It’s fall y’all. The leaves have already started to turn and in a matter of weeks, we’ll all begin decorating with hay bales, pumpkins, and mums. Before we know it, it’ll be Thanksgiving and the holidays.
But, as a fundraiser, your job is just ramping up. That’s because fall is a busy time of year for fundraising. Sure, there’s GivingTuesday and the standard year-end push, but limiting yourself to just those two events equates to missed opportunities.
If you haven’t yet decided on a fun, unique fall fundraiser for your nonprofit or charity, we have you covered with 15 successful- yet untapped- fall fundraising ideas.
1. Autumn Paint & Sip Night
Paint and sip events work for any type of organization, artists of all levels, and can easily be adapted for every season. For fall, offer picture options that include themed-subject matter like pumpkins or the changing of the leaves. For this fundraising event, you’ll need to team up with a local paint and sip store like Pinot’s Palette or Painting with a Twist that’s willing to paint it forward with a percentage of the night’s proceeds going to your cause.
If this isn’t an option available in your area, consider securing a location to host your own paint and sip night. If you’re going the DIY route, reach out to a local artist to lead the class, and stock up on all the necessary supplies. If you need some fall-themed inspiration, pinterest is a fantastic go-to. Set a reasonable price for admission to cover your expenses and sell concessions to augment your fundraising.
To make the registration and payment process seamless, set up an online fundraising page. Not only will you be able to easily track who’s signed up and paid, a fundraising page will also allow supporters who might not be able to make it to this event to make a donation instead.
Tip: Take advantage of the fall weather and host your paint and sip event outdoors (but have a contingency plan just in case).
2. Trivia Night
Trivia nights have been growing in popularity across the U.S. You can go one of two ways here. First, try partnering with a local restaurant and a live trivia company to see if they’d be willing to host a trivia night for your organization with a percentage of proceeds going towards your cause. Your nonprofit would then be responsible for promoting the event and recruiting teams.
Oak Hill School of California Trivia Night Fundraiser
Or, plan your own trivia night where your nonprofit is responsible for hosting and recruiting. Remember to promote heavily; you can create your own team and personal fundraising pages to fundraise leading up to the event. While this is more labor-intensive, your nonprofit would get all the proceeds as opposed to portion. Of course, don’t forget the prizes. This can be anything from a gift certificate, branded swag, or just bragging rights. To make your trivia night into a full-blown affair, have drinks and appetizers available for a fee.
3. Pumpkin Carving Contest
Tis the season to get pumped about pumpkins. This fall fundraising idea requires participants to pay a small fee to compete. Your organization supplies the carving utensils but you can decide whether you want to sell pumpkins at the door for an additional cost or allow participants to bring their own.
If you have a lot of participants (and to ensure fairness), segment participants by age. To make it even more fun, consider having a local celebrity (i.e. mayor, newscaster, elected official, athlete, etc.) come judge the contest. The winner gets bragging rights, memories, and a prized pumpkin to keep for the rest of the year!
Tip: If you’re purchasing your own pumpkins to sell, consider ordering in bulk online, at a local nursery, or through big-box stores like Costco or Walmart to help keep costs down.
4. No-Shave November
The purpose of no-shave November comes from cancer awareness. More specifically, it’s a fundraising concept that began in the 2000s to raise awareness for prostate and testicular cancer. Today, it’s a household name. When November rolls around, you can expect to see men go from clean-shaven to grizzly bears in a matter of thirty days.
Beard Patrol’s got No-Shave November down. In a nutshell, the dollars that participants would otherwise be spent on shaving products are donated to the Testicular Cancer Foundation.
Participants include police and fire departments, corporate teams, and citizen groups. As a testament to its popularity, in 2018, Beard Patrol’s no-shave fundraising garnered nearly $40K in just ONE month!
Schedule a friendly bowl-a-thon for when it gets to be a bit too chilly outside. Teams of bowlers raise money to participate, either in-person or online using a fundraising platform. Work with your local bowling alley to get a discount on the venue and ask local businesses to donate small prizes to be given to the largest fundraiser and highest bowler. Get the ball rolling on your bowl-a-thon today.
Junior Achievement of Greater Washington Corporate Partner Bowl-A-Thon
6. Chili Cook-Off
Encourage local businesses to run their own chili cook-offs in support of your nonprofit. Better yet, pit groups against one another. This is a chance for culinary enthusiasts and closet cooks alike to shine. With deliberate planning, rules, and a judging rubric, this event is a guaranteed recipe for success.
Attendees can cast votes for their favorites or invite in a panel of judges. To add to the fun, dish up awards for different categories of chili such as “best vegan”, “spiciest”, or “most offbeat”. As a prize, you really can’t go wrong with ribbons, gift certificates, or branded organizational swag. You can also get creative and offer a coveted “golden ladle” trophy (which is essentially a ladle spray painted gold) with the winner’s team name engraved.
Tip: Promote well ahead of time! If you need help keeping track of registration or your participant list, CauseVox can now take registration fees as part of the fundraising page creation process.
7. Football Tailgate Party
Fall marks the beginning of football season so if your community has a high school, college, or maybe even a professional football team, consider hosting a tailgate party fundraiser. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a good tailgate?
Your nonprofit would have the opportunity to invite the entire community to support your nonprofit. It’ll give them a chance to connect with your organization and learn about your cause in a fun, social environment.
So, make your tailgate flippin’ awesome by busting out the grill and your festive game gear. Attendees will gladly pay an entry fee to enjoy your football-themed hospitality!
There will be some people who can’t make it to the event but would like to contribute, so set up an online fundraising site to capture those missed donations!
8. Walk-A-Thon, Bike-A-Thon, Or Run
Take advantage of the perfect fall weather to host an outdoor event and get everyone racing for a cause! Whatever option you go with, this is a fundraiser your active supporters are guaranteed to love.
With these events, be sure to get a headstart and plan months in advance; you want to be sure you have enough time to promote your event, secure a space, get the necessary permits, order your prizes, and recruit enough volunteers. To help mitigate costs, ask local businesses if they’d be willing to sponsor your event. You could also have custom race t-shirts designed to feature all of your teams and sponsors.
(Youth Cares’ 2019 Triathlon)
9. Fantasy Football League
Everyone’s thinking about football in the fall, which is why your donors will love a fantasy football league fundraiser. In addition to being familiar with the rules, your nonprofit has to be willing to commit to being the league’s “commissioner” for the entirety of the season. Then, determine an entry fee, a prize, and recruit participants to join your league. As a prize, the winner can take a portion of all the entry fees or choose to donate it back to your nonprofit. You can use no-cost platforms like ESPN or NFL to track player performance in real-time and help run your fundraiser.
To get the word out, use peer-to-peer fundraising so that each participant can share the event via social media with their friends and family. This will increase the chances that more people will join your league or even just make a donation to help out a good cause.
Tip: Be mindful of local laws regarding sports betting to ensure that you’re operating on the right side of the law.
10. Back to School Carnival
Autumn is a perfect time to be outside, which is why planning a back to school carnival is one of the top fall fundraising ideas your nonprofit or charity should consider. Organize age-appropriate carnival games, rent a bouncy house and have your most artistic staff member or volunteer paint faces. You might even want to consider working with a few local restaurants to cater food for the event.
To raise money, ask for donations, charge a fee per activity, or have a flat admission price. Better yet, try incorporating a pumpkin carving contest or a registration booth for fundraising events you’re wanting to kick-off in the coming months.
11. Signature Pie Bake-off
Pies and autumn go together like peanut butter and jelly, which makes this idea one of the sweetest fall fundraising ideas out there.
Capitalize on our seasonal obsession with pumpkins, apples, and spices with a pie bake-off and have your bakers pay a registration fee to be entered into the contest. To raise more money, invite and charge your supporters a small entrance fee to come sample all the delicious bakes. Throw in a handful of local celebrity judges and you’ve got a great competition on your hands! As a bonus, you can auction off or sell those extra pies for added revenue!
12. Oktoberfest Event
Oktoberfest is a three week beer festival that’s celebrated in Munich, Germany from late-September to the beginning of October. Communities around the world also host their own celebrations and at any Oktoberfest event, you can expect to find brats, brews, and live music. This is an awesome fundraising opportunity but if you don’t have the means to throw your own Oktoberfest party, then think outside the box and consider these options:
Try partnering with a brewery, community association, restaurant, or all the above to throw an Oktoberfest celebration where a percentage of proceeds are given to your nonprofit or charity.
Or, you can hold an online Oktoberfest campaign during the traditional 16-day festival period. Create donation tiers to encourage donors to reach specific levels. For example, those giving $10= “Bavarian Pretzels”, $25= Wurstl, $100= Oktoberfest royalty. Work with local businesses to offer coupons and gift cards as perks to give to the campaign.
13. Haunted House
Turn your office, a church, or local community space into the scariest haunted house in your town that’ll guarantee chills and maybe even a few nightmares. Attendees will happily pay an entry fee if they’re guaranteed a good scare! As an added incentive, pass out candy to everyone who makes it out of the house. This is a great fundraising idea for schools, sports groups, and nonprofits located in an easily-accessible location. To make your life easier, an online fundraising page can be created to collect entry fees and capture additional donations.
One thing’s guaranteed during the fall: leaves. They’re everywhere!
Chances are, people in your community are spending the better part of their weekend clearing up all that waste. But you can turn this nuisance into a golden opportunity for your nonprofit by offering yard cleanup services for a either a flat fee or donation.
If you don’t have the volunteer base to do this, connect with your local churches, high school Key Clubs, or youth sports teams to recruit some extra hands.
Capture donations by setting up an online fundraising page with suggested donation tiers. Not only will you save yourself the legwork of going door-to-door, but you’ll have a good idea of the lawns that need to be raked.
15. DIY Peer-to-Peer
There’s a large degree of flexibility when it comes to making these fall fundraisers your own. Of course, you don’t have to be limited to just having season-specific fundraisers.
Don’t forget about the year round fundraisers like DIY peer-to-peers or reoccuring giving campaigns where you can track your progress overtime.
The CauseVox peer-to-peer platform has everything for your fundraising needs:
To get started on your p2p, check out our comprehensive peer-to-peer fundraising primer.
Want more fundraising ideas? View our epic list of 101+ fundraising ideas that are proven to work.
Sometimes, it’s difficult to come up with a unique fundraising idea that has the potential to be successful and fun, but fall is the perfect time for new beginnings. So, get your team of staff, volunteers, and community supporters together and use this list of fall fundraising ideas to help you begin organizing your next fundraiser.
Raise More This Fall Season.
With CauseVox’s easy-to-use fundraising platform, you can raise more with less wasted effort. Whether you’re looking to host a football tailgate or organize a walk-a-thon, launch and run any type of fundraising initiative without the complicated setup.
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This post has been edited from it’s original, posted 9/7/2017.