Festival Fundraising Ideas

101 festival ideas plus the top 12 fundraising ideas for raising money at your event. A festival fundraiser is a great way to raise funds because events with a fun focal point make it easier to attract a large audience. Festivals also keep people involved longer than most other fundraising events, so they also help you to raise more money per attendee than other event ideas.

Festival Fundraising Ideas

Another good thing about using festivals for fundraising events is that they can quickly become annual traditions in the community and thus serve as excellent fundraisers for your group for years to come. It’s hard to go wrong with fun events that emphasize feasting and celebrating something of value. So, let’s take a look the best ways to raise money at your festival.

12 Festival Fundraising Ideas

These are the top twelve ideas for raising funds at your festival:

  1. Corporate Sponsorships – The biggest money is in getting corporate sponsorships, but its also the hardest to achieve without a track record to go on. Most companies want to see your event demographics and attendance figures to gauge how productive an event sponsorship would be for their company. Look for companies with an affinity for the type of festival you are organizing and a synergy with your non-profit organization’s focus. Read more on how to get corporate sponsorships.
  2. Ticket Sales – Selling admission tickets is a great way to cover start-up costs and generate advance publicity for your festival fundraiser. Work with local merchants to place event flyers and posters to spread the word. Use a service like EventBrite.com to handle all your online ticket sales. Bundle a raffle with your admission tickets because everybody loves a chance to win something. Plus, advance ticket sales get people psychologically committed to attending your event. Price your tickets as low as $5 for a first-time event. Sell more tickets by offering early purchasers a discount and also offer a bulk ticket sales discount.
  3. RafflesUse multiple raffles to raise money at your festival, including one that offers door prize drawings for admission ticket holders. 50/50 cash raffles (50% of total raffle ticket sales gets awarded as cash prizes) always do great. You can also do a cash calendar raffle combining a raffle ticket with a festival-themed calendar. Product raffles, gift basket raffles, vacation trip raffles, car raffle, and anything else you can get donated will all help bring in a lot of funds.
  4. Silent Auction – Silent auctions are always great moneymakers for any fundraising event. Use a merchant plan to get donations from area businesses by showing them “what’s in it for them.” Follow these tips for running a silent auction. You can also get things like hot air balloon rides, vacation rentals, and autographed memorabilia on consignment for your charity auction. If they don’t sell, they don’t cost you anything. It’s a great way to get some exciting items into your auction inventory without any upfront expense. Here is a list of links to large companies who will donate items for a non-profit auction, including all the major league sports teams.
  5. Live Auction – Holding a live auction is an excellent festival fundraising idea. If you have a large enough crowd, hire a professional charity auctioneer because they can double or triple your results. Your live auction should feature your best auction items, i.e. artwork, exotic vacations, unique experiences, etc. This article is packed with charity auction tips, 25 for silent auctions and 25 for live auctions. Be sure to thank all your donors in your auction publicity.
  6. Food Sales – Selling food items is a good way to raise money at any event from cupcakes to hot dogs to gourmet food. Another alternative is offering food tastings through special ticket sales, i.e. each ticket entitles the holder to sample one specialty item or to provide access to a tent where they can load up a plateful of food to sample. You can also do “food sales” through vendors like food trucks or food carts by charging those vendors a fee. Also, food with a “State Fair” look & feel sells well at festivals because people are focused on having a good time.
  7. Drink Sales – Beverage sales are a big money maker as are tastings or samplings of exotic beverages. Craft beer tastings, wine tastings, and specialty drinks will help you raise a lot of funds and make your event a bigger draw.
  8. Merchandise Sales – Sell event t-shirts and other fundraising products to raise more money for your cause. One item that always sells well are the two-for-one pizza discount cards that retail for $10 and cost $2 to $3. They’re available for Domino’s, Pizza Hut, Papa John’s, and Little Caesars. The buyer gets 12 to 20 uses of the card over a 1-year period, so they are a great deal for both the purchaser and for your group.
  9. Vendor Booths – Charge vendors an exhibitor fee to sell their merchandise at your festival. They can be as simple as vendor stalls or spots, or more upscale like indoor merchandise displays.
  10. Donations – Don’t forget to promote your cause with proper signage and provide easy ways for people to give a donation. You can do that online, at your event, at your admission areas, with donation stations, and any other method you choose. Don’t be shy about doing “the ask” at your event.
  11. Contests – Things like eating contests or “best of” competitions can raise money for your group through competitor entry fees. They also provide focal points for day-long events that give people a reason to stay longer and spend more money at your event. Demonstrations or performances also serve the same purpose.
  12. Grants – While not specifically fundraising at your event, there are many grants available that can offset some of the costs of organizing your festival. Start with you local government, chamber of commerce, state, and then federal grant sources.

Traditional Festival Fundraiser Ideas

  • Spring
  • Summer
  • Fall or Harvest
  • Winter
  • Film
  • Music
  • Church

Food Festival Fundraiser Ideas

  • Baked goods
  • Barbecue
  • Chicken wings
  • Chili
  • Cupcakes
  • Doughnuts
  • Ethnic foods – French, Greek, Indian, Italian, Japanese, Middle Eastern
  • Fish fry
  • Fried foods
  • Garlic
  • Hot peppers
  • Nuts – Cashews, chestnuts, peanuts, pecans, pralines, walnuts
  • Pumpkin
  • Ribs
  • Seafood – Clams, lobster, mussels, oysters, shrimp, sushi
  • Soul food – Chitlins, pork, ribs
  • Watermelon

Drinks Festival Fundraiser Ideas

  • Beer – Artisan, beer tastings, craft beer, seasonal
  • Coffee – Celebrations. competitions, tastings
  • Martini
  • Milkshakes
  • Specialty drinks – Bartender competitions, best of
  • Tea
  • Whiskey
  • Wine

Holiday Festival Fundraiser Ideas

  • Christmas
  • Cinco de Mayo
  • Easter
  • Fourth of July
  • Halloween
  • Labor Day
  • Mardi Gras
  • New Years
  • Summer Solstice
  • Valentine’s Day
  • Veteran’s Day

Popular Festival Fundraiser Ideas

  • Anime – Characters, convention, costume
  • Architecture – Architects, design, historic home tours, historical district
  • Art – Art fair, artists, graffiti, street art, tattoos
  • Aviation – Airports, flying shows, vintage planes
  • Azaleas – Flowering festivals of all kinds
  • Beach – Community, open water swimming, parties, surfing
  • Boating – Power boats, regattas, sailing, tall ships
  • Business Expos – All types of business or industry, mobile, technology
  • Carnivals – Celebrations, floats, rides, school
  • Cars – Classic, competitions, cruising, race, shows, vintage
  • City – Best of celebration, founding, street fair, taste of the town
  • Comic Con – Comic fan fairs, superhero days
  • Community Days – Mule days, pioneer days, small town celebrations
  • Cosplay – Costume parties, conventions
  • Comedy – Competitions, performances
  • Crafts – Baskets, glass blowing, pottery, quilting, textiles, weaving
  • Cultural – Celebrations, feasts
  • Dance – Ballet, clogging, interpretive, line dancing, square dancing, swing
  • Dogs – Breeds, parades, parties
  • Dogwoods – Celebration of springtime
  • Ethnic – Every ethnic group
  • Farming – Farmers markets, harvest festivals, organic, tractor pulls
  • Fishing – Bass, competitions, fly casting, lake, salt water, tournaments
  • Flowers – Lillies, roses, tulips
  • Folk – Art, crafts, dancing, music
  • Fruit – Apple, banana, cherry, orange, peach,
  • Gardening – Growers competitions, Home & garden show, heritage seeds,
  • Heritage – Similar to ethnic but area-related
  • Historical – Dates, districts, figures, tourism
  • Hot air balloon – Competitions, rides
  • LGBT – Celebrations, gay pride parades,
  • Literary – Authors, books, library, poetry, romance, writers
  • International – Combined cultural events
  • Movies – Christmas, classics, documentaries, fantasy, film festivals, Hunger Games, Star Wars,
  • Music – Alternative, beach, bluegrass, classical, country, dance, electronic,  jazz, oldies, orchestra, pop, rap, rock, soul, techno, zydeco
  • Pagan – Druid, Wiccan
  • Patriotic – Military, Stars & Stripes
  • Pets – Cats, dogs, horses, snakes
  • Pioneer – Founding fathers, historical eras, historical figures, Indian, stagecoach
  • Pirate – Arrr!, Gasparilla,
  • Races – Boat, car, road, running, triathalon, walking
  • Renaissance Fair – Medieval times
  • River – Local river, rafting, tubing
  • Rodeo – Competition, demonstrations,
  • Sports – Any type of sport you can think of
  • Storytelling – Celebrations, competitions
  • Street Fair – Community fests
  • Theater – Performances, Shakespeare
  • Veterans – Heroes, military exhibitions, parades
  • Wars – Civil war, revolutionary war, veterans, Vietnam, WW II
  • Water – Lakes, polar bear plunge, rain dances
  • Western – Celebration, history, lifestyle, Old West, rodeo,

The great thing about these festival fundraising ideas is that they are adaptable to just about any type of event. And, since a festival can really be focused on pretty much anything you want, you can raise money just by making your festival as fun as possible for everyone.