Charitable giving hit a record high in 2020 with donations worth $471 billion, an impressive 5.1 percent growth compared to $448 billion in 2019, according to Giving USA 2021: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2020 – the longest-running report on the sources and uses of charitable giving in America.
While nonprofits are created to serve the public and not make any profits in the process, their growth over the years has been phenomenal. Globally, there are about 10 million nonprofits serving various community needs and gathering generous donations.
In the U.S. alone, there are over 1.3 million nonprofits that continue to serve millions of people year on year. To show just how massive of a sector the U.S. nonprofit sector is, we can just tell you that this industry employs 11.9 million people. This alone makes it the third-largest employer in the country behind retail and manufacturing. In other words, nonprofits aren’t crucial just for the communities they serve, but also for…pretty much everyone, since they are such an important contributor to the global economy.
In 2018, 63 million Americans volunteered their talent, time, and resources to various nonprofits, which was equivalent to a staggering $193 billion.
However, as the nonprofit industry continues to flourish even under the toughest of circumstances, nonprofits continue to face a myriad of challenges, key among them being attracting much-needed donors.
Compounded by the ongoing global health pandemic, most nonprofits are starting to feel something the industry likes to call ‘fundraiser fatigue’, which is basically when they feel tired of reaching out to donors over and over again and with the same idea.
You must admit, this gets a bit old, not to mention a tad boring.
Interestingly, what most nonprofits don’t realize is that donors are more than ready to donate even to the same old cause again and again. You just need to be a bit creative in your approach and they’ll pretty much hand you a blank cheque. Okay maybe not exactly a blank cheque, but you get the idea, right?
Take for instance the popular Halloween season. You may not realize that Halloween is a time when most people feel overly generous and not just with their candy. Yes, as paradoxical as it may sound, good, ol’, scary fun makes us more generous. This is why Halloween presents nonprofits with an opportunity to boost their fundraising efforts and still have a bit of fun while at it.
So, in case you don’t have any fundraising activities scheduled for the spooky month, maybe because you thought would-be donors might not be interested, then you stand to miss out on a lot of donations. But don’t worry — we’ve got you covered! In this article, we will feature some fun Halloween fundraising ideas that will benefit your organization — and that you still have time to implement.
6 Halloween-Themed Fundraising Ideas for Your Nonprofit
1. Organize a Pumpkin Sale
Nothing says Halloween like pumpkins. This is a must-have commodity that will always be in high demand every Halloween season.
First, identify a large-scale pumpkin farmer in your area and place a bulk order. Pro tip: tell them it’s for a charity event, you might get a sizeable discount! If possible, you could also try and get the farmer to donate a portion of the pumpkins as well.
The pumpkins should come in various sizes as well to give your customers plenty to choose from. Second, identify a suitable open space where you will sell the pumpkins from. Ideally, it should be a location that’s easily accessible to people. Your pumpkins should then be sold at a slightly higher price than you bought them so that you can raise a decent amount of money.
2. Offer to Carve Pumpkins
Halloween is never complete without some creatively carved pumpkins. However, not everyone is skilled enough to pull this off and so they would be happy if someone could carve the pumpkins for them even if it’s for a small fee.
You see where we are going with this, don’t you?
This is a great opportunity to raise some funds for your nonprofit and still feel great putting a smile on someone’s face. So, just like the pumpkin sale, you need a place that’s easily accessible to get the job done.
Use your social media platforms to put the word out that your nonprofit will be offering this service. Don’t forget to also mention that the pumpkin carving activity is for a worthy cause and that every dollar made will go towards helping people who really need it. To make it more interesting, you can search the web for different pumpkin carving patterns and have your volunteers help people choose the ones they like.
Pro tip: don’t forget to add a sticker with your logo on each pumpkin you carve. The buyers will act as your advertisers and your brand will be seen by a lot of people in your community!
3. Haunted House
It’s Halloween and people expect to be scared at some point. A haunted house is, therefore, the perfect opportunity to scare the daylights out of them.
First things first, you need to identify a house, which also has to be in a suitable location. October 31 would be ideal for this kind of activity but a date closer would also work, so no pressure on finding a suitable house that’s free on Halloween Day.
You then need to come up with a compelling story or theme behind your haunted house. Why is it haunted? What’s the ghost’s pet peeve? What should visitors avoid doing so they don’t trigger the ghost’s hate?
Next on the agenda, you need to decorate your haunted house in line with your theme or story. You can use fake blood and spider webs, bones, or just about anything that looks scary. Lastly, plan your path to the haunted house and also decorate it accordingly.
To make it more fun, get some of your volunteers to dress up as ghosts and zombies along the path and in the haunted house. Now for the fundraising part – you can charge a small fee to access the haunted house. As always, make sure you market your event well in advance so that you can get a decent turnout on the day.
4. Host a Halloween Dinner
Halloween dinners are a great way to get people together and celebrate this spooky tradition. It’s a good time to get together and enjoy some good old Halloween-themed food and also listen to scary stories while cooking marshmallows over a fire.
This is a great idea for a fundraising event as well. Now, you can either do it alone – have your employees and volunteers prepare the dinner or partner with a local restaurant and have them take care of the cooking. The choice is yours.
You also need to ensure that the venue is decorated accordingly and in line with your theme. Of course, you also need to market your Halloween dinner so that you can have a full house.
To make the event a must-attend, you can also include other fun activities like a raffle or an auction. To attend the dinner, people will need to purchase a ticket either in advance or at the door. Don’t forget to inform people why you are hosting the dinner in the first place. This way, they will not only buy the ticket but also feel compelled to donate more to your nonprofit.
5. Host a Scary Golf Tournament
If your nonprofit has access to a golf course then you should consider hosting a one-of-a-kind Halloween golf tournament. If you can make it a night event, the better.
This way you’ll be able to include scary elements throughout the golf course and give your guest a “horrific” experience as they play a round of golf. But even if a night golfing event is not possible, hosting one during the day will do just fine.
All you need to do is be creative with how you decorate the entire course. To set the tone, use well-known scary movies as your theme. Also, have your volunteers dress in costumes, you know, to give your guest a scare or two even as they golf. For this particular activity, you can raise funds through ticket sales, an auction, and other activities.
6. Halloween Movie Screening
Movie nights are a great activity during Halloween. Nothing like a good scary movie and a few screams to awaken the Halloween spirits.
If this fundraising idea appeals to you then you should not waste any more time – grab it and run with it!
For starters, you need ample space. A school auditorium would be ideal. If not, a community hall will do just fine. Now, get a good scary movie that you will screen on the night in question, preferably on October 31 or any other date close to it. Ask your guests to dress up as their favorite characters in the movie, you know, to make it more fun and interactive.
To create some buzz before the movie screening, market the event on social media by sharing Halloween-themed posters and ask your followers to share the invitation with their followers. You can raise funds by selling tickets. You can even host a cookout hours before the movie starts.
These are just a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing. The point is that the Halloween season can be a great time to actively engage your community and encourage them to donate to your nonprofit.
Halloween-themed activities are not just fun activities but also opportunities to reach out to donors in your community. The good thing about the month-long Halloween season is that you can even organize an activity each week or more if you want. As long as you make them unique, guests will always show up and in the process donate more to your nonprofit.