30 Winter Fundraising Ideas

Olivia James
Olivia James

Education at CauseVox

When the weather outside gets frightful, it’s not just kids that go a little stir-crazy. Especially during these cold, dark months, your donors are looking for ways to get involved, which means you’re always looking for the best winter fundraising ideas.

Here at CauseVox, we believe that you can give them something to look forward to with a winter fundraiser.

Incorporate one or more of these 30 winter fundraising ideas into your annual fundraising plan.

1. Polar Plunge

Someone swimming in a lake, taking a big breath as their arm moves overhead

You’ll be surprised by the number of people willing to jump into a freezing cold body of water to raise money for your organization. Not only is it for a good cause, but it’ll be something that your supporters look forward to (and talk about) for months and years to come.

Start planning your cold water plunge now. Secure the space and get any necessary permits. Then, recruit eager participants.

Use CauseVox’s online peer-to-peer fundraising platform to create a personal fundraiser toolkit that guides these supporters on the best way to fund their plunge.

2. Snow Tubing Excursion

A snowy hillside dotted with trees. A line of tracks runs through the snow and up the hill.

If you live in a community with snow (real or artificial), then you know how excited people of all ages get when the snow tubing courses open.

Partner with a local company to plan a snow tubing winter fundraiser. The business may want to give a portion of the proceeds back to your organization or ask you to sell tickets on your own.

Out of all the winter fundraising ideas out there, this one is a great opportunity to engage and entertain your adult donors and their families.

Here’s an example of a snow tubing company that works with causes to sponsor fundraisers.

Screenshot of the Tube Town Fund Raiser page of Cascade Mountain's website.
Cascade Mountain works with organizations to donate ticket sales for tubing.

3. Ski-a-Thon

Screenshot of the 2022 Jane-a-Thon
Invest In Kids hosts an annual ski and snowboard fundraising event

Try engaging your donors, volunteers, and winter sports enthusiasts with a ski-a-thon. This isn’t just a day on the slopes! Your most loyal supporters will raise money (sponsorships) to participate in a day-long skiing event.

The result? A lot of tired people and some good money raised for your organization in the perfect winter fundraising idea.

4. Snow Removal Services

An open road surrounded by snowy trees

There’s a chance that a number of people in your community don’t have the ability and/or time to remove snow from their driveways, sidewalks, and roofs. So, provide a community service AND fundraise at the same time with this winter fundraising idea.

You’ll need volunteers at-ready, as well as shovels, snow blowers, and any other snow removal equipment you can think of. When a storm is set to approach, mobilize the troops. To help with scheduling efforts, provide your community with a phone number to call and get on the books.

Don’t forget to have volunteers sign a liability waiver!

5. Holiday Gift Wrapping Party

A beautifully wrapped package sits on a wooden table

Some people take pleasure in wrapping gifts during the holidays. My mother says it’s therapeutic. But, I’m one of those that would pay a good deal of money to avoid the task altogether.

Help those who just don’t have the ability to properly wrap a present with a holiday wrapping party. Schedule a day close to the holidays that people throughout your community can bring in their presents to be wrapped. Talk with local businesses about donating wrapping supplies (hint: Walmart and Target may be good places to start).

You can also partner with a specific store, mall, or shopping center to wrap on-site like the CarePartners Foundation.

Screenshot of the Asheville Outlets CarePartners Holiday Gift Wrapping program
CarePartners Foundation Holiday Gift Wrapping Fundraiser

6. Parent’s Night Out

A man and a woman sit by the edge of a river at sundown. The woman holds a sparkler.

It’s easy to feel confined in your house when there’s frost in the air and the sun goes down by 5 o’clock. In the dead of the winter, it’s simply hard to get out and enjoy yourself. Which is why a parent’s night out is a great winter fundraising idea for your nonprofit or charity.

Gather your most able volunteers and ask parents to donate money in exchange for a few hours of babysitting.

7. Cider/Beer/Wine Tasting

A shelf with neat lines of bottles

Microbreweries, cider houses, and wineries are popping up all over the country and the trend doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. This winter, partner with one of your community’s adult-beverage manufacturers for a tasting event that is sure to be a winter fundraising idea to remember.

You’ll drive traffic to their business (in a somewhat “slow” time of the year) while promoting your organization.

8. Santa Visit

A close up of Santa's face with twinkly lights in the background

As soon as the pumpkins leave the front porch, kids are beginning to think of Santa’s upcoming visit. One way to guarantee good behavior from children throughout the last month of the year is by letting them visit the jolly man a bit early.

Kids and parents alike will appreciate getting to see Santa in early December. After paying a fee, visitors can get a picture with Santa and possibly even chat about what may be hiding under the Christmas tree.

9. Hot Beverage Sale

A hand holding a coffee cup decorated with wintery trees

Many towns host holiday parades, craft fairs, farmer’s markets, etc. in the weeks leading up to the end of the year. And the only thing better than shopping for the holidays is doing so with a toasty beverage in-hand.

Set up a drink station with coffee and hot water for cocoa and tea. It is one of those simple winter fundraising ideas that is sure to warm bellies.

10. Toy Drive

Screenshot of the Twin Cities Toy Drive fundraiser

Does your organization work with children or do you partner with other charities that do? If so, this is the perfect time of the year to mobilize your supporters to provide a little extra to those in need this holiday season. You can create a variety of different winter fundraising ideas out of the basic “drive” concept.

Collect toys, gift cards, clothes, shoes, and coats for children. Keep track of those donations and be sure to report the results to your donors at the end of the giving season.

11. Gala

Screenshot of the Woven Health Clinic gala celebrating 30 years

Plan a party for your supporters that acts as both a fundraiser and an engagement opportunity. Work with a local restaurant, gallery, or event space to create a budget-appropriate menu and entertainment options. You can then charge per plate or by donation, depending on donor preference. If you want to get really high-brow, try a formal winter charity ball. Make it black tie, and cater to your highest donors.

12. Super Bowl Party

A shot of a ref from behind, pointing

We’re all ready for some football as the Super Bowl nears at the beginning of February. What better way to celebrate the end of pigskin season than with a gigantic Super Bowl party?

Prepare tailgate-friendly foods and set up a projector to show the big game. Ask attendees to pay a fee or donation to join in on the fun.

Mission Viejo Elks Super Bowl Fundraiser

13. Valentine’s Day Singing Telegrams

Someone hands a woman a bouquet of flowers as she smiles

Chocolate and roses are so 2021! This Valentine’s Day, your supporters can surprise their loves with singing telegrams courtesy of your organization.

For a donation, volunteers will make their way around town serenading that special someone. It’s a winter fundraiser that’s bound to put a smile on the faces of everyone involved.

14. Cookie Party/Swap

Close up of a beautiful bowl of macarons

People eat baked goods of every size, shape, and flavor during the holidays. If you’re anything like me, it seems as though you’re stuck in the kitchen for the better part of December. Which makes it the perfect inspiration for some winter fundraising ideas.

Encourage your supporters to make a batch or two to share at a cookie swap party. For a small fee, treat your bakers to a small party where they can share cookies, network, and enjoy a break from the kitchen.

15. Decorating Contest

Close up of a tree decorated with golden ornaments and lights

People love to get into the holiday spirit, and that often means decorating. Whether you’re thinking about houses, trees, or even goodies like cookies, challenge your community to see who can create the most amazing decorations. Charge a small fee to enter the contest to make it a fundraiser! Or take decorations in a different direction and recruit volunteers to decorate offices or homes for a donation to your organization.

16. Teach Your Community With a Workshop Fundraiser

Screenshot from Taste the Impact: Cocina y Charla, a cooking workshop fundraiser

What could be more in the holiday spirit than bringing your community together to learn or create something? Not only is a workshop a great fundraiser idea, it also can help to create community connections, which is a wonderful bonus. You can hold a workshop where participants learn how to create something fun and holiday themed, like ornaments, holiday cards, or decor, or you can think of something more in line with your mission. Are the holidays a time that comes with particular challenges for the populations you serve? You can hold an educational workshop offering strategies and support. Whichever way you choose to go, charge a small entry fee for the event and offer a way for participants to make an additional donation.

17. Caroling Fundraiser

A group of carolers in matching red and green sweatshirts and Santa hats hold their music open in front of a brick wall

There’s really only one time of year that you can get away with asking people to sing in public and then get donations for it, and it’s the holiday season. People like to sing carols and they like to listen to them: there’s something about it that feels nostalgic and makes us feel more  connected. But how to make it a fundraiser? There are a few options. You could recruit staff and volunteers to carol around the neighborhood with a donation basket, host a caroling evening with a suggested donation, or even try “carol-oake”: a karaoke night where folks can only sing carols (with a small entry fee of course).

18. Don’t Forget Giving Tuesday for Winter Fundraising Ideas

Screenshot of the Bridges to Success #GivingTuesday Campaign

Giving Tuesday is an essential part of the nonprofit year-end landscape. Whether you choose to participate or not, you’re aware of it. Because there’s already great publicity around the day, this can be a good time to host a fundraiser or event that will inspire your donors to give even more. This could be any of the fundraisers on this list, or perhaps you create a peer-to-peer campaign that culminates in Giving Tuesday. The sky’s the limit.

19. Put On a Concert

Photo of a school band in matching red vests. One boy wears a fedora.

Live music is always popular, but trying to organize a concert with a popular musician can be challenging. Luckily the holidays have a great work around: people will come not just for the name of the musician but to listen to holiday music. You could work with a local school to have their choir or band put on a concert, or find local musicians, who are often very reasonably priced. Charge an entry fee, or consider adding a raffle or concession stand to bring in more.

20. New Year’s Eve Party

Two women in festive red and green outfits raise glasses of champagne

Who doesn’t love a party? New Year’s Eve is a great time to host a gala, but you can also make it a more laid-back party that feels open to community members who are intimidated by the word gala. Try partnering with local businesses or bars to create unique drinks and appetizers in exchange for advertising. You could charge an entry fee, or ask your attendees to crowdfund for entrance. This is also a great place to try an auction.

21. Ugly Sweater Party

A woman in an ugly sweater sits in front of a white wall

Ugly Sweater is possibly the easiest theme for a party available. Everyone can get into the spirit with a quick trip to the local thrift store, so it’s particularly accessible even for folks who aren’t huge donors. You can charge an entry fee or simply have a suggested donation. Either way, add in a “ugliest sweater” competition to make it super fun.

22. Fitness Challenge

Screenshot of the Monster March 2022 fundraiser

The New Year is the best time of year to tap into people’s drive to get fit. You could take fitness in a ton of different directions: a classic walk-a-thon or bike-a-thon, a viral internet challenge (think who can hold a plank the longest), or a more general virtual fitness challenge, where participants set a goal for miles walked, laps swum, hours of yoga, etc. and fundraise to support it. Fitness challenges are a great fit for peer-to-peer fundraising in particular.

23. Create a Winter Fundraising Idea With Rides: Hay or Sleigh

A pair of horses pulls a sleigh over snowy ground

If there’s a local company or individual who offers sleigh rides or hay rides, approach them to see if they would donate a day of rides to your organization. Then you can sell tickets to your community: they get a lovely seasonal ride and you get to bring in new donors. This is a particularly good fundraiser to pair with other options and create a fall or winter festival with lots of opportunities for your community to support your organization.

24. Snowball Fight for Good

A woman in a coat has just been hit with a snowball: you can see the spray of snow around her

Who doesn’t love a good snowball fight on a cold day? Host an event of snowball battles: your community can create their own teams to participate and fundraise. Bonus: consider offering advantages to teams who raise a certain amount. You could hold this tournament style, or a free for all. If you live somewhere that’s sans snow, morph it into a water balloon fight.

25. A Snowy Contest

A snowman wearing a red cap

People love to get competitive, so tap into that spirit with a contest: snowman building, ice sculpting, or snow fort building. If snow isn’t on the menu in your area, think about a faux alternative like kinetic sand or Legos. You can turn it into a fundraiser through an entry fee, crowdfunding, or concessions.

26. Holiday Movie Night

Bags of popcorn set out in a cute box with twinkle lights

One of the best parts of this fundraiser is that you can do it in-person, virtually, or even as a hybrid option. Pick a holiday classic, whether It’s a Wonderful Life, or something a bit more modern like Elf. You could ask a local movie theater to donate their space, or just use a projector and a large wall, sell concessions, and even host a holiday costume contest. For a virtual edition, share the movie via Zoom so everyone can watch together.

27. Celebrate World Kindness Day on Nov. 13

One hand gives a cut out heart to another hand

Not all holidays are huge and well known, but you can capitalize on some of the smaller theme days to make a perfectly timed ask. Take World Kindness Day: what better way to show kindness than to make a gift to your favorite nonprofit? You can do something small like send out a themed fundraising email, or create a peer-to-peer fundraiser with a focus on kindness, then gather as a community to do random acts of kindness on Nov. 13.

Another option is to do a similar fundraiser on Random Acts of Kindness Day on Feb. 17. Try sending an email with a list of random acts of kindness, and include becoming a monthly donor.

28. Put Accessibility First

An overhead view of a disability icon on the ground

Another great day for fundraising is International Day of Persons with Disabilities, which is celebrated on Dec. 3. Take the opportunity to review your own accessibility practices: are your events accessible? How is your website doing? Then ask community members to make donations to support improving accessibility.

29. Make Resolutions

Two slips of paper on a table. One says "New Year Resolutions." The one next to it is blank with bullet points.

December 30 is National Resolution Planning Day, and you can use this as a chance to suggest a resolution that’s seriously easy to keep: becoming a monthly donor! Remind your donors that they can set up an automatically recurring donation, so all it takes is one action and they’ve completed their resolution for the year. That’s some instant serotonin.

30. Share Your Impact on World Day of Social Justice (Feb. 20) for a Winter Fundraising Idea

A group of people kneel while holding their fists in the air

Chances are high that your organization’s mission is related to social justice in some way. That makes the World Day of Social Justice a perfect opportunity to really highlight the impact that you’re making. You could create stories of how you’re making social justice changes and share on social media, or host a peer-to-peer fundraiser around the day and ask your supporters to share their own stories.

Pick Your Favorite Winter Fundraising Ideas

Don’t get caught with the winter blues! Energize your nonprofit or charity’s supporters with one of these 30 winter fundraising ideas.

For more inspiration and guidance as you map out your year-end fundraising plan, take a look at our 60-Day Year-End Fundraising Plan.

If you’re still unsure of your next winter fundraiser, check out our guide: 150+ Fundraising Ideas.

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