15 Fundraising Ideas to Try This Holiday Season

The holiday season is fast approaching, bringing with it the opportunity to fundraise for your charity, nonprofit, or school.

Fundraisers are great opportunities for nonprofit members to learn more about their communities and donors. If you’re looking to try something new, here are a few new ways to fundraise this holiday season:

1. Organize a fun run.

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Host a 5K race or fun run for your local community. To raise money, charge a race entry fee. You can also give participants the option of getting sponsorships and/or fundraising themselves to participate in the race.

Best for: Avid runners and athletes. If you’re looking to make your run more family-friendly, shorten the distance and encourage participants to bring their kids.

2. Host a raffle.

Raffles are a fun and exciting way to make fundraising an interactive event. You can have volunteers donate their own holiday gift sets, gift baskets, and gift cards. That way all donations can go to your cause.

To make this a virtual experience, you can share the contest details through organic promotion on social media. Giveaways can happen entirely online.

Pro tip: Partner with local businesses to collect goods and gift cards for their businesses to raffle off. This is a great way to connect with small businesses. These businesses can also promote your event to get the word about your fundraiser.

3. Run a paint night.

holiday fundraising ideas; companies like Painting with a Twist can help you organize a paint night fundraiser for your organization

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Paint nights are for more than drinking with friends. Host a night where donors can paint along with a local art instructor and walk away with a new, beautiful piece of art. This is an engaging way to bring members together and learn a skill along the way.

You can host the paint night yourself if you have a community space. Supplies can be purchased in bulk or donated. You can also see if your local paint studio will partner with you to subsidize some of the cost.

Pro tip: Paint nights are a great opportunity to show your creative side. These events can also be done virtually.

4. Organize bingo.

Bring people together for a local bingo night. You can even offer a prize for the winner, such as an online gift card. You can also sell food, beverages, or holiday gifts at this event to encourage additional donations.

To make Bingo work remotely, pick one person to be the moderator. They call out the numbers and wait for players to search their cards. If the player has that number on their card, they will use a tool, such as paint, to mark that space.

Once a player has marked enough spaces in a row, they'd announce "Bingo!" in the video call and wait for the moderator to check their answers.

5. Host a virtual game night.

holiday fundraising, Sea Otter Savvy hosts a virtual game night fundraiser

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Similar to a virtual Bingo night, you can gather members and donors together for a virtual game night. There are a few games to pick from, from Mafia to Jeopardy, with many options in between.

When planning this event, decide if you want groups to play together or for teams to compete against one another.

Pro tip: You can offer a prize at the end of the game tournament to get teams more engaged in the games themselves. Bonus points if the prize is donated.

6. Offer a dance workshop.

Partner with a local studio and bring the community together to learn new dance moves. You can build excitement around teaching ballet or hip-hop to a popular holiday song that others can show off to their friends or family.

Dance workshops can be done virtually with the instructor breaking down the dance steps one by one. You can also send along the recording, so participants will always have access to the event.

Pro tip: Yoga or Zumba can follow this same model. You can use a poll to assess which type of event would be most popular.

7. Organize a virtual workout class.

If dancing isn’t for you, workout classes are another way to fundraise while staying active. Partner with fitness companies, such as gym chains or virtual workout providers, to give donors access to a virtual workout class.

Break up the week with a guided workout, or turn it into an ongoing series for December. If you offer multiple sessions, you can bring in different instructors for different types of workouts. You can offer one price for a single session and a different price for those who want to attend them all.

Best for: Active causes and communities. If your members like to stay fit, this is the fundraiser for you.

holiday fundraising ideas for nonprofits; a local bowling alley in Las Colinas hosts a yearly bowl-a-thon to raise money for local organizations

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Give participants a way to bond, have fun, and raise money for a good cause. You can both charge an entry fee and gather donations throughout the night. You can also organize a raffle to occur during the event.

Encourage participants to bring their families and friends. If your cause is for a school or an issue related to kids, you can make the event kid-friendly. Just add a few lanes with guardrails to avoid gutter balls.

Best for: Bringing different groups of people together.

9. Run a virtual drink-making class.

You don’t need a professional bartender to run a virtual cocktail-making class. A member of your team with a few good recipes can do the trick.

Once participants buy their virtual ticket, email them a list of ingredients that they’ll need for the class. Ideally, most of the ingredients are low-cost or already can be found at home. Then, it’s time to get mixing!

Best for: Culinary experts and teams with a low budget.

10. Produce a concert series.

holiday fundraising, a concert jam fundraiser is raising money for Vera Aqua Vera Vita

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The holiday season brings with it festive cheer and festive music. Producing a concert series is a great opportunity for local musicians to show off their talents while raising money for a good cause.

Promotion is also baked into this event. You can have the performers post about the upcoming fundraiser, and you can use video from the event to market future concerts.

Pro tip: This can also happen virtually through setting up an Eventbrite or a similar event page and charging a suggested admission price.

11. Host a bake sale.

Who doesn’t love baked goods near the holiday season? This is a great opportunity to connect with the local community and with their permission, set up a table at local events. You can also set up a table outside on a nice day.

If you have volunteers who love baking this is a great option. Be sure to spread the word and showcase your treats on social media.

Pro tip: Offer seasonal drinks like hot chocolate and cider that can pair well with the baked goods for sale.

12. Gather donors for a dinner.

The holidays are a great time to gather donors together to enjoy a ticketed, catered dinner. This works especially well if your organization already has strong relationships with a local restaurant or event space. You can also put out a call for donated decorations to make the space festive.

Pro tip: This pairs well with other fundraising ideas, like an auction or raffle.

13. Organize a trivia night.

holiday fundraising, Chicago Youth Centers hosts a virtual trivia night

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Trivia is a fun way to get people to come together and compete. You can come up with questions with your team, or look up fun prompts online. Assign a moderator, split your team up into groups, and let the games begin.

Pro tip: This can also be done virtually by using breakout rooms and making teams in advance.

14. Organize a virtual meditation session.

While the holiday season can be fun, the season’s festivities can also be a source of stress. Setting up a guided visual meditation will help donors and interested parties break up their week. You’ll also offer a stress-free event, giving participants the space and time to breathe.

If a member of your team has a passion for yoga and meditation, they can run this session. You can also find a yoga instructor who’s willing to volunteer.

Pro tip: If you offer multiple sessions, offer different tiers of donations — one for a single session, another for all sessions, and one for recordings of the event.

15. Create a holiday book.

If you’re looking for a creative gift idea, you can create a holiday book. This can be stories from people in your organization, poems, or insights that you have learned as a team. You can sell copies in person or upload them as a PDF to your website and drive traffic to the site through a social media strategy.

Pro tip: Write an opening letter for your holiday book. Here you can show the impact of your nonprofit and the major milestones you’ve hit throughout the year.

Getting Started

If you’re stuck on which event to try, consider your audience. Are there any fundraisers that align with your cause? For example, an arts initiative may run a paint night, or a school may run a bake sale. You can also ask members directly which type of event they’re most interested in.

Once you decide how you want to fundraise, you’re on your way to making an impact for an important cause.

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