Four Ways to Diversify Your Nonprofit Fundraising Efforts

Four Ways to Diversify Your Nonprofit Fundraising Efforts

Successful nonprofits never rely on a single fundraising event or project to raise money. Instead, they take multiple routes to raise money. Here are 4 popular ideas that charitable organizations can consider.

Host a big event: Raise money and awareness through fun community events.

Annual fundraising events not only bring in money, they build awareness of your organization and the work it does. Sometimes too, fundraisers become annual traditions that everyone in the community looks forward to attending. One of our local Catholic churches each year puts on a two-day Oktoberfest. People throughout the community go to eat German food, play bingo, bid on silent auction items, listen to bands, buy chances to win a car that’s being raffled, and purchase cakes and pies church members have baked. The event raises thousands of dollars each year and has become a staple event for our community.

Your big event should fit your nonprofit’s mission, its personality and its audience. Find ways to give ubiquitous ideas like 5K runs uncommon twists like costume contests. An innovative idea, done well, not only raises money, but gets publicity. One of my favorites is our local Salvation Army chapter’s Lemon-AiD fundraiser, where kids across town set up lemonade stands and give their profits proceeds to the Salvation Army for programs that benefit homeless children in their community.

Here are some popular ideas for fundraising events, from Mobile Cause.

  • 5k runs and walks
  • Auctions (silent and traditional)
  • Cookoffs–chili, barbecue
  • Yard sales
  • Galas
  • Golf tournaments
  • Game nights
  • Battle of bands
  • Bingo

Sell products to fund your work

Think of nonprofits that sell products and you immediately think of the Girl Scouts’ annual cookie drive. Like many nonprofits, the Girl Scouts longstanding and sweet sales push is multipurpose–it reminds people of the good the Girl Scouts does as it raises money, and it also builds girls’ confidence as they learn sales and business skills.

Selling products can take many forms. Our local humane society has a gift shop that sells T-shirts, hats and pet products. The shirts sport the nonprofit’s fun logo. They make great gifts for a pet lover.

Greenhouse 17, a nonprofit that provides housing and other support to victims of abuse, has a soap and candle business that is run by the people it serves. Supporters can buy the products online or at booths set up at public events.

Nonprofits can also partner with official fundraising companies to sell everything from gift wrap to candy bars. Fundraising professionals advise to check these out thoroughly, as sometimes very little of the money made comes back to the organization.

It can be fairly easy to make product sales part of a larger event–a souvenir photo stand where guests can buy their photo or a booth selling logo wear. Other projects encourage volunteers and supporters to get involved — like asking cooks to contribute their best recipes for a cookbook, which is then published and sold to raise money for the nonprofit.


Offer supporters the opportunity to be members of special clubs

Old Friends is a retirement farm primarily for famous Thoroughbred racehorses. It recently launched an innovative membership program for its fans called the Hoof Patrol. Horses, especially aging ones, can have serious problems with their hooves so supporters can join this club and their donations will be used to help keep the retirees’ feet in good shape.

If you set up a special club, it’s wise to do as Old Friends has and include some extra benefits. Among those for Hoof Patrol members are special photo ops with horses and the chance to win horseshoes worn by some of the horse stars who live at Old Friends.

Membership clubs can fund a continuing need, gain new supporters and even cause existing supporters to give more. And, they motivate givers, who, on the whole, like to know that their contributions are helping an organization in a meaningful way.


Collect in-kind donations during drives

There are times when organizations ask the community to chip in with in-kind contributions. For example, disasters bring a need for bottled water and cleaning products and often, blood donations. An influx of refugees brings a need for household goods.

Donation drives can be manned by your volunteers or, your organization might get the assistance from others in the community who want to do service work, like a church group or a Boy Scout troop. A donation drive takes a good deal of planning, organizing and promotion. Dates must be set, drop-off locations chosen, volunteers scheduled, publicity handled and systems developed to track collections and get them to those who need them.


Don’t forget to get the word out. To be successful, every fundraiser needs good promotion.

Planning and promotion are integral to the success of every fund-raising project you undertake. Summer is typically a great time to look at ways you can increase your fundraising efforts by adding new elements to existing events or embarking on new projects. Developing a marketing plan for your fundraising efforts now can help you decide how to proceed.

It can also help you pinpoint ways a professional marketing firm could help you develop a comprehensive plan that covers everything from direct mail to social media, to promote your fundraisers.

The best way to get good results from your diversified fund-raising efforts is to take a diversified approach to promoting them. If you’d like to talk about some ways to do that, give us a call. We’ve got lots of experience.

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