Fundraising Ideas, Walkathon Fundraisers

What are the Best Fundraising Event Ideas?

So, you’ve decided to host a fundraising event to raise money for your non-profit or charitable organization. But how do you decide which fundraising event is best for your nonprofit, if you don’t have a signature event in place or are looking for something new? Certainly, you will want to look to other similar organizations, but you can’t just ride on their success. How do you establish a winning fundraising event strategy for your nonprofit? What are the best fundraising event ideas for small, medium, and large nonprofits?

The Best Fundraising Event Idea from Software Advice

Software Advice, a company that helps nonprofits find and compare fundraising software, tackles just these questions and more in their new report. Nonprofit market researcher, Janna Finch, interviewed industry experts and analyzed survey responses from almost 100 event-planning professionals to identify events with the highest return on investment (ROI), and explored how utilizing fundraising software can help with ease of planning these special events. Software Advice found that fun runs and walks are the best major event for nonprofits of all sizes. Specifically, her respondents said that fun runs and walks are the easiest events to plan, generating moderate to high revenue for nonprofits of all sizes.

We agree! Nonprofit organizations and school PTO groups have long favored walk-a-thons, Fun Runs and other similar events where donations and pledges are collected to raise money for a charitable cause. These peer-to-peer fundraising events offer great opportunities for raising money and spreading the word about your organization, without high overhead costs.

Learn how to organize a walkathon fundraiser.

DoJiggy is the Industry Leader in Walk-a-thon Software

Utilizing crowdfunding software is a must for walkathons. DoJiggy’s walkathon software platform is designed specifically for walk-a-thons and peer-to-peer events where individual and team participants solicit and track donations and pledges. Each of your event participants creates and manages their personal fundraising page and invites friends and family to support your organization through secure, online donations. Administrators configure a minimum donation goal for participants, as well as the types of donations and pledges accepted.

  • Provide walkers with Personal Fundraising Pages to customize and promote your fundraiser
  • Fundraising Thermometers and Leaderboards display Top Team and individual fundraisers and promote competition, so you raise more
  • Embedded Social Media Share links encourage walkers to share the event w/ friends and family
  • Fundraisers can manage their personal and team pages and monitor fundraising progress
  • Easily enter checks and off-line donations at no additional cost
  • Privacy features for school walk-a-thons and fun runs


Software Advice’s conclusion was based on the fact that fun runs and walks are both the easiest to plan and deliver a high return on investment for small, medium, and large nonprofits. Other key findings from the report are explored in our Q&A with Janna here:

Nonprofit Event Evaluation Techniques

We asked Janna: What are some ways nonprofits can evaluate what fundraising event is the best for their organization? She responded with some key items:

  • Your fundraising event budget is a good place to start.
  • Staff/volunteer resources are the biggest factors that determine which events a nonprofit can execute on. Your staff is already in place, but what are some strategies for recruiting volunteers?
  • An event planner’s experience is also an important consideration when choosing an event. Experienced planners can anticipate and preempt issues that a novice can’t, as well as coordinate more efficiently and understand what it takes to make an event a worthwhile experience for both the nonprofit and attendees. So, a nonprofit that doesn’t have someone on board with event planning experience should cut its teeth on a fun run or walk, a non-sports competition like a bake-off, or a peer-to-peer fundraising event like a bowl-a-thon, because planners in our sample say those are the easiest to plan.

Fundraising Software Improves Special Event Coordination

We asked Janna: How can software improve fundraising event coordination & organization?

As we found in our study, all major events are relatively difficult for small nonprofits to plan and it’s harder for them to earn a reasonable ROI than it is for their larger counterparts. But non-profit fundraising software can make a difference by stretching small nonprofits’ limited resources.Fundraising ROI

For example, many online fundraising and event management applications allow event attendees to register, pay event fees and make donations themselves. By letting attendees enter the details and software to tally the reporting results —rather than paying staff or volunteers—administrative tasks and details can be managed by as little as one person, even for larger events with hundreds of attendees.


We asked Janna: What was the most surprising finding for you?

She said: “I am actually surprised that respondents from midsize and large nonprofits ranked fun runs and walks as highly as they did—even higher than galas. Fundraising galas are the old standby, so to learn that event planners for those nonprofits rank them as moderately difficult to plan and see only a moderate ROI is a bit of a shock.

I can only guess as to why this is, but think Katherine Wertheim’s explanation of transformational vs. transactional events is one factor. By default, fun runs and walks are more transformational than transactional and it’s not uncommon to ask for pledges, whereas galas are more transactional. Thus, the opportunity for a high return is higher for fun runs from the get-go and galas are starting with a less “transformed” audience.”

Software Advice has also put together this great infographic capturing some of the key findings from the report. We hope this can be a resource for nonprofits considering different kinds of fundraising events.

More Fundraising Event Ideas

Still looking for more options on the best fundraising event ideas for your organization? Check out these resources:

Lisa Bennett

About Lisa Bennett

Lisa is the Sales Director at DoJiggy. She joined DoJiggy in 2006 and loves her job. Prior to working with DoJiggy, she worked at several non-profits and managed special event fundraising.
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