Event Ideas to Heat Up Your Winter Fundraising

Fundraising Ideas

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For fundraisers, winter is a time of both prosperity and stress. Between the December donation rush and planning for the new year, it’s easy to freeze (get it?) fundraising events during the winter. But fundraising events are a great way to keep donations coming in after the holidays. Try to make time for winter fundraisers this year to start your new year off on a good note. We’ve come up with some great winter fundraising ideas to help you raise money during the cold winter months.

Host a “wrap” session

Gift wrapping can be stressful - especially if you're a T-Rex. Helping others wrap gifts can be a much-appreciated way to earn donations!

During December, many families will be busy decorating their homes and buying gifts for loved ones. This first fundraising event offers a way to make the holidays a little less stressful. Host a gift-wrapping event and encourage your community to bring their unwrapped gifts so you and your volunteers can wrap the presents for them. Charge a per-gift price for each gift and keep a tip jar in front of each volunteer to accept additional donations of gratitude.

Play upbeat holiday music and sell wrapping paper, gift tags, ribbons, and bows. Guests can also bring their own wrapping paper. You can host the event on site or ask to set up shop in a highly visible public space (like a busy shopping mall). Make sure you have information about your nonprofit available and make it easy for shoppers to donate by accepting credit card donations through a giving app or virtual terminal tool). Another way to accept gifts without taking up table space is to offer text fundraising. Print out signs with instructions for making gifts with text fundraising.

Make your wrapping stations cheery and inviting by decorating them for the holidays. You could even go the extra mile by having volunteers dress up. For a bit of volunteer motivation, hold an “ugly Christmas sweater” contest and ask mallgoers to cast their vote for the winner (your volunteers will need nametags for this).

This can be a one-time event or negotiate for space in the mall for the month of December.

Bored? Try a board game tournament

Board games, card games, and even video games can be a fun concept for a winter fundraising event.

Believe me. The post-holiday blues are real. Winter fundraising events that offer some healthy competition make it easy to get everyone in better spirits. Plus, you’re bringing people together for a fun way to pass the time during those dreary winter days. One way to have a competition-based fundraiser in winter is to host a board game tournament.

To start, collect different types of games and pit registrants against one another. Put prizes on the line for the top overall gamer as well as prizes for wins in individual games. While the event is presented as a board game tournament, you can also incorporate card games and video games to diversify the types of games offered for competition. This may also help expand the audience interested in your event.

Charge a registration fee to enter the competition. Then, set up your games and have volunteers monitor the tables. This should be a single elimination tournament. Games run until an undefeated winner is decided. Then, set up the next game and repeat. This type of event has the potential to last all day and, with a good announcer, can be entertaining to watch for those who attend as spectators. During breaks, make asks for donations and share information about the nonprofit. This is also a good time to share the overall tournament standings.

Cook up a culinary contest

Winter fundraising events based on comfort foods are sure to be a big hit with your donors!

Winter is the season of comfort foods! Benefit from people’s love of food by hosting your own cooking contest. Registrants sign up to have their food judged (or to be the judges). Your organization can choose the winter-appropriate dish guests submit for the contest. The possibilities are endless! You can host a chili cookoff, a cookie baking contest, or choose a food that’s famous in your town. Either way, this fundraising event idea is sure to be a hit!

Offer prizes for the best dishes. If comparing foods that range in flavors, ingredients, or appearance, create subcategories with prizes for them as well.

Like other events, audience participation can be factored in rather than electing to judge solely based on a panel of judges. Offer an audience choice award and ask attendees to vote for their favorites. Want to keep votes private until it’s time to announce a winner? Forget votes written on paper slips. Ask attendees to text a personalized keyword to cast their votes. To help this event make money and keep each registrant from voting for their own table multiple times, connect these unique keywords to a donation form and require a donation to cast a vote. Keep the donation amount small so as not to turn away donors. To incentivize voting, turn the audience choice award votes into entries to a 50/50 raffle. One donor will be awarded half of the donations received from text fundraising donations at the event. Your organization would keep the other half.

Use snow to create something cool

This winter event goes beyond the traditional snowman and asks guests to build something unique out of snow in this unique take on sandcastle competitions.

If your nonprofit is interested in outdoor events and your supporters don’t mind being out in the cold, this next winter fundraising idea will work for you! Communities near public beaches are no strangers to sandcastle building contests. But just because your nonprofit isn’t on the beach doesn’t mean you can’t replicate this style of event.

Snow has many of the same properties of the wet sand used in sand sculptures. When your community gets some wet snow for the winter, organize a snow sculpting contest. You can even add a little color by having your participants use liquid food coloring. Separate participants into categories by age group to keep it fair and use sculpting teams instead of individual participants. Set a sculpting time limit and build in breaks for sculptors to warm up and have a cup of hot chocolate.

If your nonprofit has a large campus that gets a lot of snow, you can hold this winter fundraising event on site. Otherwise, pick a public place and ask passersby to vote on their favorite sculpture once all the snow sculptures are complete. Because sculptors will be working together as a team, set a fundraising goal for their team and ask them to fundraise ahead of their event. Award prizes to the top fundraising teams in addition to prizes for best snow sculptures. Because this is an outdoor event, make sure you have a warm indoor space for people to go warm up and get out of the cold. You can sell snacks in the warm up area. Add sub-events that take place in the warm up area to maximize the profitability of your outdoor event.


Winter events are good for your nonprofit, and for your community. You provide much-needed entertainment while creating opportunities to receive more in donations. Happy fundraising!

Winter is a busy time for fundraisers, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a good time to isolate yourself from your supporters. Winter fundraising events are a great idea for this time of year because the colder weather, snow, and ice can give people cabin fever. Your event guests will be delighted for an opportunity to be out of the house and taking part in something fun. Make everyone’s winter a warmer, friendlier time of year by taking part in some of these fundraising event ideas. You’ll earn more in donations at the start of the year while offering your community some winter-themed fun.

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