Charity Auction Theme Ideas

Picking a unique and exciting theme for your charity auction gala is helpful for many reasons. It gives you direction for promoting and planning many aspects of the event, helping your committee with decisions about the venue, decor, entertainment, marketing materials and even the food.

Plus, it can make the night magical. A well executed theme encourages audience participation by transporting guests to a special place where they can get ‘lost’ in the evening. Offering this sort of experience for your donors and creatively tying it back to your nonprofit mission helps drive engagement, generate more bids on auction items and ultimately raise more money for your cause.

Last week we posted this article as part of a four-part series where we list 12 of the most popular charity event theme ideas and matched them with Winspire travel packages. So far, the themes we’ve covered include…

Charity Event Theme Ideas

Click on any of the themes below to jump to that article.

12 Charity Event Theme IdeasPart 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

If coming up with a great theme has left you scratching your head, here are three more popular and innovative ideas that should make promoting and planning your next fundraising event a snap.

4. Moulin Rouge

Moulin Rouge Charity Event Fundraiser Theme

Life is a cabaret, right? Paris and the cabaret are among the decor ideas you can draw from when creating a Moulin Rouge theme for your next fundraising dinner.

Serve up plenty of ballroom dancing, live entertainment and sequined decor to provide your donors with an evening they will remember. Try to book a ballroom with a stage at one end of the room to accommodate live acts.

Moulin Rouge Fundraiser ThemeTraditionally, deep red and black are the decor colors of choice for a Moulin Rouge theme, so keep that in mind as you purchase and create your decorations. Incorporate feathers into the centerpieces or create tiny top hats. It also helps to use plenty of red roses. To really make this theme hit home, see if you can figure out a way to incorporate the iconic Moulin Rouge windmill (see picture) into your welcome area or stage display. With a little creative ingenuity, you can probably figure out how to construct one for relatively chep. Attire for the evening should be black tie or black tie optional.

Consider offering these fun and festive trips to your Moulin Rouge guests:

Paris Renaissance - auction travel package

Paris Renaissance

5-Night Stay at Renaissance Paris Hotels with Airfare for 2

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Why this is a good match: Capture the excitement of the City of Lights with a trip to this vibrant destination. Stay at either of these 5-star Renaissance Paris Hotels – the Le Parc Trocadero or Arc de Triomphe. Paris oozes with cultural heritage, museums, art galleries, architecture, breathtaking sights and last but not least, nightlife (afterall, life is a cabaret old chum!).

London West End Theatre - auction travel package

London West End Theatre

Tickets to Choice of 2 Theatre Shows, The Savoy Hotel 5-Night Stay with Airfare for 2 (5416-2)

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Why this is a good match: The 1966 Broadway production of the musical Cabaret became a big hit in both London and New York. Set in 1931 Berlin, the story is based on nightlife at the seedy Kit Kat Club and revolves around the 19-year-old English cabaret performer Sally Bowles. As Broadway is to New York, London’s West End “Theatreland” offers approximately 40 venues featuring a variety of musicals and dramas, including long-running favorites such as Les Mis and Phantom of the Opera.

Bloomingdale's San Francisco Shopping Spree - charity event fundraiser package

Bloomingdale’s San Francisco Shopping Spree

$1,000 Shopping Spree with a Personal Shopper, Beauty Consultation, Champagne, The Fairmont San Francisco 3-Night Stay with Airfare for 2 (6003-2)

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Why this is a good match: Did you know Moulin Rouge won the Oscar for Best Costume Design in 2001? Everyone likes stepping out in style…so who could say no to a chance to bid on a shopping spree? Bloomingdale’s is known worldwide for its savvy fashion sense and helped launch the careers of many famous designers including Ralph Lauren and Donna Karan.


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oscars event theme 5. Oscars

Let your guests walk the red carpet and treat them to all the glitz and glamor associated with this prestigious awards evening. Encourage guests to come as their favorite Hollywood star and plan to have plenty of movie star props incorporated into your decor, such as a life-size oscar statue.

A VIP-style entrance complete with paparazzi will get the evening off on the right foot. Specify black tie formal dress on the invitations and set up your tables to face a front stage for an Oscar-worthy effect. Incorporate a few awards of your own into the evening’s event to tie in the Oscar’s theme.

For silent and live auction ideas that are truly star material, try these:

ESPY Awards - auction travel package

ESPY Awards

Middle Loge Tickets to the 2016 ESPY Awards in Los Angeles, 3-Night Stay with Airfare for 2

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Why this is a good match: Attend the 24th annually ESPY awards ceremony, an exclusive one-night celebration of the year in sports, airing on ESPN live from the Microsoft Theater (formerly Nokia Theater L.A. Live) in Los Angeles. Presenters include athletes and celebrities – you never know who you’ll see on stage!

California Dreamin' - auction travel package

California Dreamin’

Rossoblu Dinner, Private Custom Los Angeles Tour and 3-Night Stay with Airfare for 2

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Why this is a good match: Los Angeles is loaded with famous sights – take a private custom tour of the cities’ iconic landmarks, such as Rodeo Drive, Melrose Avenue, the Hollywood Sign, Grauman’s Chinese Theater, Sunset Strip and Beverly Hills 90210. Then enjoy superbly built pastas and grilled meats served in Downtown L.A.’s Rossoblu restaurant.

American Music Awards - auction travel package

American Music Awards

Loge Level Tickets to the 2018 American Music Awards in Los Angeles, 3-Night Stay for 2

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Why this is a good match: The annual American Music Awards features a star-studded lineup of music’s top performers and honors artists in the categories of Pop/Rock, Country, Rap/Hip-Hop, Soul/R&B, Alternative, Adult Contemporary, Latin and Contemporary Inspirational. Past winners include Ariana Grande, Beyonce, Blake Shelton, Rihanna, Adele, Enrique Iglesias and The Chainsmokers.


medieval charity event theme6. Medieval

Think heavy metal of another kind for this theme. Armour, coats of arms and prop armaments are a perfect way to let your decor create a medieval theme for your fundraising event. Transport guests back in time, to an era of kings, queens and knights. Suggest that guests dress in medieval style, while highlighting the theme with theatrical acts throughout the evening. You can even add a court jester for comic relief.

medieval fundraiser event themeA medieval feast typically consists of large portions of meat and fruit – work with your caterer to come up with a clever twist on this. Use long, rectangular tables for dining as if your guests are feasting in a grand banquet hall. When choosing or creating your decor, opt for rich colors with plenty of silver and gold to provide a sense of royalty. Consider venues that incorporate a lot of stonework or have a real banquet hall feel to help bring this Medieval theme to life.

To complement your evening’s medieval theme, consider these auction items:

Ireland Adventure - charity auction travel packages

Ireland Adventure

6-Night Getaway in Dublin, Ennis & Killarney, Historic Castle Overnight Stay, Rental Car, Guinness Storehouse VIP Tickets, Gap of Dunloe & Aran Islands Excursions with Airfare for 2

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Why this is a good match: Originally built in 1172 as part of an inner circle of defense sites protecting Dublin during battles, the Clontarf Castle was opened in 1998 as a 4-star hotel, after a 10 million Euro upgrade and renovation. Located just 10 minutes from the heart of Dublin’s city center, the Clontarf Castle Hotel is an oasis, tucked away in a tranquil setting, surrounded by fabulous golf courses and the sounds of lapping waters from the Irish Sea.

Churchill Downs - charity auction travel

Churchill Downs

Private Jockey Club Suite, Race Named in Your Honor, Trophy Presentation, Hyatt Regency Louisville 3-Night Stay with Airfare for 2

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Why this is a good match: A knight in shining armor striding atop his horse was a fearsome sight. Fast forward to 1789, when  horse racing in Kentucky started. Almost 100 years later, in 1875, Churchill Downs officially opened and began its tradition as “Home of the Kentucky Derby.” Experience the exciting and colorful spectacle of thoroughbred racing as the nation’s finest horses compete at Churchill Downs.

Rome VIP Vatican Exploration - charity travel packages

Rome VIP Vatican Exploration

Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica and Vatican Tour, Hotel Ponte Sisto 5-Night Stay with Airfare for 2

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Why this is a good match: Enjoy the very best of the Vatican Museums, with a 3-hour tour that allows you to skip the lines and provides special access to a once-in-a-lifetime look at the most important art and architecture of Vatican City. Admire Michelangelo’s beautiful frescoes in the Sistine Chapel and marvel at the colossal Basilica dome, as your expert guide provides fascinating commentary about the incredible masterpieces contained within this 9-mile collection.

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Part 1   |   Part 2   |   Part 3   |   Part 4

Check out part 3 for three more fundraising theme ideas with package recommendations for each!

  1. Under the Sea
  2. Las Vegas
  3. Hawaii/Caribbean

We would love your feedback! Leave us a comment with your favorite charity event theme and any auction items that have performed well or were easy to incorporate into the theme.