Fundraising Ideas for Nonprofits

12 Successful Fundraising Ideas for Nonprofits

Your nonprofit organization relies on the generosity of others and the engagement of your community to stay afloat. Your nonprofit has all of the same expenses as a for-profit organization, but with much less revenue.

That’s why the most successful nonprofit organizations get creative when it comes to fundraising. Today, more and more nonprofits are looking for creative fundraising campaigns to keep people engaged with their organization to raise awareness and money. So, we’ve pulled together some of our favorite creative fundraising ideas for nonprofits.

1. T-shirt fundraising

T-shirt fundraisers are a great option for nonprofits because of all the benefits and flexibility they offer you compared to other options. Planning and organizing a fundraising event can take up your time, especially if you’re planning a large event. It can take time away from other tasks you’re responsible for, and it may or may not raise the money you need. Why take that kind of risk and time investment when there’s a safer and easier fundraising option that can have a huge return in profits for you?

Launching a t-shirt fundraiser on Bonfire solves all these problems. You can set up and launch a fundraising campaign in just 5 minutes, and it’s easy to share and promote your campaign page with your supporters through social media. Plus, we send all of your supporters their shirts for you, and we’ll send you all of the profits. What really makes t-shirt fundraisers great for nonprofits is that it’s totally free to use Bonfire to host your fundraiser.  And, people are more likely to donate when they receive something tangible in return.

Peer-to-Peer Events
Enhance your organization’s events by empowering your community to launch apparel-based fundraisers on your behalf. Learn More

Start your t-shirt fundraiser today by creating a t-shirt design for your nonprofit. If you need help with your shirt’s design, use one of our free editable t-shirt design templates to help you get started.

2. Scavenger hunt

The scavenger hunt is a classic fundraising idea for nonprofits. It creates a fun and engaging day of running around town to find everything on your pre-determined list. You can do the traditional method of having participants find and collect each item. Or, you could put a modern twist on your scavenger hunt and have your participants take a picture on their phones with each item.

3. Willy Wonka golden ticket

Don’t worry if you don’t have a connection to your local chocolate factory, anyone can find success with the Willy Wonka Golden Ticket fundraising idea.

First, find a spectacular prize to offer the winner – a paid vacation, cruise, VIP concert tickets, weekend getaway are all great ideas that will catch peoples attention. See if any local businesses will help sponsor this gift.

Next, sell chocolate bars or some sort of candies. One of these candies will contain the golden ticket hidden inside. If you choose to have two or three prizes,  make sure the tickets are carefully spread out among all of the candy bars you’re selling so one person doesn’t get two golden tickets. Plus, making it harder to find the ticket will help increase sales of the candy bars.

Promote the golden ticket fundraiser all over social media. Let people know how many are left, or even hint that this specific picture of candy bars you just posted on Facebook contains a ticket. People will flock to you to buy those candy bars faster than you can hand them out.

Resources to help you get started

4. Shave-a-thon

A shave-a-thon is a creative way to get participants to raise money for your nonprofit by pledging to shave their heads, or, over-grown facial hair.

⚠️ Pro tip
Host this at the beginning of December, right after No Shave November.

5. Host a dance marathon

This creative peer-to-peer fundraising idea challenges participants to dance as long they can. The more people donate money for a specific person, the longer they have to dance. If a dancer starts to feel tired, they can stop by making a donation to your nonprofit.

6. Museum after dark

Who doesn’t love a night out at a local museum after hours? Work with a local museum, zoo or aquarium to see how you can work together to host an event at their space to raise money for your nonprofit. It will be an evening of great food, dancing, and helping a good organization raise the money that it needs to keep working.

Organizing catering, a DJ,  and getting a liquor license for the event can prove to be difficult, but if you plan ahead you’ll be able to organize it all in time for the big night.

Sell tickets in advance, or at the door for entry into the event. You could even order custom shirts and sell them at your event to help raise extra money.

7. Battle of the bands

Get a handful of local bands together for a classic battle of the bands charity concert. You can charge entry to the concert and use donation buckets as a way for people to vote for their favorite band.

8. Host a charity dinner

Charity dinners are always a hit – especially if you give guests a good reason to attend. Sure, hosting a nice dinner is fun, but to make the event even more entertaining, considering asking a celebrity to host the event. Or, contact a band, a comedian, a magician, or someone else to entertain the crowd. If you want to increase the fundraising potential of your event, you can also host an auction or raffle draw during the dinner.

9. Launch a sports tournament

Competition is human nature. Launch a sports tournament – like a three on three basketball tourney – and charge teams an entry fee. Ask the community to sponsor some top prizes for the winners or provide the prizes yourself. This is an excellent opportunity to talk to local companies for sponsorship opportunities. At events like this, lots of pictures will be taken and most companies would be thrilled to have their brand associated with something as positive as a charity sports tournament. Whether it’s soccer, hockey, football, or basketball, there are plenty of sports tournament opportunities available to unleash the competitive spirit – and charitable nature – of participants.

10. Bike relay race

Participants will register as teams to compete for a variety of prizes and medals. If you’re going to be hosting your race on city streets, be sure to coordinate your event with the city beforehand so traffic is cleared for your racers.

11. Work with local employers

Many for-profit companies are happy to sponsor nonprofit organizations in different ways, thanks to the modern movement of corporate social responsibility. CSR initiatives help organizations live out their values and connect with their communities as well as provide them with some positive PR.

There are a few different opportunities for corporations to help out nonprofits, through programs like:

  • Sponsoring events or programs 
  • Matching gift programs
  • Volunteer grant initiatives

Reach out to local businesses or popular employers in your region about partnering on your mission, and ask your supporters to submit matching gift requests if they’ve already donated. There are tons of ways to partner with for-profit institutions; just reach out and start the conversation!

12. Use affinity group fundraising

Affinity group fundraising is one of the most popular ways for nonprofit organizations to continue operating on a long-term basis. Affinity groups consist of a network of people with an ‘affinity’ for a common cause. Put together a network of people with common interests and goals and use that group to raise money. In many cases, affinity groups can grow virally, with existing members inviting new members to join. The end result is long-term hands-free fundraising support for your organization.  

Choose a fundraising idea you like and start planning

We hope our list of fundraising ideas has inspired you to get things going for your nonprofit organization. All it takes is a little motivation and the right idea to help raise all the money you need, and then some.

Did one of our fundraising ideas work for your nonprofit? Or do you have a fundraising idea that’s not on the list? Let us know, we’d love to hear from you!

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