Four Fantastic Fall Fundraising Ideas

Posted by Kristin Haas on 2.8.2021

lake sorrounded by trees

Four Fantastic Fall Fundraising Ideas

With the tax year ending December 31, donors are more likely to donate to their favorite nonprofits in the last three months of the year than any other time.  It is important to start planning and promoting your fall fundraisers right now to capture the three months of generosity. 


Prepare for success 

For any fundraising to be successful, your nonprofit should focus on cultivating strong relationships with donors and the community throughout the year. Include regular updates, personalized thank-you notes (especially for large donors), and story-based fundraising in your communications engagement methods. Donors want to feel like an informed and important part of your team. Your end-of-year campaigns should be an unforced extension of your normal year-round relationship with your donors. Fall is the perfect time to get people excited and ready for year-end campaigns.  Here are four fall fundraising events that are sure to bring your community together. 


Halloween Party 

A classic fall party, you can make this event as simple or complicated as you want. The simplest could entail an entrance fee that includes a costume contest for the kids, a few snacks, and some fun, fall-themed games along with a dance floor.  


Halloween parties typically have either a pumpkin carving contest or a pumpkin patch. Participants can purchase the pumpkin they “picked” or carved as an additional revenue source. Other traditional activities include pie throwing, face painting, and some kind of silent auction. There are so many fun options here! 


For prizes, auctions, or other goodies, partner with local businesses that can provide in-kind donations to support your event. Businesses are also often happy to give small coupons even if you just walk into their store one day with no prior relationship. Consider reaching out for pumpkin donations! 


Fundraising Run 

There are several traditional runs in the fall including pumpkin runs, color runs, turkey trots, or Halloween costume runs. Participants can set up peer-to-peer fundraising or crowdfunding to raise money for your organization. A great aspect of these events is they will be well represented on social media as people share their running accomplishments and spread the word of your cause further. 


Chili Cook-off 

Everyone loves a chili cook-off! The fundraising aspect of this event can follow a few different formats. Contest participants can pay a fee to enter. You should consider offering prizes for winners of each category to incentivize people to enter the competition.  


Another possible fundraising structure is making the contest free to enter for chili making participants but the public buys tickets to enter the event and sample the chili in an All-You-Can-Eat fashion. Alcohol sales can be extra if that does not contradict your mission. This structure is especially great for a community-based voting system where the public chooses the best chili! 


Restaurant Night Fundraiser 

This fundraising approach requires minimal investment or expense and can be a big earner for your organization. It works best for organizations with large networks such as fraternal organizations, churches, animal shelters, and more.  


To plan your restaurant night fundraiser, your organization will need to partner with a local restaurant and choose a designated night where they donate a percentage of the sales. Your organization advertises the event and encourages your supporters to come out and support both the nonprofit and the local restaurant.  


Typically, it works best for the restaurant if you agree on a night that is usually slow for them, such as Tuesdays. At the same time, you want to attract a lot of people so it should not be too inconvenient or conflict with any big events. For example, avoid the night of the State of the Union Address or the big game, unless you promote the event as a viewing. As an added bonus, this is also a great way to show support and drive customers to local restaurants who may have struggled during pandemic shut downs. 

Photo Credit: Ricardo Gomez Angel 


Topics: Strategic Plan, Events, Fundraising