Until we had to learn to live with the consequences of a pandemic, few of us realised how dependent traditional fundraising is on social events. Goodbye bake sales, coffee mornings, barn dances, bingo nights and pop up restaurants. So many of the ways in which we fundraise are now on hold for the foreseeable future and we need to think of ways to raise money in a socially distant world. Here are 50 ideas for increasing awareness for your cause and getting some valuable donations while large-scale social events are off limits.
Remember how nuts everyone went for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in 2014? Millions of people were videoed dousing themselves in ice-cold water and nominating others to do the same. The initiative raised over $220 million for motor neurone disease charities and people continue to be reminded of the cause when their challenge videos pop up as memories on their social media channels. It was a winning formula; it was easy to do, it appealed to our competitive and narcissistic tendencies, it took advantage of social media pressure and it attracted a few high profile celebrity participants. Try to think of a photogenic challenge that is easy to do and relevant to your cause and you could be on to a winner.
This idea could work well for smaller causes with a strong local community support base. Ask people to donate their time and/or skills and then auction them off on an online platform. As many elderly and health compromised people are still shielding, services such as dog walking, shopping, prescription collecting and similar could fill a real community need, as well as raise valuable funds.
Design some attractive medals or put together some suitably attractive prizes and challenge people to run/cycle/walk/hop/skip as far as possible in a given time frame. They can then submit Strava/Garmin/Fitbit proof of their endeavours via email and you can select winners for various categories, such as fastest mile, furthest travelled, best fancy dress, strangest mid-challenge sight etc. Basic funds can be raised from entry fees, but you could create event merchandise too, if you feel that the number of entrants warrants it.
If you don’t want to organise others for a sporting event, you could undertake an individual challenge. This could be as straight forward as getting sponsorship for running a 10k, half marathon or full marathon on your local roads or as madcap as dressing up as a kangaroo and jumping around your neighbourhood for as long as possible.
With supermarkets and food outlets forced to u-turn on re-usables and revert to throw-away packaging to reduce the likelihood of virus transmission, our public spaces are going to be more in need than ever of a good clean up. Challenge people to get sponsored to pick up as much litter as they possibly can in a designated day and offer a prize to the person who a) collects the most and b) gets the most sponsorship money.
This can be themed to your cause, so would work really well for an animal shelter, to which could people submit pictures of their much-loved pets. Charge a minimal entry fee, offer a really worthwhile prize and make sharing the competition a condition of entry, so that you get maximum exposure.
When the London Marathon had to be removed from the sporting calendar in April, the charity sector had to get creative to make up some of the money that would have been raised by the event. The 2.6 Challenge asked people to come up with any fundraising idea that involved the numbers ‘two’ and ‘six’. Some people ran 2.6 miles and made a donation to a favourite charity while others took things further, running 2.6 miles backwards in 26 minutes, baking 26 cookies and delivering them to family and friends, wearing full cricket kit non-stop for 26 hours. The possibilities were endless and the self-imposed challenges helped to raise a bit of the shortfall from the postponed marathon.
As the pandemic continues and more events are cancelled, postponed or are taking place behind closed doors, there are even more opportunities to come up with fundraising challenges in their honour… Living Room Olympics anyone?
During lockdown, people spent more time with their immediate families than they had done for years. Some people will have be using a prison-style tally chart to mark off the days until they can escape, but others will have relished this opportunity to spend more time with their closest family and would definitely be up for a fundraising challenge that involved everyone in the household. This could be anything from a Give Me Ten challenge where, for example, mum and dad run ten miles each and the kids each run ten laps of the local recreation ground, or a Come Dine With Me challenge, where each family member is responsible for the dinner and entertainment one night of the week and everyone else votes on the best evening.
If you were planning a musical evening or a comedy night for your chosen cause and have had to re-think your plans thanks to Coronavirus, you could still run the event online and live stream it to your audience. It is unlikely that you will be able to charge full price for tickets, but it may help you to generate some funds and keep your cause alive in people’s minds.
If you have a hidden talent such as playing the tin whistle, watercolour painting or crocheting and think you have the patience and panache to teach others to do it too, you could raise money by offering online tutorials. These could be one-offs or run as a course, depending on what you are teaching and the time you have available.
No need to go to the hairdressers for this one, just grab the clippers (or borrow some if you don’t own any) and dare to bare your scalp for charity. Get someone in your household to record your efforts on their phone and share the footage on social media, ensuring that it is shareable and tagging the charity you are fundraising for in your post, so that people who don’t know you but support your chosen cause have the opportunity to sponsor you too.
If lockdown has brought out the de-cluttering demon in you, turn some of your pre-loved items into a charitable donation by registering with Ziffit or Music Magpie. Scan barcodes on your old books, DVDs, games and CDs and donate the money you receive to your chosen cause. Both companies will send a courier to collect your items, so you don’t even have to leave the house.
Use the social media buzz around your birthday to raise awareness and valuable funds for a charity close to your heart. If you have a story behind your fondness for that particular charity, use your birthday as an opportunity to tell it, because it is that personal connection that will resonate with your friends and encourage more donations.
Many pubs that were famed for their quizzes pre-lockdown have successfully taken their trivia tests online. Use their winning formula to create your own online charity quiz and either charge a fee for participation or ask people to match the cost of the drinks they consume during the quiz as a charitable donation. Paying twice for a shop-bought drink is still cheaper than drinking in a bar and a good cause will benefit in the process.
If lockdown forced you to work from home when you normally commute to an office, calculate how much you have saved and donate it. Share your calculations on social media to encourage others to do the same.
If you frequently commuted long distances for work and the above calculation resembles the third world debt total, go more manageable and donate the cost of your take away coffee instead. Again, share your calculations on social media to encourage more people to get involved.
If the cake stall is always the most popular at your local charity event, take the trouble to collect the usual baked donations from everyone, sell them online and then deliver them to the buyers. This only works for small, local events, but it could really benefit people who are shielding and could do with a sweet treat to cheer themselves up.
If you are furloughed and responding to all emails with an out of office response, you could add a donation link to your auto email (if it is appropriate for your line of work and agreed with management). This would work especially well if your workplace is affiliated with a certain charity and you are keen to keep fundraising for it despite the difficult circumstances.
If, for whatever reason, the Coronavirus pandemic has left you with a bit of extra time on your hands, donate that time to a good cause. A number of volunteer co-ordinating organisations are arranging to collect prescriptions, go shopping and generally support people who are shielding and it is an easy way for many of us to give something back to the local community.
If you are using your down time to knit, crochet, paint, draw or jewellery-make you can raise money for charity by selling your crafts via an online selling site such as Ebay or Etsy. You can use your product listings to explain why the proceeds are going to your chosen cause, as this can help to engage potential buyers and close a sale or two.
Traditionally a sponsored walk involves getting together with lots of other people to walk a given route on a given day, but it doesn’t have to be organised that way. You could give all participants different designated start times to walk the same route or challenge people to walk a certain number of miles and leave them to calculate a route of the required distance (sending you the activity tracker evidence afterwards).
An easy one to organise and manage at a distance, a t-shirt fundraiser is also a great way to raise funds and also awareness of your cause. You can run the designing of the t-shirt as an online competition and then run a campaign that rewards donations over a certain amount with a t-shirt printed with the winning design.
It’s not quite the same vibe as sitting round a table with some of your favourite people, but it does provide the opportunity to catch up with friends and raise a bit of money for a good cause. Share the recipes for each course in advance of the party, so that discussion of how easy each one was to prepare, how it tastes and any cooking disaster anecdotes can form part of the conversation. Ask people to donate the ingredients cost or the cost of the wine to a chosen charity. If people are willing and able to you could make it a recurring event and theme each dinner to a national cuisine.
This is a thoughtful gesture at any time, but could be particularly appreciated at the moment, when social distancing is causing some people to feel really lonely and the delivery of a sweet treat and a personalised note could really make their day. Buy a wholesale bag of popular sweets (avoid chocolate, as you cannot be sure it won’t melt in transit) and design a few different cards that people can choose from to send out with their candygram. If you can, print these cards with your social media details and encourage recipients to share their thank-yous online and tag you in their posts.
Reading is a great way to pass the time, especially if you are shielding or self-isolating and your entertainment options are limited. By setting up a virtual book club you can turn your reading into an opportunity for socialising and fundraising too. You can use social media to set up your group and then either discuss it via online messages or get everyone to log into video chat at a designated time to talk about it. You can pre-agree a charity donation amount for each book, or donate the cost of the book to your chosen cause.
If you prefer the silver screen to the printed word, you could try setting up a virtual film club instead. You can use social media to gather interest in your group and to let everyone know what to watch and when. Members can take it in turns to choose the film and discussion can be conducted via text chat or a virtual meeting program such as Zoom.
If your charity or cause offers a local service, such as home nursing in a given geographical area, you are in a great position to approach local businesses, which you know have not suffered hugely due to Coronavirus, to ask them for a donation. It’s good PR for them to be donating to a local cause and businesses are usually able to donate more than individuals.
The traditional mass-start of a sponsored cycle ride cannot be sanctioned at the moment, but that doesn’t mean you can’t organise bike-based fundraisers. Set participants the challenge of covering a certain number of miles over a course of their choice and make things more interesting by asking them to tick off a checklist of things along the way (strangest bit of discarded rubbish, their reflection in the most unusual place, the most interesting cloud, an animal, something shiny – there are lots of options and all you have to do is make sure that they can all be achieved whilst social distancing). All the items can be photographed on smart phones and submitted via social media, which will give your accounts a huge boost.
The popularity of TikTok suggests that many of us think we are backing dancers who have missed our vocation. Channel this energy into a danceathon, in which event participants raise sponsorship for dancing for a certain amount of time, perhaps 12, 24 or 36 hours. In a socially distant world this cannot be done in a village hall or sports venue with an encouraging audience, but teams could get together via an online meeting platform, individual team members dancing in their home for a given amount of time before handing over to another team member to continue the relay.
If you have been using lockdown as an excuse to hone your gaming skills, put them to the test with an online gaming tournament. The gaming community is notoriously generous when it comes to charitable giving, having raised an estimated $75 million for charity between 2012 and 2017, so it could be a big earner for your cause. Choose a popular game, such as FIFA or Call of Duty and give the tournament a time limit so that it doesn’t drag on.
Take to Zoom for an evening of exciting greyhound racing from the comfort of your own home. race-night.uk was created at the beginning of lockdown by two friends from Swindon who wanted to have a bit of socially distant fun during their family video chats. The race-night.uk website allows users to log in mid-meeting and place hypothetic bets on a race that all participants then watch together. Make those bets charitable rather than hypothetical and you have yourself a fundraiser.
Cafes, pubs and restaurants have reopened (at reduced capacity in order to accommodate social distancing) but many people may be reluctant to risk enclosed public spaces just for the sake of a latte or a pint. However, they may be persuaded if they thought that their actions had a charitable element. Talk to local businesses and see if they would be prepared to donate a portion of sales of a specific dish or drink to your cause. It could get both of you valuable publicity and encourage people to support local businesses and a good cause.
Churches and supermarkets are providing safe, socially distant ways for us to donate gifts of food when we shop or as we are passing the church doors. Dropping off a couple of tins or packets as and when you are able to is a great way to support people who are really struggling during the pandemic.
This one works best in a local community with a small group of participants. Deliver miniatures of a selection of wines to each household that signs up and then get everyone together on a video meeting platform to sample each one. If you are a particularly avid wine buff, you could even suggest cheeses to pair with each bottle.
By signing up to easyfundraising you can turn your online shopping into donations for your favourite cause at no additional cost. Just start your online shopping at the easyfundraising website, then shop as normal. Our retailers will then make a small donation to your chosen cause to say “thank you” for shopping with them.
There is nothing quite so decadent as high tea, with perfectly triangular cucumber sandwiches and a selection of delicious cakes. No one just makes themselves fancy tea though, they need a good excuse, such as a charitable cause. Get your guests to sign up online, share cake recipes, sandwich ideas and cooking tips beforehand and then login to a video meeting platform to share tea with others from the comfort of home.
If you are fed up with hearing the words ‘coronavirus’, ‘COVID-19’ and ‘PPE’ get your household on board with a swear jar, where any mention of the above words requires them to feed the jar with their loose change. It’s amazing how quickly the coins will add up!
Many people have used lockdown as an opportunity to sort out their wardrobes. Go online and challenge people to share the biggest fashion disaster they unearthed in their clear out and then get everyone to vote the worst one as the winner.
If there is a charity that is particularly close to your heart, set up an online fundraising page, share your story with others and direct people to it via social media. Sometimes seeing that a friend or relative has a personal connection to a cause is enough to get people donating generously and spreading the word to their own contacts.
Both gathering prizes and selling tickets for this fundraising classic can be done remotely in order to observe social distancing. You can request online vouchers as prizes or post/hand-deliver the prizes afterwards. It may be worth recreating part of the buzz of a traditional draw by picking out the numbers live on social media though, so that people can watch and comment if their number comes up.
In an age where coins and paper money are considered less desirable than a germ-free contactless card payment, it may be worth talking to local businesses to see if they are happy to put a collection tin at their till point for your cause. People may be using cash less, but those who are using it may be happier than ever to let retailers pop their change into a charity collection.
An easy activity to organise within the current guidelines, especially if the dog can be picked up and dropped off to a garden, without any need for contact or going inside the owners house. It could reduce the anxiety levels for dog owners who are isolating or having to work long hours from home. You can charge a small fee per walk and the total will soon add up if it becomes a regular commitment.
Social distancing has led people to place even more value on sending and receiving cards and gifts in the post. Raise some money for your cause by getting some cards printed and selling them singly or in packs via a selling site such as ebay or etsy. Remember to print your contact details and social media handles on the back so people can look up your cause.
To keep this manageable, it will probably need to involve a smaller group than you would get if you hosted your evening at a school or village hall. However, you can still generate funds by sending out bingo cards to participants in advance of your event and then getting everyone together on a video meeting platform to draw the numbers. Cash prizes can be transferred online and other prizes can be posted out afterwards.
It seems that every day of the year is now designated to raising awareness of a certain cause or condition. Look through an online calendar of awareness days for this year and find out if any of them are applicable to your cause. You can then set up social media campaigns around their designated hashtags and potentially gain funds from people who are new to your specific charity or cause but are interested in the sector in which you are working.
The perfect fundraising solution for bookworms and introverts who are secretly delighted by social distancing, a readathon can easily be organised remotely and prizes can be offered to the person who reads the most books and the person who raises the most in sponsorship.
If the coronavirus pandemic has created a shortfall in funding for a specific project, create a targeted campaign for the amount you need to raise. Aiming for a specific amount will encourage donators to contribute and it makes smaller sums feel like less of a drop in the ocean than an open-ended campaign.
Dry January is not going to be particularly hard whilst social distancing makes trips to the pub a bit less fun than they used to be. However, a month without turning on the TV (for Freeview, Sky, Netflix or Prime) could be a huge challenge for many of us who have come to rely on screen-based entertainment during lockdown.
We’ve never had more practice at a good night in, so turn this to your advantage and get people together online to socialise and raise a toast to your cause. You can ask participants for a set donation or ask them to donate the cost of their average proper night out on the town, before such things became so complicated!
With so many dressy occasions postponed or cancelled, now is a great opportunity for you to create a social media buzz (and some valuable funds) by challenging people to get glammed up to do the washing up, take the bins out or walk the dog. Get participants to post selfies to your social pages, create a short list and then ask your followers to vote for the overall winner.