Summer is often a slow time for fundraisers. Donations just don’t seem to come in as frequently. This could be because of people taking vacations or increased childcare costs. In Florida, the end of spring marks an exodus of seasonal residents (affectionately called snowbirds). How can nonprofit organizations help keep donations coming in all summer long? Hosting entertaining events in the summer can help. The summer months often bring great weather with consistently warm temperatures. In places where the heat can be unbearable, summer is a great time to find a captive audience with indoor events. No matter the climate, summer fundraising events are a no-brainer. But originality and entertainment value are key! Get creative with these unique summer fundraising ideas. We’ve separated them into indoor and outdoor events for your convenience.
Organize a beach trip
If you’re in a state that has access to the beach, host a fundraiser there! Many public beaches are state parks and you can easily (and cheaply) apply for an event permit for a beach event. You likely won’t be able to serve alcohol, but you can set up a refreshment stand selling cool drinks and snacks. You can host a luau, hold a beach volleyball tournament, host a beach-based 5K, or even have a sandcastle building competition! The locale lends itself to a variety of purposes that can help your guests beat the heat and have a great time!
Screen a movie in the park
If your nonprofit is family-friendly, a great way to provide entertainment and raise funds is renting out a local park and showing a movie. You’ll have to secure rights to screen newer films, but some older films are no longer copyrighted. You’d just have to buy the film. For a list of Public Domain films to consider for your screening, visit www.publicdomainmovies.net. They have an expansive list of films that don’t require you to pay a licensing fee to screen. Despite being older films, there are options for family-friendly entertainment. You can sell popcorn and other movie snacks at the event. If the movie is being screened in a grassy field, offer rental chairs and blankets for people who forgot theirs.
Host a pet-friendly event
Even if you’re not an animal-based nonprofit organization, people are drawn to events they can bring their furry friends to. Your nonprofit can get some seriously cute publicity by hosting a pet parade fundraiser or a doggy costume contest. Charge a contest entry fee and an admissions fee for people wanting to watch the event. Just make sure you have dog watering stations since it’s an outdoor summer event.
Have an ice cream social
If you live in an area that has an ice cream truck, reach out and ask them to partner with you at an ice cream social event. Have the ice cream truck agree to share a percentage of the day’s profits with your organization while you provide a venue, entertainment, and ice cream-hungry audience for them to sell to. Or, charge an entrance fee to guests for a summer cool-down with the ice cream truck acting as a vendor. You won’t make money off the ice cream sold, but you do make money at the entrance to the event. If your nonprofit has the resources to buy and store its own ice cream, consider selling your own ice cream at the event to get more bang for your buck. Setting up a build-your-own-sundae bar can be cheap and easy if you charge a set price for the ice cream and toppings. Guests are then free to make their ideal ice cream sundae.
Rent an indoor entertainment venue
If you live in a city with indoor laser tag, an arcade, movie theater, or indoor mini golf, work with the business owners to rent out the venue for a day or part of a day and host a fundraiser there. As part of the rental, you can haggle for free admission for your guests, and have guests pay you to attend the event during your rental time (either a specific day or specific part of the day). If the venue has a party room, include that in the rental and have music and a place to accept donations. This could also be the ideal place to make announcements and check guests in to the event. If the activity is competitive, like laser tag, mini golf, or an arcade, create a tournament and award the top participants a prize.
Run a carnival
Kids need something to do during summer. If it’s too hot to spend an extended period outdoors, a climate-controlled environment is necessary for all-day entertainment. Capitalize on the need for indoor fun by hosting a carnival fundraiser that’s open to the public. Set up easy carnival games, like ring toss ,that are accessible to children of all ages. Secure prizes kids will like and charge for each game. You can run this event from your own facility or partner with a mall to host it there.
Play ball inside
Rent an indoor sports complex or school gym over the summer. Use it for an indoor field day or athletic tournament. You can have a basketball tournament with 3 on 3 or 2 on 2 matchups and charge for admission and to have a team. You can award prizes to the best teams and top fundraisers. If you go the indoor field day event, you can pit teams against each other in several different events like tug of war, long jump, sprints, or indoor relay races. Help local kids burn up their excess energy in a safe, air-conditioned space. Offer refreshments for sale to spectators and hydration stations for the athletes.
Host a summer soiree
This last indoor fundraising idea is a party hosted by your nonprofit. You can sell registrations individually, in pairs, or by table. The event itself can be as fancy or casual as your audience would appreciate. Hire a DJ or live music for dancing and dinnertime entertainment. Serve hors d’oeuvres or a sit-down meal. You can invoke a dress code for date night, or keep it light and fun like an indoor block party. This is a great time to host a silent auction or sell tickets for prize drawings. Planned entertainment can also take place during the night. If your nonprofit serves a lot of women, consider hosting a fashion show. Otherwise, magicians, comedy acts, and other performers can add a lot of value to your event.
These eight event ideas are a great place to get started planning your own unique summer fundraising events. If you need more ideas, download your free copy of the Four Seasons of Fundraising Ebook.