Unique Fall Fundraising Ideas for Nonprofits

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Unique Fall Fundraising Ideas

It’s that time of year again! Autumn is fast approaching, and it’s a great time to start considering fall fundraising ideas for your organization.

Fall evokes feelings of coziness and generosity! As a nonprofit organization, it’s the perfect time to cash in on all the positive feelings of the season by organizing a fundraiser. With school back in session and many nonprofits gearing up for the holidays, you’re going to need some unique fall fundraising ideas to set you apart from the competition.

If you’re in need of donations for your nonprofit but aren’t sure what kind of fundraiser you should organize, Qgiv is here to inspire your success.

Outdoor Fall Fundraising Ideas

As the temperatures drop and the leaves change color, people flock to the outdoors for fresh air and breathtaking views. Organizing an outdoor fundraising event is a great way to encourage your community to take part in a noble cause as they enjoy the changing season. There are several outdoor fundraising events you can organize to attract the nature-lovers in your area.

1. Organize a charitable Walk-a-thon or Bike-a-thon.

Marathons are in full swing in the autumn months so why not set yourself apart by organizing a Walk-a-thon or Bike-a-thon? These events are popular with fitness enthusiasts but are low-impact enough that anyone can participate. Make sure to advertise well in advance and try to schedule your event on a day it won’t have to compete with similar fundraisers from other organizations.

If you really want to play up the fall theme, check your local area and see if there are any hiking or biking trails that will offer exciting views of the changing leaves. You’ll need to check with your local authorities to verify what areas are available for this kind of event. You can ask around town for local sponsors to keep your costs low and earn donations for your organization through participant registration fees.

2. Host an outdoor movie.

Outdoor movies can be fun for the whole family. All you need is a grassy area, a projector, a large white background, and a movie you know people will love. This event gives you the opportunity to speak to the crowd before the movie begins and let them know a little about what your organization does. When planning your movie night, make sure to find out what time the sun will set that day and plan your event accordingly.

On the night of the event, you can charge admission or simply ask for donations from viewers. Increase the amount of money you bring in by selling movie refreshments like popcorn and candy. You can even offer fun items for the kids, like glow-sticks, to help keep them occupied if the movie doesn’t hold their attention.

3. Create a bonfire event.

When the temperatures start to dip, everyone loves the feeling of sitting around an outdoor fire pit. Increase the scale by collecting discarded wood and old pallets to create a bonfire event. Make sure you choose a safe location and coordinate with your local fire department. You can raise money by selling concessions or asking for donations.

To add a fun element, sell food items that can be cooked over a fire. Hot dogs, marshmallows, s’mores, and even popcorn can all be prepared around the bonfire. If you have some wire hangers, wire cutters, and decorative tape, you can create roasting sticks to sell to your guests.

4. Organize a pumpkin smash raffle.

These events are tons of fun! Purchase several pumpkins or see if a local pumpkin patch will donate any pumpkins they can’t sell. Hollow them all out and place prizes of varying value inside. In the days or weeks leading up to your event, you can sell raffle tickets that offer a chance to choose a pumpkin. On the day of the event, select the winning raffle tickets and let the winners smash the pumpkin of their choice and discover their prize.

If you want to add a little mess to the event, limit the prizes to paper items such as gift certificates. Roll them up tightly and place them in something waterproof such as a Ziploc bag. Drill a small hole in the bottom or side of the pumpkin and slide the prize inside. Winners will have to dig through the slime and seeds of the smashed pumpkin to find out what they’ve won.

Holiday-Themed Events

Halloween and Thanksgiving are two popular holidays associated with the fall season. Incorporating some holiday fun into your event is a great way to show your appreciation to the community. People are more likely to open their wallets for your cause if they feel they are receiving something in return.

1. Create a haunted house.

Haunted houses are staples for the Halloween season. Choose an easily accessible location and decide whether your haunted house is going to be scary or family-friendly. You can ask the community to donate or lend Halloween props to create extra spooky effects. If you plan far enough in advance, you could even make your own props from PVC pipe and monster mud by following online tutorials.

Organizing a haunted house can be a lucrative fundraising experience because you aren’t limited to a single date. If you set it up earlier in the season, you can continue to run it until Halloween. If your organization lacks the volunteers to staff your haunted house, check with school theater groups or drama clubs. Teenagers might enjoy the opportunity to scare their friends!

2. Organize a pumpkin carving contest.

This one can be fun for the whole family. You can either have participants bring their own pumpkins and pay a registration fee, or you can charge for pumpkins at your event. Set up different age categories so the competition is fair and create a variety of overall categories for contestants to compete in. See if your local newspaper would be willing to feature the finalists in one of their issues and ask well-known community figures, such as the town mayor, to participate in judging your event.

Depending on the type of organization you run, try to come up with a category that relates to your cause. For example, if your organization helps children in need, tell contestants that whoever has the best cartoon character carved into their pumpkin wins a prize. For animal groups, you could have an animal-themed category.

3. Host a turkey raffle.

Turkey raffles are the perfect fundraisers for the month of November. Almost every household in your community will want a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner, which gives you a large prospective donor pool to work with. Charge a few dollars for each raffle ticket and draw the winners a few days before Thanksgiving.

Make sure to purchase more than one turkey for the raffle so people feel their odds are better. When choosing your turkeys, bigger is better. A 40-pound turkey sounds much more exciting than a 15-pound turkey. Include some traditional Thanksgiving sides with the largest turkey to create a complete dinner. You can advertise this as a grand prize and it may justify charging a little more for your raffle tickets.

Other Fall Fundraising Ideas

If being outdoors isn’t your thing and you aren’t interested in holiday-themed fundraisers, there are many other fall fundraising ideas that are simple and fun. You can add fall elements to some traditional fundraising activities or come up with something totally unique.

1. Start a “checkout charity” campaign.

Checkout charity campaigns are growing in popularity as a low-maintenance fundraising option. Simply find a local business, preferably retail, and ask if they will collect donations from their customers. To incorporate some fall season elements, have donor cards printed in fall colors in the shape of leaves. When someone adds a donation to their transaction, the business can hang their signed donor card on a wall for recognition. If you need more information about running a successful checkout charity campaign, Qgiv has you covered.

2. Organize a rake-a-thon.

Rake-a-thons are a great way to get people involved who would like to help your organization but lack the money for a donation. Solicit volunteers to rake yards in your community on the day of your event. Anyone who needs leaves raked can take advantage of your event by donating to your cause. You can decide if you will charge a flat fee or let your donors decide the amount they want to give. It’s a win-win: you’re raising money for your organization and giving back to the community.

3. Set up a fall basket auction.

Silent auctions are a popular fundraising choice for many nonprofits. Create fall-themed baskets that focus on best parts of the season. You can put together a basket for making s’mores and hot cocoa, a movie night basket, or anything else you think people might enjoy. On the night of your event, your guests will have a limited amount of time to write their offers for the baskets they want. When the time is up, whoever offered the most gets to purchase the basket for their stated price. To really drive up the donations, have guests write their offers on the same sheet for each basket. This can start bidding wars and ensure each basket brings a maximized donation.

4. Host a chili cook-off.

There are few things more satisfying on a cool autumn night than a hot bowl of chili. Many families have a favorite chili recipe and you can set up an event that gives them the opportunity to show off their culinary skills. There are a few opportunities to raise funds for your organization at an event like this. You can charge a registration fee to contestants, sell complimentary concessions, or charge a door fee to the public. For additional drama, instead of bringing in a panel of judges, have the contestants offer samples to guests and let the community choose their favorites.

5. Organize a fall festival.

If you have a few fall fundraising ideas but aren’t sure which to choose, why not roll them all together into a charitable fall festival? Select a few fundraising activities to focus your efforts on and add in some free activities for families to enjoy together. You could set up a free corn maze, hay rides, and live music to get members of the community to your event and expose them to your fundraisers.

Bonfires, chili cook-offs, pumpkin smash raffles, and basket auctions are all great ideas to incorporate. Hosting many fundraising activities at once allows you to keep donation requirements low and make participation accessible for families at all income levels. If they feel they are receiving something of value to enhance their experience, most will be happy to contribute donations to you organization.

Fundraising Tips to Remember

As with any fundraising event, there are a few tips you should remember to make it a success for your organization and enjoyable for your donors:

  • Value your donors’ time.

    It’s good to educate the public about your organization but keep it brief. People show up to enjoy your event, so don’t hijack that time unless you’ve advertised an educational demonstration or speech beforehand.

  • Don’t be too pushy.

    If potential donors feel too pressured into giving, there is a good chance they’ll close their wallets and go home. Even those that donate under pressure may choose to skip your next event. You want to make sure anyone who donates feels good about their decision instead of regretting it later.

  • Start planning early.

    The more time you have to plan, the less likely anything important will get missed. For some guests, your event is an introduction to your organization. Make sure their first impression is a good one.

  • Say “thank you” to everyone.

    It is so important for donors to feel their contribution matters. No matter how big or how small, say thank you in a way that truly shows your appreciation. In fact, thank each guest for coming whether they donate or not. Guests who can’t afford donations now may be able to donate at a future event, so you want to make sure they return.

  • Be open about donation purposes.

    If a donor asks what your organization is going to do with their money, tell them. People donate money because they want to feel like they are contributing to a cause they care about. If you avoid this question or answer generically, it might make them think twice about donating again. If donations don’t have a specific purpose but will go to the overall operations of your organization, answer with any of the activities your organization does best for your cause.

These are just a few important tips to get you started but there are many others to consider. If you want to learn more about developing a strong relationship with donors at your next fundraising event, Qgiv is here to help.

There are so many things to love about this time of year that it isn’t hard to come up with great fall fundraising ideas to celebrate the season with your donors. With a little imagination and creativity, you can put together a fundraising event that brings in the donations you need and shows appreciation to the community that supports your organization.

Donors are the lifeblood of any nonprofit and fundraisers are a great way to bring them together for some fun and social interaction. As the fall season begins, many communities are preparing for the upcoming holidays and are already in the spirit of charitable giving. Holding your fundraising event at this time puts your organization in front of people when many of them are at their most generous. If you’re ready to start planning your next fall fundraiser, Qgiv has the tools you need to keep you organized and make sure your next event is a success.

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