6 Successful Fundraising Ideas for Non-profits 

Creative nonprofit fundraising ideas to jazz up your campaigns, no matter your budget.  “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, has said many the nonprofit professional struggling under budget constraints, time limits, and wearing too many “different hats”. It’s a credo that can keep non-profit organizations running smoothly and campaign dollars consistent during turbulent times. Occasionally though, we can all use a change and your nonprofit fundraising strategy is no different. Running the same fundraising campaigns year-after-year can get boring; for your donors and for youFor small nonprofits or teams with a small budget, it can be easy to get stuck in a rut with your non-profit fundraising ideas But, there’s hope! Here are some fresh ideas for successful fundraisers that will engage your donors, volunteers, and community members without destroying your budget. 

1. Auction off local goodies 

Recruit local businesses to donate food or goods to your organization, which you can then auction off. One nonprofit in Carrboro, NC called TABLE, used this model for their annual Empty Bowls event. Local chefs donated soup and meal kits, which were then purchased by donors. Who wouldn’t want to buy soup and support a great cause? For an additional donation, guests could purchase a handmade ceramic bowl which was donated to the event by local artists. You can learn more about their event here. Events like this are a great way to strengthen relationships with local business because it promotes their talents and your cause at the same time.  

2. Hold a virtual fundraiser 

Cut back on event costs and make your fundraiser virtual. Use Zoom or another video calling platform and host fun events like wine and painting lessons or virtual cooking lessons that guests can participate in over video. In September 2020, the North Suburban YMCA switched their annual fundraiser to a virtual fundraiser to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The event matched previous years in attendance and even engaged new supporters through the digital platform.  You can learn more about what they did here.  

3. Provide ways for people to donate in-kind 

People love to contribute in tangible ways to their favorite organizations, and an easy way to get them to feel this is through accepting in-kind donations. Accepting donations in-kind can help decrease the cost of purchasing these items yourself. Consider creating an Amazon Wishlist for your organization of items you urgently need or that you consistently use up, and place collection boxes in your parking lot or at various locations around town for donors to put their donations. 

4. Try a 5k 

Many races look for charity partners to donate all or a portion of their proceeds to. Work your network or be on the lookout for opportunities to join. Your organization can also hold its own 5k, (real or virtual). While both types of events are fun, a virtual 5k can be promoted to people outside your city, and can be set up to allow flexibility for participants to complete it (for instance, you can set your campaign to last a week or longer, and participants can choose when to complete their run within that timeframe). You can promote the event online through social media, email, and your website. Small participation gifts may incentivize even more people to participate.  

5. Try Crowdfunding 

Crowdfunding raises money for your cause by reaching out to a large number of people over the internet. There are many websites that can set up and host your crowdfunding campaign, including Classy, Funraise, and DonorDrive. These websites usually charge a fee and include analytics tracking so you can see how well your campaign is reaching its goals. Along with this, you’ll want to make sure your campaign webpages are engaging and accessible to visitors, and that you have a marketing plan to share the campaign with your volunteers, friends, and donors.  

6. Organize a night at your local restaurant

Many restaurants, like Panera Bread and Noodles and Company, offer fundraising nights for non-profits. Pick a night, share the information with your donors and other guests, and receive a cut of restaurant sales from your invitees the night of the event. (Panera gives 20% and Noodles and Company gives 25%). The only cost to your organization is in marketing costs.  

With a little creativity, you can spruce up your fundraising plans even with a limited budget. If creating a marketing plan for your events and creating web pages seems challenging, Husky Communications provides a no-cost option for strategic communications support. Husky Communications is Northeastern’s student-run communications agency and is currently seeking new clients. You can find out more here.  

By students Katie Geith and Anthony Fiocco 

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