7 Viral & Creative Fundraising Campaigns to Spark Your Imagination

August 15, 2022

There are many great ways to create impact, but it may be hard to know where to start when seeking to develop viral fundraising campaigns that make a significant change. While there is no specific formula for creating viral campaigns, taking inspiration from some of the ones that have been successful and have effectively mobilized millions for their cause can certainly spark some inspiration!

Here are some of the all-time greatest fundraising campaigns & other incredible examples of how creativity can be transformed into impact across different causes:

Ice Bucket Challenge

1. Ice Bucket Challenge & Its Impact on ALS Research Breakthrough

You cannot write about viral fundraising campaigns without including the world-famous #IceBucketChallenge. Taylor Swift, Mark Zuckerberg, George Bush, and many other notable celebrities took part in this fundraising effort, which received 400 million social media views overall. It is an example of how simple yet bold activities such as pouring ice-cold water over one’s head can spark a world chain of gratitude and create an amazing impact. The 2014 summer mobilization campaign raised more than $220 million worldwide and helped identify a new gene, NEK 1, which is one of the most prevalent genes linked to the neurodegenerative disease ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease.

Dance for Change

2. A Dance Challenge for Sustainable Agricultural Investment in Rural Africa

In more recent news, the #DanceforChange challenge created by Sherrie Silver, Mr. Eazi, and the United Nations' International Fund for Agricultural Development (IDAF) ingeniously took to Tiktok to launch the world’s largest dance challenge to increase investment in sustainable agriculture & empower rural youth! The turnover was incredible: over 33,000 videos were created for the #DanceForChange challenge, and many Tiktok creators joined the cause, garnering a total of 109.6M views.


3. Growing Facial Hair in November for Men’s Health

Since its beginning in 2003, the Movember Foundation every November hosts a worldwide invitation for men to grow their mustaches for the entire month and share them on social media to fund men's health initiatives – from prostate cancer to mental health! Their fun & simple idea to “shape the face of men’s health” has created its own “Mo Brothers” community and is visible on most social media platforms. The movement managed to raise over $99.5 million in 2020 for men's health and has overall developed 1,250+ men’s health projects across 23 countries, and hosted the development of 54 inventions, 70 therapies, and 107 diagnostic tests for prostate cancer.

Laugh Aid - Comedy Gives Back

4. Comedy Gives Back's "LAUGH AID"

Joining forces is undoubtedly the best course of action when it comes to impact. Sharing laughs in this creative fundraising campaign became the key to making an impact at a time when we all needed some endorphins! In 2020 over 90 comedians, including Jimmy Fallon, Howie Mandel, Ray Romano, Whitney Cummings, and Adam Sandler, partnered with the nonprofit Comedy Gives Back to generously participate to support fellow comedians affected by COVID-19. The live stream event powered by Pledge attracted 2.5 million unique viewers, streamed over eight hours, and raised over $350k in donations for its COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund.

Ariana Grande Trans Day of Visibility Campaign

5. Ariana Grande Raises 3M for Trans Youth

This past March, on Transgender Day of Visibility (#TDOV), as states across the US advanced legislation targeting trans rights, Ariana Grande and Pledge created the Protect & Defend Trans Youth Fund, an effort to support & match donations up to $1.5 million. The fund will provide critical funds to 18 organizations providing direct services to trans youth and advocating for the rights of trans youth in states currently targeted by anti-trans policies, such as Alabama & Tennessee. The incredible fundraiser recently reached its goal of $1.5 million, and thanks to personal matching from Ariana Grande, will create $3 million to help local organizations most in need.

Diné Skate Garden Project

6. Empowering Resilience: the Diné Skate Garden Project

After the hardships faced during the Covid-19 pandemic, there was a significant need to build a transformative space to empower the strength and resilience of the Diné youth and their families in the Navajo Nation. 4KINSHIP, and the Inspiring Children Foundation, founded by Grammy Nominated Singer/Songwriter and activist Jewel, along with Wonders Around the World (WAW) joined forces to create an inclusive skatepark. The fundraiser, powered by Pledge, raised $110,763 and is still increasing! The group is expected to start building the park this fall to honor and respect Diné culture, the land, and their community.

Real Selfies for Cancer Research

7. REAL Selfies for Cancer Research

The #NoMakeupSelfie viral campaign showcases what happens when women come out & support each other! In 2014, actress Kim Novak was severely criticized for attending the Oscars without makeup. Author Laura Lippman took to Twitter in support of her friend & posted a makeup-less selfie, which quickly went viral and within hours, hundreds of women including celebrities were posting their natural beauty online. The successful campaign became even more impactful as Fiona Cunningham, a young woman from the UK ingeniously attached the trend to cancer awareness. The result? In just a few days, not only were women joining forces to empower each other by defying beauty standards, but they were also able to fund £8 million for ten clinical trials as part of Cancer Research UK.

From mustaches to Ice buckets, selfies, and direct donations… We hope these incredible examples of collaboration and fundraising campaigns have sparked some inspiration for your own cause! While not every campaign will go viral, taking these as inspiration can put you in the right place to create a widely successful fundraising campaign. Join Pledge today & begin fundraising towards your favorite cause.