If you are a part of a nonprofit, PTO, or school community, you probably know how challenging raising money can be.
It can be hard to ask people for gifts, especially when you’ve already used your favorite fundraising ideas for past campaigns and events. But fundraising doesn’t have to be a burden!
Try hosting unique fundraisers that will captivate your donors and inspire them to give.
Having trouble getting ideas flowing? We’ve put together this list of our top 25+ unique fundraising ideas that are sure to excite your supporters.
Use the navigation below to find the fundraiser best for your organization:
- Our Top Unique Fundraising Idea
- Unique Fundraising Ideas for Nonprofits
- Unique Fundraising Events
- Other Unique Fundraisers
- Free Unique Fundraising Resources
Get a jump start on your fundraiser with our top unique fundraising idea: shoe drive fundraisers.
Our Top Unique Fundraising Idea
1. Shoe Drive Fundraisers
Whether you are holding your first fundraiser or your hundredth, shoe drives are the perfect fundraiser for any organization. These drives are easy, fun and have no out-out-of pocket costs!
Here’s how it works:
- Funds2Orgs will provide you with the shoe collection materials to place around your community.
- You’ll call on supporters in your community to donate their gently worn, used and new shoes to these collection boxes.
- Funds2Orgs will pick up the shoes and send you a check in the mail.
Shoe drives help clean out cluttered closets and give new purpose to your old shoes.
Thousands of dollars have been raised through shoe drive fundraisers. This unique fundraising idea is an excellent option for organizations large and small. Check out some of these shoe drive success stories!
Watch this video to see more about how to run your own shoe drive fundraiser:
Your shoe fundraiser makes a great standalone event, but it can also be combined with other unique fundraising ideas, such as the ones featured below.
Unique Fundraising Ideas for Nonprofits
2. Matching Gift Drive
Many of your donors don’t know they could be doubling their donations to your cause!
Matching gifts are available in many corporate philanthropy programs. Through these programs, companies will match a portion (often 100% or more) of the gifts their employees give to nonprofit organizations.
Use this drive to inform your donors about how to get the most out of their giving. Send letters, post on social media, and write emails explaining how matching gifts programs work.
You can partner with a matching gifts database provider to help supporters find out their matching gifts options. Donors can type in the name of their company and learn about their eligibility and parameters of their employer’s matching gifts programs.
Matching gifts are an easy way to maximize the donations you are already receiving without asking for another gift from your donors. Check out Double the Donation’s matching gifts database resource to learn more about how this effective fundraising idea works!
3. T-Shirt Fundraiser
Selling customized t-shirts is not only a unique fundraising idea for your organization but also a great marketing strategy for your nonprofit’s brand.
Customize the shirt to showcase your nonprofit in a compelling design. Design the t-shirt to show off your brand identity, or to commemorate an event! People will buy the shirts to remember your organization and the fantastic events you host.
Get the word out about your t-shirt fundraising campaign by featuring them on your website and social media pages. You may choose to sell these shirts using crowdfunding techniques or by purchasing them in bulk to sell in-person.
4. Start a Crowdfunding Campaign
Chances are you’ve seen (and maybe even donated to) crowdfunding campaigns in the past, even if you didn’t know what it was.
Crowdfunding campaigns allow you to collect small donations from a broad audience.
To get started crowdfunding, set up a fundraising page explaining your mission through which people can make donations online.
This strategy is a unique fundraising idea for nonprofits who aren’t able to invest a lot of capital in a more traditional fundraising campaign. Promote your crowdfunding campaign on social media and encourage your followers to share it!
Check out Fundly’s 40 Best Crowdfunding Websites and pick the platform that will best meet the needs of your nonprofit.
5. Peer-to-Peer Fundraising
Peer-to-peer fundraising empowers online supporters to help spread the word about your fundraising needs.
Design your peer-to-peer fundraising campaign page templates with custom branding, evocative imagery, and exciting gamification features. Then, reach out to your supporters to create personalized fundraising pages on behalf of your cause.
Supporters can create pages for your cause to spread the word of the fundraiser to their network of online friends and followers. Encourage them to tell a personal story of why your organization is important to them on their fundraising page!
6. Text-to-Give Campaign
Text-to-give campaigns allow supporters to give straight from their phones!
These campaigns are easily accessible because they allow for people to text in donations easily.
Through text-giving software, all you need to do is set up a special fundraising phone number and keyword. When your supporters text your organization, they receive an automated link that brings them straight to a mobile donation page. After they’ve filled this out, they’ll get a digital receipt.
Text-to-give simplifies the donation process for the donor and makes collecting easy for you.
This unique fundraiser is perfect for in-person events as well as remote fundraising. While your supporters and attendees are having a great time at your event, they can send a quick text to donate to your cause.
Or, if they’ve opted to stay home, they can still support your cause whenever or wherever is most convenient for them.
Unique Fundraising Events
7. Host a 5K Race
A 5K race is a unique fundraising event the whole family can enjoy.
Set up a 5K race in your community. 5K races are an easy and unique way to fundraise right in your neighborhood. Require a registration fee for runners. Other than that, all runners need to participate is a good pair of shoes!
Partner with local companies to sponsor your 5K event. Businesses may gain traction by featuring their name on race-day t-shirts or by providing swag to runners. Watch registrations soar and plan yours today.
Set up your shoe drive materials at the race and offer a discount for race registration to people who bring their old sneakers to donate to your shoe drive fundraiser!
8. Raffle Night
Raffle nights enable you to support local businesses while fundraising in a unique way!
Contact local businesses who may want to donate something to your raffle. This is a great opportunity for local restaurants and shops to spread their brand name to the community. Plus it helps your nonprofit secure affordable prizes for your event!
Encourage the community to buy raffle tickets. You may also choose to include raffle tickets with prizes at other events as a reward leading up to the raffle night to energize people for the night.
9. Silent Auction
Host a silent auction to get local organizations involved in a fundraising event that is both unique and community-oriented.
Reach out to your local businesses to donate auction items. Try to incorporate things that will interest your donors the most (think gift certificates, local art, movie tickets, gift baskets, etc.). Then, encourage people to bid on their favorite items.
Try moving your auction online! Mobile bidding software simplifies silent auctions and makes it easy for people to donate. Check out OneCause’s Silent Auction Planning Guide to get started.
10. Car Smashing Fundraiser
Hosting a car smash is a unique fundraising idea perfect for teenagers (with supervision) and young adults who want to release some pent-up energy.
Ask your local junkyard to donate a car to the cause, preferably one with the body and glass still intact. Smashing a car whose body is intact is much more satisfying because you can see the destruction. Next, you’ll need to ask a mechanic to donate their time taking dangerous parts and liquids from the car.
Don’t forget to provide safety glasses for participants! To smash the car, give the participants metal bats or sledgehammers. Participants of the car smash can either pay per swing or pay per minute of mayhem.
11. Battle of the Bands
Host a contest for the talented musicians in your community.
Bands will be excited to donate their time to a contest that showcases their talent. A prize for the winner of the competition will incentivize them even further to get involved. Provide judges, or ask the audience to determine who has the best sound in town.
Ask a local company to host the event. They will appreciate the extra business, and you will have a perfect stage for your event! Ask for a small cover fee from the attendees and let the competition begin.
12. Car Wash
Put your spin on this classic fundraiser to make it unique and exciting!
Hold a car wash for your community. This is a classic fundraising event for schools, but it is also a unique fundraising idea for traditional nonprofits. You can make your car wash unique by adding your spin to the fundraiser.
Try hosting a wacky car wash where your volunteers dress up in their wackiest clothes. Or imagine going to a car wash that doubles as a dance party!
All that’s necessary for this event are sponges, soap, and hands ready to work. But put your spin on it to make the car wash unique to your organization.
13. Chili Cookoff
Invite members in your community to show off their best chili recipe!
People pride themselves on fantastic chili recipes. Challenge your neighbors to a cookoff to find out who has the best chili in town. To determine the winners, you’ll need to assign staff members or volunteers as a panel of judges.
Require a registration fee for those who wish to enter into the competition. Don’t forget to provide a prize to the winner. You may choose to make this an annual event for the community to look forward to each year.
If chili isn’t your thing, barbeque is another classic option for this unique fundraising competition.
14. Host a Craft Fair
Get crafty! Show off your community’s crafting ability by selling their goods at a craft fair.
Selling the crafts of local artists is a great way to get the name of those artists to the community while promoting your organization. There are two ways to host a craft fair in your area.
The first option is to ask for donations from local artists, such as paintings, soap, candles, and other homemade goods. Then sell these goods to the community.
The second option is to gather tents and tables, then ask local artists to pay a fee to set up at the fair. They will sell their goods and spread their name while you fundraise.
Bonus: Combine your craft fair with other fundraisers to get the most out of the day! For instance, engage your audience further with a raffle at the fair or with collection boxes for your shoe fundraiser.
15. Host a Poker Night
Gather some cards and chips for people to play a couple of rounds of poker.
Check your local regulations to determine your fundraising techniques. You may collect a portion of the pot, require an entry fee, or have people buy their chips.
Depending on your collection method, you may also choose to offer a prize to the winner of the table or an overall winner for the night.
Poker is a great way to bring people together for some healthy competition and comradery!
16. Board Game Tournament
Bring out your old board games and hold a unique tournament fundraising competition.
If you’re not a board game person, ask volunteers to bring in their favorite board game. Whether it’s Monopoly, Battleship, or Checkers, people will have a blast reminiscing over their old favorites!
Have people play against one another throughout the night so the overall board game champion may be determined to receive a prize. Require a small fee to register for the game night and watch the sign ups soar!
If you’re looking for an event for generous donors, host a classic gala!
Galas allow people with similar passions and interests to get together over good food and a common cause. Combine this gala with your silent auction or raffle to spark some friendly fundraising competition in your attendees.
Try a themed gala to turn this classic idea into a unique fundraising affair for everyone! It can be a classic costume ball, a Halloween costume party, or even themed to a popular movie series.
18. Host a Carnival
Carnivals make for a fun family outing as well as a unique fundraising opportunity for your organization!
Rent carnival games and attractions then invite people to buy tickets to the event and to participate in the attractions.
Remember to make a goal for the event and set up a committee of volunteers. With large affairs such as this one, you may find it easier to plan this event using event management software.
19. Video Game Tournament
Hosting a video game tournament is a unique fundraising idea that will gather all ages for a night of competition and fun!
Bring in your favorite video game console and some classic games such as Mario Kart, Super Smash Bros, Sonic, etc. Ask for a small fee to enter the competition, and let the games begin!
Offer a prize to the winner. This may be a new video game console, a gift certificate, or any number of game favorites.
20. Potluck Dinner
Potluck dinners are a super easy way to bring people together for a night of great food and conversation.
Invite people to bring their favorite dish to the dinner. People love showing off family recipes to their community.
Charge a donation fee at the door and enjoy dinner! Potluck dinners are less expensive than eating out at a restaurant, plus you get to try all sorts of home-cooked food. From the donations to the delicious meal, everyone has something to enjoy at this unique fundraising event.
Don’t forget to bring up your shoe drive fundraiser in conversation and tell everyone where you will set up collection materials!
Other Unique Fundraisers
21. Restaurant Giving Night
Partner with restaurants around your area for a restaurant giving night.
On these nights, a portion of the proceeds collected at the restaurant are allocated for your organization. Once you have established the partnership, encourage your supporters to eat at that restaurant on the fundraising evening.
You support the restaurant with business while they help you with proceeds. Promote the partnership event on social media, your website, or with flyers around town!
By partnering with the restaurant, you may also form a relationship where you can ask about placing your shoe donation box near their facility.
22. Penny Wars
Penny wars are perfect unique fundraising idea for highly competitive teams and groups.
How do they work? Set up various jars with the names of competing teams or groups on them. If a donor places pennies or other coins in a jar, that team gets the point for each cent collected. However, if someone puts a dollar in a jar, it counts against 100 cents.
Encourage donors to put coins in their team’s jars while placing dollars in their competitor’s jars!
Divide people into teams to compete against one another in this friendly contest. Provide a prize for the winning team. The jars will be overflowing by the end of the competition!
Invite people to show off their favorite recipes in a unique community cookbook fundraiser.
Creating a cookbook is a unique fundraising idea that everyone can get behind. People love learning new recipes and especially the homestyle cooking of their neighbors.
First, collect your favorite recipes and ask local individuals and businesses for donations of recipes. Then, sell the community cookbook back to the community. This is an easy way to raise money and to learn some unique recipes at the same time!
24. Used Book Sale
Hosting a used book sale is a simple, easy, and unique fundraising idea that anyone can do!
Ask for donations of books from your community. Set up donation boxes in your facility and ask local businesses if they will hold donation boxes as well. As the books pile up, so will the size of your fundraiser.
Then sell these collected books at a used book sale. Advertise the sale by hanging flyers around the community and by posting your favorite authors on social media.
25. Sip and Paint Class
Host a BYOB paint and sip class to help supporters show their creative side!
Invite people to pay a registration fee and attend this class to paint and sip their favorite wine at the same time. Offer an example painting for everyone to try to copy and walk them through it.
If you or your staff don’t know how to paint to teach the class, encourage a local artist to come in and give beginner’s painting tips to everyone.
Free Unique Fundraising Resources
Looking for more information about fundraising for your organization?
Check out more unique fundraising ideas and other helpful tools below:
If you’re fundraising for a parent teacher organization, check out more PTO Fundraising Ideas for your next creative fundraiser.
Learn more about crowdfunding, one of our top unique fundraising ideas, by checking out Double the Donation’s lineup of the 15 Best Crowdfunding Websites.
Want to see more fundraising ideas? If you’re fundraising for your school, click here for 45+ School Fundraising Ideas.