Hosted in cities and towns all over the world, community events bring people together. Community events are perfect for promoting positive change, and there’s opportunity for improvement in every community. Ranging from locally-attended small-town chili cook-offs to massive national parades attracting tens of thousands of people, community event ideas come in all shapes and sizes.
In this post, we look at the importance of hosting community events. We review a variety of unique and creative community event ideas, planning tips, and more. Whether you’re a seasoned event planner or just someone looking to lend a helping hand, and whether you’re searching for a way to strengthen community bonds or want to help boost your local economy, this post has something for everyone.
Explore 15 community event ideas that residents will love
Fundraising and charity community event ideas
Bring your community together through giving. Host creative charity events that will entice your target audience and boost fundraising efforts. From golf tournaments and marathons to car washes and bake sales, organizers have a lengthy list to choose from. Here are three of our favorite fundraising community event ideas.
1. Organize a community-wide donation drive.
Donation drives are a fantastic way to bring the community together through a common goal of helping others in need. One simple way to do this is to organize a community-wide charity drive in a central, easy-to-access location. Encourage community members to attend, bring goods to donate, and learn about the benefiting organization. Set up various drop-off spots arounds town for those who are unable to make it to the primary location.
Popular donation drives collect items that individuals and families in your area may have trouble accessing or affording, including:
- School supplies
- Baby items (clothes, food, etc.)
- Non-perishable food
- Holiday toys
- Winter coats
Create a Community Drive Committee dedicated to planning and organizing drives in your area. Assist your community by supporting local churches, organizations, and charities in the region.
2. Invite residents to attend a black tie gala and silent auction.
Give donors, investors, clients, and community members a reason to open their hearts and checkbooks by hosting a charity gala. Select an impressive special event venue for the gala, book thrilling entertainment, and include a silent auction to drive additional funds. Request auction items from local businesses and organizations and start marketing the event well in advance.
If black tie isn’t your style, that’s okay! While many galas are formal events, it’s important to design a function that will appeal to your target audience. Raise money and awareness for your organization in a formal, casual, or festive way; it’s up to you.
3. Impress community members with a charity concert.
If you’re looking for an exciting way to bring the community together to raise money or awareness, consider a concert for the cause. Benefit concerts are an entertaining and enjoyable way to bring the community together in support of a charity or organization. Book entertainment, choose an appealing event venue, and advertise event tickets throughout the region.
Community event ideas for social and cultural development
Bring your community closer together by celebrating your differences. Host open forums, lectures, classes, seminars, and other events to educate community members about local history, marginalized groups, various cultures, and the importance of acceptance and diversity in community building.
4. Host a heritage celebration.
Does your community have a diverse history or unique past? Bring the past to life through a fun-filled celebration of local heritage. Whether you host a heritage event celebrating an aspect of your history or an entire festival celebrating local art and culture, be sure to highlight historic cuisine, trades, crafts, and various forms of entertainment.
5. Organize a cultural food festival.
Celebrate a variety of cultures and backgrounds by organizing a cultural food festival. For example, invite members of the community to travel the world via their tastebuds as they explore delicious cultural cuisines. Encourage local restaurants, bakeries, and other eateries to participate, promote their business, and discuss how culture influences their food. Cultivate a community that celebrates diversity and inclusion so that everyone feels more accepted and respected.
6. Plan “Tourist in Your Own Town” events.
Invite members of your community to explore their town in a new way — through the eyes of a tourist. Introduce residents to one-of-a-kind restaurants, shops, and other hidden gems that they may not know about. Discuss unique and unusual local history, tour the town, and empower members of your community to connect with their roots.
Ideas for driving economic growth through community events
Hosting large, enticing events can help put your community on the map and positively impact the local economy. Appealing city-wide and regional events can help attract nearby attention, raise the profile of your community, and promote tourism.
7. Organize monthly regional mega-markets.
Host mega-market events to drive shoppers, tourists, and passersby to your city center. Giant farmer’s markets, craft fairs, and seed swaps can attract attention from near and far. Whichever market style you choose, advertise throughout the region and encourage individuals from surrounding communities to attend and participate. Market the event on social media, create online event pages, send invitations, and ask participating vendors to promote it as well.
In addition to driving more people and revenue to your community, mega-markets are one of our favorite community event ideas because they help support small and local businesses. Entice visitors of all types to attend by including a variety of vendors, activities, and entertainment options.
8. Coordinate a festival celebrating what your community does best.
Determine what sets your community apart and what makes it remarkable to those who live there. What is your community known for? Some places are known for their culture, such as Austin, TX is for its art scene. Others, like Silicon Valley, for example, are known for their industry. Develop an identity that people immediately associate with your community and design an event around it.
The DeKalb Corn Fest, for example, takes place each year in DeKalb, Illinois. Initially beginning as a community corn boil in 1977, the original purpose of the gathering was to celebrate the beginning of the harvest season by boiling and sharing free corn with residents of the town. Decades later, the once-unknown community event now draws crowds of over 100,000 to DeKalb each year for fantastic foods, free entertainment, and family-friendly activities. Sponsored by Northwestern Memorial Hospital and organized by DeKalb Corn Fest Inc., the current mission of the event is to “promote community unity through philanthropic giving.”
Is your community known for cultivating a specific crop or famously producing a certain product, like Hershey, PA, for example? Are you located near a national landmark or nestled in a unique environment? Does your community have a unique history or inspiring cultural significance? Identify what makes your community special or unique and invite individuals from near and far to discover it for themselves.
9. Work with regional information centers.
Connect with visitor centers, welcome centers, and other informational locations frequently visited by travelers. Partner with your local Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) to promote large events, encouraging travelers to stop while passing through. Out-of-town visitors will, even if unwittingly, make an impact on local businesses. They may stop for gas at the general store, have lunch at a local restaurant, or hit the shops.
Ideas for community events that promote positive change
While socializing, fundraising, and educational development are all excellent reasons to host a community event, we also recommend hosting events that give back to the community directly. Host an annual Small Business Shopping day, organize an area-wide recycling drive, or start a campaign to repaint dilapidated abandoned buildings in the city center. Host events that will directly impact your community and promote positive change.
10. Offer skill development and community training events.
An important part of building a strong community is investing in the people who reside there. Consider incorporating yoga in the park, Zumba classes, or other physical group activities into your community’s event calendar. Promote wellness and personal growth as part of your local mission. Offer valuable classes to residents, such as tax preparation seminars or CPR training. As individuals begin to grow their skills and find new passions, the community will become stronger as well.
11. Orchestrate community gardening days.
Have a little fun in the sun and invite people to take part in a Community Garden Day. Host recurring gardening events throughout the growing season aimed at beautifying your town. Invite residents to gather and get their hands dirty as they work together to brighten your community. Plant pollinators in a bee garden, improve local air quality by planting trees, and encourage your community to learn about the plant life native to your region.
12. Arrange community cleanup events.
Gather members of the community to clean up the town. Host monthly cleanup events where people can meet, get to know one another, and work together to make a difference. Is there a river, park, or an industrial area in need of a facelift? Host regular cleanup events where volunteers gather and get to work, making their community a better place to live.
Bond-building community event ideas
While community events are frequently used to fundraise or raise awareness, some are just for fun! Sure, they may bring a few dollars to an organization or business, but the main objective is to help people let loose, socialize, and meet new people. Nature walking tours, community bike rides, and public film screenings are just a few examples of community event ideas that bring likeminded people together through shared passions and interests.
13. Host a community field day.
Gather residents to enjoy a day of carnival games and outdoor competitions with a community field day. Create separate age groups for each activity, offer prizes, and host fun specialty events, such as a mother’s-only sack race or father-daughter dance competition. Invite local vendors, artists, restaurants, and other businesses to sponsor your event in exchange for sponsor marketing and recognition. Sell snacks, drinks, crafts, carnival tickets, and other goods to raise money for a local charity, organization, or community-specific funds.
14. Organize an open mic night.
Host a community open mic night that encourages residents to both get out of the house and support local artists. Look for a host venue that has a strong passion for supporting local artists and musicians. Charge a small entry fee and split the proceeds between the artists and venue. Or, donate it to a local organization that provides patronage for artists in your area. Feel free to select a specific genre of music for each event or leave it wide open.
15. Share a meal with community members.
Help members of your community feel happier and more fulfilled by encouraging them to come together for a meal. Research from Oxford University shows that people who eat with others frequently are more likely to feel content and happy. The results of the university’s research suggests that “communal eating increases social bonding and feelings of wellbeing and enhances one’s sense of contentedness and embedding within the community.”
Host block parties, barbeques, monthly dinners, or a Meet Your Neighbors event once a quarter. Invite community members to congregate, eat, drink, and play games. Attach a theme, change locations, or include door prizes to add a dash of excitement to food-focused community event ideas.
How to plan a community event
The first step to planning a community event is to establish an event objective. Do you want to build a more tight-knit community, raise money for a worthy cause, or improve public spaces? Determine your goal and brainstorm community event ideas that match your event objective.
Before the real planning begins, measure interest from friends, family, and community members to ensure your event idea is appealing. Partner with local businesses, organizations, and community leaders to sponsor and cross-promote your event. Next, secure an event venue and obtain all of the proper permits.
Create an online event page with important event details, such as the location, time, objective, and agenda for the event. Include high-quality photos and intriguing event information, like the perks of attending. Promote your event in a variety of places: on your website, via email, on social media, at area attractions, with local businesses, and through your community hospitality and tourism office, if applicable.
Send reminders leading up to the event and show your appreciation for community members who attend. After the event, send a post-event survey requesting attendee feedback to gauge attendee satisfaction and identify opportunities for improvement. Requesting honest feedback will help organizers cultivate even better community event ideas in the future.
From farms to firehouses, community events can take place just about anywhere. In most locations, community events held on private property must meet local ordinances, laws, and regulations. Hosting a community event on public or government property, however, may require a permit from a town or government office. Event ordinances and legal requirements vary, so confirm all of the event restrictions for your locality prior to an event. Reach out to the local Parks and Recreation or Public Works Department for more details.
Bring your community event ideas to life!
With exciting and inspirational community event ideas fresh in your mind, start planning your next fundraiser, festival, or community feast. Planning a community-wide event may require managing multiple moving parts, however, and preparation is a key component of success. Be sure to give yourself ample time to plan, organize, and execute the event.
Next up, we take a deep dive into event planning and walk you through every step. From aligning your event’s purpose to confirming the agenda, we explore how to plan an event in 10 steps. Learn how to determine your event budget, how experts promote their events, and so much more.