It's no surprise that causes need cash. These funds should come from multiple sources and a variety of methods. Fundraising events raise awareness, engage donors, and drive future fundraising efforts.
Here we outline 21 fundraising ideas for nonprofits like yours. Some are tried and true, while others make use of social trends and new technology you may not have considered. Keep reading to learn more!
1. Send texts to your list of supporters
If you have a list of all your supporters' phone numbers, then you’re ready to go. If not, then compiling a list will help you both now and in the future. Send out a text with a compelling message encouraging supporters to donate even a small amount. Include a link in the text so donating is super simple and easy to do.
2. Host a virtual or hybrid event
Not all fundraising efforts happen in person. You can host an event virtually through an online platform to reach more people. If you are holding an in-person event, consider creating an online option so that others may attend from afar.
3. Create a video message
Similar to sending a text message, but perhaps more engaging–create a video that describes what your nonprofit does and who the donations help. Video messages can be shared via text or email, but also online through social media. Encourage your followers to like and share the video as well, and be sure to include an easy-to-use donation link.
4. Launch a peer-to-peer campaign
Peer-to-peer fundraising leverages the social networks of all of your supporters. Each supporter can share your message and engage their friends and family members to help you reach a broader audience. That broader audience is more likely to donate because the request is coming from someone they know personally. Also,, the supporters who engage in the campaign will feel more involved and be more likely to continue supporting you in the future.
5. Create a fundraising web store
Add a page to your website with branded products supporters can purchase. Consider selling t-shirts, water bottles, tote bags, etc. with your organization’s logo and mission on them. The proceeds of the sales go to your organization, and the branding on the sold items will help raise additional awareness.
6. Sell food (cookie dough, gourmet popcorn, pies, etc)
There’s a reason schools and similar organizations send their constituents door to door (or inbox to inbox) with order forms for cookie dough, candy bars, or other food items. It works. There are a multitude of companies out there that offer the opportunity to sell these types of items to raise funds.
7. Auction autographed memorabilia, art, or even people for dates
Auctions are great events for gathering supporters and raising funds. This is especially true if you can get your hands on some high-value or highly desirable items that people can bid for. Autographed memorabilia or art is great, but feel free to think outside the box. Auction off public figures for date nights, or even house cleaning.
8. Fundraise through online shopping
Many stores that sell online offer opportunities for nonprofit organizations to earn a portion of the proceeds. Usually, this involves the nonprofit creating an account and obtaining a special link they can share with their supporters. When purchases are made through that link, then a portion of those sales are redirected to the nonprofit. In this way, when your supporters make online purchases they would have made anyway, your organization can directly benefit.
9. Host a car wash
Who doesn’t like a clean car? Pick a good weekend in the spring or summer and host a car wash. Many people would much rather the money they spend on getting their vehicle washed go to a good cause. You can even add themes to the car wash to make it more fun–such as having everyone dress up as their favorite superhero.
10. Host a dog wash
Just like cars, dogs also get dirty and need baths once in a while. Set up a dog washing station, charge a base fee, and encourage additional donations as well. You can also offer nail trimming or other grooming services as desired. We don’t recommend cat washing, however, for clawvious reasons.
11. Launch a matching gift drive
People are more inclined to donate when the impact is potentially greater. Contact local businesses and organizations and see if they’d be willing to match funds in a gift drive.
12. Host a walk-a-thon, jog-a-thon, bowl-a-thon, or other-a-thon
A-thons are a great way to raise money and awareness while deeply connecting with the local community. You can charge participants a registration fee as well as encourage them to obtain sponsors willing to donate in support of their performance. Walk-a-thons and jog-a-thons are tried and true, but you can get more creative–consider a bowl-a-thon, swim-a-thon, dance-a-thon, or dog-walk-a-thon.
13. Host a battle of the bands
Bands love performing for an audience, and pitting local bands against each other in friendly competition is a great way to garner community interest. Charge an admissions fee and provide ballots to audience members. You can also sell concessions and memorabilia for additional fundraising.
14. Put on a carnival
Carnivals are excellent community events, especially for families with children. Even better, they can be reasonably inexpensive to set up while bringing in a lot of funds. Consider including a petting zoo, simple games with prizes, or even a dunk tank for extra fun.
15. Host a bingo night
Bingo is easy to set up and get started with. Contact local businesses to donate prizes or create some gift baskets yourself. Charge an admission fee, or a fee per card, and let the fun begin! You can also look for ways to host bingo online if you’d like to reach a larger audience.
16. Host a cook-off
Do you know of many amateur chefs in your area ready to show off their prowess? Consider hosting a chili cook-off, a pie bake-off, or even a best mac-and-cheese competition. The competition will draw the cooks, and the food will draw the crowd.
17. Create a restaurant fundraising night
Many restaurants offer fundraising night opportunities. How it works is that you organize with the restaurant to select a day and time and then you advertise to your supporters that if they order food during that time while mentioning your organization, a portion of the proceeds will go to your nonprofit.
18. Host a competition–singing, trivia, etc.
Humans have evolved to seek out competition and prove their skills. Just like with a cook-off, competitions will draw both competitors and an audience. Singing, dancing, miscellaneous talent, trivia, rope climbing, the sky’s the limit!
19. Start a challenge–ice bucket, sleep in a box, etc.
Remember the ice bucket challenge? It became a viral hit for a reason and many similar challenges have followed. Everyone likes their 15 minutes of fame. Encourage your supporters to post a video of them completing a challenge in exchange for donations to your organization. The ice bucket has been done, but perhaps they could sleep in a box, balance books on their head, or frighten their cat with a zucchini.
20. Create an online fundraising page (and/or enable your supporters to do the same)
The easier it is to donate, the more likely people will do so. By simply having an online fundraising page, then you can direct prospective supporters somewhere they can give you money easily. Such a page should be easy to find, tell a compelling story, and have a streamlined method for accepting payments. You can even enable your supporters to create their own pages. These pages can either be ongoing or for special events–such as birthday fundraisers.
21. Send out a donor survey for feedback and more ideas
When donors feel like their thoughts and opinions matter, they will stick around, support you, and encourage others to do so. Send out a donor survey every so often asking for feedback. You can even ask them for fundraising ideas as well. You never know–one of them might come up with something you’d never considered before that ends up being a hit!
You can simplify your fundraising and planning by adopting the right tools and technology. At FrontStream, we’ve helped over 20,000 nonprofits and socially-minded companies power their auctions, charity events, peer-to-peer and online fundraising, and more by offering the tools needed to create an event, brand digital properties, ensure participation is maximized, track and process payments, and measure success. Talk to us today to learn more.