As the autumn months approach, you quickly realize you only have a few short months to meet your year’s fundraising goals. Don’t panic – this is actually the perfect time of year to catch up on any lost ground. You can do this by implementing entertaining activities into your fundraising efforts that will be sure to attract donors, both old and new. If you’re stuck with old event ideas, or if you and your team simply cannot think of fresh strategies, here are some suggestions that will inspire creativity for your next fall fundraising event!

Hold an Auction:

While this is a more traditional approach, holding an indoor auction is one of the best ways to raise funds during the fall months. If you need items to auction off, ask your board members, volunteers, and other connections if they would like to donate any items or prize packages for the event – restaurant gift cards, free nights at a hotel in any city, autographed sports items, and cruise getaways are some things that you could offer to the table.

If you’re holding a live auction, make sure to hire an entertaining and professional auctioneer who will motivate your crowd to keep bidding. If you prefer a silent auction, using mobile fundraising technology is a great way to increase bids on items. For auctions using mobile fundraising technology, you don’t even need to have a physical event! Also, be sure to have some volunteers monitor the auction, and give fair warning when the auction is about to be closed so that everyone has the chance to place their bid.

Balloon and Flower Prizes:

Another fun strategy is to hide secret prizes inside of balloons and sell them to your guests, with more expensive balloons containing more valuable prizes. Then, at a set point in the evening, offer a special, such as a two-for-one deal or bulk discount to encourage more donations if you have balloons leftover. This is especially effective for events held at schools and camps where many children are present.

If your event is more targeted towards adults, you can use flowers to the same effect. Set prices based on the number of flowers or the type of flower that you’re selling. This is more of a win-win situation than the balloons – even if the prize isn’t spectacular, your donor now has a flower (or flowers!) that they can use to decorate their home or give to a loved one.

Arts & Crafts:

If you’re crafty or have connections with a small business that sells handmade knick-knacks, consider selling these as instant items at your next event with proceeds going to your organization’s cause. As a bonus, include instructions so your donors can reproduce these items at home. This is especially effective in the fall when Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas gifts and decorations are in high demand. These options will often be more inexpensive than those found in local stores, and your donors will have the comfort of knowing that their items are completely unique.

Another option is to request fine art like paintings, photographs, and statues sculptures to be donated for your event. Price and quality tiers can be set for your art pieces so that donors of all financial backgrounds can afford something – for example, talented but lesser-known photographers can start off at a lower price than well-known watercolor painters. And for those who don’t get the canvas addition, you can still offer lithographs of the original for sale, as these still make beautiful additions to a home.


It can be difficult to find fundraising inspiration once you reach the last months of the year, but there are plenty of seasonal opportunities your organization can leverage to raise more money. Use this time of the year to your advantage instead of getting caught in a creative slump, and always prioritize your cause above anything else.


Ryan Bridges is a contributing writer and media specialist for SBI Association Management. He regularly produces content for a variety of nonprofit management blogs, based around the transitional challenges that come with nonprofit fundraising and marketing efforts.

Images from Orange Coast Memorial Foundation.