5 Must-Try Halloween Fundraising Ideas for Nonprofit Organizations

Halloween fundraisers are yearly activities that schools have during October. They are effective strategies to raise funds for upcoming educational trips, buy new musical instruments for the school band, and other causes that can help students have better learning experiences inside and outside the classroom.

Halloween fundraisers are always a big hit since they are fun. Most people, regardless of age, love taking part in activities where they can get a few scares, and scream and laugh at the same time. As such, guests will willingly pay or donate to join such events.

For these reasons, nonprofits will also do well to host Halloween-themed fundraising events every year.

If you run a charitable organization and want to throw your first Halloween fundraising activity, a trusted provider of fundraising services for nonprofits shares the following five ideas for a fun-filled event:

  • Haunted House

Start with the most iconic Halloween fundraising theme: the haunted house.

Turn your workplace into a haunted house. If your office is small, find out if you can use or rent the community center or basketball gym for a night or two for your fundraising event.

The ambiance is the key to having a spooky place that will scare the guests. As such, you need to decorate the venue well and ensure it won’t disappoint anyone who enters.

Start by covering the walls with dark green or black garbage bags, curtains, or construction paper. If you have enough space, use portable dividers to create a maze that guests will have to go through.

Use white wool yarn or cotton battings to make spider webs and hang them all around. Add some skeletons or bones, and severed heads of broken dolls or stuffed toys and spread some creepy crawlies around. Buy some dry ice or rent a fog machine to boost the ambiance as well.

Borrow a few mannequins from local clothing stores and dress them up as witches, ghouls, mummies, or zombies. Have some of your staff or volunteers put on similar costumes so that they can surprise the guests and complete the experience.

  • Halloween Party

If you want a fundraising event that will surely draw in adults, host a Halloween party.

Rent a community hall or find out if you can use the local park as the venue for the party. Promote the event, using both online and traditional marketing channels and materials.

Again, deck up the room with Halloween decorations, but don’t make it too spooky since you want the mood to be festive. Hire a DJ to play music all through the night.

For snacks, prepare some simple Halloween-themed treats. Turn mini pizzas into mummy heads or add a ghost figure using cheese. Cheese fingers that really look like fingers and white chocolate shaped like ghouls are excellent options as well. For beverage, prepare bowls of fruit punch and sodas.

Try to ask local restaurants to donate some food or shops for ingredients that can be used to create the treats.

To raise money, sell tickets online, outside the venue, and other allowed places in advance and during the event itself.

  • Halloween Costume Contest

You can include this contest as part of your Halloween party fundraiser program. You can also choose to host it as a separate event.

Solicit prizes from local businesses for the contest. Once you get a few donations, indicate that guests need to dress up for the party so that they can get the chance to win prizes. This should be printed on your tickets and promotional materials. I’ve seen many of these type of promotions as amazing Promotional Umbrellas ideas that really spark a desire to engage – sort of like an invisible call-to-action (CTA) button that has to get pressed.

Try to solicit as many prizes as you can so that you can set different categories for the contest. Award prizes to those with the scariest costume, most creative, funniest, etc. The more rewards you hand out, the more memorable the event will be.

  • Halloween Costume Auction

Although this is a relatively new form of fundraising event, it is still an effective strategy that is similar to silent charity auction experiences. After all, people need costumes for Halloween. Take advantage of this fact to raise money for your organization

During the last two weeks of September and until the second week of October, work with your staff and volunteers to design and create Halloween costumes. You can have them make their own as well.

You can also ask local tailors and designers to help you out by creating one or two costumes they can donate to your cause.

Once you have a certain number of costumes, take some photos and display them outside your office and other areas you can place them. Post these pictures on your website as well. Make sure you include in these materials that these costumes are up for bidding on your organization’s site.

Next, run a silent auction before Halloween. Set a minimum amount to cover the expenses for the featured costumes. After every successful bid, get the winner’s contact information so that you or your staff can deliver the costume personally.

The key elements of a successful auction are impressive costumes and a good marketing campaign. As such, work hard on these two.

  • Zombie Fun Run

Lastly, bank on the success of “The Walking Dead” and other popular zombie-themed movies and TV shows by hosting a fun run or even a full marathon where all participants need to dress up as living corpses.

Work with the people in your community to establish a route for the marathon. This can take place around a park or even on the main roads. Establish a date and time so that the police or local authorities can close the area (or part of it) for the duration of the run.

Again, ask some local businesses to donate a few prizes. Request other establishments for other complimentary items as well, such as bottled water, snacks, and giveaways for the runners’ loot bags.

Have the participants dress up as zombies during the day of the run. Hand out prizes to the first three to arrive at the finish line. Reward the participants with the scariest, most creative, and funniest costumes (if any) as well.

With this type of fundraiser, you’ll be raising money by charging the participants an event registration fee. You can also ask sponsors for monetary donations in exchange for some publicity.

With Halloween still a few weeks away, you have some time to plan an amazing event, one that will help you raise funds for your organization.


Darran Brown is the CEO and Founder of Go Charity. A graduate of UMASS Amherst, Darran has spent the last 20 years managing auctions across the United States. Having run some of the most successful live and silent auctions in the US, Darran has the insider know-how to every aspect of the industry. From memorabilia to trips and experience hospitality to fundraising 101, Darran is the leading expert on auction management and fundraising success.