There are many ways to put creative spins on traditional events, from incorporating themes to adding gamification. Sometimes, however, no matter what you do, your fundraising calendar won’t inspire the excitement you’re hoping to see in your nonprofit’s audience. What do you do in that scenario?

When adding twists to your existing events isn’t sparking joy anymore, it’s time to rework the foundation of your events by choosing unique and creative fundraising ideas. We’ll help you do that—this guide will cover five unique fundraising ideas you can use to spice up your next event. With a thrilling new fundraiser on the calendar, your nonprofit’s audience will be eager to attend and lend your organization the support it needs to power its mission.

Charity eCards

If you’ve ever wandered down the greeting card aisle at a grocery store, you have a pretty good idea of what an eCard looks like—only instead of a physical card, it’s digital. eCardWidget defines charity eCards as electronic greeting cards nonprofit supporters can send to loved ones to celebrate special occasions while supporting a charitable cause.

To convert your charity eCards into fundraising tools, treat them like products in a merchandise sale. Create various fun designs branded or related to your nonprofit in some way, and add them to your organization’s online shop. Then, encourage your supporters to purchase and send them as greeting or celebration cards.

This fundraising idea allows you to tap into a pre-existing desire—the need to celebrate special occasions with friends and family. By purchasing your charity eCards, supporters can fulfill this desire while supporting your nonprofit. Plus, if they have peers living across the country, they won’t need to worry about mail times. Your digital cards are sure to arrive promptly!

Unconventional Auctions

Although auctions are tried-and-true fundraising events, you and your nonprofit’s supporters may appreciate the novelty of an unconventional auction format. Instead of relying on your usual silent or live auctions, consider hosting one of these:

  • Themed auction. With this auction, you’ll only procure auction items that relate to a specific theme you set ahead of time. Your theme can be related to your mission or another idea relevant to your audience. For example, an environmental conservation nonprofit may choose to do a “green auction,” where all items are environmentally friendly or green in color. Or, another nonprofit hosting an event near Halloween might make the holiday their auction theme.
  • Sealed bid auction. In a sealed bid auction, bidders will submit their bids privately, without knowing the bids of other participants. At the end of the event, you’ll go through your items one by one, opening up bids and reading them aloud, with the highest bid winning the event. This is a great idea to incentivize attendees to bid large amounts on items they want.
  • Dutch auction. Dutch auctions are almost the reverse of a usual auction. Instead of starting with a low asking price and having attendees bid larger amounts, the auctioneer will start with a high asking price that is lowered until a bidder accepts the price. The bidder will pay that amount and win the item.
  • Penny auction. Also known as a penny social, this type of auction is best for smaller-scale auctions with less valuable items. Each auction item will have a container in front of it, and attendees will place the tickets they purchase into the container in front of their desired item. Although tickets are traditionally purchased for a penny, you may increase this amount depending on your event and the items up for auction.

Much like with any other auction event, be sure to procure valuable auction items, ensure a fast and convenient check-in process, and provide a streamlined bidding experience to ensure attendees have a positive experience and leave with fun memories.

Paper Airplane Contest

A paper airplane contest is a great way to engage your nonprofit’s families, get younger generations involved with your mission, and inspire their creativity. This is how it works:

  1. Set up a large grid on the floor of your venue.
  2. In each grid box, place a sign detailing a specific prize.
  3. When attendees arrive, they’ll fold and decorate their paper airplanes, paying for each plane they create.
  4. Once they’re finished, they’ll line up to throw their paper airplane toward the grid on the floor.
  5. The participant will receive the prize in the box their paper airplane landed in.

For this fundraising idea, you’ll need a large venue to accommodate thrown paper airplanes. You’ll also want to stock up on paper and writing implements so participants can fold and decorate their airplanes. In terms of prizes, they don’t need to break the bank—they can be as simple as snacks or other branded merchandise.

Murder Mystery Dinner

Although a murder mystery dinner sounds sinister, it’s a novel fundraising idea that’s sure to draw in a crowd. If you’ve ever played Clue, this event shares some similarities. It’s an interactive (and sometimes comedic) dinner experience where participants solve a fictional murder together.

Usually, attendees receive a character to play and are given a profile that details the character’s personality, background, and relationship with the victim and other guests. The host will provide clues to help solve the crime, and the participants will work together to determine which one of them murdered the victim. Often, even the killer won’t know that they’re the murderer!

While this fundraising idea is creative and unique, one of its drawbacks is that it may have a large upfront cost. However, you can mitigate that by enlisting the help of local small businesses. According to MassageBook, a partnership like this can be extremely beneficial to small businesses, as they’ll be effectively promoting their services to your audience. Reach out to local theater troupes and restaurants for their help, and be sure to reward them by including their branding on your nonprofit marketing materials.

Small Business Sponsor Booth

Tap into corporate giving and generosity with small business sponsor booths. This idea is best paired with another fundraising event, ideally one that takes place outdoors, such as a school fair or 5K event.

Start your search for businesses to staff your sponsor booths with:

  • Local businesses. Businesses in your area are incentivized to help their community. Reach out to small companies in your community and ask them if they’d be willing to participate in your event through a small business sponsor booth. Target businesses with offerings that your audience would enjoy to maximize the impact of your partnership.
  • Businesses in your vertical. Companies that operate in a similar vertical to your nonprofit may also be willing to help out a relevant cause. For example, a nonprofit that aims to help injured athletes receive the rehabilitation they need may reach out to physical therapists, massage businesses, gyms, and more.
  • Charitably-inclined businesses. As you conduct your search, keep an eye out for key charitable indicators. In businesses, this may look like a robust corporate social responsibility (CSR) program, previous event sponsorships, and employee volunteer programs. These companies will be more likely to support your nonprofit through a small business sponsorship booth, as they’ve demonstrated a vested interest in supporting charitable causes.

Once a business agrees to have a sponsorship booth at your event, they’ll offer perks to attendees. In the case of the massage business we mentioned above, they might offer discounted massage costs or even free massages to your guests. They may even be willing to split the proceeds from your event with your nonprofit.

Through small business sponsorship booths, you can offer attendees a more unique and creative event experience. Be sure to support your partners in their promotional efforts by shouting them out on your social media pages and thanking them in your end-of-events speech.

And there you have it—five unique fundraising ideas you can use to spice up your next event! These suggestions will draw in supporters and bring a fresh way for them to support your nonprofit. Be sure that your organizational infrastructure supports diverse fundraising ideas by investing in event management software that empowers you to handle events of different formats.