Learn more how to increase your organization’s impact with engaging nonprofit events.

Nonprofit Basics: Nonprofit Events

Nonprofit events are a highly customizable way to engage with existing supporters and forge relationships with new people who care about your cause. Whether you’re hosting a peer-to-peer fundraiser, live auction, or gala, you’ll need to create a memorable experience for your supporters.

Events are a significant tool to this end since they can easily be tailored to an organization’s needs, preferences, and budget. Let’s explore the basics along with useful ideas to make your next nonprofit event the most successful one yet.

What are nonprofit events?

Nonprofit events are in-person or virtual activities hosted by nonprofits in order to connect with existing and potential supporters. To run a successful event, you’ll need a robust volunteer team, a strong event plan in place, and essential elements like a venue and catering if you’re hosting it in-person. Plus, you’ll need to put a creative fundraising idea into action.

Let’s dive into just a few of the benefits of nonprofit events:

  • Drive revenue. Fundraising events are particularly fruitful in this regard since they are often built around one-time activities specially tailored to generate revenue. Plus, once your event is over, people will be more inclined to become repeat donors if they had a memorable experience at your event and have positive associations with your organization. You can also pair fundraising events with other revenue-generating activities such as concession stands or challenge gifts.
  • Raise awareness around your cause. Events are the perfect opportunities to show supporters why they should care about your cause. People like to understand what they’re supporting when they attend a fundraiser, so this is a wonderful opportunity to share your expertise in an impactful way.
  • Build connections with supporters. Events help build meaningful connections with donors and potential donors by providing them with an enjoyable experience and more knowledge about your cause. Beyond donors, it’s just as important to create positive experiences for your volunteers so that they continue to support your organization in significant ways in the future.

What are examples of nonprofit events?

Events can be held successfully in several different formats depending on your organization’s goals. Nonprofits can host in-person events, virtual events, and hybrid events. One of the benefits of living in the age of the Internet is that nearly any event idea can be adapted to fit in-person or virtual formats.

Each kind of event has its advantages and disadvantages, so decide what makes the most sense for your nonprofit. In-person events can be costly if not carefully planned, and can also limit potential attendees to people that live in proximity to where the event is being held. The regional focus may not be a drawback if a nonprofit only serves the local community, but it could be limiting for a large-scale nonprofit.

In-person events, however, provide a face-to-face element that helps people stay engaged at the event and allows them to build meaningful connections with others.

With virtual events, you’ll have the extra challenge of keeping supporters engaged since they won’t physically be together and can easily get distracted. However, virtual events allow your organization to connect with potential supporters who care about your cause across the world. They can also facilitate building community if you make sure that these tools are in place ahead of time while you are planning your nonprofit event.

Let’s explore a few ideas for nonprofit events, all of which can be adapted to your nonprofit’s specific needs, and can be hosted in-person, virtually, or as a hybrid event.

When planning nonprofit events, you’ll need a creative idea that will inspire supporters to attend and give.


Galas are formal events that often feature special performances, a live or silent auction, and the opportunity to socialize with others. Since galas can be expensive, your organization can look for corporate sponsors that will provide financial support in exchange for marketing at your event.

Galas can be hosted virtually with some thoughtful planning, such as asking supporters to dress up and even sending catering to their homes, to ensure that guests enjoy the experience and feel as engaged as they would with an in-person event.


Auctions are a wonderful way to engage your supporters in a fun and interactive way. Guests can bid on special items or packages that have been donated or that your nonprofit has procured at a low cost. Your organization will benefit from all of the proceeds and your guests will be able to enjoy the items or experiences they’ve won s. Auctions can be easily hosted online with the support of a reliable auction software and live streaming service.


Walkathons can help you actively engage participants in your efforts. By adding a peer-to-peer element, you can encourage participants to collect donations from people in their personal network, and to receive pledges for reaching walking goals.

You can either host a designated event where everyone walks together, or host your walkathon virtually by encouraging people to walk on their own or with friends to hit their goals. Consider offering supporters prizes and incentives for raising the most amount of funds.


Concerts are a tried-and-true fundraising event. People enjoy hearing good music, whether you’re able to book a local school’s orchestra or ask volunteers with musical talents to lend a hand. It’s easy to encourage people to invite their friends to this event and potentially draw in more supporters who wouldn’t have been familiar with your organization otherwise.


Webinars are a great opportunity to engage with the topics that your supporters care about in an engaging way. In addition to providing insights from experts during this event, you can offer viewers the opportunity to chat with each other and ask questions while they attend. This event is simple to plan and has low overhead costs.

Nonprofit events are a crucial way to build relationships with new and existing supporters, and to keep them actively engaged with your organization. After your event, keep up the momentum by thanking your audience for attending, and by offering them additional ways to get involved with your mission.

Other Resources to Explore

Nonprofit Basics – Learn more nonprofit management essentials by exploring other expert resources.

9 Volunteer Thank You Letter Samples to Show Appreciation – Engaging your supporters extends beyond the event itself. Take advantage of these volunteer thank you letter templates to show your appreciation to your volunteers for their work.

Nonprofit Marketing: A Guide for Amplifying Your Mission – If you want to learn more about how to promote your event and fine-tune your nonprofit’s marketing strategy, take a look at this guide.