Fundraising ideas

Thank you for your interest in fundraising for the RNLI! Every penny or cent you raise powers our lifesaving work. Here is a list of 75 fantastic fundraising ideas.

Our priorities are the welfare of our volunteers, staff and supporters and maintaining our world-class lifesaving service. Due to COVID-19, we can’t fundraise in the same ways we usually do. But our lifeboats will continue to launch to those in peril at sea, and they need your support more than ever. So we have included  some great ways you can continue to support the RNLI by fundraising from home!

Once you’ve chosen a fundraising idea, be sure to register your event with us to access helpful support and resources. For next steps, take a look at our advice for planning and running your fundraising event, which includes setting up and sharing an online fundraising page. And to ensure you're keeping things safe and legal, see our handy checklist for safe and legal fundraising.

The RNLI’s top 3 ideas for fundraising 

RNLI staff member Richard Lee shaving half his head to raise money for Mayday

Photo: RNLI/Nathan Williams

Go on! Be brave! Your crazy hair could raise a crazy amount of money!  

We’ve made a list of 75 charity fundraising ideas, but these are our top 3 right now!

  1. Virtual fundraising
  2. Check out our ideas for fundraising from the safety of your home.

  3. Online quiz night
  4. Using free video-calling platforms, organise an online quiz night for you and your friends and ask for a donation to enter. We’ve got some great resources to help you get started.

  5. Crazy hair
  6. With the barbers closed, now is the perfect time to grow your hair, moustache or beard. Or maybe you’re brave enough to let your family members shave your hair off completely! Show your friends on social media and get sponsored.

Inspired by one of our fundraising ideas? Then register your event with us now!

Register your event

75 fantastic fundraising ideas

We’ve organised our 75 charity fundraising ideas into these categories. There’s something for everyone!

Quick and easy fundraising ideas
Competitive fundraising ideas
Creative fundraising ideas
Children’s fundraising ideas
Culinary fundraising ideas
Fun fundraising events
Active fundraising ideas

Quick and easy fundraising ideas

RNLI superhero supporters during their Great Superhero Run challenge

Photo: RNLI/Adrian Don

Forget the running! Simply dress up as your favourite superhero in aid of our RNLI heroes 
  1. Guess the baby: Ask your colleagues to bring in their baby snaps and see if they can guess who’s who!
  2. Superhero Day: Celebrate our RNLI heroes by dressing up as a superhero for the day and donating to our lifesaving charity.
  3. Crazy hair: Grow out your hair, moustache or beard. Or maybe you’re brave enough to shave your hair off completely! Show your friends on social media and get sponsored.
  4. Betty’s 5p Pots: Betty Bayliss, a volunteer fundraiser, came up with the idea of filling small jam jars with 5p coins!
  5. Guess the number: Put a load of sweeties in a jar and ask colleagues to donate a small amount to guess the number.
  6. Book sale: Ask friends to donate their preloved books and sell them in aid of the RNLI!
  7. Collection tin: Place a tin in communal areas and invite people to donate spare change to help save lives at sea. To request an RNLI collecting box or bucket, register your event. 
  8. Custard pie throwing: Colleagues and bosses love volunteering to be part of this activity.
  9. Film night: Watch a film with friends and ask for a donation.
  10. Games night: Set up your favourite games for a fun night with family and friends.
  11. Swear box: Any verbal misdemeanours can earn money for a good cause! Get your family and colleagues involved.
  12. Holiday day: Check with the boss first, then hold a silent auction at work to earn an extra holiday day.
  13. Dress Down Day: Donate a small sum to come into work wearing your casual clothes. Or dress up and donate a larger sum to come into work wearing you evening dress.
  14. Bad Tie Day: Wear with pride that tie you keep in the back of the wardrobe. Get sponsored or ask people to donate to wear theirs. You could even hold a competition!
  15. Lawn mowing: Help a friend or neighbour by mowing their lawn and ask for a donation.
  16. Lucky dip: Seek donations to take part in a lucky dip for small presents provided by your colleagues.
  17. Silence: This one might not be so easy! Get sponsored to stay silent for a long period of time for charity.

Inspired by one of our quick and easy fundraising ideas? Then register your event with us now!

Competitive fundraising ideas

Three people longing for their favourite drinks after going H2Only for the RNLI

Photo: RNLI

H2Only is a battle of wills. Could you drink just water for 10 days to save lives at sea?
  1. Quiz Night: Devise a quiz that’ll challenge your friends and ask for a donation to enter. Or download our free Quiz Night resources.
  2. H2Only: No morning coffee. No after-work beer. Can you do it for 10 days? Or even better, make it a competition with your friends to see who can last the longest. Download our free H2Only resources.
  3. Battle of the bands: You’re an aspiring Jimi Hendrix, but your friends prefer a Coldplay tune. Battle it out in front of a discerning panel in a friendly bar. Get people to donate as they vote! 
  4. Cooking competition: Take turns with friends to host a dinner party, and at the end of each evening, rate the host’s performance. Ask for a donation to take part. 
  5. Duck race: Get a group of people together to buy numbered rubber ducks and launch them into a river (remembering to collect them all afterwards!). There is a prize for the duck that finishes first.
  6. Egg and spoon race: Challenge your friends to a good old egg and spoon race!
  7. Dance off: Get everyone to perform their very own version of a famous dance routine in front of a panel of judges. Collect donations from spectators and contestants - or get sponsored to see how long you can keep dancing.
  8. No vices: Get people to sponsor you to give up your favourite treats or social media. Challenge your friend to a competition and see who can last the longest. 
  9. Office Olympics: Compete against colleagues in your own mini office Olympics. Sporting events could include table tennis or running round the office building. Ask for donations to take part.
  10. Sports team challenge: Organise a charity tournament and a sporty teambuilding event. Choose from badminton, netball, five-a-side football and more. Sell tickets in aid of the RNLI.
  11. Vanity check: Be sponsored to go without make-up or hair gel for a day – or, better still, a week!
  12. Model yacht racing: Model yachts provide an appropriately nautical theme for an RNLI fundraising event.
  13. Wacky races: Make go-carts, get people to place their bets on who will win and race away! 

Inspired by one of our competitive fundraising ideas? Then register your event with us now!

Creative fundraising ideas

A baby wearing knitted RNLI yellow wellies!

Photo: RNLI/Nathan Williams

Who could resist buying a pair of knitted yellow welly baby booties?!
  1. Art: Auction off your own or a local artist’s works, or hold an exhibition.
  2. Flower show: Show and sell your finest displays and specimens. Get people to join in and organise some stalls.
  3. Calendar: Design and sell a calendar - something nice and tasteful, mind!
  4. Jewellery making: Buy your own beads and make bracelets or necklaces that people can buy for a donation.
  5. Knitting: Knit jumpers, scarves, hats or baby yellow wellies and sell them in aid of the RNLI!

Inspired by one of our creative fundraising ideas? Then register your event with us now!

Children’s fundraising ideas

Children raising their arms in a school classroom during a visit by an RNLI education volunteer

Photo: RNLI/Harrison Bates

Water safety is a crucial part of children’s education. Get them learning through fundraising!
  1. Pirate Day: Round up your shipmates and ask them to donate to dress up as a pirate for the day for the #arrrRNLI! We’ve even got free Pirate Day downloadable resources!
  2. Helping hands: Get sponsored to help out with chores such as washing the car, cleaning and walking the dog.
  3. Fill Your Boots: With your school or club, fill a welly with coins and donate what you raise! RNLI wellies keep crew’s feet warm and dry. Because they are specially designed for saving lives at sea, they cost £54 a pair, which would be a great fundraising target for a small class or group.
  4. Give it some welly: Wear your favourite wellies to school. Go on a welly walk. Or have a go at Wellympics. There are lots of fun ways you can fundraise for the RNLI with wellies!
  5. Scavenger hunt: Get your friends together for a scavenger hunt and ask for donations.
  6. Get creative: Make great things you can offer for a suggested donation to the RNLI. For example, T-shirts, loom bands or cookies.

Inspired by one of our children’s fundraising ideas? Then register your event with us now!

Culinary fundraising ideas

A group of people are sitting at a table enjoying an RNLI fish supper

Photo: RNLI/Nathan Williams

Host an RNLI Fish Supper in aid of RNLI lifesavers who drop everything to save lives 
  1. Fish supper: An RNLI fundraising favourite, cook up a delicious fish supper for your friends. Simply ask your guests for a donation or make it more fun with fishy party games and prizes. Our fish supper events usually happen in Autumn, but you can host a fish supper all year round!
  2. International food evening: Enjoy a night of eating cuisines from around the world. Participants cook a dish from a country of their choice. The yummier the dish, the higher the donation!
  3. Barbecue: Ask for a donation for a burger, hot dog or an appropriately fishy dish, like tuna or mackerel. 
  4. Cake sale: The ever-popular cake sale. You could even get your friends involved and make it a competition!
  5. Afternoon tea: Get the kettle on and invite your friends to join you for tea and cake – in return for a donation of course. 
  6. Bathe in beans: Not so yummy, this fundraising idea involves getting in a bath filled with baked beans! Get sponsored to give it a go.

Inspired by one of our culinary fundraising ideas? Then register your event with us now!

Fun fundraising events

On Inishbofin, an island off the coast of Connemara, Kitty Concannon decorates cakes to raise money for the RNLI

Photo: RNLI/Nigel Millard

Kitty Concannon decorates cakes to raise money for the RNLI
  1. Cuppa for the crew: Use video-calling platforms to enjoy a cuppa with friends and family while fundraising for the RNLI. Download our free guide here.
  2. Fancy dress party: Pick a theme - film styles, cartoon characters, 1980s fashion? Give prizes and donations for the best dressed. 
  3. Tombola: Put numbered tickets on the prizes donated and ask for a donation to pull a ticket out of a hat.
  4. Black tie ball: Put on your best dress or dinner suit for a night of glitz, glamour and fundraising.
  5. Wine party: A popular extra-curricular activity and great way to raise money and socialise. You could have a wine-tasting party or a wine and cheese night (over 18s only).
  6. Auctions and raffles: Ask friends, family and local businesses to donate goods which you can then auction or raffle.
  7. Barn dance: Saddle up and put your dancin’ boots on. Barn dances are great fun as a social evening for all. Ask for a donation for entry.
  8. Cabaret: For an entry fee, entertain your guests with music, comedy, refreshments and magic. 
  9. Fashion show: Host a fashion show with support from local clothes shops or designers and ask spectators for a donation.
  10. Burns night: Host a Burns Dinner (celebrating Scotland’s Bard, Robert Burns) in aid of the RNLI on or around 25 January for your friends.
  11. Car boot/jumble sale: Clear out your unwanted items and raise money.
  12. Karaoke: Ask for a donation for entry to a karaoke night.
  13. Murder mystery: Host a murder mystery evening with obligatory donations from your guests. Especially the one who guesses who dunnit!
  14. Play DJ: Organise a 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s or 00s night and ask for donations to dance the night away.
  15. Treasure hunt: Organise a treasure hunt around your local town or village and get your community involved. Gather donations to take part or for each treasure found.
  16. Christmas: The perfect time to do some RNLI fundraising! Card sales, hamper raffles, Secret Santa or even hold a Christmas fair and ask for an entry donation.

Inspired by one of our fun fundraising ideas? Then register your event with us now!

Active fundraising ideas

People running in the woods during an RNLI Reindeer Run event

Photo: RNLI/Harrison Bates

Get your antlers on and join in the festive Reindeer Run fun!
  1. Extra miler: Walk, jog or run 31 miles in March and raise funds with every step. And it doesn’t have to be March – set yourself a step challenge anytime of year!
  2. Bicycle ride: Seek sponsorship for a challenging bike ride. See our free on- and off-road cycling resources. 
  3. Car wash: Wash colleagues’ and friends’ cars for a donation. 
  4. Row the (virtual) Channel: Using machines at your local gym, get sponsored to row the distance of the Channel or any waterway you fancy! Maybe it could be the distance between two lifeboat stations.
  5. Abseil: Get sponsored to abseil down a tall building - if you have the nerve!
  6. Climb Everest: On an indoor climbing wall! Ask people to sponsor you. 
  7. Football: A full match or a penalty shoot-out, depending how energetic you are! You could run it as a competition and ask for a donation for taking part and spectating.
  8. Marathon: Take on the ultimate running challenge, or some other kind of endurance test. We’ve got free training plans and running resources to get you started on your marathon journey.  
  9. Parachute jump: Dare to leap out of an aeroplane and skydive to raise money for the RNLI? Take your first steps on your challenge of a lifetime with our free jumping and skydive resources.
  10. Reindeer Run: Join us for our annual RNLI Reindeer Run event. Take part in the 10K or 5K fun run, or a 1K Santa Saunter. 
  11. Sponsored swim: Work out how far a mile is at your local pool and set a target. Or, if you’re a seasoned sea swimmer, plan a route. Download our free swimming resources.
  12. Ramble: Head out into some of the nation’s most beautiful landscapes and ask for sponsorship for each mile you walk. Our free coastal and inland walking resources will set you on the right track.  

Inspired by one of our active fundraising ideas? Then register your event with us now!

Be inspired by your fellow fundraisers

We’re so grateful to you - our fantastic fundraisers. For every single penny or euro you raise. And for every life you help save. We couldn’t do it without you. Read just some of our fundraisers’ stories and be inspired to start your own fundraising story right here with us today.