35 Nonprofit Fundraising Ideas Anyone Can Do

August 9, 2022

Fundraising ideas are a great way to get involved in the causes that are dear to your heart, spread awareness throughout your community, and bring about positive change in the world.

A lot goes into a successful fundraiser. There are many logistics to plan, people and organization to contact and work with, and so much more that goes into pulling off a great fundraiser idea. 

In this article, we will go over how to start a fundraiser and the best ideas to choose from. This will help you pick the best event for your cause so you can get the donations needed to make a difference. 

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Nonprofit Fundraisers vs For-Profit Fundraisers

First, we need to make one thing clear. There is a difference between nonprofit fundraising and for-profit fundraising. 

A fundraiser that is for a charitable cause is usually a nonprofit fundraiser. These events and endeavors are for the sole purpose of donating and helping out a charitable cause that needs our help. 

A fundraiser that is for the purpose of helping an individual, organization, or company develop capital for personal or business purposes is a developmental fundraiser or a for-profit fundraiser. 

One is for a cause while one is for personal or business development. 

An example of a nonprofit fundraiser might be a community 5K where all the proceeds go to the local children's hospital and all the things and work needed to put on the event were donated and volunteered. 

An example of a for-profit or developmental fundraiser might be a high school senior who is trying to fundraise money for college tuition or a local business owner who fundraises to get capital to start their new business. 

Today's article will focus on nonprofit fundraising ideas and execution. 

How to Start a Fundraiser

Regardless of the chosen cause behind your fundraiser, the steps to put on a fundraising event are generally the same. We are surrounded by noble causes all the time, each one just as valuable to our time and efforts as the next. There are a lot of ways we can do our part for the causes closest to us, and having a fundraiser is one of those ways. 

Step 1: Pick a Cause

Awareness Colored Ribbons

Community outreach can't take off without a specific purpose. That's why the very first thing you need to do is pick a specific cause. You'll want this purpose to be clearly defined to everyone involved and all of the donors and participants, so make sure you are as specific as possible. 

You can’t save the world all at once but you can put forth a concentrated effort on one topic and really make a change. One of the easiest ways to do this is to find an organization that aligns with your purpose.

To find some national charity organizations you can visit GuideStar.Org. Contact and team up with national or local charity groups in order to get their help, affiliation, and expertise on how to run a fundraiser for that cause.

Partnering up with an established organization is also a great way to make sure the proceeds from the fundraiser go to the right place. 

Step 2: Pick an Event

Charity Run

One of the best, tried-and-true methods to fundraise lots of donations in a short amount of time is to make an event out of it. 

Pick the best type of event for your purpose to make people aware of your cause while getting donations at the same time. Some events may be more appropriate for a cause than others. 

Either way, you’ll want to make sure the event is fun and engaging in order to encourage lots of community participation and donations. 

Step 3: Set Goals

Example of keeping track of goals

Since the point of a fundraiser is to raise funds, you'll need to make a budget and financial goals

Try to partner up with people and organizations in order to avoid as much spending as possible. That way as much of the proceeds as possible can go toward the charity and not toward the event (if at all). 

Then make goals for how much money you want to raise. You can then share this goal with participants at the event to help them have a visual of how much this event needs to raise. 

This goal can also help the event planners have an idea of how many participants they need to reach in order to make the right amount of donations possible. 

Step 4: Plan the Logistics

Girl writing in daily planner

Plan all of the details surrounding the event. The kinds of decisions, plans, and work you'll need to figure out are going to look different depending on the kind of event you've chosen. 

If you're having a marathon you might need to get special licenses or permissions from the town to set up race markers and block off certain roads. If you're having a bake sale you might need to figure out where all the ingredients will come from, who will be baking what, and how the baked goods will be packaged and distributed. 

Get together with whoever else might be involved in planning the logistics and list out all the tasks that need to be done and all the decisions that need to be made. Then go through these items together until you have every detail figured out. 

Step 5: Figure Out the Finances

Calculating Finances

One of the most important logistics to figure out when planning a fundraiser is how the funds will be donated. Donors need to know how to donate and the fundraiser's heads need to know what to do with the donated funds. 

At some fundraisers, donors will simply buy a ticket to the event or buy things for sale. But some events might include making donations during the event. 

If this is the case, make an announcement at the beginning and end of the event to explain how donors can make their donations. Also, keep the donation area (if applicable) in a clear and visible place that everyone can see and get to. 

Don't forget to figure out the ways you will be accepting donations. You might accept cash, but this can become a safety risk when managing large quantities of cash. 

One of the safest ways to collect donations is to open a bank account for the event and connect it to a digital system like a GoFundMe account, PayPal, or Venmo.

Step 6: Advertise and Promote

People shouting a promotion

Before your fundraiser takes place you'll want to advertise and promote the event. 

First, figure out who your audience is. Who is also concerned about this issue and will want to take part in the fundraiser? What demographic and age group is going to be the most interested in the event? 

Once you figure out who your target audience is, you can start creating promotional material and getting the word out there. There are many ways to advertise organically for a local fundraiser: 

  • Pass out flyers
  • Leave flyers on local bulletin boards
  • Post on social media
  • Create a website
  • Create a Facebook page
  • Ask fundraising partners to broadcast the event
  • Ask local organizations to broadcast the event
  • Put out an advertisement in the local paper
  • Purchase some air time on a local radio or TV station
  • Start an event on Facebook

    Now you are ready for the big day to arrive! 

    Step 7: Give a Formal Thanks

    After the fundraiser is over, make sure you give a formal thank you to everyone involved, everyone who volunteered, every organization that helped provide their goods and services, and everyone who participated and donated. 

    Take a moment during the event to say a few words about the cause and give a sincere thank you to everyone. 

    Then publish a formal thank you on your social media accounts or the website. You can even send out special thank you notes to the major parties involved in making this event possible. 

    In-Person Fundraising Ideas

    Donating and volunteer service is all about community. Coordinating an opportunity for the community to physically get together is a great way to spread awareness about a cause while building a stronger and more loving community at the same time. 

    1. Partner with local businesses and use the profits from their goods and services toward a charity. 
    2. Host an art competition where visitors can cast their votes with their donations. 
    3. Put on a competition like a race and allow all tickets, bets, and concessions sales to go to charity. 
    4. Go door to door asking for donations. 
    5. Put together and sell coupon books from local vendors. 
    6. Plan community movie night where all tickets and snack sales can go to charity. 
    7. Hold a bake sale. 
    8. Host a dinner, barbecue, or potluck and charge tickets for entry. 
    9. Work with local radio or tv channels to put on an event and take calls for donations during it. 
    10. Provide a service like dog walking or hold a car wash and collect the money for charity. 
    11. Do a "Penny Drive," where people donate all their pennies. 
    12. Hold a used book sale with donated used books from the community. 
    13. Gather the community for a massive communal yard sale where all the money goes to charity. 
    14. Host a party and sell tickets. 
    15. Put on a marathon like a 5K and sell tickets and tee shirts. 
    16. Do a bake sale and sell baked goods. 
    17. Sell seasonal goods like chocolates and flowers for Valentine’s day. 
    18. Put on a concert, talent show, or play and sell tickets. 
    19. Sell raffle tickets for prizes and services donated by local businesses. 
    20. Hold an auction with items for sale by the community and local businesses. 
    21. Have a carnival or fair with games, contests, and vendors where all the proceeds go to charity. 
    22. Put on an event for kids, like a scavenger hunt or a play day at the park. 
    23. Offer lessons like a cooking class and donate the class tuition. 
    24. Offer tutoring services for math, science, or English and donate the tutoring fees. 
    25. Have a pet adoption event at the park with the local shelter and donate all the adoption fees. 

    Online Fundraising Ideas

    Charities are a great way to bring the community together, but sometimes you can't bring together the community in person. When that's the case, use some of these online fundraising ideas to create a virtual charity event for your community. 

    1. Create a Facebook fundraiser. 
    2. Create a GoFundMe account for a charity and post about it on social media. 
    3. Make and sell tee shirts online. 
    4. Make and sell other goods online. 
    5. Do a poetry contest with online submissions and charge for each submission or allow voters to vote with their donations online. 
    6. Virtually call for donation pledges. 
    7. Host a virtual seminar or course and donate the ticket costs. 
    8. Hold an online auction. 
    9. Hold an online bake sale that includes delivery. 
    10. Invite local businesses to pledge donation amounts for every participant in an online challenge. 

    In Conclusion, 

    Supporting a worthy cause is a beautiful thing, and anyone can make one happen! All you have to do is know how to put on a fundraiser and contact the right people for help. 

    Some people have even found that after putting on their first fundraiser it turns into an annual event that their community looks forward to every year! So not only can a good fundraiser do a lot of good in your community and in the world, but it can also bring your community closer together.