How To Guide for Special Event Fundraising

Your Guide to Special Events

Download Silent Auction Guide Here


1.    100.00 Turnaround - Give fundraisers $100 for materials to create something (ex. a table, cake, piece of art) and have them sell it to raise funds. Considerations: Ask around your community for businesses and individuals willing to sponsor the event.

2.    Amazon Smile – Encourage supporters to link their Amazon accounts to United Way.  This will get 0.5% back for every eligible purchase.

3.    Apparel Sale – Sell United Way gear. Contact Megan Dale to order shirts and sell to your Colleges/Departments.

4.    Art Sale – Ask people to donate their creative works of art for sale.  Perhaps hold the event at a local gallery.

5.    Awareness Bracelet – Get more recognition for your cause by selling bracelets as a fund-raiser.  

6.    Book Sale/ Book Swap - Ask people to donate books to sell.  Another option is to have a Book Swap by charging a small fee for entry and/or per book exchanged. 

7.    Change Jar – Ask people to donate spare change to help your cause.  Have different areas compete against each other.  See if businesses will set up a jar.

8.    Cookbook – Have people submit favorite recipes then sell the compilation in a cookbook.

9.    Craft Fair – Ask supporters to donate homemade items for sale or auction.  Let people know well in advance to allow them time to be creative.

10.  Entertainment Drive – Collect electronics, dvds, cds, etc to sell.

11.  Facebook Donation Now Feature – Link you Donate button to your website’s donation page. 

12.  Flower Sale – Sell wreaths, poinsettias or other flowers around holidays.

13.  Fund Raising Cards - There are many companies, both nationwide and local, that create fundraising cards, which are sold in exchange for a donation. Considerations:  your nonprofit or charity may be responsible for finding offers to put on the card. Popular fundraising card suppliers inlcude  XtramanFundraising and Easy Fundraising Cards.

14. General Sale – Ask for people to donate clothes, furniture, or any goods for a sale.  Figure out a place to store the goods, and for the sale.

15.  Giving Tree – Set up a tree in a busy area with community needs attached to the tree.  Interested donors take a need off the tree and purchase it for the agency or group.

16.  Jeans Day/ Theme Day – Encourage people in your area to dress down on Fridays by making a donation to United Way.  Make sure you have approval from the supervisor.

17.  On-Line Auction Download the How To Guide HERE! – Collect donations from people, and businesses to sell.  Things such as gift cards or crafts projects are good sellers.  Also concert or sporting events are popular.  Another idea is for people to provide services; such as horseback riding lessons or dance lessons, etc.  Or create a theme basket of goods.

18.   Phone-a-thon – Call people directly to ask for donations.

19.  Project Crowdfunding - Come up with a project that helps your community and cause and raise funds for it with a crowdfunding page. Considerations: Rely on your social media followers and email addresses from your current supporters to spread the word about your campaign.

20. Purse Sale – Ask people to donate purses and then sell.

21. Selling Trees – Purchase trees in bulk from a local nursery or Arbor Day Foundation, then sell.

22.  Social Media Blitz – Inundate your social media followers with messages about a day-long fundraising campaign.  Let people know ahead.  Use images, media and video to help publicize. 

23.  Text Donations – Create a text donation campaign to raise money.

24.  Vehicle Donations – Donate a vehicle for charity.  Car Donation Wizard is a company that can help.

25.  Viral Challenge - Challenge your supporters to record themselves doing something crazy (yet safe, of course). Try having them bob for apples or dance a jig, and then challenge their own friends and families to do the same. If they accept the challenge, they send your cause a small donation. If they don’t accept, the donation is even larger!

26.  Yankee Candle – Sell Yankee Candles to help raise money for your area


1.    Balloon Grams – Set balloons with notes of recognition inside and deliver to co-workers.

2.    Balloon Pop – Pop a balloon, then receive noted prize.

3.    Celebrity Appearance – Host a local celebrity to make an appearance for a donated entry fee.

4.    Costume Contest – Vote on the best costume by making a donation for that person

5.    Egg Hunt – Ask for a donation for children to do an Egg Hunt.

6.    Grow a Beard – Collecting sponsors for growing a beard.

7.    Haunted House – Decorate a house into a haunted house or some property into a haunted trail.  Gather decorations and recruit many volunteers to dress up in costume.

8.    Karoke – Be entertained by having co-workers sing for an entry fee.

9.    Movie Night – Host a family movie night to raise funds.

10.  Museum/ Zoo Night – Host a special evening to visit a museum or zoo.

11.  Musical Concert – Find a local musician who will perform for free or at a discount rate. 

12.  Outrageous Bet for Charity – Ask an adventurous person in your area if they would be willing to do something crazy if a certain amount of money was raised.

13.  Pennies for Paws - Have participants share their favorite photo of their pet.  Create a display board with an envelope for each.  Vote for your favorite by inserting money into envelope.  Announce weekly leaders.

14.  Pet to Work Day – Allow staff to bring their pet to work for a day for a required fee.  Make sure to clear with supervisors.

15.  Photo Contest – Have participants share their favorite photo of themselves interacting with a United Way Agency.  Create a display board with an envelope for each.  Vote for your favorite by inserting money into envelope.  Announce weekly leaders.

16.  Pie Throwing Contest – Have a supervisor agree to have a pie thrown in their face for a certain amount of donations.

17.  Pool Party – Host a pool party at someone’s house or a local pool and collect donations.  Perhaps bring food to sell.

18.  Put Your Best Shoe Forward – Have employees take a picture of their shoe only, then have people make a donation then guess to see who they think belongs to each shoe.

19.  Santa Claus Visit – Ask for donations to have kids picture taken with Santa.

20.  Shave head – Raise money by asking for donations to shave your head.

21.  Singing Valentines – Have volunteers provide a singing telegram for a donation.

22.  Talent Show Allow people to show off their many talents.  Sell tickets, food and beverages at event.



1.    Coffee Donation/Sale – Donate money for coffee provided by area.

2.    Hunger Bowl – Ask local artists to donate ceramic bowls for charity. Hold a soup dinner where proceeds go to United Way.

3.    Lunch & Learn – Invite one of the United Way agencies reps to share their mission to your area.

4.     Lunch w/Leadership – Auction off lunch with your area’s supervisor.

5.     Murder Mystery Dinner – Provide guests dinner, then plan and host a murder mystery party. 

6.    Restaurant/Store Sponsor - Ask a business to sponsor a day when a percentage of food sold goes to the United Way.

7.     Skip Meal (Hunger Challenge) – Ask staff to skip a meal and then donate funds.  An alternative is to brown bag it, instead of ordering lunch.


 Games/ Carnival

1.    Bingo – Host a Bingo night. Sell Bingo cards.  Have prizes for winners.

2.    Board Game Night/ Tourney – Have a variety of board games available for people to play in a large open space.  Charge an admission fee to play.  Another option is to host a board game tourney with prizes for winners.

3.    Carnival – Design a kid friendly carnival with games.  Donate admission proceeds.  Another options is to partner with a local carnival to see if they are willing to donate a % to the United Way.

4.    Cold Water Plunge – Ask for pledges for a co-worker to make a plunge in cold water during the winter.

5.    Drawing – Ask for donations of gifts, gift cards, tickets, etc to be raffled off.

6.    Dunk Tank – Recruit volunteers to sit in a dunk tank to raise money.  

7.    Euchre Tourney – Host a euchre night.  Prizes for winners. Entry fee.

8.    Face Painting – Set up a face painting booth.  Ask for donations at a kid friendly event.

9.    Hallway Golf – Form teams and create golf holes throughout the hall ways and/or work area.  Consider conducting a food or book drive and use these items to help make the holes. Charge a fee to participate.

10.  Jump Rope Challenge – Jumpers compete in individual or team challenge.        Winners are determined by total number of jumps or number of jumps in designated time.  Entry fee.

11.  Ornament Swap – Each participant bring in two wrapped ornaments.  Distribute the ornaments white elephant style.   Entry Fee.

12.  Poker Walk – Have 5 stations along a walking route.  At each Station the     walkers pick up a playing card.  At the end of the walk special prizes are   given to people with the best poker hand.

13.  Price is Right – Let people guess the “retail value” of services provided by                        United Way Agencies.  The one who guesses the closest without going over get to come down to play a game based on the classic Price is Right game show.

14.  Pumpkin Carving – Participants carve pumpkins.  Prizes awarded for various categories.  Entry fee to participate or fee to vote.

15.  Scavenger Hunt – This could be done online (through pictures) or in person.  Create a list of items needed to win the hunt. Entry fee.

16.  Tricycle Races – Ask people to create teams with multiple riders to have a   relay race in the work area.  Allow for pledges or for people to make bets    on winning team.  Ensure that course is well marked for safety.  Set up    course so many can view the race. 

17.  Trivia Night – Host a trivia night with an entry free.  Consider partnering with a local bar.



1.    Baby Sitting – Volunteers agree to babysit for United Way donations.

2.    Car Wash – Wash cars for a set fee of for donations to the United Way.

3.    Holiday Wrapping – Wrap presents for set fee or donations to the United Way.

4.     Prime Parking – Ask upper level management to donate their parking space for a short period of time.  This could be a raffle or donation.

5.    Talent Auction – Ask co-workers to auction off their talent for a set period of time for a donation.  For example gardening skills, handyman skills, dance lessons, craft skills, crocheting, scrapbooking, drawing, etc.




1.    10,000 Steps Challenge – Team members pledge to walk 10,000 steps a day over a particular time frame in exchange for sponsorships.

2.    5K Event – Sponsor a 5K to raise money for United Way.

3.    Corn Hole Tourney – Host a corn hole tourney.  Prizes for winners.  Charge an admission fee to play. 

4.    Croquet Tourney - Host a croquet tourney.  Prizes for winners.  Charge an admission fee to play. 

5.    Fantasy Football – Form a work fantasy football league.  Entry fee for playing and prizes for winners.   

6.    Golf Tourney - Host a golf tourney.  Prizes for winners.  This could be Putt-Putt. Charge an admission fee to play. 

7.    March Madness Bracket – Participants make their bracket choices for an entry fee.  Prizes to the winners.

8.    Obstacle Course – Create a fun obstacle course for participants to test their skills at.  Entry fee.

9.    Ping Pong Tourney - Host a ping pong tourney.  Prizes for winners.  Charge an admission fee to play. 

10.  Swim a Thon – Partner with an area pool.  Sponsor swimmers for swimming specific distances.

11.  Work Out Challenge – Participants enjoy a workout(s) to raise funds.  See if a trainer will volunteer to host.