13 Creative Summer Fundraising Ideas + People Fundraising Tips To Get You Started

Tina Jepson
Tina Jepson

It sure does feel like summer outside! And that can mean a lot of things to a fundraiser, including a noticeable decrease in donations.

But don’t worry, you can change that!

The key is to get your donors excited about getting involved and then encourage them to get their friends and family on board using People Fundraising techniques! And, there’s no better way to do that than with a creative fundraising event.

Want more fundraising ideas? View our epic list of 101+ fundraising ideas that are proven to work.

Since summer is all about being outdoors and having fun, here are 13 creative summer fundraising ideas that will help you raise money, while creating an engaging, festive environment for your donors.

Summer Fundraising Using People Fundraising

It’s important to note that many of the fundraising ideas listed below require participation from your supporters. Luckily, you can use People Fundraising to inspire, activate, and rally the very people you need to fuel these campaigns.

Inspiring your supporters includes educating them about your cause and giving them the fuel they need to get involved on a deeper level. There are many ways to inspire people to participate in a summer fundraising campaign. These include:

  • Sharing powerful nonprofit stories
  • Posting impact-related stories and statistics on social media
  • Creating an informative fundraising website for your campaign

Once a supporter is inspired, it’s time to move them to action. Activating your supporters involves getting them to do something for your campaign. Here are a few actions a supporter can take to help your cause:

  • Making a donation of time or money
  • Sharing your campaign on social media or email
  • Posting their own story about how they were impacted/inspired by your cause

Rallying your supporters is the ultimate goal of People Fundraising and it’s something that all these creative summer fundraising ideas have in common. When you rally your supporters, you’re motivating them to stay involved past their initial participation. Some ways to rally your supporters this summer include:

  • Asking them to take part in the campaign as a peer-to-peer fundraiser
  • Updating supporters during and after the campaign on the results and anticipated impact
  • Send personalized emails or notes to thank donors after the campaign in over

Under each summer fundraising idea, we’ve included tips to help you engage your supporters with People Fundraising techniques to ensure you meet your fundraising goals.

1. Host A Swim-A-Thon

summer fundraising ideas

Does your community have an outdoor pool that draws a crowd on hot midsummer days? If so, then a swim-a-thon is the perfect opportunity to raise money, spread the word about your cause, and encourage your donors to get active.

Talk with the pool management about hosting the event. Then, find swimmers willing to secure pledges per lap they swim.

Winthrop University Hospital Children’s Medical Center hosts an annual swim-a-thon and raise funds, and friends, through their efforts!

People Fundraising Tip: Invite a local swim team to get involved in the swim-a-thon. Bring in pamphlets or encourage the swimmers to learn about your cause through your fundraising website.

2. Partner With Music Festivals

summer fundraising ideas

With more than 800 music festivals occurring every year around the United States (with a whopping 32 million attendees), you’re missing out if you haven’t linked up with a music festival.

There are many ways that you can fundraise at a music festival, such as having volunteers canvas the crowds or talk with organizers about having a percentage of each ticket sale go to your cause. Both of these options are great summer fundraiser ideas!

For example, the Vans Warped Tour partners with many nonprofits, including To Write Love On Her Arms to raise awareness and funds.

People Fundraising Tip: Ask current donors to canvas the crowds. This is a great way to rally your current donor base.

3. Throw Your Own Concert

summer fundraising ideas

Benefit concerts are popular for good reason: they are fun, engaging, and generally high energy. Figure out the type of music you are interested in playing, and then talk with bands that may provide a show for free or a reduced price.

Everything from the rental space to the food and beverage permits will need to be worked out beforehand, but if you play your cards right, you’ll raise money through multiple outlets including ticket and beverage sales.

For more information about working with community partners to run an event such as this one, check out our guide: Working with Partners and Brands.

People Fundraising Tip: Include an educational component during the concert, such as a guest speaker or an information booth with photos and client stories.

4. Plan an Outdoor Movie Night

summer fundraising ideas

For a relaxing summer fundraising idea, try hosting an outdoor movie night at a local park. You’ll need a permit, projector, large white sheet/projector screen, sound system, food, and beverages. If you don’t have access to this equipment, there are companies out there that specialize in outdoor movie equipment rentals.

This is another event where multiple streams of donations are likely, such as corporate sponsorships, ticket/entry donation, and food sales.

People Fundraising Tip: Hang signs with statistics about the problems your community is facing and the work you’re doing to solve the problem.

5. Community Yard Sale to Benefit Your Cause

Host a yard sale at your organization or in a neighborhood in your community, where proceeds or a percentage of the sales go directly to your cause. This is a great way to involve your entire community, not just those connected with your nonprofit.

For an example, check out the advertisement for the Mount Hood Kiwanis Camp yard sale.

People Fundraising Tip: Encourage both your yard sale buyers and sellers to sign up for your email newsletter or direct mailings.

6. Organize a 5K/Road Race

summer fundraising ideas5ks are a popular fundraiser because they work! Plus, it’s the perfect way to start a beautiful summer morning, making it a great summer fundraising idea. Be sure to secure a location, race course, and all the proper permits ahead of any marketing you do. Consider opening registration as early as possible to ensure that you get the maximum number of participants.

If you’re looking to break the mold, but still like the idea of a 5k, plan a wacky or themed 5k. After all, everyone will get a kick out of running dressed as Elvis or in 80s garb!

Sometimes, you simply don’t have the time or resources to organize an entire 5k event- and that’s okay! You can always get people to run in a 5k or another race on behalf of your cause like World Vision does.

summer fundraising ideas

People Fundraising Tip: Ask runners to write down why they’re participating on a sheet of paper and hang the papers up at the finish line.

7. Hold A Car Wash

summer fundraising ideas

Car washes require little more than water, soap, a location, and good advertising. Partner with a local church, school, or gas station to use their space. Don’t forget to designate one or two sign holders to stand on the sidewalk and reel in those dirty cars.

People Fundraising Tip: After every wash, hand the driver a pamphlet or other educational material.

8. Plan a Golf Tournament

summer fundraising ideas

The average golf tournament nets about $5,000 for an organization, but they take a significant amount of planning. Consider the location, sponsors, accommodations, volunteers, food and beverage, signage, photography, prizes, and insurance.

Eaton Corporation hosts an annual golf tournament to support the United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County. They’ve netted anywhere from $15,000 to over $20,000 with this event!

People Fundraising Tip: Have a supporter stand at each hole to talk with golfers and be on hand to answer any questions they may have about your organization.

9. Cook Up A Barbecue

summer fundraising ideas

Sometimes, the best fundraisers are simply casual meals that bring community members together for a good cause. Talk with a local barbecue or other casual food operation about sponsoring an event where all proceeds from food sales go to your cause.

Better yet, plan your own barbecue event, and make it competitive. Have people sign up to bring in their best smoked meats, recruit a local celebrity or two to judge, and crown a winner. Some of the best summer fundraiser ideas involve food!

People Fundraising Tip: Combine your barbecue fundraiser with an online crowdfunding campaign to maximize your fundraising results.

10. Host a Beer And Wine Tasting

summer fundraising ideas

Nothing says summer like enjoying a nice glass of wine or a cold microbrew, and your community may just have a new bar, merchant, or brewery eager to share their product with the community.

Contact a few local businesses to gauge their interest, and then work together to raise funds and build the brand recognition of both your organization and the business.

This beer tasting fundraiser supported Swedish Covenant Hospital in Chicago.

summer fundraising ideas
Beer & Burpees Fundraiser

People Fundraising Tip: Ask the restaurant/bar if you can post information about your nonprofit on their bulletin board or if they’d be willing to promote the fundraiser to their social media audience.

11. Organize A Pool Or Beach Party

summer fundraising ideas

A pool or beach party can be a great fundraiser if you have access to a pool or beach and the ability to rent or host events on the property. Sell food and drinks, and offer games and activities like face painting for the children. For a small fee, everyone there gets to have fun!

People Fundraising Tip: Ask your supporters to invite friends, family, neighbors, coworkers, and more to the event.

12. Eat Some Ice Cream

summer fundraising ideas

Summer and ice cream go together like peanut butter and jelly. Capitalize on that connection with an ice cream fundraiser. These family friendly events produce the best results on weekends.

(Plus, July is national ice cream month!)

Gather a group of volunteers, a bunch of ice cream, paper products, and toppings, and be sure that you spread the word through all communication channels. After all, no one wants to miss an ice cream social!

People Fundraising Tip: Bring visual aids to the event to help educate the public about your cause. For example, if you work with animals, bring a couple to the location.

13. Host A Volleyball Or Kickball Tournament

summer fundraising ideas

People of all ages will love participating in a volleyball or kickball tournament. Check out the facilities at your local park, secure the date, and volunteers. This is a great opportunity for your donors to spend an entire day mingling and having fun for a good cause.

Hits for Hope ran a successful volleyball tournament crowdfunding campaign in 2016 using CauseVox.

summer fundraising ideas

People Fundraising Tip: Follow up with all participants with a thank you note that includes ways to stay connected, such as by connecting on social media or signing up for your email list.

These 13 creative summer fundraiser ideas are just the tip of the iceberg. Talk with your donors, volunteers, staff, and board of directors to find out what activities they want to participate in. Then, follow People Fundraising techniques to take your campaigns to the next level.

Remember that even the most simple fundraising event takes preparation. Determine your budget and goals at the beginning of the planning process. Then, leave yourself with enough time to prepare for the event itself. Staying organized will help you meet your fundraising goal.

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