Large-scale events and fast-paced online campaigns are great for raising money and engaging your nonprofit’s community, but it’s difficult to finance all of your activities with these short-term fundraisers alone. To maximize your time and effectively manage your nonprofit’s finances, you need multiple, diverse revenue streams.
One impactful way to do so is by starting a year-round fundraiser. Year-round fundraisers allow nonprofits to bring in revenue between events and giving days, keeping programs running and covering overhead costs. These fundraisers are easy to plan and are meant to be run alongside your other campaigns. You can even run multiple year-round fundraisers at once!
We’ll cover four popular options for sustainable year-round fundraising:
As we explore each of these fundraisers, weigh your options to see which fit best into your nonprofit’s strategy. Consider your supporters’ interests and preferences, and choose fundraisers that are easy for both your staff and supporters to participate in.
1. Online Shopping Fundraisers
What better way to reach donors than by letting them support your nonprofit through one of their everyday activities? With an online shopping fundraiser, your donors can automatically contribute to your nonprofit through their regular online purchases—all at no additional cost to them or your organization. This fundraiser can easily run all year, for multiple years, as long as your supporters keep shopping.
To get started, partner with a fundraising platform that specializes in online shopping. ShopRaise’s guide to shopping for a cause outlines how to host multiple kinds of shopping fundraisers. For online shopping fundraisers, the general steps for hosting one are:
- Your organization sets up an account with your shopping program partner and gets the word out to your supporters about the opportunity.
- Supporters download an app or browser extension that allows them to support your nonprofit through online shopping.
- Supporters do their regular shopping, and a portion of each purchase at participating retailers goes to your nonprofit!
This fundraiser can work well for any nonprofit, including community or faith-based organizations. It involves very little setup for both your organization and donors, and it provides unrestricted revenue that builds up over time.
2. Branded Merchandise Sales
Selling branded merchandise is a classic long-term fundraiser you can adapt to fit your nonprofit’s needs at any time of the year. Merchandise with your organization’s name on it improves brand awareness as the products will spark conversations with supporters’ friends and families.
Set up an online store for your organization, sell items in person at your events, or both. In addition to offering a staple collection of branded merchandise year-round, you can also sell special products for fundraising events, campaigns, holidays, or seasons. For example, if you host an annual 5k, you can excite your community of supporters with a new t-shirt design each year.
Branded merchandise offers plenty of room for creativity. Consider these favorite items as a starting point for what you can sell:
- Clothing: Loyal supporters will love the chance to publicly represent your organization with branded clothing. T-shirts are the most popular choice, but you can also create branded sweatshirts, joggers, hats, or bracelets.
- Stickers: Stickers, decals, and car magnets are lower-priced merchandise options that any of your supporters can buy. Small stickers are also easy for your staff to bring to any event or meeting with donors.
- Beverage containers: Sell tumblers in the winter, and water bottles at hot outdoor summer events to make the most of seasonal campaigns. Plus, you can further promote the rest of your merchandise by suggesting that supporters decorate them with your branded stickers.
In your promotional materials, motivate supporters to buy by emphasizing that when they buy your products, they’re shopping ethically and with a purpose.
3. Matching Gifts
For another easy-to-run, high-reward fundraiser you can run throughout the year, promote matching gifts to your supporters. Matching gifts are a type of corporate philanthropy in which a business commits to matching eligible donations made by their employees at 1:1 or even 2:1 ratio.
Matching gifts are a lucrative fundraising opportunity that multiplies many of the donations your nonprofit brings in. These programs also drive more donors to give because they know they’ll be able to make a greater impact with a matched donation.
Many donors are unaware that they’re even eligible for these programs, so nonprofits need to market matching gifts intentionally to spread awareness and generate interest. To market this year-round fundraiser, create branded promotional materials that explain the power of matching gifts and how to get involved. Use videos, infographics, and statistics that demonstrate their impact.
If you use software that offers auto-submission for matching gift requests, emphasize in your outreach that this simplifies the process for everyone. By using software that automatically alerts donors that they qualify when they make a donation and submits requests to their employers on their behalf, you’ll ensure that your organization doesn’t miss out on any additional funds.
4. Google Ad Grants
This option is different from year-round fundraisers that provide unrestricted funds, but it can be just as beneficial for your long-term fundraising efforts. The Google Ad Grants program provides an advertising stipend to create ads on Google’s search results page for relevant keywords. These funds allow your organization to reduce marketing expenses and reallocate funding to other important areas of your budget.
Getting Attention’s Google Ad Grants guide explains how to take advantage of this opportunity:
- Set up a Google for Nonprofits account. You’ll need a verified account before you can start your application. Google for Nonprofits also provides you with extra tools for marketing your nonprofit on Youtube and Google Maps.
- Apply for the Google Ad Grant. All 501(c)(3) organizations except for government entities, academic institutions, and healthcare organizations are eligible to apply. Follow the steps in Google for Nonprofits to submit your application, then Google will review your website and let you know if you’re approved.
- Start advertising. If approved, you’ll receive access to $10,000 worth of free Google advertising per month. Your organization chooses relevant goals and search keywords, then Google places your web pages at the top of search results, generating more traffic.
Using Google Ad Grants allows you to share important information about your nonprofit with a wider audience. While saving you valuable money to use for your organization’s work, this program also provides an additional communication touchpoint to promote your mission and other fundraisers.
Now that you have a better understanding of the types and benefits of year-round fundraisers, you’re ready to incorporate them into your larger fundraising strategy. Depending on your nonprofit, a giving kiosk could also be a great way to raise additional funds throughout the year. Brainstorm ways you can incorporate these long-term campaigns into your main fundraisers, and start creating marketing materials to promote these exciting opportunities for additional revenue.