5 Versatile Fundraising Ideas Your Organization Hasn’t Tried

Kevin Penney March 07, 2018, by Kevin Penney

This is a contributing post from Kevin Penney of Bonfire.

Nonprofits are always on the hunt for the next big fundraising idea that’s sure to inspire supporters and create a movement around their cause.

While there’s no surefire way to know which fundraising method will be a knockout with your particular audience, there are a few fundraising hits that are just flexible enough to work for almost any organization. (And you may not have tried them yet!)

In this post, we’ll walk you through 5 of our favorite fundraising ideas that every nonprofit can take advantage of. We’ll show you how you can:

1. Sell products to raise money online.

2. Launch a crowdfunding campaign.

3. Promote matching gifts to your supporters.

4. Hose a social media fundraising event. 

5. Create a fundraising appeal video. 

These fundraising ideas work because they allow you to add your own twist to reflect your mission and personality, meaning your donors will instantly feel more connected than they would to a generic fundraiser.

If you haven’t tried these fundraising ideas yet, there’s no time like the present. Let’s dive in so you can get started raising money for your cause!


1. Sell products to raise money online.

Asking for money online can be a challenge. Especially if you’re appealing to existing donors who’ve already given to your organization in a number of ways, you never want to come off as greedy or unappreciative of their support.

The solution to that common problem? Incentivize donations by setting up an online store!

Product fundraising is a fantastic way to engage with your donors by offering them an immediate return on their investment in your nonprofit. Not only do supporters get to feel good about contributing to a cause they care about, but they also get to take home an amazing product that they can use for years to come!

Perhaps the most popular subgenre of product fundraising is the classic t-shirt fundraiser. Using a dedicated t-shirt fundraising website (like the ones that made DonorSearch’s top picks list), your team can create pitch-perfect designs that relay your message and depict your brand.

Before you jump into apparel fundraising, make sure you keep these considerations in mind:

  • Design options. Your supporters are going to be promoting your brand every time they wear their new product, so make sure your design tool gives you plenty of customization options. You should feel comfortable building merchandise that’s high-quality and reflective of your organization, even if you aren’t a professional designer!
  • Price. You definitely don’t want to spend more money than you make when embarking on a product fundraiser! Look for a t-shirt fundraising site that allows you to set your own price margins so that you have full control over how much your supporters are paying and how much you’re bringing in for your campaign.
  • Promotional tools. In order to raise money through product sales, you need customers! Consider how you’ll get the word out and how your fundraising website can play a role in promoting your campaign. Built-in social media sharing tools, for example, can make it easier for donors to spread the word and raise awareness to their networks.

Want to see what t-shirt fundraising looks like in action? Check out this example of a well-designed product from the Exchange Church Campaign:

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Takeaway: Selling products like t-shirts is a universal fundraising idea that any nonprofit or organization can take on. Just make sure to find a fundraising site that lets you design apparel you know your supporters will love.


2. Launch a crowdfunding campaign.

Used by charities, churches, schools, clubs or groups, and even individuals, crowdfunding campaigns are simple enough that anyone can start one and be successful, too.

To get started with your crowdfunding campaign, all you need is a worthy cause and a top-notch online crowdfunding website.

However, to max out your campaign’s potential, you’ll need to do more than just set up a crowdfunding page and wait for donations to roll in. Follow these tips for a campaign that’s as powerful and unique as your mission:

  • Use your campaign page to tell a story. Think about what moves you about your cause and include those elements on your crowdfunding campaign site. Include photos, videos, and other visual components whenever possible so that visitors can get a glimpse into the purpose of your campaign as soon as they land on the page.
  • Keep your supporters updated on campaign progress. Whether they’ve donated yet or not, ensure that all of your supporters know how close you are to reaching your goal and what they can do to get you there. Share updates on your crowdfunding page as well as your social media profiles so everyone in your network is in-the-know.
  • Provide donation incentives. If you’re eager to try our first tip, you’ll be happy to know how easy it is to combine crowdfunding with product fundraising! Add donation rewards to each giving level so that donors feel the incentive of giving (or giving just a little bit more).

As with all of our favorite fundraising ideas, the more creative you can get with your crowdfunding campaign, the better. Get together with your team to think of the ways that your organization and your fundraising strategy are unique. Then, find ways to incorporate those themes into your fundraiser!

Takeaway: Launch a crowdfunding campaign that highlights your nonprofit’s mission. Find a crowdfunding platform with plenty of customization options and easy-to-use features so you can put your spin on this modern (yet classic) fundraising channel.


3. Promote matching gifts to your supporters.

If you’re looking for a low-effort strategy that can still yield major fundraising power, corporate giving may be the answer you’re searching for.

A form of corporate giving, matching gift programs enable your existing donors to double or triple their initial gift through their employer. Typically, all the donor needs to do is submit paperwork proving that the gift was made to an eligible organization, making this fundraising opportunity as easy as it is powerful.

Unfortunately, many nonprofit donors have no idea that these programs even exist, let alone whether or not their workplace participates in them. The good news? You can change that!

To raise more through matching gift fundraising, you’ll need to kick your promotions strategy into high-gear. That means:

  • Creating a corporate giving page on your website where you include information on how these programs work as well as a handy matching gift search tool so visitors can instantly find out if their companies participate in any corporate philanthropy initiatives.
  • Including matching gift information in acknowledgment emails and donation confirmation screens so recent donors know exactly what the next best step is to enhance their contribution.
  • Hosting matching gift “events” such as a donation drive where you prioritize matching gift education all across social media or within your email campaigns. (Hint: hold one near the end or beginning of the year, when many matching gift deadlines fall.)

Need help implementing a matching gift strategy? Check out Double the Donation’s educational guides and database search tools to learn more about (and get more from!) matching gifts.

Takeaway: By educating your donors through as many channels as you can, you’ll maximize the chances that your supporters will complete their matching gift requestsand that you’ll reap the benefits of this easy fundraising opportunity!


4. Host a social media fundraising event.

No doubt your nonprofit has tried its hand at hosting plenty of fundraising events in your time. From auctions to galas to walkathons and more, fundraising events are fun, engaging ways to celebrate your cause, raise money, and connect with your constituency.

The drawback to fundraising events? In addition to being labor- (and often, cost-) intensive, they’re limited to those supporters located in your geographic location.

While you shouldn’t hang up the towel on your annual fundraiser just yet, there is a way to modernize this age-old fundraising strategy to raise even more money: just add social media to the mix!

You can add social media as a component to your in-person fundraising event or host a standalone online event that takes place on the social media platform of your choice. Here are a few examples of how to do both:

  • Start a livestream. Whether you’re broadcasting your fundraising event or creating a dedicated online-only program for your livestream, make sure donors all around the world feel involved. Have a team member designated to run the stream to ensure viewers stay engaged throughout.
  • Host an online contest. Pose a question on your social media sites that sparks stories, photos, discussion, or re-posting from your followers. Then, reward the best responses (or a random participant) with a prize! Think of it as an online raffle, but instead of donating, contestants are contributing their engagement.
  • Inspire action. No matter what your social media event hinges on, make sure that you’re not just talking at your followers. Call them to participate themselves! Even better, include links to your donation form or volunteer sign-up page so they can take their engagement offline, too.

Not only are these online options a great way to promote your cause all across the web, but they’re also a totally free fundraising and outreach channel that any nonprofit can capitalize on. All you need is an internet connection and a little creative brain power!

Takeaway: Leverage the widespread reach of social media to involve your supporters in fundraising events that take place both online and off. The more interactive you can be, the more awareness (and money) you’re sure to raise.


5. Create a fundraising appeal video.

Speaking of online engagement, another easy way to get online supporters excited about your nonprofit is to provide them with a first-hand look at your fundraising campaign.

Consider filming your own fundraising appeal video to show the impact of your campaign, share your gratitude for your supporters’ involvement, or just have a little fun with your nonprofit staff and supporters!

A fundraising appeal video is a useful tool year-round, but there are a few specific times when this fundraising idea is especially popular:

  • At the end of the year, you can use your video to thank donors for all that they’ve already done and promote those all-too-important year-end donations.
  • When you’re hosting a crowdfunding or peer-to-peer fundraising campaign that can benefit from easily shareable content that communicates your message.

When it comes to deciding what kind of content to include, it’s important to consider the purpose of your video. Obviously, you want to inspire donations, but what are you hoping to communicate along the way?

You might want to shine a light on the problem your organization addresses, in which case powerful real-life footage of your communities or beneficiaries could be useful, as well as testimonials delivered by real individuals you’ve helped.

On the other hand, you may want to use your video as a means of connecting with your constituents and reinforcing your own nonprofit culture or brand. If that’s the case, a lighthearted video that shows off your team, including board members and volunteers, might do the trick.

Takeaway: A fundraising appeal video can help your raise money while promoting your organization. The possibilities for your video are practically endless, so take some time to determine what you hope to accomplish and how.

You could spend hours looking through possible fundraising ideas for your nonprofit, and you’d never see an end to the potential fundraising opportunities available.

Hopefully, our ideas give you a good starting point for your next fundraiser. With your take on these lucrative options, you’re bound for success.



Kevin Penney

Kevin Penney

Kevin Penney has been working in digital media for over ten years. He’s the CMO and co-founder of Bonfire, an online platform that’s reinventing the way people create, sell and purchase custom apparel. He enjoys strategizing, working closely with his team, and hockey, exactly in that order.

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