1. Polar Plunge fundraiser
Special Olympics hosts an annual Polar Plunge every March on our region’s largest lake. Participants take pledges from sponsors, due when participants take the plunge into the chilly water. You might incorporate a similar idea for your nonprofit organization. Our Polar Plunge always gets tons of press and, of course, sponsors and donations.
2. Winter dance party
Valentine’s Day dances are popular fundraisers, but you don’t have to host your dance for Valentine’s Day (in fact, avoiding Valentine’s Day might bring more guests). I serve on a nonprofit board that hosts an annual “Luau on the Lake” each February, an indoor dance/party fundraiser that attracts around 600 guests. We hold it on Valentine’s Day weekend, but we don’t promote it as a Valentine’s Day dance; rather, it’s a party that’s open to everyone. Add in live music, drinks, a silent auction, raffles, a 50-50 and prizes for “best dressed” and “best T-shirt,” and everyone has a blast raising money for our cause.
3. Beer Olympics
Several local establishments in my area host “Beer Olympics” fundraisers for various causes. Essentially, people form teams that compete against one another in various tasks and games – all the while drinking beer. Teams pay to play, sponsors get on board to promote their products and services, and such events raise good money for great causes. No refunds for hangovers.
4. Super Bowl party donation
If a local pub or sports bar is hosting a big Super Bowl party, consider asking them to donate a portion of that night’s proceeds to your cause. In return, of course, you’ll help market the event to all of your members and the community. It’s a win-win situation: you get proceeds from one of the establishment’s busiest nights, and they make it up from all the new customers you bring in.
5. Community arrest
One of our local nonprofits hosts an annual fundraiser in which the local police department “arrests” community leaders and takes them to a hotel, where local media members snap photos of the leaders behind bars, in handcuffs, etc. The “suspects” are then taken to their “cells,” where they can use their phone calls to ask friends and family members for donations to the cause, or “bail.” Once they’ve met their bail, they’re set free.