It seems like only yesterday that we were all counting down to 2022. It definitely wasn’t the best of times; most of us rang in the new year with news that Betty White had died while grappling with the first Omicron surge. Yep, 2021 went out with a whimper. But now here we are, in 2023, ready for a fresh start—and some fresh fundraising ideas. Here are 27 fundraising ideas for the new year. Raise a glass with us, and let’s start 2023 off right!
- Resolve to give
On January 1st, everyone’s groggy but determined: this year will be the best yet! Take advantage of that New Year momentum by encouraging donors and would-be donors to step up and make a resolution they can stick to: giving back (or giving back more, as the case may be). This is also the perfect opportunity to turn peer-to-peer donors into monthly donors and/or advertise volunteer opportunities with your nonprofit.
Sample Social Media Copy: After 2022, do you really want to give up chocolate or start waking up at 5 am to run? Instead, resolve to be kind to yourself and others by giving back! Click here to become a monthly donor. #resolvetogive
- Recycle those trees
Whether it’s Christmas trees or Hanukkah bushes, there's always a lot of extra foliage come January. Rather than sending all that fine greenery to the landfill, set up an eco-friendly post-holiday tree drive. For a donation, your team of mighty volunteers will chip that tree and turn it into mulch. It’s a win for your nonprofit, your supporters, and the environment!
- Gather toys for tots
Most kids get so, so many gifts in December—and chances are they’re going to need to make room for them. For education or child-/family-centric nonprofits, organize a post-holiday toy drive for kids in need. You can put the high-value items to use and dispose of the headless dolls—for a donation, of course!
- Walk Your Dog Month (all of January)
It makes a lot of sense that January is Walk Your Dog Month, given that many of us resolve to get moving at the first of the year. Encourage your supporters to embrace this excellent excuse to spend extra time with their fuzziest BFF by hosting a dog-friendly walkathon. You can make it a P2P fundraiser or a crowdfunding campaign. At the walk, be sure to sell some treats and T-shirts for pups and their people alike.
- World Series of Beer Pong
Every year from January 1-5, folks with good aim and good tolerance compete in the World Series of Beer Pong—hosted in Las Vegas, of course. This January, host your very own beer pong competition, allowing participants to fill their solo cups with their beverage of choice. (Personally, we’d choose cream soda.)
- National Spaghetti Day (January 4)
After four days of resolution-flavored salad, everyone’s ready for a little (or a lot of) spaghetti. Host a spaghetti dinner fundraiser or ask a local restaurant to donate a percentage of their profits for the evening. You could also do an online cooking class or sell make-your-own spaghetti dinner kits. Perfect for busy families!
Sample Social Media Copy: When the weather outside is frightful, spaghetti is so delightful! Celebrate #NationalSpaghettiDay with us by enjoying unlimited strands of America’s favorite food (and a side of cannoli to boot!). Get your tickets here.
- Sweat it out
A 5k in January is our idea of a slam-dunk of a fundraiser. (Wait, are we mixing our sports metaphors? Sorry.) With everyone trying to start the new year off physically fit, you’re sure to get lots of participants to run (or amble) for your cause.
- National Clean Your Desk Day (January 10)
Here it is: 2023 and you still have so. Many. Tchotchkes. Everywhere. Enter National Clean Your Desk Day, which gives everyone a great excuse to pour a few cups of coffee and get cleaning. Encourage donors to clean out their desks (and their houses) and donate their no-longer-needed treasures to you. Then, host a pay-what-you-want fundraising yard sale. Out with the old, in with the… well, still old, but new to you! Bonus: Hold a Fix-It Fair, otherwise known as a Time Exchange. For all those doo-dads that don't work quite right but still have lots of life in 'em, this is a meetup where people share tools and expertise to fix up items that need a little love.
- Take the plunge
Shockingly, hundreds of thousands of people willingly leap into frigid water every year just for the “fun” of it in an event known as a Polar Plunge. So, why not corral your heartiest supporters into raising some funds for your nonprofit while they suffer? A plunge is an excellent peer-to-peer fundraiser, too. People sign up, ask their social networks to fund their adventurous activity, and then everyone jumps into a freezing body of water. You can make this a double fundraiser by inviting spectators to watch the festivities and selling hot cocoa.
- Ditch New Year’s Resolution Day (January 17)
We vowed to meditate, eat more veggies, learn piano, and wear actual pants to our home office. ...it was a tough two weeks! Now, it’s time to give up and give back. Celebrate the art of throwing up your hands in defeat with a fundraiser that’s all about embracing our slightly less healthy habits guilt-free. Host a bake sale or stream an online binge-a-thon—the choice is yours.
We know this doesn't come as a surprise to you, nonprofit friend, but January 17 is MLK Day. While ditching New Year's resolutions is basically the whole reason we make them, we're going to gently suggest that you move this fundraiser a few days out this year. It won't hurt any of us to pretend to exercise and eat right for another day or two.
- National Cheese Lover's Day (January 20)
Was there ever a day so splendid as National Cheese Lover’s Day? Celebrate the funky, gooey, crumbly glory that is cheese by hosting your very own class on how to make the perfect cheese board. You know the one we mean: an Insta-worthy, overflowing tray of cheesy goodness. The class should, of course, include plenty of sampling.
Bonus cheesy ideas smorgasbord: Cheese and wine pairing. A how-to-make-ricotta class. Vegan cheese tasting. Wallace and Gromit screening with cheesy popcorn. Raclette night.
Sample Social Media Copy: On #NationalCheeseLoversDay, we think you’ll a-brie that our cheese board class is a gouda way to celebrate. Cheese the day and raise money for a good cause!
- Celebration of Life Day (January 22)
It’s easy to get caught up in the constantly depressing news cycle or beat ourselves up for not doing—or being—enough. Instead, celebrate what’s great about just being here by updating your donors on all the wonderful things your nonprofit has achieved to make life better for those in need. Make sure to add an ask to your email or social post so that you can keep up the life-affirming work!
- Mind your time
A lot of us experience the post-holiday blues. After all the bright lights and festive gatherings, we’re facing three more months of winter—and there isn’t a plum pudding in sight. Host a by-donation weekly meditation class, via Zoom or in person, to encourage your supporters to connect with others and practice mindfulness during the dark days of winter.
- National Compliment Day (January 24)
This day is a great excuse to flatter your donors into donating a bit more. Write a social post and/or fundraising email letting everyone know that today is National Compliment Day. Then, tell ‘em why you love ‘em … and remind them to keep being amazing-beyond-all-reason angel-unicorns by supporting your organization.
Sample Social Media Copy: Has anyone told you lately that you are a perfect sunflower? On #NationalComplimentDay, we want all our supporters to know that they’re the greatest humans ever invented. Want to share the love? Donate $10 a month to [Org]; it’s the greatest compliment you can give!
P.S. All compliments above are thanks to the Leslie Knope compliment generator! Direct your donors to it for some extra fun!
- Try something new
According to some (vaguely scientific) research, January 24th is the most depressing day of the year. What raises people’s spirits? Doing something new and exciting (and supporting your amazing organization’s work, of course)! Encourage your supporters to take up a new hobby—you can send a list of creative ideas—and then ask them to use that new hobby for good. First-time knitters can sell their funky new wares; aspiring writers can ask supporters to donate $1 per page written of their sure-to-be-best-selling debut novel. And we’d be remiss not to mention that Funraise’s simple and snazzy personal fundraising pages make it all easy as learning how to bake a pie.
- Open your doors
A new year is a perfect time to welcome new donors and volunteers to your organization. Throw open your doors, offer some hot drinks, and give a tour of your nonprofit’s HQ. This isn’t about asking for donations; it’s about making connections with the community and inspiring long-term interest in your cause. Plus, it’s a great way to spend an evening during this typically quiet month.
- National Blueberry Pancake Day (January 28)
Settle into 2023 on a wholesome note with a pancake breakfast fundraiser. All you need is a team of volunteer pancake chefs and a few gallons of piping hot coffee. (Psssst! Go rogue and offer blueberry waffles—but don't tell anyone you heard it from us.)
Celebrate the new year around the world
While most of us welcome the new year from December 31 through January 1 with a countdown and a toast, many cultures celebrate in different ways—and even at different times. Up your cultural competence and your fundraising efforts by hosting New Year events that celebrate our world in all its diversity and vibrancy. Here are some ideas to get you started, along with the dates of the corresponding New Year celebrations should they differ from the Gregorian New Year.
And remember: if you’re pulling ideas, however lovingly, from a culture other than your own, go straight to the source to ensure everything you’re doing is acceptable and accurate. Then, be sure to publicly acknowledge everyone who assists you.
- Lunar New Year lion dance (January 22, 2023 and February 10, 2024)
The traditional lion dance is an awe-inspiring mix of dance, puppetry, and percussion, meant to bring good luck while driving away negativity. Most major cities have their own lion and dragon dance teams who will perform at events—and many offer a discount for nonprofits. Hosting a lion dance performance is sure to bring in the crowds, especially if you serve some lucky foods afterward.
- Lunar New Year dumpling-making class (January 22, 2023 and February 10, 2024)
In China, dumplings are auspicious, and making them is a way to bond with those around you. Partner with a dumpling expert to host a dumpling-making workshop before the Lunar New Year, so that everyone can enjoy these piping-hot pockets of deliciousness. Plus, during the Lunar New Year, you eat dumplings shaped like silver ingots for prosperity—so why not bring a little extra luck to your organization?
- Nowruz yard sale (March 21-22 every year)
Nowruz is all about welcoming spring and new beginnings, and the celebrations last for 13 days. Before the festivities begin, those who celebrate deep-clean their homes, which is a great way to start the new year off right. So, in the spirit of Nowruz, host a spring decluttering fundraiser. Encourage your supporters to clean their homes and donate all their unwanted items to your gigantic yard sale, with the proceeds going to your organization.
- Oshogatsu mochi-making
During the Japanese New Year, everyone makes and enjoys mochi, a tasty treat made by pounding cooked rice until it’s sticky and stretchy. It’s a lot of work and a lot of fun, so invite a crowd to learn the art, then send everyone home with a box of mochi and some recipes. Bonus: you can host this fundraiser at any time of the year. Mochi is served in different ways at all different holidays. It’s incredibly versatile and can be eaten in a soup, stuffed with ice cream or red bean paste, or grilled!
Sample Social Media Copy: Oshogatsu omedetou! In Japan, mochi (glutinous rice cakes), are a popular sweet treat served to welcome the new year. Want to get some hands-on experience and sample these tasty morsels? Join us at our mochi-making class this Thursday to benefit [cause].
- Muharram good intentions (July 18-August 17, 2023 and July 6-August 5, 2023)
Throughout the first month of the Islamic New Year, Muslims mourn and fast in remembrance of the death of the prophet Muhammad’s grandson, Hussein Ibn Ali. As a result, Muharram isn’t a joyful celebration. Instead, it’s a time of meditation and peace. To honor this sacred occasion, encourage your community to reflect on how they can bring goodness into the year ahead. One solid option? Becoming a recurring donor for a good cause.
- Rosh Hashanah apple fest (September 15-17, 2023 and October 2-4, 2023)
For the Jewish new year, apples dipped in honey represent a sweet year ahead. Celebrate this sweetness with a day of apple-centric activities, from apple picking to apple tasting to making applesauce. You could even make apple-themed decorations. L’chaim!
- Rosh Hashanah challah sale (September 15-17, 2023 and October 2-4, 2023)
Anyone who hasn’t tried challah hasn’t truly lived. In honor of the Jewish New Year, host a challah bake sale, featuring all varieties of these chosen breads. And don’t forget to offer some meaning alongside this tasty treat. One must-know tidbit: During Rosh Hashanah, the challah is typically round, rather than oblong, making it extra special. Some say it represents the cyclical nature of the year; others say it’s a crown.
- Danish New Year plate smashing
In Denmark, broken plates mean good luck, and since good luck is meant to be shared, Danes spend December 31st delivering piles o’ smashed chinaware to their friends and family. Some even smash them right then and there! Bring your nonprofit all the 2023 luck by hosting a smashing plates art project. Everyone brings their forgotten porcelain, smashes it to banish the old year and welcome the new one, then assembles a community mosaic for everyone to enjoy for years to come. Don’t forget to provide safety training and protective gear!
- Diwali kids’ night (November 12, 2023 and October 31, 2024)
The festival of lights is a joyful celebration full of color, food, and fun, making it a perfect occasion for family-friendly fundraising events. While you’ll want to let members of your local Indian community take the reins when it comes to planning, here are a few ideas to get the wheels turning: DIY paper lanterns, rangolis (geometric chalk or sand designs done on the floor), or samosas.
Sample Social Media Copy: Looking for a break from the usual routine this holiday season? Get the kids out of the house and teach them about Diwali, India’s biggest holiday of the year. We’ll have food, crafts, and, most importantly, childcare. Plus you’ll be supporting [Org]’s vital work as we head into the new year.
- Diwali mithai sale (November 12, 2023 and October 31, 2024)
Mithai are small traditional Indian sweets made with ghee, fresh milk, sugar, fruits, and/or nuts. They are positively scrumptious but often not widely available. To celebrate Diwali, partner with a dedicated mithai shop to host a mithai sale, with steaming mugs of chai and piles of barfi and bowls of jalebi. If the owners are willing, you could also offer a class on how to make simple mithai at home.
And there you have it: a plethora of ways to start 2023 off right. Now, let’s eat, drink, eat some more (we’re well aware that most of these ideas are food-centric, but we know what makes a great fundraising event), and be merry!