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Summer fundraising ideas to beat the seasonal slump

Whether your fundraising heats up or cools off in the summer, we’ve got creative strategies and engaging summer fundraiser ideas to help your nonprofit thrive during the sunny season.

Anna Bean
June 14, 2023
April 26, 2022
Nerd Mr Butter

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Summertime offers plenty of opportunities to take your nonprofit fundraising to the next level—even if you’re not launching a big campaign at this time of year. Whether you can finally take the time to clean up your donor database or you need to plan a few summer fundraisers, we’ve put together some bright ideas to match your summer vibe. 

First, we’ve got your nonprofit summer fundraising checklist with tips for making the most of what, for some, is a less busy fundraising season. Then check out 11 delightful summer fundraising events that you can adjust to fit your organization’s capacity, budget, and timeline—from competitive pool parties and ice cream soirees to golf tourneys suitable for all ages. 

Beat the seasonal slump with this summer fundraising checklist  

Even if you’re not in active campaign mode this summer, there are tons of ways to set yourself up for a successful fundraising future. How many of these activities can you check off your list before Labor Day? 

1. Update your donate button 👈

It may be small, but your website’s donate button makes a huge impact on whether visitors will contribute to your cause. Givebutter makes it easy to customize and embed modern donate buttons and bubbles that stay visible as people click and scroll through your site.

2. Revamp your fundraising page 🌟

While you’re at it, give your donation page a summer glow-up, too. Show your organization’s impact and give your supporters an easy opportunity to be a part of the change with a simple, branded donation form that’s easy to find on your website and accepts every payment method under the sun.

3. Call your donors ☎️

Pump the AC and spend a few afternoons this summer on the phone with your donors—only you’re not asking for money this time. Whether it’s a long-overdue thank you or a simple check-in, this personalized outreach goes a long way. Don’t forget to add notes about each conversation in your CRM!

4. Clean up your database 🚿

Speaking of donor management, summer is the perfect time to migrate your donor info from that spreadsheet into a nonprofit CRM—or finally do that administrative tidying up that you’ve been putting off.

5. Create a monthly giving program 🔂

By simply adding recurring donation options to your giving forms, you can unlock long-term benefits for your nonprofit. Upgrade your donation forms to accept monthly donations, and inform your donors about the power they have to make a lasting difference.

6. Start a welcome email series 💌

Engage new supporters with a dynamic email series to introduce your organization and share all of the ways that they can take part in your mission. You can also create segments of your supporters to send, schedule, or automate messages tailored to different audiences—new email subscribers, first-time donors, lapsed donors, you name it!

7. Create space for staff development 💡

Take advantage of those quieter weeks in August and give your team the opportunity to brush up on fundraising best practices and even learn some new skills. Givebutter’s free fundraising webinars are a great place to start!

8. Tap into peer-to-peer fundraising 🤝

Peer-to-peer fundraising is a great way to multiply your impact and even encourage some friendly competition. The best part? Supporters fundraise on behalf of your organization! Givebutter makes it a breeze for them to create their own fundraising pages for events like birthday fundraisers, workplace giving challenges, or simply rallying their friends to support a worthy cause this summer.

9. Plan a relaxed summer event 🌴

Host a summer gathering like a town hall, building tour, or supporter appreciation event to engage with your community, cultivate relationships, and give donors more ways to invest in your mission beyond giving money.

11 sun-sational summer fundraisers

For some organizations, summer really is the best time for a big fundraising campaign or event, whether you finally have the time while your programming slows down, or it’s just easier to host the kind of fundraising events you want to when the weather is nicer.

Need some fresh summer fundraising ideas to wow your donors this year? Here are some summertime solutions to bring in big donations for your good cause.

1. Ice cream making contest 🍦

July is National Ice Cream Month, and National Ice Cream Day is celebrated on the third Sunday in July. Take part in the festivities while raising funds for a good cause by hosting a competitive ice cream social. 

Contestants will make their own innovative flavors from scratch, then guests can purchase tickets to taste-test and vote on their favorite frozen treats. For an added money maker, invite guests to make extra quantities of their creamy concoctions and sell them by the pint to hungry supporters.

2. Sand ‘n’ sip 🍷

Coastal communities, listen up: You’ve heard about paint ‘n’ sip fundraisers, but what about a sand ‘n’ sip? Take advantage of those long evenings when the sun sets late and invite participants to the beach to construct sandcastles and partake in a delicious summer wine tasting. 

Have a volunteer ready to snap photos of each supporter and their beachy creation. While they won’t be able to take their sandcastles home with them, they’ll still want to remember the evening—and share it on social media!

3. Beach Olympics 🏖

A fun, summer twist on a classic field day event—host a “Beach Olympics,” where supporters partake in a number of warm weather-themed competitive events. Have some fun with planning activities like a hot dog eating contest, water balloon dodgeball, and a beach-themed obstacle course or scavenger hunt (with both on-land and by-sea components, of course). 

For your ultra-competitive supporters, consider hosting a decathlon where participants enter into every single event, then rack up points throughout the day.

4. Pool volleyball tourney 🏐

March Madness gets all the glory, but why not launch an annual June Madness in your town? Host a volleyball tournament that’s held in a swimming pool, where players must bump, set, and spike—all while battling the waves. Each team can make a donation to participate while supporters contribute an entry fee to watch the swimming pool showdown. 

5. Movies in the park 🎥

Looking for a family-friendly event you can host all summer long? Consider offering an outdoor movie night at a local park. 

Friends and family members can bring blankets and enjoy an evening showing of some of their favorite films. To increase the amount of money raised, consider selling refreshments such as soft drinks, candy, popcorn, and other snacks. Or, partner with local restaurants to offer a different menu selection at each event (think “Pizza In The Park” or “Fajitas And A Film”).

6. Doggie walk-a-thon 🐶

The weather is (finally!) warm and sunny, and it’s time to get outdoors. Give supporters some early-awaited exercise with their favorite furry friends through a doggie walk-a-thon or fun run.

Supporters can walk a set distance with their leashed best buds, all while raising money for your nonprofit. To increase ticket sales, add a costume contest to your event. For an extra $1 per ticket, owners can dress up their four-legged pals to be entered into a “best dressed” competition for the day.

7. Mini-golf tournament 🏌

Hosting a charity golf tournament is a very popular fundraising option for nonprofits. There’s only one issue: Unless you’re an on-par golfer, a competitive round of 18 holes can be extremely intimidating (or frustrating, if you feel like you’re holding up other players).

Welcome your entire local community to your fundraiser by hosting a putt-putt golf tournament instead. Golf amateurs of all ages—including the kiddos!—can partake in the fun, paying an entry fee to play a round of mini-golf.

8. Food truck Fridays 🌭

Want a fun summer fundraiser idea that also supports local businesses? Host Food Truck Fridays, where restaurants, bakeries, BBQ joints, and coffee shops serve their best grub out of trucks or stands. 

Supporters will pay a small donation to your organization to attend the event, and then pay for their actual meal, which the restaurants keep to cover their food, labor, and overhead costs. If you find enough businesses to join your cause, consider making it a weekly or monthly event with a different selection of restaurants each time.

9. Street clean up and sprout up 🪴

A car wash is great, but summer is also an opportune time to spruce up your neighborhood. Gather your most loyal supporters together to help pick up trash and debris in your local community, and consider purchasing flowers and planting them alongside your community sidewalks. 

Make the day a “give what you can” event with a text-to-donate code you can display on signs or t-shirts for supporters and community members to contribute whatever dollar amount they wish toward your cause. 

10. Neighborhood tailgate 🍔

Do you have a hometown baseball team that’s headed to the state tourney? Does your local volleyball team have every intention of winning first place at the weekend competition? For schools looking to cheer on their teams and raise funds, a community-wide tailgate may be a great option. 

Rope off a portion of a local parking lot and have supporters grill, BBQ, partake in a chili cook-off, or sell baked goods and other goodies. You can charge per menu item (like a bake sale) or with a flat entry fee on your fundraising page to cover the entire cost of the event.

11. Host a summer project yard sale 💸

Summer is a great time to tackle household projects that you’ve been putting off for too long—painting walls, repairing your roof, trimming hedges, or refinishing cabinets. But once these household projects are finished, many supplies go unused—and many cannot be donated or recycled. 

To tackle this problem, host a summer project yard sale for all the DIYers in your community. Invite supporters to donate leftover paint and wood stain, unused lumber, scrap metal, unused mulch and lawn seed, or even used tools to the cause. Community members can purchase products (or bid on items through a silent auction) so they can tackle their summer projects all while cutting down on waste in your community.

Supercharge your summer fundraising events with Givebutter

While many nonprofit organizations focus on year-end fundraising, summertime offers ample opportunities to level up your fundraising with new tools and strategies. From beach Olympics to summer concerts, there are plenty of fun, warm-weather solutions to raise funds for your cause.

Givebutter has everything you need to knock your fundraising goals out of the park this summer, including branded pages, easy event ticketing, donor engagement tools, donor management (CRM), peer-to-peer fundraising, and a whole lot more. And the best part? It’s all free. 

Make waves this summer with Givebutter

Ready to see how Givebutter can help you reach your summer fundraising goals? Create your free account and get started today!

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