Summer is just around the corner and for most of us, the long summer days mean it’s time to relax around the pool, kick back with friends, and throw something delicious on the grill. For nonprofits, however, summer can inaugurate the dreaded “summer slump” . That’s when donors take off for exotic locales, contributions can be harder to come by, and volunteers are busy doing summer things. Sound familiar?
We’re here to help you beat the slump and get ready for those sizzling Summer months that are fast approaching. These summer fundraising ideas are for all budgets and ages so that your nonprofit can maintain momentum through the warm months while your donors are enjoying all that glorious sunshine.
Summer Fundraising Ideas on a Shoestring
We get it—money’s tight. Thankfully, you don’t have to spend a lot to expand your coffers! Some of the best fundraisers cost pennies and yield big rewards. Here are a few of our faves:
Summer Fundraising Ideas #1: Pool Party
Nothing says summer like hanging by the swimming pool, and a pool party is one of the top summer fundraising ideas for kids. The good news is that many neighborhoods have community pools that you can book for free if someone on your staff lives in the area. If you don’t have access to a neighborhood pool, do a little sleuthing on gyms in the region and team up with the local YMCA, community recreation center, or hotel. Advertise the date and time and sell tickets on an easy-to-use online fundraising platform (for example, $10 for an individual ticket or $25 per family). Remind parents to bring arm floaties for toddlers!
The best thing about pool parties is that they pretty much host themselves: the pool is the activity, and attendees of all ages can splash around, relax on loungers, and mingle. That means you really don’t need to prepare much for your supporters to have a good time. Here are some tips to make your pool party extra special:
- Snacks. Offer light, summery refreshments. Think watermelon wedges, grapes, corn on the cob and plenty of water.
- Music. Blast cheerful beats—reggae is perfect for a summer fundraiser!
- Toys. Toss a few floating tubes and rafts into the pool (available for just a few dollars at most drugstores).
- Games. Get everyone involved in a game of Marco Polo, set up a volleyball net in the water, or hold a diving contest.
- Stay safe. Provide extra arm floaties for children and grab a spare tube of sunscreen!
Summer Fundraising Ideas #2: Movie Under the Stars
Summer nights are magical and one of the best ways to enjoy them is on a blanket in the park watching a classic film! Hosting a movie under the stars can be as easy as gathering a group in your own backyard, or renting a projector to set up in the local park. Sell tickets online and remind supporters to bring blankets and insect repellant, depending on your area. To get your constituency excited and spread the word, hold an online poll, and invite your supporters to vote for the film they want to see (offer 3 well-known options and 1 wacky one). To add some flair, rent a popcorn machine (an old school version goes for a reasonable $40-80 a day).
Summer Fundraising Ideas #3: Car Wash
Help your supporters polish up their rides by offering a charity car wash! Here’s what you’ll need:
- Venue. While it’s a cheap and fun way to raise extra cash, it can be tricky to find a facility that has access to a reliable water supply. Still, you’d be surprised how many car wash facilities would be happy to help out your nonprofit!
- Advertising. After you secure a venue, it’s time to advertise the heck out of it on your site, across all your social media channels, and if you’re really ambitious, post a notice in the local paper. Example: The Best $10 You Ever Spent! Youth Group Cleans Your Car While You Support a Good Cause!
- Supplies. Round up a handful of volunteers and supplies: buckets, car washing soap, window cleaner, rags, and sponges.
- Signs. While you’ll get plenty of supporters who show up because they saw your online ads, a few colorful signs to attract passing cars can’t hurt!
Summer Fundraising Ideas #4: The Race Is On
By now the nonprofit world is familiar with marathons and walk-a-thons, but a race is a rare event! If you’re on a budget, you’ll be happy to know that all you need is runners, a crowd to cheer them on, and a prize. Your summer race fundraiser can be as simple or complicated as you want it to be, from a quick loop around the local park to an intricate multi-mile course.
- First, enlist a group of enthusiastic runners who want to show off their speed.
- Second, find a park, a community running track, or even the neighborhood street (make sure to block it off, first!).
- Third, sell donation-based tickets online, with a suggested donation of $5.
- Then prepare a fun prize for the winner; movie theatre tickets or an ice cream voucher are an affordable option that will please nearly everyone.
- Finally, advertise, advertise, advertise! The great thing about sporting fundraisers is that they work so well on social media since runners and their families will be happy to post about their success. Create a catchy hashtag like #racing4good or #theraceison so that supporters can easily find and share posts.
Summer Fundraising Ideas #5: Art Walk
An art walk brings communities and supporters together to appreciate the finer things in life, even on a tight budget! All you need is access to at least two art galleries within walking distance of each other and you’ll only have to pay for the price of refreshments. Here’s how to pull it off in just 4 steps:
- Get in touch with the gallery owners or managers and tell them you want to host a fundraiser in their space. 9 out of 10 times, they’ll be enthusiastic about it since it brings in potential patrons!
- Promote your art walk on your website, social media, and donation pages, asking for online contributions from attendees.
- In each participating gallery, set up a table with light refreshments that inspire staring at artworks and nodding wisely—wine, cheese, and crackers are perennial favorites for a reason. Encourage cash donations in exchange for refreshments by setting up an attractive glass vase near the wine bottles and snacks (toss in a few dollar bills to get the ball rolling).
- Donors mingling in an art gallery with wine glasses make for beautiful and classy photos, so be sure to snap some pics to post on your website and social media accounts!
Summer Fundraising Ideas to Splurge On
There are times to tighten your belt, but there are also times to #treatyourself. Donors appreciate glitzy and one-of-a-kind events that inspire them to bring out their black ties and white gloves. Below are ideas for dazzling fundraising events that are perfect for when your nonprofit is ready to splurge!
Summer Fundraising Ideas #6: Wine Tasting + Raffle
“Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world.” —Ernest Hemingway
If a wine isn’t chi-chi, nothing is! To host a fundraiser that tops all fundraisers, gather your donors for a memorable evening of tasting luscious wines and competing in a wine pull raffle to score a truly exquisite bottle with the following steps:
- Find a venue. Book a ballroom in a hotel, an art gallery, or other event space. Make sure to make parking arrangements for attendees¬—the last thing guests will want to do is schlep 10 blocks across town in high heels!
- Sell tickets and advertise. The easiest way to sell tickets is on an online fundraising platform, where you can also sell wine pull raffle tickets (we’ll explain how that works below). A reasonable ticket price is $100 for the event and $25 to participate in the wine pull. Post ads and links to purchase tickets across all your channels, and don’t forget to send invites to all your donors and volunteers!
- Organize refreshments and music. Curate a thoughtful board of fruit, cheese, and other hors d’oeuvres. If you can’t book a live band, simply create your own playlist—something timeless and upbeat. Just make sure you’re using a state-of-the-art sound system (high-quality speakers can be rented, if necessary).
- Work with experts. Hire a sommelier who will guide your guests’ wine tasting experience. A wine expert will also be able to help you plan your wine list and select refreshments accordingly. 3-5 wines is more than sufficient, or you risk inducing palate fatigue in your guests.
- Wine pull raffle. An excellent way to spark conversation and high spirits is to invite participants to compete in a raffle. A wine pull is exactly what it sounds like: guests pull (wrapped) wines out of a crate, with the opportunity to win budget wines, mid-range wines, and at least 1 vintage bottle (think $100 and up). The best thing about a wine pull raffle is that every guest wins something!
Summer Fundraising Ideas #7: Derby Day
The annual Kentucky Derby—a horse race held each year in Louisville, Kentucky on the first Saturday of each May—is a culturally-rich and unforgettable way of reigning in the summer months! While not all of us can fly to Kentucky for the event, your nonprofit can capitalize on its buzzy energy by hosting a Derby Day Fundraiser. After finding a venue where you can play the live broadcast of the derby, promote your Derby Day across all your channels and sell tickets on your website and online fundraising platform.
To channel some of that Southern charm and let donors show their support, include a Hats and Bowties Contest to your fundraiser. Invite ladies to wear their most outrageous Derby-inspired hats and ask gentlemen to show off their style with flamboyant bowties, then award the winner with a Derby-inspired gift basket (Mint Julep Mix and Bourbon Barrel Cakes are an absolute must!).
Summer Fundraiser Ideas #8: Garden Container Challenge
While splurging in terms of cash is one thing, splurging in terms of time is another. A Garden Container Challenge is a perfect example of a fundraiser that requires a time investment, which is exactly what makes it so special! At the beginning of the summer, advertise the extra fun summer challenge for all your supporters with green thumbs. It’s a great summer activity for kids, too. Here’s how it works:
- Enter. Gardeners register online for the contest (you can charge anywhere from $10-$30 dollars per entry).
- Grow. Tell participants that they have exactly 3 months—say, May 1 to August 1—to grow a glorious garden in a container or a pot. You can decide what size the container can be, but if you want to have an in-person awards ceremony, then make sure it’s a size that’s portable! Each gardener plants and cares for their own garden in the allotted time.
- Share. During the 3-month growing period, build momentum by asking gardeners to share pictures of their works in progress. Don’t forget to post regular shoutouts and updates!
- Judge. When the 3 months are up, gather a panel of judges who have a passion for gorgeous blooms to decide which stunning garden is the belle of the summer. Alternatively, you can hold an online poll asking your supporters to vote for their favorite container garden—simply post high-quality images of each entry on your website or social media channels.
- Award. You can hold an in-person awards ceremony or keep things extra effortless by posting the winner online. If you stick to the online version, you’ll have a lot more entrants from all over the world! Selection criteria depends on the judges, of course, but can include the uniqueness of the plants, the garden’s color combination, the arrangement, etc. Prizes can be something as simple as a packet of seeds or tickets to the local botanical gardens. After all, it’s the bragging rights that count!
Whether You’re Saving or Splurging, Make This Summer Count!
The beauty of the summer months is that the sunshine and warm weather guarantee that your supporters are having fun at your fundraising event. No matter your budget, whether your saving or splurging, RallyUp has your back! Our seamless online fundraising platform makes it easy to sell tickets, promote your fundraiser, add mobile options to auctions, hold online raffles, livestream your events, and so much more! With your imagination and our free tools, it’s sure to be an unforgettable summer!