17 Fall Fundraiser Ideas to Boost Engagement and Raise More Money

Fall conjures up pumpkin, and apple pie smells, and a fantastic array of unique and exciting events. This article will share 17 unique and creative fall fundraising ideas for your nonprofit to boost engagement and raise more money. Many of the events on this list can be held both in-person and online, so if you’re…

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17 Fall Fundraiser Ideas to Boost Engagement and Raise More Money

Fall conjures up pumpkin, and apple pie smells, and a fantastic array of unique and exciting events. This article will share 17 unique and creative fall fundraising ideas for your nonprofit to boost engagement and raise more money. Many of the events on this list can be held both in-person and online, so if you’re looking for more virtual event ideas, there are a few options to try this year.

As you plan your fall festivities, we welcome you to take these ideas and turn them into your own.

  1. Online Fall Fundraisers
  2. A Bonfire Event
  3. An Escape Room Fundraiser
  4. Pumpkin Carving Contest
  5. A Costume Contest
  6. Raise Awareness With a Volunteer Day
  7. House Parties
  8. A Nature Hike Event
  9. Dance-a-Thons
  10. Trivia Night Fundraiser
  11. Pub Crawls
  12. Decorate-Your-Porch Fundraiser
  13. Zombie Run
  14. Scavenger Hunt
  15. Cooking Classes
  16. Second Chance Homecoming
  17. Tailgate Fundraisers

1. Online Fall Fundraisers

Let’s start with the simplest and one that also goes with newer fundraising trends. Online fundraising campaigns are a popular go-to for nonprofits because of how easy and affordable these fundraisers can be. Whatever your cause be, set up an online fundraising page, tell a story through words, images, and relevant videos, embed a simple and fast donation form, and you’ll be good to go. Remember to promote this page well to receive more attention from the community and social media.

The Eugene Southtowne Rotary Club‘s online fall campaign raises funds to deliver food boxes to hundreds of families. This organization has done an excellent job sharing the problems families, and homeless youth and adults face in their town. Thanks to clear explanations next to each donation amount on the donation form, donors can see how their gifts make a difference. Their online donation page makes it easy for supporters to give one-time or recurring donations and share their support with friends and family on social media accounts like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

fall fundraiser ideas

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2. A Bonfire Event

Bonfires are a fun way to spend time with loved ones in the fall. Almost everyone has fond memories of sitting by the warm fire, toasting marshmallows, and telling scary stories. Your nonprofit can add to these memories with a bonfire event of your own.

Pick an affordable and easy-to-reach location, or hold it outside your site. Don’t forget to contact your fire department and follow all local regulations. Once you get the ok, you can sell tickets, collect donations, and sell food and t-shirts. Donors will enjoy the evening and appreciate that they’re supporting their favorite charity, all while relaxing around the fire.

An online event page and ticket sales will ensure better management of the event and more revenue. You’ll get to create a ticket pricing strategy with multiple ticket levels. For example, general admission, VIP tickets, group tickets, early-bird discounts, etc.

Donorbox Events lets you create a simple event page and an easy-to-use event ticketing form. You can add unlimited ticket levels. You can determine the tax deductibility of the tickets by inputting the fair-market value and tax rate. Your staff and volunteers can easily manage sold tickets and purchasers’ information at the backend. If you’re having meal options, you can also take attendees’ preferences from the ticketing form. The best part is that Donorbox Events also lets you accept donations from the event page.

3. An Escape Room Fundraiser

Have you tried out one of the many escape room adventures? These are popular activities for all ages and don’t take much money to build. If your nonprofit has a room you could transform for a weekend, an escape room may be the right option for your fall fundraiser.

Does your nonprofit offer therapy or medical services? You can build an escape room where participants have to solve clues that help patients learn to walk or heal from disease. If you want to make your escape room scarier, the condition your guest must solve could be a zombie plague.

There are several ways nonprofits can raise funds with an Escape Room. Sell tickets, find sponsors, and include a few games within the room that need a donation to continue.

Pro tip: Turn the escape room fundraiser into a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign for supporters interested in taking it to the next level. Invite a few volunteers to start their own fundraising campaigns online and raise funds with each action they take to make their escape. You can live-stream the event to garner more online attention and support. Use Donorbox Peer-to-Peer to easily set up a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign and invite supporters. Your supporters will receive email invitations and will be guided on the tool to create and customize their pages.

4. Pumpkin Carving Contest

Pumpkin carving is a fun family activity in the fall. Nonprofits can encourage families to use their carving talents to support the organization in many ways. In-person pumpkin carving contests can follow trends set by the Food Network’s Halloween Wars, where contestants compete with cake, candy, and pumpkin carvings that wow the judges.

The fun of this fundraising event is there are no rules. Your nonprofit can take it in any direction you want. Hold an in-person event, and have contestants pay to compete, and a live audience buy tickets to watch the show. Nonprofits should have no trouble finding sponsors to support individual participants or fund the food and supplies needed.

Organizations can also hold this type of event online. Reality tv is still trendy, so why not start your own YouTube channel with a weekly competition between contestants on who can make the scariest pumpkin. Contestants pay to participate, and the audience can support their favorite contestant with an online donation.

Let’s take a look at this online campaign example. Here the fund is being raised for helping child programs at Hamilton Music Collective. It’s their 4th year in a row of celebrating a spooky night with 250+ pumpkins carved and lit.

november fundraising ideas

5. A Costume Contest

The fall time is full of fun activities, including trick-or-treating, haunted houses, and costume contests. A costume contest is another one of those fall fundraisers that can be taken in any direction. Nonprofits can use their creativity to match this fundraising theme to their donor base and see who’d be willing to dress up, judge the contest, and financially support this activity.

Schools are excellent places to include this fundraiser. Students can dress up however they want, teachers can decide who has the best costume in their class, and finalists can win a prize at the end of the day.

Parents and other family members can join an after-school event to see a costume parade, and the winners receive their awards. They can also join in to compete with each other for the craziest, fanciest, scariest costumes, and more.

Pro tip: Raise funds by asking children and parents to pay to participate, by selling tickets to the parade and prize event, or by finding companies interested in sponsoring the day. For prizes, you can even ask a local business to donate in-kind gifts in exchange for promotion.

6. Raise Awareness With a Volunteer Day

There are enough chances to volunteer during the fall. Whether it’s raking leaves, cleaning gutters, or helping neighbors inside their homes, there are enough opportunities. Remember volunteer days are more about spreading awareness than raising funds. But the chance to interact with the community allows nonprofits to promote their organization and form long-term relationships.

Assemble a volunteer team and plan a day of activities. Your volunteers can bring educational information about the nonprofit and its mission to share with the community. You can also design branded t-shirts for your volunteers with your nonprofit’s logo. At the end of the event, you can even hold a small thank-you dinner to share your appreciation.

Pro tip: If you have worked with a corporation in the past, you can reach out to them asking to encourage their employees to volunteer on this day. This way, new people get to know about you, and you can end up raising money and gaining recurring donors.

7. House Parties

The beginning of the school year is busy, so your supporters may not always be interested or able to attend a large event. Instead, ask them to host house parties with their friends.

Your best supporters including board members, volunteers, staff, friends, and nonprofit members will love the chance to share their passion for your organization with their community. Connect with them virtually on the day to share your organization’s mission. Nonprofits can raise funds by asking for donations or holding virtual raffles and contests that bring a little fun to the event.

Check this online fundraising campaign example out for your reference. Hosts Noreen and Peter held a house party to support Michael Thompson for Morris County Surrogate. They even created 3 different categories for accepting donations.

november fundraising ideas

As you can see, this is a great opportunity to encourage peer-to-peer fundraising. Each supporter can create their own fundraising page and on the day of the party, ask their guests to make donations. Use Donorbox Peer-to-Peer to make the process quick and easy for you and your fundraisers.

Pro tip: Ensure that you are able to collect the contact information of all the guests and donors and add it to your donor management system. With Donorbox Peer-to-Peer, as soon as the donation is made, all information will be automatically added to the donor management system. You can use these details to build and strengthen your relationships with them.

8. A Nature Hike Event

Who doesn’t love a beautiful walk through fall foliage? Nonprofits may not think of a nature walk as a potential fundraising event, but there are several ways your organization can raise funds and encourage families with young children to join you on a nature adventure.

Ask supporters to register and purchase tickets online before the walk. Let them know how your nature walk is different and what they’ll get in exchange for their donation. Offer a guided tour, goodie bags, and t-shirts. Come up with other creative ideas. During the tour, find a way to connect the trip to your organization’s mission and let people share the experience online.

9. Dance-a-Thons

This trend from the Great Depression has made a comeback. Nonprofits rent a location and ask supporters to dance throughout the evening to see how long they last. Contestants register to participate and raise funds online with peer-to-peer campaigns.

Alternatively, create an online event page and let people buy tickets to attend or participate in the event. Check this online event page and ticketing form example to draw inspiration and ideas for your own dance event.

october fundraising ideas

Try Donorbox Events

Another creative way to raise funds during the event is to collect votes from the audience to support the couples they want to win. Nonprofits can create a campaign page for each pair on Donorbox, and enable Text-to-Give. You will receive a unique campaign ID for each campaign. Share the toll-free number (or go for the Shortcode Plan) with your audience and the unique IDs. Ask them to text the ID for their preferred couple to the number and make a donation. The couple that receives the highest number of text-to-give donations on their campaign will win the contest.

10. Trivia Night Fundraiser

Trivia night is another fall fundraiser held in person or online. Virtual trivia nights have become a common fundraiser during the Covid-19 pandemic. Nonprofits can sell tickets to individuals or teams and add a silent auction or raffle to raise additional funds.

Your trivia night can include mission-specific questions to help educate people about your organization, sports or holiday themes, or a fun night of quirky topics that don’t relate to anything.

Organizations may not be able to raise a lot of money by selling tickets to a virtual trivia event. But attendees can set up personal fundraising pages and ask for donations to earn more clues to help them win the game. Use this peer-to-peer fundraising strategy to raise money with the event and engage more and more people.

11. Train Pub Crawls

Pub Crawls are always popular, but has your organization ever held a Train Pub Crawl?

With train pub crawls, guests can enjoy the color of the trees while traveling all day along the train line with a few stops to enjoy all the alcohol they want. Nonprofits can sell tickets to supporters and give them details on which trains they’ll have to catch. This way, people can join at any stop along the way.

12. Decorate-Your-Porch Fundraiser

Halloween decorating is almost as popular as Christmas. Ghouls and goblins sit next to pumpkins, and children are sometimes caught unaware by creepy noises in the night. This fall, your nonprofit can hold a porch decorating contest that lets supporters show their creativity and share your organization’s mission. All you have to do is develop a theme and some rules.

Participants can register online and make a donation to enter the contest. Make it a requirement to include your organization’s mission or logo in the competition to make the game even harder. Share a different porch on your Facebook page with the same campaign hashtag every week. Let the audience vote on the winner with their donation. At the end of the contest, the porch with the most votes and most donations can claim a prize.

13. Zombie Run

Zombies are both fun and terrifying. Your nonprofit can invite all intrepid supporters to register for the run, dress in zombie costumes, and raise funds online for support. Or you can ask volunteers to dress up in zombie costumes to chase the runners and see how many they’ll catch. Make it a catch-the-flag game, so it’s more fun and entertaining.

You can also invite sponsors to join in on the fun by having a tent at the event. Runners can stop by these tents from time to time, and sponsors can use this opportunity to find new customers.

You can raise extra money by selling t-shirts and energy drinks at the event. You can also partner with a local store to rent out costumes at the event itself to raise more money.

14. Scavenger Hunts

Scavenger hunts are another fall activity that can be a unique and fun fundraising idea for your organization. Invite your supporters to create teams, or sign up to be placed on a team and compete to win a prize at the end.

The hunt can include a fall or Halloween theme and information about the organization’s history. Organizations can give each team a written map or use the GooseChase app.

Nonprofits can raise funds with online ticket sales or with a simple online fundraising campaign like the one shown below. You can accept donations with an easy-to-use and fast donation form like this. Scavenger hunts are also a good opportunity for finding sponsorships to raise more money for the nonprofit.

fall fundraiser ideas for school

15. Cooking Class

The fall season means Halloween parties, Thanksgiving, and the beginning of the holiday season for many. This also means a lot of cooking. Some people love to cook, others avoid it like the plague. But since most family events require a little food, your organization can help supporters cook a few delicious meals for everyone to enjoy.

Start your own YouTube channel or live stream a weekly cooking class. Promote these classes online or in your local paper, and use this opportunity to bring a new audience to your organization. Try to make each meal work with your organization’s mission and add a few facts about the nonprofit to your cooking lesson.

Nonprofits can find sponsors to support the show. You can even partner with a local restaurant to invite their chef and sell tickets to a live cooking class. Be sure to write a few press releases to local newspapers to promote your classes within the local community and sell more tickets.

16. Second Chance Homecoming

Quite a few adults missed out on homecoming the first time. Your nonprofit can give them the chance to live that part of their lives again. Rent space so adults can drink alcohol this time and invite people to dance to their favorite tunes. Include a theme like the 1980s or “A night at sea” to get people in the mood.

Guests will be willing to pay for tickets for this trip back in time. Invite sponsors to cover the event’s costs and include a few games and raffles to collect more funds throughout the night.

17. Tailgate Fundraisers

The final fall event is well-known to all football fans. Tailgating is an honored tradition for fans of every team. For many, tailgating is almost as much or more fun than the game. You can hold a tailgating fundraiser without the game and include a football theme, food and drinks, and creative games to keep the event moving.

You can also attach your tailgating fundraiser to a local football game and provide a fabulous experience before the big event.

Booster clubs, PTAs, churches, and smaller organizations have the best success with these events. Sell tickets for $5 or $10 above the catering fees, and your organization can raise thousands of dollars in a few hours. Since there is no need to pay for a location, your costs for running this type of event are covered by ticket costs. You can hold a 50/50 raffle during the event, but additional fundraising is unnecessary.

Check out this online fundraising campaign example that raised more than their fundraising goal for the tailgate event with donations from the community.

fall fundraising ideas

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Final Thoughts

Fall fundraisers can be held outside, in people’s homes, or at a large dance hall. The costs of these events do not have to be overwhelming or expensive. Nonprofits can raise thousands of dollars from these events with team effort, strategies, marketing, and an online tool that helps them explore new trends and fundraising features.

Donorbox, as an all-in-one online fundraising solution, has helped 50,000+ nonprofits across the globe raise funds and create a bigger difference in the world. Our features can be quickly and easily set up and used to boost donations and acquire new donors. Some of our best features include Recurring Donations, Crowdfunding, Peer-to-Peer fundraising, Events, Memberships, Text-to-Give, QuickDonate, Fundraising Pages, Donor Management, etc.

Do you wish to discover your full fundraising potential and create a bigger impact on your beneficiaries’ lives? Check out Donorbox Premium! Get access to expert fundraising coaching, a dedicated account manager, high-performance tools to multiply donations, and a team of tech wizards. Pricing will be personalized for your organization. Get in touch with our sales team now!

Explore fundraising tips and resources and other important insights into the nonprofit world on our blog here. Subscribe to our inbox and we’ll send a handpicked list of our best resources to 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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