12 Best Fundraising Ideas for Your Organization

Every nonprofit organization needs money to accomplish its mission. This article provides top-notch fundraising ideas to propel your cause forward.

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By Entrepreneur Staff • Jan 7, 2023

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As an organization, finding new and innovative ways to fundraise is essential for your success. Not only does fundraising allow you to bring in much-needed revenue, but it also raises awareness for your cause and helps you connect with potential donors.

Related: Fundraising - Entrepreneur

This blog post will share 12 easy fundraising ideas for your organization. From online donations to traditional events, you're sure to find an idea here that aligns with your goals and fundraising campaign resources.

1. Have a charity auction

Charity auctions are one of the oldest fundraising events in the world, and they still work. By auctioning off donated items, you can generate a significant amount of funds that can be used to support your chosen charity. But planning and running a successful auction takes some effort.

Here are a few tips to help you get started:

  • Solicit donations from individuals and businesses. You'd be surprised how many people are willing to contribute if they know their donation will go to a good cause.
  • Promote your auction far and wide. The more people know about it, the better chances you have of a good turnout.
  • Put a broad selection of items up for auction. A mix of high-end and low-end items will appeal to a broader range of people and help you raise more money.

2. Hold a bake sale

Bake sales are easy to set up, they work well at any time of year, and you can make them as straightforward or complicated as you wish. That said, to hold a successful bake sale of any kind, you'll need to take time to plan and prepare.

  • Decide what type of bake sale you want to have. Will you sell cookies, cakes, or other baked goods? Will you have a theme for your goodies?
  • Choose a location. A busy shopping center or pedestrian mall parking lot is a good choice. You'll need a table or two and some chairs for people to sit in if they want to eat their purchases on the spot.
  • Make a sign to advertise your bake sale. Be sure to include the event's date, time, and location. Consider incorporating some festivity in your advertising if it's holiday-themed (especially if it's around Christmas, Halloween, or Easter).
  • Make (or buy) enough baked goods to meet the demand. It's better to have too much than too little — you can always donate unsold items to a local food bank.
  • Price your items reasonably. A good rule of thumb is to charge twice the cost of ingredients. The goal is to sell many things at a small fee.
  • Have fun! A bake sale is a great way to bring people together for a good cause; don't let busyness put a damper on the experience — keep the mood light and fun.

Related: 5 Ways Nonprofits Can Raise More Funds in 2022

3. Have a car wash

Besides raising funds for your organization, arranging a car wash provides a superb platform for building team spirit and getting everyone involved.

Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your car wash:

Choose a good location.

Look for a visible and easily accessible spot — think a local park, grocery store parking lot, or high school parking lot — so that your car wash attracts more customers.

Get the word out.

Be sure to promote your car wash in advance. You can hang flyers in local businesses, post on social media, or use other marketing strategies that appeal to your specific community members.

Supply all the materials necessary.

Soap and water are critical to a car wash, but don't forget the sponges, buckets, and towels too.

Set up a system.

A plan for how the car wash will run will help ensure everything goes smoothly. Be sure to assign specific roles to specific people, and try to have at least two people in charge of collecting and managing money so they can hold one another accountable for final counts.

Enjoy the experience.

A car wash is an excellent opportunity to get people excited about supporting your organization. As you're busy keeping your car wash running smoothly, remember to take some time to enjoy the event yourself and talk about your cause as you socialize.

4. Launch a fundraising web store

Online fundraising can help your organization quickly raise funds for your cause, and creating a web store is one of the best ways to do it. Your web store can be a place where people buy products that support your cause and/or a place where people can make donations.

There are a few things to keep in mind when starting a fundraising website:

  • Optimize your website for shopping
  • Make sure you have a good selection of products to choose from
  • Put an easy-to-use system in place for accepting donations
  • Promote your web store on social media and other online platforms
  • Keep track of your sales and donations, and regularly report progress to your donors
  • Start a fundraising page on your regular website

5. Sell tickets to an event or dinner party

There are countless ways to raise money for a nonprofit organization, and this is one of the most tried-and-true — organize a ticketed dinner party or event, and watch the funds roll in.

This can be an excellent way to raise money if you have the resources to host an event because it allows you to reach many people with your message.

If you choose to sell tickets to an event, such as a golf tournament, remember that you'll need to cover the cost of the event itself. But if you can sell tickets at a price that covers your costs and generates a profit, this can be a very successful option for raising funds.

Remember to promote the event in advance to generate interest and ensure that people are aware of the event. And don't shun the possibility of live-streaming your event; this is one of many virtual fundraising ideas that can pull in significant money for your nonprofit.

Related: 5 Fundraising Rules That Led to My Company Having a 10x Oversubscribed Pre-Seed Round

6. Use donation jars

One of the most accessible and convenient fundraising strategies is the use of donation jars. You can make money simply by putting out a jar, but you'll need to create a small campaign to reap maximum benefits.

Here are some tips on how to make the most of your donation jar campaign:

  • Set a goal for your campaign and promote it prominently. Let people know what you're trying to achieve and how they can help.
  • Make it easy for people to donate. Place donation jars in a visible location and provide clear instructions for donating. Remember that convenience is vital.
  • Keep track of your donations and promote your success. Be transparent about how much money you've raised and the specific actions you're using it for.
  • Make it engaging. Consider trendy questions to get individuals involved in your campaign. For example, if there's a big game coming up in your community, have a jar for each sports team and let customers use their donation to "vote" for their team.

You might be surprised at how much a well-executed donation jar campaign can help your organization accomplish its goals. And keep in mind that you can add a virtual tip jar for your live streams.

Related: Want to Be A Successful Fundraiser? Follow these 6 Hacks to Attract Investors

7. Hold a community yard sale

A community yard sale is another tried-and-tested method of raising money for an organization. It brings in money from people looking to buy things and attracts people who want to donate household items. Chances are your yard sale won't be the only one happening in the community.

Consider these tips for making yours stand out:

Plan ahead.

The more planning you do upfront, the smoother the day will go. Make sure you have an excellent location picked out and that you have enough volunteers to help run the sale.

You might recruit family members and other loved ones to join the cause. Don't procrastinate on this; start making arrangements as soon as you decide to hold the sale.

Set up a table for donations.

People are more likely to donate things when they get a tax deduction. Make a table that promotes your yard sale, and include a sign that explains how donating can benefit participants.

Price everything fairly.

It's crucial to price things fairly, so buyers and sellers feel like they're getting a good deal. Fight the temptation to overprice items; you'll raise more money in the end if you attract more donations at a lower price than if you only receive a few contributions at a higher price.

Keep plenty of change on hand.

Some buyers will hesitate to purchase items if it means they have to break large bills. Don't let your change run low; keep enough pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, and one dollar bills to last the whole day.

Promote the sale heavily.

Use all your resources — social media, email, flyers, and word of mouth — to let people know about the sale. The more people know about it, the more successful it will be.

8. Have a raffle

Everyone loves a good raffle, and it's a fantastic way to raise money quickly for your nonprofit. As with other strategies, an effective raffle requires you to plan and strategize each step.

Here's how you do it:

  • Decide on the prize. The prizes should be desirable but not too expensive. Think of small prizes like a gift card, tickets to a show, or home goods.
  • Set the ticket price. The price of the ticket must be enough to cover the cost of the prize, plus some extra for the organization. Try to keep it below $5 per ticket, or offer deals like 6 tickets for $5 if they're usually $1 each.
  • Promote the raffle. Make sure as many people as possible know about it. Handing out flyers and using social media campaigns can do wonders, and holding a raffle drawing party can push it over the top.

9. Institute a happy hour

Hosting a happy hour is a fun way to boost fundraising efforts for your nonprofit organization. It's an event that people will enjoy, and they'll be glad to donate their money to help out a worthy cause — a win-win.

There are several things to consider to ensure your happy hour is a success:

    • Pick the correct date and time. You want to ensure that most of your target audience will be able to attend — a happy hour in the middle of the week isn't quite set up for success.
    • Promote the event well in advance. Let people know what it is, what they can expect, and how they can donate.
    • Have a donation collection jar or box on site. This will make it easy for people to donate on the spot.
    • Serve appetizers and drinks. Doing so will keep people entertained and make it more likely that they'll donate money.
  • Make sure there's entertainment. Live music is always a hit — bonus points if the music is targeted toward the crowd expected to come.
  • Thank everyone who attends and donates. Show your appreciation and inform them of how their donations are helping your organization.

10. Start a social media challenge

Social media challenges can be highly effective for raising funds and don't really require an upfront investment.

You can quickly raise a lot of money by asking people to donate money for each post or tweet they make, or you can ask people to donate money for every like or share their post receives. You could even run virtual events for your audience to get involved in, like live-streamed movie nights, or you can start a photo or video challenge (think the ice bucket challenge from almost a decade ago that's still well-known today).

This can go a long way in getting people involved and helping your nonprofit organization reach its fundraising goals.

Here are four ways to ensure your social media challenge goes well:

  1. Choose a catchy hashtag: Hashtags are a great way to promote your challenge and get people talking about it. Make sure your hashtag is unique and easy to remember. Who knows, it might even trend.
  2. Set a fundraising goal: Tell people how much money you hope to raise with your challenge, so they stay motivated to donate more.
  3. Promote your challenge: Use social media, email, and word-of-mouth to spread the word about your challenge. The more people you can reach, the more money you'll raise.
  4. Thank donors: Be sure to thank everyone who donates to your challenge. This will show your appreciation and encourage people to participate in other fundraising activities. You can even highlight top donators and reshare their posts.

11. Host a talent show

This is a unique fundraising strategy for nonprofit organizations, and it can be highly effective.

Holding a talent show will allow you to collect entrance fees, and you can also sell concessions. Making your talent show a success will require thorough planning and organizing.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Choose a venue that can accommodate a large audience.
  • Promote the show well in advance. Include the date, time, and location on your website and social media pages, as well as in local newspapers and with radio stations.
  • Recruit a panel of judges who are familiar with different types of talent — even better, choose people who are well-known in the community.
  • Plan a variety of acts, including both solo and group performances.
  • Keep things moving by having a tight schedule and announcing the winners at the show's end.

Further, strategize the entry fee you charge the audience. As with other fundraising events, you can push away well-intentioned people if it's priced too high. Besides, as is the notion with the garage sale, a lot of small donations can go a long way.

12. Run a concession stand

One of the most popular fundraising methods is running a concession stand. It can be an excellent way to raise money, as it allows you to tap into a captive audience and offer them something they want.

To run a concession stand well and raise as much money as possible, you must select the correct type of concession stand. Many organizations choose to operate a food truck, which allows you to bring the concession stand directly to your audience.

This makes it uber-convenient for people to donate and, ultimately, increases sales. Some organizations even partner with local restaurants to make it happen.

Pricing is also critical when running a concession stand. You need to charge enough for your food and refreshments to make a profit, but people will be less likely to buy from you if you overcharge.

Finally, it's essential to have a good marketing strategy in place. People must know about your concession stand and what it has to offer.

Start by creating campaigns on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. You can also print out flyers and post them around town or hand them out at events.

Other fundraising event ideas for your organization

Our favorite ideas for raising money for a nonprofit can work well for many organizations and locations, but don't stop with the tactics and events above!

Here are some other ideas to consider along the way:

  • Crowdfunding
  • School fundraising competitions
  • Peer-to-peer fundraising
  • Selling T-shirts and other merchandise
  • Adding a donation page to your website
  • Setting up an obstacle course competition or scavenger hunt
  • Organizing a board game competition
  • Instituting a new sporting event in the local community
  • Hosting a walk-a-thon
  • Holding a silent auction
  • Having a book sale
  • Arranging a cook-off
  • Selling coupon books
  • Starting a weekly karaoke or trivia night

Wrapping up

Fundraising is critical for nonprofit organizations as it allows them to continue their work and make a difference.

There are many different ways to raise money, each with benefits and drawbacks. The best approach is to explore all your options before settling on one or more methods that will work best for your specific needs and area.

Remember that it takes hard work and dedication to succeed at fundraising, but the payoff can be well worth it. And remember not to procrastinate; start putting a plan together today.

Looking for more resources on all things business and professional growth? Explore the wealth of informational articles on Entrepreneur here.

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