Fall is the time for gathering. Be it around a fire, dinner table, or football field, fall has a way of bringing us together to celebrate abundance. With so many popular autumn activities, this season is a perfect time for your organization to host a themed fundraising event. Get your creative juices flowing with our list of fun fall fundraising ideas.
- Harvest Dinner
Organize a dinner featuring local chefs and businesses. For example, serve a sample of beverages from a local brewery, or liven things up with a local musician. Sell tickets for a seat at the table and attract sponsors by offering to promote their brand on event paraphernalia and on your donation and registration pages. The Emilio Nares Foundation does a great job of promoting these perks to potential sponsors. On their Harvest for Hope event page, they outline exactly what sponsors will receive in exchange for their different donation sizes.
- Pumpkin Carving Contest
Donations can come in the form of a registration fee to enter the contest. Then, either partner with local farmers for pumpkins or ask guests to “Bring Your Own Pumpkin (BYOP).” On top of registration fees, the GUTS pumpkin-carving competition raises money every year to support the Make-A-Wish Foundation through a silent auction, and with food, drink, and merchandise sales. They also receive donations outside of the event, asking those who can’t attend to make a donation online.
- Halloween or Thanksgiving Foot Races
A well-organized run/walk could be your most successful event of the year. Raise money for your organization with a spook-tacular 5K or a turkey trot (a well-established Thanksgiving day tradition for those of us not on kitchen duty). You can even organize a virtual 5K with an online fundraising platform. Virtual 5Ks ask participants to register to run a certain distance on their own, often in exchange for a T-shirt or finisher’s medal. This is a great way to scale the impact of a physical event and give runners the option to participate no matter where they are.
- Grape Stomp or Winery Tour
‘Tis the season to stain your feet purple. Pair up with a nearby winery and sell tickets for both a tasting and entry into a grape stomping competition. According to the Sonoma County Harvest Fair, where they host the annual World Championship Grape Stomp, the contest consists of teams of two. While one team member uses their feet to squish grapes in a barrel, the other assists the flow of the juice into a jug by cleaning skins away from the screen and pushing juice to the pipe. The first team to fill the jug is the winner. This event is great for participants and onlookers alike. Empower participants to leverage their network for donations and ask stompers to fundraise a minimum amount for entry.
- House Party
A house party can be a great way to interact with your supporters face-to-face and humanize the work of your organization. Host a costume party, set up a haunted house, or organize a fall foods potluck. Sell tickets, snacks, and refreshments for a donation. Attendees can even donate to enter an apple bobbing or best dressed competition.
- Pie Eating Contest
Appeal to a local bakery for donated pies, and offer publicity for their business in your communications, pamphlets, and online event page. Recruit a volunteer MC to amp up the theatrics and ask participants to enter for a minimum gift amount.
- Giant Pumpkin Regatta
Believe it or not, you can have contestants race in giant, hollowed-out pumpkins on a body of water for a prize. We’re not kidding. The organization Navigate hosted a Giant Pumpkin Regatta where organizations paid to have representatives race enormous pumpkin boats on Lake Champlain. In addition to the pumpkin race, they also hosted a festival with crafts, activities, and concessions to fuel their athletic participants.
- Harvest Festival
If you want to host a bigger fundraiser and attract large pools of supporters, a Harvest Festival can be a great way to raise awareness and gifts for your cause. Sell tickets for admission and booth space to vendors. Ask for sponsorships in exchange for brand promotion on event T-shirts, merchandise, or even within the festival name.
If your city already puts on a festival, reach out to the festival officials to form a partnership, or rent a booth and design an activity related to your cause to engage the crowd and ask for donations.
- Chili Cook-Off
Sell tickets to both cook-off competitors and attendees who simply want to sample the chili. Appeal to prominent chefs to register for the competition or to sit on a judge panel. Large sponsors could also sit on the panel, or you can ask attendees to cast votes. The Chili for Charity Cook Off awards a number of different titles including a “People’s Choice,” “Best in Show,” and “Judged Chili.” Be sure to fork over a trophy and bragging rights to first place.
- Football Tournament
With the football season underway, fall is great time to host a football tournament. Ask participants to start a team and recruit friends. Expand your event’s potential by creating multiple divisions. The Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, for instance, asks participants to register for the competitive, casual, or kids division. They also establish a minimum amount supporters must raise to compete. “We strongly request that each team raise a minimum of $1,000. If each team has an average of 10 players, each individual needs to raise only $100.”
Mix it up: Instead of traditional football, hold a powderpuff tournament with female players and male cheerleaders, or even a quidditch tournament for Harry Potter fans. Don’t forget about your spectators—sell hot mugs of butterbeer to warm up the crowd.