10 Community Fundraising Ideas: From Local Events to Online Campaigns

Choosing the right fundraising ideas for your organisation and managing them with thought and skill can bring huge benefits. Fundraising activities can boost awareness, engage supporters, encourage donations and allow your organisation to secure the funds it needs to continue important work. 

To realise the potential of fundraising, you’ll need to organise creative, distinctive and appealing events, both online and off. Here we suggest 10 community fundraising ideas, split into local events and online campaigns to help inspire you to fundraising success.

Local Community Fundraising Ideas

Fundraising in your community (link to Community Fundraising Guide) can help your organisation create connections and build relationships with local people. You may also be able to engage with members of government, businesses and other interest groups. It can be vital in generating support and giving you access to resources, both financial and otherwise. For community fundraising, consider:

1. Community Fairs

Fairs are highly visible community events that can attract large numbers of attendees, raising substantial awareness and donations. To make the most of a fair, aim to offer a wide range of attractions to appeal to different groups. These could include activities for children, entertainment for adults, diverse food stalls, arts and crafts, games and competitions, live music, raffles and auctions, and other live acts like comedy. 

Involve the broader community by inviting businesses and community groups to host their own stalls or run parts of the entertainment.

2. Charity Runs or Walks

Sponsored runs or walks can be an effective and simple way to invite members of your community to get involved in your fundraising. You can raise donations either by charging an entry fee for competitors or by allowing them to raise sponsorship from friends and family that they then donate to your organisation.

If possible, give the run/walk a theme based on your organisation’s work to ensure you remain prominent. While sponsored runs or walks are often one-off events, consider making them a regular event, like parkrun.

3. Local Art Auctions

Collaborating with local artists for charitable auctions can be a fantastic way to support the arts in your local community while also raising funds for your cause. You can use the resources available to your charity to raise awareness of artists and provide a venue for their work to be sold, with a portion of the sales going towards your cause.

When holding such an auction or sale, it’s important to clearly define the terms and agreements for all parties involved, including the buyers, and to establish a clear purpose for the event. Try to involve a range of artists, with different styles and approaches, to offer potential bidders plenty of choice.

4. Community Cook-Offs

Another fun and engaging idea to bring the community together while raising funds for your cause is a cooking competition. Funds can be generated by charging entry fees, selling dishes, simply by requesting donations, or even via sponsorship from local businesses. 

Pick an appealing theme for the event and take inspiration from popular cooking TV shows to decide on a fun format. You can also create a lively atmosphere with additional music, entertainment and cooking demonstrations.

5. Car Boot and Jumble Sales

Events where second-hand goods can be sold are always popular, and more so today than ever due to rising costs of living. Your organisation can raise funds by asking for goods to be contributed that can then be sold, or you can provide a venue where people can sell for themselves and then request a certain percentage of earnings are donated.

You’ll need to find a suitable location to host these events, ask for volunteers to help run them, and provide a system to manage financial transactions during the sale – this could be a central checkout area or mobile payment options if feasible. 

Online Community Fundraising Ideas

Online fundraising offers immense opportunities for nonprofits. Digital fundraising events and campaigns have the potential for global reach, allowing you to engage and inspire people across the world. And not only can online fundraising be effective, but you can also often do it with 

modest outlays, and comparatively lower budgets and manpower. 

Online fundraising has really boomed since the COVID-19 lockdowns, when online activities became mandatory for many nonprofits. It’s bigger than ever, and an opportunity nonprofits of all sizes can exploit. For online fundraising, consider:

6. Crowdfunding Campaigns

Crowdfunding (link to Ultimate Guide to Crowdfunding) involves collecting small donations from a large number of contributors to transform modest amounts of money into significant funding. It can be run for specific projects for a given timespan, or can be used continuously to provide a stream of ongoing revenue.

A range of crowdfunding sites are available to make it a smooth and simple process, with GoFundMe, Indiegogo, Patreon, and Kickstarter among the most popular. To make the most from crowdfunding, pick the site that offers the set of features most appropriate to your needs, and make sure you create a compelling front page, detailing the story of your cause (link to Crowdfunding Stories article), ideally with an engaging video.

7. Raise Money via easyfundraising

We offer your organisation an alternative take on crowdfunding. Rather than donating to you with their own money, with easyfundraising, your supporters can earn donations for you with their everyday shopping. All they need to do is join easyfundraising and shop with our 7,500+ online partner retailers. When they spend with one of these retailers, the retailer will donate some of what they spend to a chosen charitable cause, such as your nonprofit. 

Find out more about how easyfundraising works, then register your organisation with us as one of our good causes. To help you spread the word about using easyfundraising with your supporters, we’ll provide you with pre-written promotional templates for email campaigns and social media.

8. Virtual Charity Concerts

Virtual concerts give people the chance to watch live performances of bands and artists they wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to see, making them appealing online events. To host a virtual concert, you’ll need to contact performers and invite them to play at a closed venue that you can stream online. You can sell tickets or even auction them, depending on the needs of your organisation. 

9. Online Auctions

Auctions are traditional and popular charity events, and digital auctions offer a modern spin on the idea. Digital auctions can either be hosted live and streamed, or can be run over a longer time period, with bids placed up to a specified time limit, as per sites like eBay. You can host online auctions on Facebook or on dedicated software including AuctionWorx, BiddingOwl or Bidlogix. 

The key to making online auctions a success is offering items that are valued and unique, that supporters will be keen to bid on. You’ll also need to widely promote your auction, to make sure you attract as many bidders as possible.  

10. Social Media Challenges

Social media challenges are viral online challenges where people perform a specific dare that they then post to their social media, usually as a short video. Challenges can be diverse, ranging from the Ice Bucket Challenge and the Mannequin Challenge to the No Filter Challenges that are popular on Instagram and TikTok. 

Some have been widely successful too, like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that raised over £90 million. Luck plays a part in whether or not social media challenges catch attention and go viral. But you can boost the chances of yours doing so by making it fun (and safe) to engage in and share, as well as ensuring it’s visually eye-catching. Also try to engage with relevant influencers so that your challenge gets quick exposure to large audiences.

BONUS: 11. Webinars and Online Courses

If your charity has areas of expertise or a unique focus such as animal rescue (link to animal rescue article) or reptiles (link to reptiles article), you can tap into this and use it to your advantage. Offering online courses and webinars where you share knowledge and offer opportunities to learn about fascinating topics can be attractive to supporters. Webinars and courses also give you an opportunity to talk in more depth about your organisation’s work to help engage new donors.

You have a wide range of options when it comes to online courses and education. You can post video instructions for free on sites like YouTube to raise awareness of your nonprofit. Or you can offer videos and courses on your site for one-off payments or subscription fees. You can even utilise online education sites like Coursera or Udemy.

Supercharging your Fundraising

With creativity and passion, you can host successful fundraising events, both within your local community and worldwide online. As you plan your nonprofit’s annual strategy, try to turn successful fundraising ideas into permanent, regular activities to build your name and recognition of your fundraising events. 

Find out more about how easyfundraising can assist with your charitable fundraising, and how we can help you earn regular donations from your supporters as they shop online.