Charities and non-profit organizations are always on the look out for new ideas on how to raise money for their various causes. People involved with non-profits want to know how to gain and retain donors. One of the struggles they face is hosting fund raising events that really take the cake!

So many fundraisers are becoming flat and uninteresting because they have been done so many times. Some are classics and will never get old; Girl Scout Cookies and car washes, for example. Others are novelties; Gift wrapping services and cookbooks. Let’s face it. How many times will you be able to do that knife selling fundraiser in a particular area? Not very many. From product selling to fun events, we need to get creative if we really want to make money for our causes.

Now that the internet and social media have come along, we have to figure out fun ways to host online fundraisers too! Some charities have Facebook pages, and they host drawings and contests. Others have websites where donors can read about their cause, the charity and donate there. We have not yet fully tapped the awesomeness that the internet and social media have in store for online fundraising functionality!

Charity Navigator is one of the awesome innovations that has come about since the internet has hijacked fundraising efforts! They offer a unique avenue for charities to be found and funded. Non-profits are listed and rated on Charity Navigator based on their financial, accountability, and transparency qualifications. Donors are able to put their money where they think it will really do the most good! This is great and all, and it certainly has it’s place, but in spite of innovations like this, fundraising and donor retention have become quite boring!

Creeklife was created to try to take advantage of the internet and social media. At Creeklife, we offer a way for folks to publicize events and raise funds for important environmental issues. You can create actions, claim them, and do the fundraising by sharing your action on Facebook or other social media sites, etc. BOY, does that sound boring! All you do is sit on your computer and type stuff in. We can do better!

Online fundraising (or any other type of fundraising) DOESN’T have to be boring. Here are some money making ideas that will put the FUN back into Fundraising! Some of the ideas are events that you can publicize online, and others are fundraisers that you can host online. Since most of these things you can do on, these ideas have an environmental focus, but feel free to adapt them to whatever cause you are trying to make money for!

1. A Canoe Joust


We are excited about this idea and we want to do this too! This is a great fundraising event for anyone interested in preserving our watershed areas and the bodies of water that feed them!

canoe jousting

A collection of photos encompasses 75 years of athletics swimming, diving and rowing.


To set up, you’ll need to find an appropriately-sized body of water, at least two canoes, two foam jousts (like those ones from American Gladiators) and helmets and life vests for all of the participants. Don’t forget to have some sort of signal to begin the jousting!

Folks register as teams of two. One person paddles and steers the canoe, and the other stands in the front of the boat with a joust. The vessels face each other a good distance apart, and at the sound of a whistle, the paddlers begin furiously paddling towards their opponent while the jousters try to knock each other into the water!

This could be changed by having the teams raise money through sponsors and get some sort of advantage for raising the most money. Maybe the team that raises the least amount of money has to joust with one hand, or they don’t get a paddle… What are you waiting for? I’ve got your creative juices flowing, now it’s your turn! Just remember that is a great way to get folks interested in your event!

2. Goldfish Race or Tournament


This is a great fundraiser for a creek clean-up. There are variations where you race snails or lobsters… Do what works best with your audience and body of water! If you have crayfish, race those! Just be careful you aren’t harming the animals or causing them any undue stress.

gold fish race

To set up for the race, you will need two lengths of gutter with end caps glued on so it will hold water. You will need some sort of removable gutter-shaped gate to keep your fish from starting the race too early! You will also need a straw and a goldfish for each participant. Last, but not least, you will need something like a whistle to sound the start of the races.

Participants in the Gold Fish race pay an entry fee, and they get a fish and a straw. The fish are placed behind the gates and when the whistle sounds, you raise the gates and participants blow air through their straws behind their fish to encourage them to swim to the other end. Everyone gets to keep their fish, and the winner gets a small prize like a gift card or a medal!

You can set it up like a tournament, get sponsors and offer bigger prizes. Really the possibilities are endless! Don’t forget to publicize your event on!

3. A Don’t Come Event


This idea is a great online fundraising idea for non-profits. You can totally do this one with NO out of pocket costs whatsoever! Now that’s the kind of fundraising event we like!!

The idea is to come up with a fancy, fun and interesting event, that doesn’t actually happen. It’s great because there are a lot of busy people who have money, but not time to spend on your events. They will appreciate your creativity, and they will appreciate not having to actually show up for something!

To set up the event, you and your organization need to get together and decide what kind of DON’T COME event your are going to host. Is it going to be a wonderful little tea party where guests WON’T get to meet the Queen of England? How about a Basketball Game where Members of your organization DON’T get to play the Harlem Globe Trotters? Or how about a concert that Jack Johnson DOESN’T play at? Pick a date, a time, and even a venue if you want.

Send invitations to guests asking them to buy tickets to your DON’T COME event. You can send hard copy invites, email invites, or even just invites through social media sites like Facebook or Twitter! Just make sure your guests understand the concept of a don’t come event, and don’t forget to send “Thank you for NOT coming!” notes! would be a great place to start advertising your DON’T COME event!

4. Goofy Insurance Policies


Here’s a fun one that I’ve seen adapted in all sorts of ways. Goat Insurance, MOP Insurance, Goblin Insurance. You name it, you can insure against it! Even Potty Insurance!

For this one, you will need a neighborhood full of unsuspecting donors. Get started by gathering a couple of outlandish looking items to put in their yards. Then you knock on doors, let your potential donors know that you are trying to raise money for your cause, and tell them that in order to do so, you are offering to put these outlandish items in their neighbor’s yards if they pay a fee, that you are charging a removal fee, and that you are selling insurance to protect against the placement of such items.

Let’s say you are trying to protect an area from over grazing, so you decide to use goats. Get a couple of goats together, and a couple of volunteers that are able to transport your goats from yard to yard. Now you need a couple of volunteers to go door to door offering Goatings and Goating insurance!

This can be adapted for a social media outlet, too! Offer to post Goat pictures on peoples walls, and offer goat protection too! The sky’s the limit on the number of possibilities. You can get started by raising funds for the initial goating on!

5. Trash ‘n Fashion Show


This was done once by a school in California and they just got together and made clothing and accessories from things that are considered trash, and had a fashion show to show them off. They raised money through the ticket sales for the event. I think that we can take this one step further!

trash fashion show

Trash ‘n Fashion Show


Host a clean-up of a park or watershed area, and use the garbage and items from the clean-up as the raw materials for a fashion show held later that day, or maybe even the next day! If you don’t want to use the actual garbage that you clean up from the site (cause you know it might be kinda dirty) you can at least use it as inspiration!

Publicize the event on, invite volunteers to come for a clean-up and competition, and sell tickets for a Trash ‘n Fashion Show too! Volunteers clean up the area, and use the garbage to create competing pieces for the fashion show. Then at the fashion show, your pieces are modeled, and the winning ensembles are awarded something for their efforts.

Totally fun, and totally awesome. Good luck keeping your fundraisers FUN!

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