Nonprofit Fundraising Ideas for Any Cause

Your nonprofit organization’s success relies on winning fundraising strategies. Using this guide to nonprofit fundraising ideas, your organization has a nearly exhaustive list of options. Whether your nonprofit wants to do online fundraising, events, or something quick and easy, this list of ideas is a great place to start.

25 top fundraising ideas for nonprofits

There’s a reason why benefit dinners are one of the most popular ways to raise money for charity. Benefit dinners work well as one-time fundraising events because they bring community members together for a fun time and make it easy for people to give. Benefit dinners can take many forms—from black-tie galas to backyard barbecues.

  • Reach out to volunteers who have given time to your organization in the past. Offer them an opportunity to attend your fundraising event as honored guests if they sell a certain number of tickets. 
  • Connect with local businesses to find out if they would be willing to volunteer their space as the event venue or offer a discount in exchange for the business you’ll bring in. 
  • Set the price of admission so it covers the cost of dinner, entertainment, and other expenses in addition to the amount you hope to raise. Ask guests to make donations at or above that amount.

Read our blog post Learn How to Promote a Nonprofit Event for Maximum Profit for more tips. 

This idea highlights the concept of “making every dollar count.” Ask supporters to give up an everyday luxury for one week and instead donate the money they would normally spend on it to your fundraiser. Crunch some numbers so donors can understand their impact. For example, tell everyone that if just 10 people give up their daily $5 coffee for seven days, that would bring in an extra $350 for your organization in a week.

  • Suggest supporters give up things like restaurant meals, fancy coffees, or going to the movies.
  • Inspire them to think about your fundraiser each time they consider their routine, keeping your cause top of mind for an extended period.

There’s no shortage of big online fundraising ideas for nonprofit organizations. But keeping it simple with an old fashioned charity sale can be just as effective. Whether you’re selling books, calendars, or donated items, a charity sale can be a perfect addition to your fundraising efforts.

  • Smaller-scale sales are great alternatives for nonprofits that don’t have a staff prepared to take on the planning of a major fundraising gala. 
  • Brainstorm items that might appeal to your donor base, then reach out to businesses in the area that might be willing to offer donated goods or services. 
  • Try throwing a community yard sale in which participants donate their gently used items to the nonprofit for resale.

Silent auctions are very popular among nonprofits. This classic fundraising idea usually approaches local businesses or sponsors to secure the items up for bidding. These can be spa gift cards, local restaurant vouchers, gift baskets from a store in town, or even free rounds of golf at a country club in town. 

Combine this with a fundraising event for maximum profits. At the charity event, dinner, or gala, your supporters can place bids on the items they’re interested in, often driving up the price and creating a nice sized donation for each prize.

Partner with a local pet store in order to offer up their do-it-yourself dog wash center for the day. Enlist supporters to be dog washers for hour-long shifts and ask them to bring supplies. Supporters can even start their own fundraisers and have their friends and family pledge money to your nonprofit for each hour they work as dog washers.

Have supporters pledge their recyclables and give the amount raised to the charity hosting the event. Supporters can also reach out to neighbors telling them they’d be happy to take their recyclables off their hands in order to donate the proceeds to charity. Some of the best fundraising ideas for nonprofits involve getting supporters to include their extended network and this is a great opportunity to do just that. Use fundraisers like a recycle-a-thon as a way to increase your reach with the network of your known supporters and the local community.

Car washes are still great charity fundraising ideas. Speak with a local business owner who is willing to host your car wash on their lot. The extra attention from the car wash event could also be a win for the business owner so they may be open to the idea. Ask supporters to volunteer their time and supplies for the event, and most importantly, spread the word to their extended network. Your volunteers can sell tickets for the car wash in advance in order to get commitments before the actual event.

Have people commit to shaving off their hair, mustache, or something less extreme, like dying their hair a funky color, if you reach a specific goal. Even a wacky hairstyle will do, if you don’t want to scare away potential volunteers for the fundraiser. Set your goal, then ask them to commit to a specific action. Supporters are more likely to get involved if there’s a fun incentive, like seeing someone dye their hair a crazy color or shave their head.

Fundraising ideas for nonprofit organizations don’t always have to be wacky, you can go back to basics with t-shirt sales at a local event. Think a local fair, festival, or sporting event in your area. From bracelets, koozies, sweatshirts or hats, anything your organization has is an opportunity to make money. Make sure items are priced correctly and let people know how the funds from the sale will be used. Supporters are more likely to purchase items or donate if you offer transparency about how the money is used.

Organize a board game night at a volunteers home, or partner with a local restaurant that is willing to host your organization. You can charge an admission fee or encourage teams to create a fundraising competition. Don’t limit your reach for this event to only your volunteers and known supporters, ask people that already work with your organization to invite their extended network of family and friends. 

If your volunteers or employees are great at creating crafts, such as knitting or making decorations for holidays, have them teach a craft workshop. Pick one type of craft and hold an event where people can come in and receive instruction on how to create a craft from one of your talented volunteers. You can charge a fee for the event or ask attendees to make a donation to your charity. 

Partner with local bars and restaurants and ask them to donate proceeds of your pub crawl to your nonprofit. Charge a fee or minimum donation amount for a ticket to the pub crawl. If the bars and restaurants are willing to host your pub crawl for free, you can keep all the proceeds for your charity. For the price of the pub crawl, include a nonprofit t-shirt that your participants have to wear during the event. It’s more fun and you’ll create more awareness when you’re all dressed the same.

Bingo nights are easy to run, and unlike many other fundraising ideas, they require very little planning. Not only is it easy for your organization to run one but they also have the added benefit of being very low-cost events. Ask a local public school or church if they can rent their space for the event, or hold it in the home of one of your volunteers. You can also charge a fee to attendees or ask them to donate any amount to your charity as their entry fee. 

Fundraising ideas for nonprofits don’t have to always cost your organization money to run and a used book sale is a great example of this. Most people have a stack of books they have no use for anymore. Why not use these books as a way to raise money for a favorite cause.

Host the fundraiser by creating an online book sale campaign and ask supporters to set up their own fundraisers and ask for mobile donations at the event. The ‘virtual’ book sale will show its cumulative impact online and could easily turn into an annual event for your cause. 

Never heard of a tank fundraiser? Well, it’s a really cheap nonprofit fundraising idea. The only thing you need is a few fish tanks or similar containers. Ask local businesses to put the containers in their store and see which tank fills up first. It’s amazing how quickly spare change and bills can fill up a tank. It’s something fun to do, doesn’t cost much money, and stores will love the chance to compete with each other. 

Trivia nights combine games with charitable giving, and they’re a great excuse for a fun night out. See if a local bar or restaurant will host your event with proceeds going to your nonprofit, or simply host it at your organization’s headquarters, if that’s an option.

Take your trivia night online by creating teams and asking them to raise money on behalf of your cause. Award prizes to the top raising team, such as free food, drinks, or even a trophy.

Talent shows don’t have to be strictly for high schoolers. Everyone wants to showcase their talent, especially when it’s for a good cause. Charge a small admission fee and ask supporters, or local talent, to be a part of your show. Make sure to have a tablet on hand for onsite online donations and offer up t-shirts or other merchandise to boost your donation volume.

Work with local schools to have students submit their artwork and then invite the community to come to your art show for a small fee. See if a local establishment will donate their space or warehouse, and have refreshments or snacks available for purchase. You can either have the art show be admission only, or you could actually put the artwork up for sale to boost donations.

Charity walks are the perfect fundraising idea to get your community active and raising funds for your cause. Organizing a walk might take a bit more effort, but using a platform with built-in-ticketing and registration capabilities, easy-to-use communication tools, and user-friendly fundraiser creation pages can get you off to the races in no time. 

Make sure to start sending out communication about your walk-a-thon early in the game. This gives supporters the opportunity to set up their own fundraisers, create training teams, reach out to their networks to ask for donations to their fundraiser, and gives you time to nurture them throughout the process from training to walk day to post-walk. Find out more tips in our blog post How to Raise Money with a Charity Walk.

Bowl-a-thons can offer up an easy fundraising idea for nonprofits throughout the entire year. Instead of focusing on outdoor fundraising ideas or events that revolve around fancy dinners, supporters will love the opportunity to give back in a more casual atmosphere. 

  • Encourage team captains to set up their own fundraisers and recruit team members by having them set up fundraisers as well. 
  • Create merchandise such as water bottles or sweatbands to commemorate the day and offer them up at the time of ticket purchase. This way, your nonprofit isn’t stuck with extra merchandise that isn’t sold ahead of time. 

A cook-off, whether chili, baked goods, or even a barbeque, is a great fundraising event idea for nonprofits. People love to show off their skills and, when it’s for a charitable cause, that makes it even more exciting. Set a time and date, and ask your community of supporters to sign up. 

  • Have the cook-off participants start fundraisers and ask their network to support them. 
  • Allow patrons to vote with their dollars during the event by setting up mobile donations stations at each table. 
  • Focus less on the prizes and offer up charitable t-shirts and small trophies to the winners. 

Fundraising ideas such as bake sales help give your community the opportunity to personalize the way they give back to your cause. This is a great fundraising idea for schools or sports teams where members of the club or school can each bake something of their choice and set a price, then have the proceeds all go towards their nonprofit of choice. 

Supporters can take this fundraising idea virtual by hosting an online bake sale, as well. The community can vote with their dollars on your bake sale fundraising page and the ‘baker’ with the most dollars raised can get a special booth at the actual bake sale, or some other easy-to-fulfill prize.

A pancake breakfast is a great fundraising idea for nonprofits. Especially successful in the winter months, this will get people up and at ‘em to eat warm pancakes in the name of a cause they love. 

  • Ask board members or staff to be the chefs and keep the menu simple with pancakes, maybe a side of fruit or meat, and then drink options. 
  • Charge per plate with all of the proceeds going towards your cause. 
  • You can even attach a particular mission point to this event so patrons know their money will be going to a particular type of work you’re focused on.

Are you looking for unique charity fundraising ideas that will inspire others to rally around your cause? Asking a guest speaker to lead a talk about a topic related to your nonprofit’s mission is a creative and refreshing way to garner support. Guest talks are also a great way to renew support for your cause and bring in fresh support if your fundraiser stalls.

  • When selecting a speaker, start by reaching out to celebrated members of your community—people who can draw a crowd and speak on a compelling topic. 
  • Host the event at a well-known bookstore, theater, or local community center. 
  • You can use the profit from ticket sales for your cause, or make the event free and simply ask for voluntary donations.

Think about your nonprofit’s focus and goals. What type of event might best highlight your mission? Get your fundraising team together and brainstorm possible ways you can use your nonprofit’s skills and expertise to run an event.

Examples of organizations that host events related to their cause:

  • Food Runners, a nonprofit dedicated to delivering excess food from businesses to those in need, hosts cooking classes to raise funds. 
  • Summer Search, a nonprofit that helps low-income youth, hosts youth leadership events to further raise funds for their mission.

Ready to double donations with these ideas?

GoFundMe Charity was built with not only nonprofits in mind, but your supporters as well. We’ve created a nonprofit fundraising platform full of easy-to-use, yet robust features that allow you to create any type of charity fundraiser you want. If you’re ready for your nonprofit to make an even bigger difference, sign up and begin your journey into nonprofit fundraising today.

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