We often get asked for ideas for increasing non-dues revenue. While there are many ways to create additional revenue streams for your chamber, we’re going to focus on non-dues revenue event ideas in this article. And not just any events.
We’ve compiled the types of events that will get people talking. Fun, creative, unique and even quirky events that provide experiences you can use to target a particular group.
Want more events for young professionals? More events for businesswomen? Or more events for athletes (or weekend warriors)? Then keep reading.
But, first a disclaimer…
Events Aren’t the Only Way
Before we present this big list of fun, targeted non-dues revenue events that generate funds, keep in mind that events aren’t the only way to create non-dues revenue streams. Many chambers limited their events during COVID and focused on other ways to increase revenue.
Event Ideas by Audience
We’ve organized the following list of non-dues revenue event ideas by target audience. However, that is not to say that the event will only attract the targeted group listed. These are merely suggestions and you can change each event suggestion up slightly to appeal to many different groups.
Event Ideas for Women
Want to attract more women to your chamber events? Try these ideas:
- Women in Business Awards
- Girl’s Night Out
- Fashion Show (invite member boutiques to show some of their lines)
- Professional Makeover or Headshot Event
- Holiday Shopping Event or Preview
- Women’s Conference
- Health and Wellness Expo
- Afternoon Tea Networking & Mentor Program
- Food & Wine Pairing Event or Artisan Cocktail Tasting
- Film Festival – showcasing local talent
- Craft Fair or Artisans Expo
- Paint and Sip Event
Events for Young Professionals
- Pub Crawl or Wine Walk – this non-dues revenue event doesn’t have to be just about drinks. Each stop along the way could have a different activity instead of a mandatory beverage. You could also create a moveable feast with every course hosted at another restaurant or venue. Or try the same idea with Poker. Each location gives participants a playing card. At the end of the event/last stop, players mingle and see who has the best poker hand of the cards they’ve gathered.
- Trivia Tournament – this team event can pit company against company or you can assign teams as part of a networking event.
- Video Game Tournament
- Car Show
- Pet-friendly 5K or other event
Chamber events used to be “adult-only” functions right after work, but these days people have a lot of family obligations. For that reason, many chambers are considering family-friendly events to draw larger crowds. Here are a few ideas for family fun:
- Games – charge an entry fee for a family to register and then have mini tournaments where families compete against families
- Field Day
- Pet Parade
- Movie Night – host an outdoor movie night. You can charge for tickets or make attendance free and charge for food and beverages. Don’t forget glow sticks!
- Scavenger Hunt or Amazing Race-inspired event around town.
- Talent Show
- Dance Competition
- DIY Project
- Childcare during shop local event
- Cornhole Tournament
- Battle of the Bands
- Balloon Pop – stick prizes (or prize notifications) into several balloons. Sell the balloons. Instruct people to pop them to reveal a prize. Add a message to each balloon and maybe a small piece of candy with a business card or discount to a member business.
- Cow Dropping Bingo. If you have to ask what this is, you don’t want to know.
- Turtle races
- Rubber Ducky Drop
Challenges have remained popular after the success of the Ice Bucket Challenge and when you incorporate social media, they receive even greater reach.
You can monetize the challenges by requiring a small entry fee or by encouraging people to get sponsors for the event in the same way school children receive pledges for fun runs.
Award a prize for the person who succeeds or enter everyone who completed the challenge into a prize drawing.
- Weight loss challenge
- Daily running or walking challenge
- Donate a Drink – this challenge calls upon people to donate the money they would spend on a daily beverage to a worthwhile cause.
- Kindness Challenge
- Shop Local Challenge
Auctions and raffles are strong ways to bring in money as well but they can often feel like a “been there, done that” event. Creating themes around your event can bring new life to them.
- Art – it can feature works by local artists, students, children, or well-known artists. You can also auction off special commissions like pet painting packages or murals.
- Casino Night
- Silent Auction – This event can be less intimidating because there’s not the loud buzz and raising of the hands as there is with traditional auctions. Instead, bidders write their bids on paper or use an app to submit them.
- Wine or spirit basket auction – especially good if you’ve got a lot of local craft brewers or distillers
There are a lot of ways to bring athletes together whether they are local or you draw from other nearby towns.
Race courses can also be certified through large groups and associations if you want to bring in more tourism dollars by hosting a large event like a marathon or other running event.
Athletic events can focus around serious competitions or fun themed events. Just make sure you communicate the nature of your event so everyone knows the level of competition (or lack thereof) they will face.
You can change up any of the events below by giving them a theme like “costumed” or “Valentine’s Day.” For athletic events, you charge entry fees for participants and can sell refreshments and food to spectators.
- 5K run or other race
- Bike race
- City-wide relay race (or you can even create an event based on a tread-mill relay race)
- Mini-golf tournament
- Rollerblade or rollerskating race
- Spinning competition
- Basketball tournament (teams of 4 on 4)
- Axe throwing competition
- Skeet shooting or gun range competition (if your community enjoys these activities)
- Obstacle or Parkour Race
- Dodgeball or kickball tournament
For the Foodies
No matter what the taste, there’s a bake-off or a cook-off that supports it. You can charge competitors to enter or charge a fee to taste and judge. Here are a few ideas for food:
- Chocolate Decadence – a contest featuring all things chocolate.
- Chili or BBQ cook-off.
- Cooking competition – invite local restaurant chefs to join this Iron-chef-inspired event where they will be called upon to make a dinner with only a few surprise ingredients revealed the day of competition.
- Ice cream tasting – invite all the ice cream parlors to participate and allow attendees to cast votes in different categories.
- Artisanal cocktail competition.
- Coffee – line up volunteers to take orders and deliver “coffee” to a special someone. This idea can also work with flowers or other items and it’s a nice pick-me-up that people can send one another.
If you’re ready to get the community together again and bring in some additional funds, these non-dues revenue event ideas will help. Many of them are funny and quirky (or could be with the introduction of costumes or company sponsorships).
Let us know if you decide to host one–or if you already do.