Swimming Pool

11 Refreshing Summer Fundraising Ideas

Let’s be honest, asking people for money is difficult.  Really, really difficult.

What’s even worse?  Asking grumpy people for money.

Donors are much more receptive to asks when they are in good moods. Whodathunkit?

So take advantage of the happiest season of the year — summer!

Summer is a great time to engage with donors. The sun is shining, the weather is good, and daylight lasts forever.

It is a season that beckons people outside, so heed the call.


Use these suggestions to capitalize on the summer season and get your community outside and donating!


A block party is a one-stop shop for summer fun.  The endless summer nights provide the perfect backdrop for a community gathering that benefits your cause!

Block Parties are what you make them so the vibe and atmosphere will be up to you.

Consider organizing some extra fundraising events to incorporate into the block party and maximize your donations.

I would suggest getting some competition brewing with a watermelon eating contest and a cook-off.

Watermelon is the perfect summer fruit, refreshing and healthy.  Donors won’t feel guilty about stuffing their faces with watermelon.


Messy enough to provide a visual badge of honor for those who compete, your contest will be a highlight of the block party.

For those who find the competitive eating world unappealing give them the option of competitive cooking.  A cook-off is a great complement to any block party.

Pick a summer classic, like apple pies, burgers, or chili, and get people cooking!

You can have party guests vote using a secret ballot or appoint a judging panel.  Just have fun with it!

Look into getting a local chef or cooking supply shop to donate cooking lessons or a gift card to the winner.

Keep the party going late into the night and let your cause reap the financial rewards.


Is a block party not cool enough for you in those hot summer months?  Make it a pool party instead.  Problem solved!

Pool parties are pretty straight forward.  Have pool?  Will party.

Just make sure you have your safety bases covered with licensed lifeguards.

Your pool party can be as extravagant as your heart desires.  Set up carnival like games near the pool.  Have a party-wide round of Marco Polo.  Sell snacks from a concessions stand.


Kids will join in for the fun of it and adults will join in for the nostalgia-fun of it.  Establish a designated fight-zone, register competitors, and sell water balloons.

You could even make it a tournament with teams competing for a coveted prize…glory!


Car washes are a fundraising standby for a reason.  They’re a great way to raise money with little event cost.

They are also an excellent opportunity to expand awareness of your organization.

Make sure your car wash has plenty of signage stating what the proceeds are going towards.  You might even want to print off some flyers or brochures to give those who participate additional info on your cause.


BBQ Hamburgers

For this event you’ll have a crew of volunteers and staff manning the grill or fryers.  Set up a method of ordering (online, via the phone, in person) and provide made-to-order food.

Your establishment can be take-out style or you can set up some outdoor seating.

Get kitschy if you go the eat-in route, and don’t forget the quintessential summer items like picnic tablecloths and funky plates.


Pick whichever of the three you think your community will be most interested and you’ll be off to the races.

Charge a small registration fee and have your participants gather sponsorships for distance walked, biked, or swam.


Find an outdoor venue, get wine donated from local shops, and invite your supporters who are 21+ to pay a minor fee to participate.

People will jump at the chance to sample wine while feeling charitable.


Take advantage of the beautiful weather and bring your higher-end events outside.  For example, you could host a garden ball at your community’s botanical gardens.


Golf Cart

Golf tournaments can be very lucrative.  Partner with a local golf course and solicit your corporate sponsors and donors to buy spots in the tournament.  Make a whole day of it!  Start with breakfast and finish with a dinner and silent auction.


Outdoor concerts are summer staples.  It doesn’t matter who the main attraction is, whether its Beyoncé or your cousin Al’s neighborhood band.

A benefit concert is all about having fun and raising money.


Reserve a venue, like a park space, for 4 or 5 separate nights.  Then pick out a movie for each reserved day that an entire family can enjoy.

Title your series, something like “June Movie Mondays,” and start rolling.

Make sure to advertise and let people know what the ticket sales are accomplishing.  You could even sell theater concessions to create an authentic movie-going experience.

For more great information, check out our list of summer camp fundraising ideas! 

Once you’ve executed a great summer fundraiser, make sure your organization is fully prepared to keep those hard earned donors.

Click here to learn more about donor retention.

And click here to learn more about donor segmentation.

Donors have more time and energy to get involved in their communities during their summers.  Cement your nonprofit’s community presence by making a big fundraising push this summer. Go forth and conquer the season!

Click here to download our free fundraising software checklist.

Botanical Gardens Fundraising ideas

10 Unique Fundraising Ideas for Botanical Gardens

I know that you’re wondering what happened to those medieval medicinal gardens. Don’t worry, they still exist, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a doctor who will try to cure your arthritis with Sarracenia, which garden enthusiasts may know as cone-shaped plants indigenous to the southeastern United States.

Sometime around the 17th century, medieval medicinal gardens turned their attentions to collecting and displaying plants, and botanical gardens were born. They’re places where people can learn about plants, witness wildlife, such as turtles and frogs, and conduct scientific research.

Botanical gardens matter to universities, communities, and the animals that live within their curated ecosystems.

Just like you need money to buy food, the botanical garden you so carefully manage needs money to survive. While it might be easy to sit at a computer and send out improved communications to increase donations, there are a variety of botanical garden fundraising ideas that involve getting out of your chair and bringing people in to experience your beautiful garden.

Most of these events are monetized via ticket sales and donations, so be sure to attract the masses and show them why your garden is worth a generous gift.

Light Shows

Think your family does a good job with its Christmas lights? Just wait until you see what some of these botanical gardens do.

Photo of botanical garden light show

Photo by the Atlanta Botanical Garden


Not to disregard your holiday efforts, but some gardens, like the above pictured Atlanta Botanical Garden, put on the sorts of light shows that are must see holiday attractions. Extraordinary light shows can be popular attractions, especially in the winter months.

The Atlanta Botanical Garden has several corporate sponsorships which enable them to keep their holiday lights affordable and maintain low internal costs.

This seasonal event is a way for organizations to raise significant funds from ticket sales and to gain exposure to a brand new audience of garden visitors.

Garden Balls

Call them galas, dances, parties with lots of pretty flowers, or soirees, but, no matter what you call them, garden balls tend to be premier fundraisers for many botanical gardens.

Gala event at botanical garden

Photo by the State Botanical Garden of Georgia


The State Botanical Garden of Georgia has held its annual gala since 1985. The lavish dinners include live music, dancing, and a silent auction, and all set to the beautiful backdrop of a botanical garden.

Garden balls can attract many wealthy supporters and their friends. You can also seek fundraising for these events from corporate sponsors.


Live music, fireworks, and beautiful plants everywhere you look. Many botanical gardens host live concert series, usually in the summer when the air is warm and people can sprawl out on the grass and relax.

Musical event at botanical garden

Photo by William Holmes


Concerts can range from symphony orchestras, such as the orchestra that the Forth Worth Botanic Garden features at their annual concert series, to Acapella groups to choral performances to contemporary rock bands. People can sit on the lawn, dance, set up picnics, and enjoy the beautiful scenery, and all for an affordable price. A few rounds of fireworks can add to a memorable experience.

Movie Screenings

Outdoor movie screenings are a nice change of pace from the containment of movie theaters. A silver screen with stars in the background and lush flora all around can be a relaxing experience that attracts many avid moviegoers.

Movie screening at botanical garden

Photo by Myriad Botanical Gardens


Movies can be geared towards adults, families, and other groups, and can range from documentaries to musicals to Hollywood blockbusters. The Myriad Botanical Gardens in Oklahoma City features a family-friendly slate of movies during the summer months.

All people need to do is bring chairs, friends, and food, and they’re in for a great time.


While you might be used to fairs that include Ferris Wheels, cotton candy, and clowns, garden fairs can also be inviting attractions.

Fair fundraiser at botanical garden

Photo by Green Bay Botanical Garden


The Green Bay Botanical Garden offers an annual fair that features over 100 vendors. These vendors showcase plants, landscape ideas, gardening tools, and provide demonstrations and presentations. There’s live music and food, too.

And don’t forget that botanical gardens can be open to the public year-round. The Green Bay Botanical Garden offers free snowshoes to anyone who wants to come out and see their beautiful grounds during the winter months.

Guest Speakers

Hosting guest speakers can bring in people who want to learn. Topics don’t necessarily have to be about nature, as the setting of a garden can help to attract folks interested in a wide range of topics.

The North Carolina Botanical Garden brings in professors from local universities to speak on topics such as Charles Darwin. Figure out what the people in your community are interested in, in addition to nature, and bring in speakers who can address those topics. Offering food and beverages can help to increase attendance.

Flower Shows

While there are tons of ways to attract visitors, an obvious way is by showcasing your plants. Whether they be special exhibits or plants that blossom at a certain time of year, special events for flowers can bring in more garden industry enthusiasts who might decide to donate.
Flower show at botanical garden

Photo by Harvest Bible Chapel

You can raise awareness and interest in flower events by hosting an opening night party. Opening night events not only bring in more people, but they raise awareness for the seasonal flower show. The hope is that word will spread, and even more people will visit during the subsequent weeks and months.

The Chicago Botanic Garden hosts an orchid show, and their most recent opening night raised $35,000.

Guided Tours

A massive garden can feel overwhelming to some people who want to see as much as possible. Guided tours allow visitors to walk the grounds while learning about the various plant life.

In addition to the price of admission, you can usually charge for tours. You can offer group discounts and limit group sizes in order to create an aura of exclusivity around the tours in an attempt to increase the desire for them. The Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh offers guided tours for $2 per person.

Education Programs

Kids and adults can learn a lot from educational programs, which use your botanical garden as an idyllic backdrop.

Education programs vary by garden, and the New York Botanical Garden provides a nice snapshot with their offerings:

  • Botanical art and illustration
  • Landscape design
  • Horticulture
  • Floral design
  • Gardening
  • Botany
  • Horticultural therapy

Classes can be offered year-round if the garden has the proper indoor facilities.

Some members may be enthusiastic about providing donations that benefit educational opportunities.


People love outdoor weddings, and botanical gardens have the idyllic scenery to make them memorable events.

Wedding photo at botanical garden

Photo by Fresh Blend Media


Use your facilities to attract more people, such as how the Missouri Botanical Garden provides wedding parties with use of its Native Butterfly Garden for two hours. Weddings are expensive, and you can charge high rental fees for use of your space.

A great way to promote your garden as a wedding venue is through a detailed webpage that highlights the features of your garden and shows off plenty of gorgeous scenery. Weddings are about as romantic as events get, and you want people to know that there’s no better place to tie the knot than at your beautiful, natural paradise.

Tickets sales may be the norm, but, with some creativity, you can find other ways to raise needed funds for your garden. Classes offer tangible benefits to members and are recurring opportunities to engage with the garden, as opposed to one-time or annual events. Weddings promote your garden as a community space at which to host one of life’s most cherished moments.

Botanical garden fundraising can be fun and creative. Thanks to CRM software, fundraising is also easy to manage. Assess your resources, ask what your staff can do, and start implementing new fundraising strategies today to maintain your garden as a community treasure.

Looking for more fundraising ideas? The following additional resources can help you find more inspiration: 

  1. 33 Fundraising Ideas for Schools and Education
  2. 127 Fundraising Ideas
  3. The Ultimate Fundraising Event Checklist
  4. How to Ask for Donations
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