Themes, SPECIAL EVENTS, and Incentives

A clever theme, fun games, and great incentives are tried and true ways to get people excited about your workplace campaign.  Here are some ideas to get you started.  The only limit is your own creativity, so if you have a great idea that isn't listed here, we'd love to hear it!  


United Way Challenge

Once again this year, the United Way Challenge offers everyone who gives just $1 per week or more ($52 per year) the opportunity to win one of 15 incredible prizes, all donated by local businesses. 

Take the 2021 United Way Challenge.


A campaign theme is a great way to rally your employees and tie your United Way campaign together. It can center around an inspiring movie (think "Pay It Forward" or"The Blind Side"), a silly television show ("The Office," maybe?), a popular pastime (sports, beachcombing, video games or comic books), or even something inspired by a past decade (disco would be groovy!).  Just pick a unifying idea and let your imagination run wild.  Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Join the Fight

Fear Factor

Together We Can

Share the Magic

Recipe for Caring

Make An Impact

A Brighter Tomorrow, With Your Help

Expressions of Hope


Wild West/Cowboys

Catch the Spirit



Dare to Care

Make a World of Difference

Giving Isn't Expensive; It's Priceless


Special events

COVID-19 has changed the way we all work, play, and live our day to day life. But that does not mean you can't still host a fun and engaging special event during your United Way campaign. Below are 17 ideas you can use to bring together your peers for a good cause. All the ideas listed below can be done virtually to accommodate work from home employees and to comply with current NYS regulations.

  1. Online Trivia Night - Organize an online trivia night. Employees form teams and pay to enter. Have a local “celebrity” or volunteer host! 
  2. Virtual Meat Raffle - Organize a meat raffle - a WNY fundraising tradition - to raise money for the United Way.
  3. In-Home Scavenger Hunt - Find a list of items in your home and take a photo. Pay to play. The winner gets a prize.
  4. Virtual Netflix Party - Pick a documentary.  Employees “buy tickets” to watch online together one afternoon (
  5. Virtual Classes - (cooking, yoga, painting, etc...) Find team members who are willing to host a cooking show; have them record or host a live cooking demonstration and charge “admission” to join the meeting or receive the video link.
  6. Virtual Walk or Run - Teams pay to enter. Track steps/distance for a set time.  The team with the most steps/distance wins a prize.
  7. Live Concert - Line up virtual performances from your most talented team members who play an instrument, sing, dance, do comedy, or have a special hidden talent. Charge “admission” to view, and vote on the winners with an extra donation.
  8. Pumpkin Carving Contest - Carve your pumpkin, snap a picture, everyone votes, and the winner gets a prize.
  9. Company “Cribs”- Charge a donation for a virtual tour of coworkers’ homes, gardens, cool office set-ups, interesting collections, fantastic yards, man caves, or she sheds.
  10. Virtual Bingo - Send virtual Bingo cards out and call numbers live on Zoom. Charge players per card and have a prize for the winner(s)! 
  11. Baby Photo Challenge - Have employees send their baby photos to be included in a virtual document; charge a small amount for each entry and challenge team members to match the photos. Award a prize to the person who matches the most. 
  12. Cutest Pet Contest - Ask employees to submit a photo of their pet(s), compile all entries, and ask staff to vote for the cutest. Award a prize for the photo that receives the most votes.  
  13. Candy Count - Send a picture of a packed candy jar.  Charge a small donation to guess the count.  The winner gets the candy when they return to the office!
  14. Special Delivery - Company Executive delivers lunch to the highest bidder or raffle winner (wave and door drop only, please).
  15. Spirit Week - High school throwback for a full week of virtual fun!  Pay to participate in Crazy Hair Day, Team/Jersey Day, Hat Day, Opposite Day, Fun Zoom Background Day, Dress Like an Emotion Day.  Let your spirit show throughout the day. Raffle prize(s) at the end of the week for all who participated.
  16. Online Auction - Collect/Purchase auction items, gift baskets, etc. and publish virtually for employees to bid on. 
  17. Department Challenges - Challenge internal departments with prizes for the most United Way campaign donors, the highest increase in average gift, or first department to complete donations.


People love incentives, large or small.  Whether it's a designated parking space, a casual day, or an extra day of vacation, there is an incentive to fit every campaign budget and every employee personality.  Here are just a few ideas for ways to encourage people to give or to increase their gift.

  1. The Gift of Time - Employee is given a half-day, a day off with pay, a long lunch or “sleep in voucher.” Below are templates for four different versions of coupons. (compatible with Avery 74459 stock)
  1. Volunteer Time-Off - Individual gets time off to contribute to a cause they care about.
  2. Boss Buys Lunch - Free lunch delivered or sent to employee/s by a C-level executive 
  3. Department/Team Challenge - Departments or “teams” of employees compete for top results and receive a prize
  4. Company Swag - Individuals or departments with top results receive swag from the company store 
  5. Prize Drawings - Each employee who participates in the campaign gets ticket entered into drawing for a prize
  6. Credit Card Points - Points from the corporate credit card for top results
  7. Gift Cards - Consider gift cards to food-delivery companies like InstaCart & DoorDash
  8. Donated Vacation - Employee raffles off their vacation home for a weekend
  9. Primo Parking - Giveaway a VIP parking spot during a winter month 
  10. Grab Bag - Charge a set amount for employees to grab company swag from a bag or holiday stocking
  11. Event Tickets - Sporting events, concerts and plays
  12. Spa Day - Gift card to a local spa, or chair massages, manicures, etc. at the office 
  13. Matched Donation - Company will match employee’s donation to an organization they support (can be on Giving Tuesday or around the holidays)
  14. Staycation - Weekend stay at a local Buffalo hotel and a gift card to a restaurant
  15. 50/50 Raffle - Employees purchase tickets to 50/50 Raffle, and the winner and United Way split money raised
  16. House Cleaning Service - Send a cleaning service to do a deep clean of employee’s home
  17. Car Wash - Coupons for a free car wash, oil change or interior clean
  18. Early Bird - Employees that turn in their pledge cards by a certain date receive a prize
  19. Professional Development Opportunities - Purchase employee’s membership to a professional association or registration to conference/seminar 
  20. Monthly subscriptions - TV and music streaming services, coffee or wine memberships, MasterClass membership, etc. 

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