time finding participants.

3. Swim-a-thon

Swim-a-thons are another excellent option for high school and community swim teams. Swim team members can show off their skills and raise funds from their community.

Funds collected from this event can help upgrade their facility, equipment, and travel expenses. You can create an online donation form or a fundraising campaign to raise money with your swim-a-thon, as Quest Boosters has done on Donorbox.

swim a thon

Nonprofits and schools that use Donorbox will gain another perk with such fundraising pages. Their donors can add an encouraging message for their favorite swimmer with every donation via the virtual donor wall. See what it looks like for the above campaign here –

donorbox donor wall

Add a Donor Wall to Your Donation Page!

You should also ask your swim-a-thon participants to fundraise from their friends and family. Make it easy for them to share their fundraising pages online with their networks. With Donorbox Peer-to-Peer, your main campaign page and the peer campaign pages are all equipped with social media sharing buttons. This makes it easy for supporters to spread the word and get more donations.

4. Read-a-thon

When people say a-thon, you may picture a walk-a-thon or 5k run. But you can hold an a-thon for any activity.

While many popular a-thons involve sports, many schools and libraries have added read-a-thons to their annual calendar.

Schools can ask students to read a specific number of books during a particular timeframe. Participants can each have their own peer fundraising page and add details of their reading progress to it. They can share this page with friends and family to donate to the school.

Schools can also start a contest and ask teachers to track students’ reading. Providing prizes to those who read the most in every class can encourage more participation in your read-a-thon event.

Check out this example from the Woodridge Elementary School. They have created the below donation form on Donorbox and customized it to include fields specific to their read-a-thon.

Donors can type in the name of the student, their grade level, and their teacher’s name while making the donation. This will help them segregate all donations according to student participation and acknowledge them later.

read a thon example

5. Walk-a-thon

Walk-a-thons are well known and can be a simple and successful fundraiser for any nonprofit. They will plan a long-distance walk that supporters can join in person or walk the required amount from wherever and share their success online.

Nonprofits can create a main campaign page to collect funds for the event, and participants can build their own pages under it and post on social media as they continue their walk.

Nonprofits love walk-a-thons because you can raise money in various ways. Organizations can collect funds from registration fees, donations, sponsorships, and vendor fees.

For example, see this event page on Donorbox created for Solace House’s Walk event. They allowed participation from across the country and sold tickets to take part in the event.

walk a thon event tickets

Using Donorbox Events, you can create such simple and effective event pages to sell tickets to your a-thons. You can easily add tax-deductibility information to your ticket tiers, set a deadline for purchasers, and even embed the ticketing form on your website.

Sell Tickets for Your A-Thon!

6. Dog walk-a-thon

Nonprofits can add a new group of participants to their walk-a-thon with a dog walk. These events fit the mission of nonprofit animal shelters, but any nonprofit that wants to get creative and have fun can hold a dog walkathon.

Fundraising for this event is similar to a regular walk-a-thon, but you can increase the excitement for these events with a costume contest and prizes for the prettiest puppy.

Labs and More Dog Rescue created a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign on Donorbox for their 5K dog walk event. Soon, their supporters joined in to help raise money. The below peer campaign is one such example where the supporter raised nearly 5 times their original fundraising goal.

dog walk a thon

Boost Donations with Donorbox Peer-to-Peer

7. Hula-hoop-a-thon

Another creative a-thon fundraiser is a hula-hoop-a-thon. Elementary, middle, high schools, and college groups have started to host these events.

Children and parents love these events because of the fun and health perks. Hula-hooping can help people lose weight and build muscles.

Event participants hula-hoop for as long as they can and collect funds based on how many they can do in a row. Nonprofits can hold this event in person, or supporters and volunteer groups can start their own online.

You can ask and encourage participants to post their videos on social media and raise money from their networks using their own fundraising pages. This will be a great way to share the excitement with your online community and supporters and boost outreach.

Volunteers can also share a live stream of their hula-hooping on apps like Facebook and YouTube. Remember to use a smart and efficient peer-to-peer tool – like Donorbox Peer-to-Peer – to make fundraising easy for them!

8. Bowl-a-thon

Your nonprofit may not cater to a younger crowd, but that doesn’t mean you can’t hold an a-thon fundraiser. Bowl-a-thons are events that can bring in a wide range of age groups.

There are a few different ways to hold a bowl-a-thon. Teams or individuals can set their own goals and raise funds based on their success.

Bowl-a-thon fundraisers may cost more than other events since you may rent a bowling alley and provide food for participants and attendees.

Like walk-a-thons, nonprofits can raise money with registration fees, donations, sponsorships, and vendor fees. Nonprofits can also hold a virtual bowl-a-thon and allow supporters to meet goals on their own time.

Your event page to sell tickets can be as simple as the one from The Faustin Project, shown below. Or you can create different ticket tiers including food, sponsorships, and more – the choice is yours! Because Donorbox Events makes it possible for you to completely customize the event page with images, text, and videos, and add as many ticket tiers as you want.

bowling event on donorbox

Create a Nonprofit Event on Donorbox

9. Volunteer-a-thon

This final a-thon fundraiser is a bit different. Charities and organizations like the Boy Scouts often hold community days to encourage their members to volunteer.

Nonprofits can turn these volunteer days into volunteer-a-thon fundraisers and collect money from donations. Nonprofits may find neighbors or local businesses with volunteer needs, or supporters can find these opportunities independently.

The best way to turn a volunteer day into a fundraiser is to collect pledges based on the number of hours you volunteer. Remind participants to take pictures of their adventures and post updates online. Invite them to a powerful peer-to-peer tool like Donorbox Peer-to-Peer so that they can easily create customized fundraising pages to raise money with your volunteer-a-thon.

5 Pro Tips to Make Your Next A-Thon a Great Success

1. Choose the right theme

Before you decide which type of a-thon fundraiser to hold, do a little research to see which event best fits your volunteer and donor base.

Get creative and determine which event type will encourage participation and raise the most funds. For example, Man Down Cornwall has created a unique 24-hour grapplethon for which they are raising money with the help of their supporters. The below campaign is one of their top and most successful peer fundraising campaigns.

grapplethon peer to peer on donorbox

2. Use the right software

Choosing a peer-to-peer fundraising tool that automates fundraising for you and your team and makes it easy and quick to get started is necessary for your a-thon’s success.

But you wouldn’t want to just depend on donations for your a-thons. The best way to ensure more people get to know about your a-thon is to promote your event and sell tickets in advance. You’d need an event ticketing system that lets you create customized event pages and ticketing forms that boost ticket sales of your a-thon events.

The right software choice for your nonprofit would be one system that does it all – lets you create fundraising pages for accepting donations, turn them into peer-to-peer campaigns, and sell tickets online! Like Donorbox.

Donorbox offers you a number of tools, all in one place, to fundraise in more than one way. You can create unlimited donation forms and pages on the tool. It takes just a quick toggle on your fundraising campaign to turn it into a peer-to-peer campaign. Finally, you can easily create event pages on Donorbox and add unlimited ticker tiers to it to sell tickets to your a-thons.

Ready to get started? Read our step-by-step guide or watch this video to start fundraising in 4 simple steps.

Get Started with Donorbox

3. Reward participants

One of the best ways to encourage participation in your a-thon fundraiser is with prizes.

You can keep prizes and awards for different categories like who raised the most funds, who won at the a-thon, and so on. Announce them before the event so that participants feel more motivated to participate and fundraise.

4. Find sponsors

Significant events like walk-a-thons or bowl-a-thons may cost more than others. Nonprofits can find sponsors to pay these costs and keep donations and registration fees for the organization’s needs.

When looking for sponsors, you can capitalize on the event type and find companies that fit participants’ interests, like –

  • Bookstores for your read-a-thon.
  • Hardware stores to sponsor your volunteer-a-thon.
  • Shoe stores to sponsor your walk or run.
  • Nearby pet stores to sponsor your dog walk-a-thon.

…and so on. You can also make it easy for your potential sponsors to choose to sponsor your event with an online fundraising page like the one shown below. We suggest that you explain the benefits of sponsorship for each sponsor amount on the donation form or in the page content.

event sponsorship levels

5. Start relationships with new donors

A considerable benefit of an a-thon fundraiser is the number of new donors to your organization via peer-to-peer fundraising. Since most donations come from participants’ personal contacts, nonprofits can add contact information to their database and start communication with these new donors immediately.

The best way to communicate with donors after an event is with a thank-a-thon. Nonprofits can create a list of donors and send it to volunteers to make these calls.

Organizations can also hold a pizza night and make these calls as a group. Donors will appreciate that you took the time to reach out to them.

Final Thoughts

A-thon fundraisers can combine fun and fundraising. These events can encourage more participation in your events and appeal to a larger donor base. Technological advancements like video streaming, social media, and online peer-to-peer fundraising will help these events raise more funds than in the past. Reaching out after your a-thon fundraiser will help build relationships with new donors and ensure long-term success for your organization.

Online donation tools like Donorbox allow nonprofits to reach more people and boost donations with peer-to-peer campaign pages. You can also create events on Donorbox to sell tickets online and utilize several other tools like Crowdfunding, QuickDonate, Text-to-Give, and more. Learn about our complete range of tools on our website. Sign up to start fundraising today!

Want more event ideas – or tips for fundraising? Check out Donorbox Nonprofit Blog. Subscribe to our newsletter to receive a curated list of our best resources in your inbox every month.

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Kristine Ensor is a freelance writer with over a decade of experience working with local and international nonprofits. As a nonprofit professional she has specialized in fundraising, marketing, event planning, volunteer management, and board development.

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