Planning, promoting, and running a fundraiser is hard work! With the amount of resources, time, and focus it takes to plan a major fundraiser, it makes sense that many charities may hesitate to add a new initiative to their calendar. But fortunately, there are fundraising ideas out there that even busy nonprofit teams can put together without getting overwhelmed.
Of course, you shouldn’t just choose a fundraising idea based on how easy it is to execute. Rather, the right fundraiser for your charity should be practical for your team to plan and something that can engage your charity’s whole community.
If you’re having trouble brainstorming fundraisers that can balance both of these ideals, then this guide is ready to help. We’ll dive into six fundraising ideas for communities and discuss how each can be hosted with limited stress. We’ll cover:
Online Shopping Fundraisers
When choosing fundraisers for your charity, remember to also consider what types of fundraisers are most likely to interest your community. After all, a community fundraiser can only succeed if it’s exciting, convenient, and worthwhile for the community to participate in. Let’s dive in.
1. Online Shopping Fundraisers
From events to fundraisers, how charities raise money has modernized, even when it comes to gathering support in their home communities. But while learning how to use new technology and fundraising methods may seem time-consuming at first, in reality, there are a variety of online fundraisers that are easy to set up, run, and continue earning revenue from.
For instance, online shopping fundraisers allow members of your community to support your charity when they make everyday purchases online. Supporters who participate in this fundraiser essentially contribute to your organization without deviating from their normal routines at all, and since all the revenue sent to your charity comes from the businesses supporters buy from, they won’t be spending a penny more.
Here’s a breakdown of how you can get your community shopping for your cause:
Partner with an online shopping program. When choosing what online shopping fundraising program to partner with, start by investigating their network of retailers. Partner with a program that has connections with businesses your community members already shop at to make participating in your program as easy and convenient as possible.
Promote your fundraiser. Shopping fundraisers will steadily earn your charity revenue, but only if you make sure to promote them regularly. Reach out to your supporters with directions about how to download your program’s app or browser extension. Send routine reminders to participate to get new supporters to join and remind long-term ones to keep buying through the app or browser extension.
Track results and earn revenue. Once your program is up and running, you’ll be able to track your results. While your program won’t show you exactly what supporters are buying to protect their privacy, you can see who your top contributors are so you can show your appreciation.
Plus, online shopping fundraisers aren’t a one-time event. After launching your program, you can keep promoting your initiative and collecting revenue all year round, providing a reliable stream of support in between your big fundraisers.
Your community appreciates and supports your charity because of your mission. However, when they give, they also appreciate getting a little something in return. With an auction, participants can win prizes and support your organization all at the same time.
An auction may require a little more planning than a few other ideas on this list, but it has the opportunity to have a high return on the resources you invested into it. After all, auctions bring together a wide variety of stakeholders in your community, including:
Community members. As the primary participants, your community members will be the guests entertained at your auction. Encourage long-time supporters to attend, and also use your auction as an opportunity to invite anyone who might be new to your community.
Businesses. If you’re going to run an auction, you’re going to need prizes. Early on in your auction’s planning process, have your procurement team reach out to businesses to donate prizes and sponsor your event. If you get enough community members to attend, your auction can also be a valuable marketing opportunity for local businesses.
Your volunteers. Even if your auction is entirely virtual, you’ll likely need at least a few volunteers to help plan and host your event. While volunteers will be one more element to manage, providing regular volunteer opportunities helps you stay connected to your supporters. Plus, if someone with a lot of connections in your community agrees to volunteer, they’ll likely invite their friends and family to attend your auction or even help you acquire auction items from local businesses.
Additionally, volunteers can also help earn your charity a little extra with volunteer grants. Volunteer grants are essentially free money as some businesses have policies where they will contribute to charitable causes their employees volunteer with. After you host your auction, get in touch with your volunteers to thank them for their hard work and help them discover if they’re eligible for a volunteer grant.
3. Community Potlucks
What makes a fundraiser memorable? It can be engaging activities and a powerful presentation about your mission, or even something as simple as good company and good food. Community potlucks leverage the second component to bring neighbors together to socialize, enjoy a meal together, and support your charity.
Because of the open-ended nature of community potlucks, there’s even the opportunity to combine them with other types of events. For example, you might add a live auction to your community lunch or dinner and hand out auction paddles so community members can place their bids and foster a friendly sense of competition with their neighbors.
Of course, if you want to stick to just the potluck itself, you can monetize the event by charging an entry fee, requesting donations throughout the event, and setting up a booth to sell merchandise.
4. Trivia Nights
Trivia nights are a staple for all kinds of organizations, from restaurants to universities to charities. It’s easy to see why, too. Trivia nights are a great way for members of your community to connect with their friends when they form teams and work together to show off their knowledge and potentially even win a prize.
Trivia nights are also highly flexible events. You can bring participants together to buzz in and answer questions in real-time, hold the entire event virtually and have teams discuss their answers in private group chats, or set up your own hybrid version that features elements of both in-person and virtual formats.
To fundraise during this event, you can have teams submit a registration fee when they sign up. You can also create additional fundraising opportunities by hosting a raffle or selling merchandise or concessions during an in-person event.
5. Virtual Walkathons
5Ks, races, and walkathons are all popular fundraisers that earn money for your charity and get your community outdoors and exercising. But even if you aren’t able to bring your community together physically, you can still encourage physical activity by making your walkathon virtual.
Virtual walkathons provide the same opportunities for exercise, personal fulfillment for participants, and revenue for your charity as in-person ones. Your community members will just be tracking their participation themselves. Choose a date and time to start your event so everyone can begin together even when they’re apart.
There are three primary ways to raise funds from a virtual walkathon your charity can choose from:
Pledges. Before your walkathon, have your participants go out into the community and collect pledges. These pledges can be flat donations or donations dependent on how far a participant walks, runs, or jogs. Then after your event, your participants will collect their pledged amounts and turn them into your charity.
Donations. When signing up for your event, you can encourage participants to support your charity by donating. This monetization strategy will be voluntary, but a lack of registration fee or fundraising requirement can result in higher participation overall, potentially leading to support down the line as new supporters engage with your charity.
Participation fee. To register for your walkathon, include a participation fee. This straightforward method means you will have guaranteed revenue before your event even begins.
Walkathons can be successful for all types of nonprofits and charities, but they are especially popular for teams and sports clubs. These groups can make especially strong use of pledges by having their members participate and collect pledges from family, friends, and community members who want to show their team spirit.
6. T-Shirt Fundraisers
Your community can show a little spirit for your charity through a t-shirt fundraiser. Selling t-shirts and other branded merchandise can make anyone who buys something feel like they’re part of a group, making them feel more connected to your organization. Plus, whenever they wear their shirt in your community, they’re spreading awareness about your charity.
You can make the most of your t-shirt fundraiser by:
Creating a compelling design. If your charity doesn’t have a graphic designer on staff, it can be tempting to just add your logo to otherwise blank t-shirts. But you can get creative and design shirts supporters will want to show off by partnering with a nonprofit t-shirt platform, which will provide stylish templates and user-friendly design tools. You can also get artists in your community involved by hosting a t-shirt design contest and having supporters vote on the best design. This can help get your supporters invested in the t-shirts you do end up making, potentially leading to more sales.
Selling merchandise during events. To drive sales, consider setting up a merchandise booth at your in-person events. During a 5K, sell water bottles and baseball caps. During a sporting event, sell team t-shirts, and during your community picnic, sell mugs and tote bags.
Taking pictures and videos. If your charity requires new footage and photos that can be used for your marketing materials, images of your supporters wearing your t-shirts can be a great resource. Encourage community members to wear their t-shirts to events and tag your charity in social media posts of them wearing their t-shirts.
T-shirt fundraisers are also popular for schools, clubs, and any other organization that has a logo that is likely to be recognized in their community. For instance, if many members of your community attended their local high school, they’ll be more likely to buy a t-shirt donning its logo even decades later.
Coming up with the right fundraising idea for your community can be a challenge, especially if your nonprofit is already swamped with work. Think outside the box to plan low-stress fundraisers that will earn your nonprofit the revenue you need and help engage your community on a deeper level. Good luck!