Published on May 10, 2022
The most successful fundraising ideas for nonprofits aren’t always the most obvious.
Some of the most rewarding places to work are in the nonprofit industry. That, of course, covers a lot of ground, since any given nonprofit could focus on anything from environmental concerns, to healthcare, to public schools, or pet adoptions. One thing every nonprofit has in common, however, is fundraising.
Like any business, most nonprofits have expenses to cover, but unlike for-profit companies, they generally have to rely on a mix of government funding and public giving to cover those expenses. With some 1.5 million charitable organizations in the U.S., there is some stiff competition for those donations. That’s why successful fundraising ideas for nonprofits are so vital to each organization’s mission.
Some of those ideas have been around for a while because they work. For instance, a prominent “Donate Now” button on your website makes it easy for donors to contribute. The Nebraska Humane Society, for instance, has their donation page set up to make it as easy as possible. Donors only need to click an amount and enter their payment information.
What are some other successful fundraising ideas? For nonprofits that want to bring in some big dollars without spending a lot, these are some of our favorites.
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10 Successful fundraising ideas for nonprofits that need some easy ways to bring in donations.
1. Pay to play
Start a charity soccer or flag football team for donors. Join a recreational league and play other teams in your area. There may be a small fee for registration and facilities, but everything on top of that is for your organization.
2. Pay to work
Host a work day where participants pay you for the opportunity to work in your organization. This works best when the job is simple and straightforward, that way you don’t have to supervise anyone too much. Paint school classrooms, clean up a plot of land, mend fences, plant trees – the options are almost endless.
3. Low-end gala
Many nonprofits host gala events with big-ticket auctions, bands, fancy appetizers, and even sit-down meals. Those can undoubtedly bring in some big bucks, but what about a low-brow event? Host a casual BBQ with coolers full of ice and beverages, a grill station with hot dogs, hamburgers, and veggie burgers. Rent a small sound system to play your own party-music mix and to give a few speeches.
We’d be remiss to leave out a 50/50 raffle. You don’t even need to solicit donations for this one. Combine it with your BBQ for a bonus. Sell tickets for $1 each or 10 for $5. Winners get half of the money raised, and you get the other half.
5. Good old-fashioned ____ -a-thon
Work-a-thon, walk-a-thon, bike-a-thon. All you need is an idea and participants, and you can host an event that’s low on the overhead, high on the potential for funds, and lots of fun.
6. Karaoke contest
People love karaoke. Ideally, you can work with a local bar to host a fundraising karaoke contest, but you can do this almost anywhere you have a karaoke machine. Charge an entry fee and let people vote on the winner.
7. Trivia night
People love trivia, too. Team up with a neighborhood restaurant for a fun night of trivia. Charge a small fee per team, then split the funds with the winners. And don’t forget to use your digital signage to make the event even more fun.
8. Take advantage of Amazon’s Smile Program
This might be one of the most successful fundraising ideas for nonprofits simply because you don’t have to do anything once you’re set up. People shop on Amazon like normal, and you get a small percentage of sales. It’s free money!
9. Host a kickball tournament
All you need to host this is a ball and a field. Charge $10 per person to play. Sell popcorn and sodas, and you have yourself an easy, inexpensive, and entertaining fundraiser.
10. Combine ideas
Some of the most successful fundraising ideas for nonprofits aren’t single ideas; they’re combinations. Include a 50/50 raffle at your kickball tournament. Host a karaoke contest at your low-brow cookout and charge a small fee for contestants.
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