Easy and Fun Banned Word Jar Game

Have you volunteered to host a fundraising dinner for your favorite cause? And you are looking for ways to make it more successful?

A banned word game can be a great way to energize your guests and pick up a few extra dollars! The game can be adapted in a number of ways as well to make it more formal for upscale nonprofit events, cocktail parties, or any number of other types of get-togethers.

What Exactly Is a Banned Word Game Fundraiser?

Parents have made their kids or mates put money in a jar for using prohibited swearwords for generations. This is the same idea, but for a cause.

On each dinner table at your fundraiser, you place a Banned Word Jar.  Pick a word that relates to your project, or just something that relates to current events.  An animal advocacy group might pick the word “dog” or “pet,” for example.

Announce while handing out name tags, upon seating, or at another convenient time early in the evening that every time a guest says the designated word, he has to put $1 in the Jar (or more or less depending on you guest demographics).

What Do You Need to Run a Banned Word Game?

Hardly anything! That’s what makes this fundraiser wonderful. You really just need a few jars for each table, or maybe just one jar for a central table if your event is small.

What Are Some Different Ways to Run a Banned Word Fundraiser?

You can pick one or two words ahead of time and stick to that format only. Alternatively, you can have each table pick a word to start, and then give them the option to pay to ban and un-ban additional words. For example, guests might have to pay $1 every time they say the initial banned word, and then they have an option to add an additional $10 to ban a new word altogether. If a guest really does not like one of the words, she can pay $20 to un-ban it.  Maybe a dog lover at the animal rights dinner will un-ban “dog” and make the word “cat”!

A tip, if you are using multiple words or changing them often, is to put a limit on the number of words that are banned at any given time to something manageable, like 3 words. That way it is still fun to keep track of which words are banned or un-banned. If all tables are using the same words, you can even set up a chalkboard or projector and have an MC update the banned list continually through the night.

You can also make set times, such as every hour, when people can bid to change the word. The highest bidder every hour gets to pick a new word to add to the banned list or replace the initial banned word.

What Are Some Variations to a Dinner Event Banned Word Game?

Money in a Jar

Try this game not only at a dinner or luncheon, but at any meeting or gathering with a manageable small group. Be creative! These are just a few ideas:

  • Your next board meeting – the game will not only encourage your directors to give a little extra, but it will also liven up the mood. Pick overused board words like fundraising, goals, outcomes, report, finance, strategic plan, and program. You can set a Jar in the middle of the table or only play the game during breaks and meals.
  • A cocktail party soccer penalty – as a variation from sitting at tables, hand each party guest a set of 1-3 yellow cards with prohibited words when they sign in at your registration table. Explain the rules – every time another guest uses one of the words, a guest in the conversation can referee them with a yellow card. Put the Jar in a conspicuous place so that guests have a “walk of shame” to pay their penalty, for a few good laughs.
  • Make it digital – ask your donors, friends, volunteers, and board members to take a pledge to stop using a word for a week. Every time they say it, they have to tally on a social media platform (set up beforehand, or they can message you on Facebook, Tweet, etc.) and then pay a donation at the end of the week.
  • Instead of words – ban the use of cell phones or personal devices!

Banned word game jars are a quick and easy way to liven up nearly any meeting or event, and make a few extra dollars for your cause. Whatever version you pick, just make sure you keep it simple and explain well how it works so that all your guests join in on the fun.

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