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Fundraising ideas

19 Easy and Creative Summer Fundraising Ideas for Nonprofits

May 3, 2024

Summer's arrival transforms parks and streets into bustling hubs of activity, offering nonprofits an extraordinary chance to captivate community interest and boost fundraising efforts

The season's warm days and pleasant nights provide several opportunities to connect with supporters and inspire volunteers. 

If the thought of hosting the ideal summer fundraiser feels overwhelming, don't worry. We've curated a list of 19 innovative and exciting ideas to make your next event successful and memorable.

19 Top Summer Fundraiser Ideas for Your Nonprofit

1. Surf Away

2. Open-Air BBQ Dinner or Cook-Off

3. Pool Party

4. Fourth of July Party

5. Swim-a-Thon

6. Eating Contest 

7. Glamping Fun

8. Beach Clean Up

9. Outdoor Fitness Class

10. Art Show

11. Car Wash

12. Ice Cream Party

13. Open-Air Movie Screening

14. Golf Tournament

15. Community Yard Sale

16. Food Truck Fest

17. Neighborhood Scavenger Hunt

18. Music Festival Fundraiser

19. Farmer’s Market Summer Fundraiser

1. Surf Away

For a sun-soaked, adventurous summer fundraiser idea, host a surf competition. Sell event tickets to raise funds and ask participants to promote the fundraiser.

Pro tips: 

  • Create your event registration form using Zeffy’s 100% free ticketing platform. 
  • Offer multiple ticket types for attendees, contenders, and sponsors.
  • Enable early bird discounts to prompt early registrations. 
  • Consider offering food truck or food stall vendor opportunities, allowing local businesses to participate and generate additional revenue through on-site sales during the event.

Organizing a surf-a-thon would also be a great option. Open the event for participants with varying experience levels. Surfers can request pledges from family members and friends for each wave they conquer. 

Include music, food stalls, and other fun beach activities to get more attendees. 

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2. Open-Air BBQ Dinner or Cook-Off

What makes barbecue popular in summer?  First, it is fun for people to enjoy a summer evening and showcase their skills on the grill. Second, great food!

Organizing a BBQ dinner or cook-off fundraiser can help you get a lot of attendees.

Pro tips for your open-air BBQ dinner event: 

  • Build an event registration form with Zeffy’s 100% free ticketing platform
  • Offer multiple ticket options for both dinner guests and cooks, imposing limits on each to maintain the ideal guest-to-cook ratio for a successful event.
  • Boost fundraising efforts by organizing a raffle during the event: partner with local eateries to provide enticing raffle prizes like a dinner for two or gourmet food baskets.

Let people taste amazing BBQ dishes and vote for the winner. You can also get local chefs and BBQ restaurants to compete against each other. You can also include engaging activities for the kids. 

Partner with local businesses, such as meat suppliers, neighborhood restaurants, supermarkets, etc. They can supply you with the raw materials in exchange for promoting their business. 

3. Pool Party

Splashing away with good food and great music, a casual pool party is one of the best summer fundraising ideas. 

Contact a local hotel or club with a pool to host a fun-filled pool party.

Ask your supporters to bring their friends, family members, and coworkers to get more guests.

Add activities like pool volleyball and water dance-off to make the event more exciting. Organize games to keep the kids engaged, such as face painting or ice cream making. Keeping a small fee for every activity will help you raise more while everyone has fun.

Pro Tip: Amplify your fundraising efforts by hosting an exciting raffle event. Partner with local clubs, hotels, or businesses to secure enticing prizes that will attract participation. These raffle prizes can include complimentary stays, dining vouchers, or exclusive experiences.

This engaging approach creates a win-win scenario, allowing you to raise substantial funds for your cause while offering valuable rewards to lucky winners. 

4. Fourth of July Party

What’s better than a fundraiser to celebrate Independence Day? A Fourth of July lunch or dinner can be a great summer fundraising idea. 

Use someone’s yard or arrange the event at a local park with proper permits from the authorities. Collaborate with local restaurants or BBQ joints to supply the dishes or arrange live barbecue steups. In return, you can promote their businesses.

Keep per-plate charges or sell tickets for unlimited food and drinks. You are free to include games and activities and charge each participant.

5. Swim-a-Thon

Give the traditional walk-a-thon a twist with this summer fundraising idea. A swim-a-thon can be an excellent way to beat the heat and raise money.

Encourage participants from your local community to dive into the pool this summer! Allow participants to compete against each other to raise money for their favorite charity.

You can also request them to raise money before the event and incentivize them for their efforts through peer-to-peer fundraising. For instance, a participant who raises $100 can get a coffee mug, participants who raise over $500 get a t-shirt and goodie basket, and so on.

Pro tips to raise more funds on your swim-a-thon: 

  • Create a free event registration page 

Include two ticket options: one for contenders and one for event attendees. Contenders are those participating in the swim-a-thon, while event attendees are spectators or supporters.

  • Create a Peer-to-Peer Donation Form

This form allows participants (contenders) to create teams or individual fundraising campaigns. Contenders can share these campaigns with their networks to collect donations.

  • Automated Thank You Email

Send thank you messages to all swim-a-thon contenders upon swim-a-thon registration.

Include a link to your peer-to-peer donation form in the thank you email to prompt contenders to kickstart their fundraising efforts by creating teams or individual campaigns.

  • Prize Incentives

Offer prizes or incentives to contenders who raise the most funds. Clearly outline the criteria for winning these prizes to motivate participation and fundraising efforts.

6. Eating Contest 

Here are some tips on organizing an eating contest fundraiser with a focus on the eating contest itself and including food stalls:

Eating Contest Extravaganza

  • Make the most of people's love for food by hosting an exciting eating contest as the main attraction.
  • Tailor the contest to a specific food item like hot dogs (ideal during National Hot Dog Month in July) or pizzas and burgers for more appeal.
  • Structure the contest with clear rules, time limits, and weight/quantity goals to determine the winner(s).
  • Offer enticing prizes, such as gift cards or trophies, to motivate participants and generate buzz.

Food Stall Frenzy

  • Surround the eating contest with a lively event featuring various food stalls and vendors.
  • Encourage local restaurants, bakeries, and culinary businesses to set up stalls, offering a diverse array of delectable options.
  • Introduce a friendly competition among the stalls by offering a prize to the stall with the highest sales, fostering engagement and driving revenue.
  • Reach out to local businesses for sponsorships or special coupons/discounts that can be sold at the event, further boosting fundraising efforts.

By combining the excitement of an eating contest with a vibrant food festival atmosphere, you create an immersive and irresistible experience for attendees. 

Pro tips:

  • Create a free event registration form and offer multiple ticket options for food truck stalls, event attendees, and eating contest contenders. 
  • Raise more funds by hosting a raffle on the day of the event (partner with local restaurants for prizes).

7. Glamping Fun

Take a charity lunch or dinner to the next level with the trending glamping idea. A modern upgrade to the traditional summer fundraiser ideas, it can help you attract more people to try something new.

traditional summer fundraiser ideas

Who wouldn’t want to enjoy the pleasant summer weather sitting on comfortable lounge chairs with a long table topped with delicious food? 

Amplify the luxurious vibe with special summer cocktails and meals, with an a-la-carte dessert option.

Depending on the success of your first glamping summer fundraiser, you can extend the event to a stayover or weeklong camp for your next event.

8. Beach Clean Up

If your nonprofit promotes environmental awareness, a beach cleanup day is among the top outdoor fundraising ideas. On a sunny day, assembling a team of supporters to tidy up a local beach can be exciting. 

Host a community cleanup or environmental drive, and raise funds by securing pledges based on the amount of trash collected. 

Encourage supporters to pledge a specific dollar amount for each bag, pound, or other quantifiable unit of trash your volunteers gather during the cleanup event. 

This innovative approach not only generates revenue for your cause but also promotes environmental consciousness and community engagement.

You can also share environment-friendly merchandise to spread awareness among consumers. Call environmental activists and speakers to boost engagement.

Consider partnering with a local food vendor or other business to donate food and equipment for the event. They can also help you promote the event and work with you to achieve your fundraising goal.

Pro tips to raise more funds: 

  1. Create a 100% Event Registration Page, specifically for the beach clean-up, and sell tickets to individuals who wish to participate in the beach clean-up.
  2. Create a peer-to-peer campaign form, alongside the event. Participants who register for the beach clean-up will be prompted to create personal fundraising pages within this campaign to collect donations from their networks.
  3. Offer prizes for Top Performers on the event day to recognize outstanding contributions. Prizes can be awarded to the team that collects the most trash and raises the most funds on their peer-to-peer form. Communicate the criteria for winning these prizes to motivate participation and fundraising efforts.

9. Outdoor Fitness Class

Spending the winter months cooped up, people simply love the idea of enjoying the sunshine after a few months.

An outdoor exercise class would be a welcomed change for your community and make for one of the best summer fundraising ideas. Depending on your community's demographics, you can organize yoga, cardio, or aerobic classes.

Use a public park or garden for the classes, or even better, do it by the beach!

Consider collaborating with a local gym or fitness studio for equipment and instructors to conduct the classes. 

Ask people to pre-book for the classes to raise funds. It will also help you choose a venue with enough space and equipment.

You can host a week or month-long fitness club to boost its effectiveness. Make it more enjoyable with a fitness challenge, like a 30-day or daily yoga challenge. Ask all attendees to set personal goals that align with the fitness club.

10. Art Show

Are you considering creative summer fundraising ideas for your next campaign? Host an art show or art auction! These events attract more attendees during the summers due to vacations and increased tourists.

Tap into the local artistic talent by hosting an engaging art exhibition and fundraiser. Ask local artists from your community to showcase and sell their art pieces through this event.

 Sell entry tickets for attendees to gain access to the exhibition, allowing them to appreciate and purchase the artworks that resonate with them.

You can even introduce an exciting live art battle, inviting artists and painters to create pieces on-site as attendees witness the creative process unfold. Attendees can vote for their favorite piece, fostering interaction and friendly competition. The artworks can also be auctioned off, generating additional revenue. 

To incentivize artist participation, consider sharing a portion of the proceeds from artwork sales with the contributing artists, while retaining the remaining funds to support your cause. This approach celebrates local talent, cultivates a vibrant arts community, and provides a unique and memorable fundraising experience for all involved.

11. Car Wash

A car wash is a classic summer fundraising idea. People won’t hesitate to donate to a good cause and get a clean car in return.  

Gather a team of volunteers to clean cars for a suggested donation amount. The next step is to secure an open area for the setup. Connect with local businesses to use their parking areas for the event. You can also contact your local church, school, or gas station to provide space. 

Offer add-on services like towel drying or vacuuming for additional donations. 

Add a competitive twist to the campaign by creating two or more teams. The teams washing the most cars will win. It will be equally engaging for your volunteers and donors. 

12. Ice Cream Party

An ice cream party is a perfect summer fundraiser idea for schools.

July is National Ice Cream Month, so what better way to celebrate than by hosting an ice cream social?

To add more excitement, consider organizing an ice cream-making contest. Invite supporters to form teams and create new ice cream flavors from scratch. Guests can purchase tickets to taste-test the flavors and vote for their favorite team.

You can also partner with a local ice cream shop or supplier to sponsor your event, providing ingredients or prizes for the contest winners.


13. Open-Air Movie Screening

outdoor fundraising ideas

Open-air movie night is a family-friendly fundraiser and a favorite among outdoor fundraising ideas. Movie screenings can offer an evening of entertainment to your community members while raising money for your nonprofit.

To raise more funds, you can easily combine an outdoor movie night with other fundraising ideas, such as raffles or glamping events. 

Choose a large, open, and easily accessible venue for the fundraiser. Make sure there is enough parking space and proper washroom facilities. 

Here are a few other things to keep in mind while organizing the event:

  • Ensure the lighting is perfect. Start the movie night a few hours after sunset.
  • Make sure the volume is under control to avoid disturbing others. It would be better to pick a venue away from residential areas.
  • Secure power sources and have a backup ready.
  • Have all the permissions and licenses in place beforehand.
  • Create a proper system for trash disposal.

14. Golf Tournament

Invite all the golf lovers in your community and organize a friendly golf tournament as a fundraiser. People would love to get their clubs swinging for a good cause.

This summer fundraising idea can be a big event and help you gather large donations.

Take your charity golf tournament fundraiser to the next level by partnering with the local golf course to offer exciting raffle prizes. This adds an extra element of anticipation and incentive for participants to get involved.

Some attractive raffle prize ideas from the golf course could include:

  • Free annual membership or a round of golf.
  • A bucket of branded golf balls or a bag of tees.
  • A private lesson with the resident golf pro.
  • A round of golf with the club champion.

In addition to the raffle, increase the fun and fundraising potential by incorporating other engaging add-ons like golf-themed games, food trucks, and interactive activities along the course. These extras provide more chances for guests to open their wallets in support of your cause.

15. Community Yard Sale

Try this summer fundraiser idea to bring people together and raise money while promoting sustainability. 

A community yard sale is simple to organize. Ask your supporters to sell items they no longer require. Consider it an outdoor thrift store, where used goods get new owners while the money goes to charity.

Get more people to participate and offer a variety of things up for sale. Add some food options and serve drinks to make the sale more fun for everyone.

You can turn this into a hybrid event and allow remote participants to purchase things from the yard sale.

16. Food Truck Fest

Food truck fests are among the most popular fundraising ideas for nonprofits, and for good reason. They attract large crowds, adults and kids alike. 

Look for a food truck partner willing to share their earnings with your nonprofit. 

Finalize a location large enough to accommodate food trucks and offer space for other activities and games. A public park or field can be a good option.

Pro Tips: 

  • Invite local food trucks to participate in your event by charging them a flat vendor fee. This provides a reliable revenue stream for your fundraiser.
  • Create a 100% free online ticket sale page to pre-sell food tickets ahead of time. 
  • Sell in-person tickets on the day of the events by accepting payments with a 100% free POS for nonprofits (no card reader needed)

17. Neighborhood Scavenger Hunt

Try a neighborhood scavenger hunt to add some adventure to your summer fundraiser. The suspense and thrill of a scavenger hunt will attract many participants. 

Create an event registration page to collect registration payments beforehand. 

Your participants get clues on how to reach different locations within the neighborhood. Include popular landmarks and places to instill a sense of community engagement. The event can conclude with the winning team receiving prizes.

This fundraiser will require a higher level of planning and organization from your team but can provide a memorable experience to your supporters. 

18. Music Festival Fundraiser

Over 32 million people attend music festivals across the US every year. If you are not partnering with music festivals, you are missing out on significant fundraising opportunities. 

Reach out to the festival organizers and check if they are willing to donate a percentage of each pass to your nonprofit. You can get current donors to canvas the crowd and rally support for your cause. 

Another option is collaborating with local bands and musicians to conduct a summer concert in your community. It is an effective way to bring your supporters together and incur donations. You can offer gifts like T-shirts and other goodies for specific donation amounts. 

19. Farmer’s Market Summer Fundraiser

Fresh harvests and local goods are in high demand during the summer.

Local farmer markets will offer a unique shopping experience to your supporters. People will flock to the market to buy straight-from-farm products. Offer a variety of products, including:

  • Fresh fruits and veggies
  • Local craft items
  • Homemade jams and spreads
  • Farm eggs, poultry, and more

Unlike traditional retail, it also helps connect consumers directly to farmers, ensuring higher returns for the producers. 

Southwest Louisiana Youth Foundation raised over $153,000 through their "Margarita Bingo" summer fundraiser

The Southwest Louisiana Youth Foundation, a nonprofit based in Louisiana, offers educational programs to local high school youth free of charge.

 In August 2023, they organized a "Margarita Bingo" summer fundraising event, generating over $153,000 through various sponsorship opportunities and group ticket sales. 

Zeffy's completely free online ticketing platform enabled them to save more than $7,700 in transaction fees. 

Final Thoughts on Summer Fundraising Ideas

Summer fundraisers are meant to be fun for you and your donors; planning one shouldn’t be a daunting experience. It’s the perfect season to enjoy the warmth of a sunny day and raise money with your supporters! 

Understand your target audience to determine which fundraiser event will be ideal. Talk to your team and plan the perfect summer fundraiser with our list of 19 popular and creative ideas.

Event ticketing platform can help you manage these events more effectively. Try out Zeffy for your next summer fundraiser and experience the powerful suite of tools to simplify the process of creating, promoting, and analyzing your fundraising efforts. 

FAQs - Summer Fundraising Ideas

What is the cheapest fundraiser?

Peer-to-peer fundraisers are cost-effective and raise significant funds for your nonprofits. Establish your main campaigns and ask supporters and volunteers to create personal fundraising pages. They can share it with their network, friends, and family.

This fundraising method can help you gather donations from several sources and grow your community.

What are the best months to fundraise?

The last quarter of the year is usually known as the giving season. 30% of annual charities happen in December, with 10% occurring in the last three days of the year. 

Yet, summer fundraisers can also be beneficial for nonprofits. When supporters are in high spirits, fun outdoor fundraising ideas can help you collect significant donations.

What is the most profitable fundraising event?

Fundraising events require proper planning, execution, and a great idea to have the maximum impact. The most profitable fundraising ideas for summer include:

  • Outdoor movie screenings
  • Golf tournament
  • Charity pool party
  • Outdoor fitness classes
  • Ice cream parties
  • Food trucks and more

How can I raise money fast?

Here are some best practices for fundraising faster for your nonprofit:

  • Build your fundraising story focusing on the why. Highlight the precise goals you want to fulfill with the donation.
  • Approach your close network first.
  • Ask different types of donors. 
  • Use social media to promote your fundraiser and be creative with your efforts.
  • Distribute flyers to spread awareness.
  • Host a fundraising event and share its videos online.
  • Update donors on how you are using the funds. 

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