10 End of Year Fundraising Event Ideas for Virtual, Hybrid, and In-Person Events

This year, nonprofits are trying all kinds of fundraising events—virtual, hybrid, and in-person. Since there is a different level of COVID-19 risk in every community, it’s more important than ever to tailor your events to your community of donors’ needs. So, we created a list of fundraising event ideas to help your nonprofit make the most of year-end. 

Year-end is one of the best times of year to gather and share your organization’s mission and impact with your donors. In fact, research shows that 31% of annual giving takes place during the last three months of the year. And, there’s no better time to celebrate your organization’s accomplishments. 

The face of event planning is changing and there is A LOT of room for creativity when planning your year-end event. Events are no longer one-day affairs—your online fundraising event can last several days. You can even pair an online campaign with an in-person event for maximum impact. There are limitless ways to make fun and engaging donor experiences that keep everyone safe. 

Here’s our list of year-end and holiday event ideas for engaging your community in your nonprofit’s work: 

Virtual Event Ideas

Online Ugly Sweater Contest

Ask your supporters to submit photos of themselves in their favorite “ugly” sweaters and hold a vote for the ugliest sweater. The winner(s) get a prize! This is a great way to engage donors on social media. Turn it into a fundraising event by adding a suggested donation during the photo submission or encouraging supporters to host Facebook Fundraisers.

Themed Online Gala

Organizations that pivoted to host their annual galas online actually raise more money than they had in years past. If you want to give your donors an elegant experience, send a high-end gift box to each registrant and host a 30-45 minute virtual program that includes an exciting speaker and a live paddle raise. 

Online Christmas Movie Night 

Pick a Christmas classic (bonus if it relates to your organization’s mission) and encourage your donors to log on and watch the movie with you. Make it extra special by sending participants a movie night box. Give a few ticket levels that add on donation amounts. Hint: this could also be done in person as a drive-in movie night! 

Virtual Holiday Concert

Give your donors a special online experience with a holiday concert! Engage a local artist (or a big name artist) to deliver an intimate living room concert. 

Hybrid Event Ideas

Polar Plunge

Put a new twist on this classic fundraising challenge by inviting your supporters to take videos of themselves doing a “polar plunge” AND hosting an in-person polar plunge. 


If you’re in a wintry area, encourage supporters to set a goal of how many miles they will ski or snowboard in support of your nonprofit. Participants ask peers to “sponsor” them (think $1 per mile) and then they ski throughout the winter! Participants can submit videos of themselves on the mountain and you can host a community ski day at a local resort to encourage folks to gather and support your nonprofit safely. 

Restaurant Fundraiser

Talk with your local restaurants about offering a dine-in or take-out fundraiser.  If they agree, let your donors choose to dine-in or take out. Encourage them to order with a special code that gives a percentage of the sale to your nonprofit. 

COVID-safe In-Person Event Ideas

Sledding or Ice Skating Event

Sledding and ice skating are both family-friendly activities great for getting people out of the house and involved in your nonprofit. Charge a ticket price and create fun games and contests for donors to participate in. 

Snowman/Snow Fort Contest

Get the whole family involved with a snowman or snow fort contest! Sell entries to the contest and take it online for a vote! 

Holiday Lights Tour

Many local neighborhoods put on a spectacular show of lights. You can partner with them to make it an unforgettable experience for your donors! Host a tour with a low ticket price and suggested donation, and offer hot holiday drinks and information about your impact during the tour. 

With all of these fundraising event ideas, adding the flavor of your organization is what will make them a success. 

While you’re planning the event, be sure to think about how to engage corporate partners as event sponsors and how you are planning on accepting donations. If you’re looking for advice on planning your nonprofit’s end-of-year event, look no further than a free consultation with Linda Akey, Competent Assistance for Nonprofit’s Founder.