Well Being

14 Easy Fundraising Ideas For Non-Profits

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Looking for fun and easy fundraising ideas for a non-profit organization? These ideas move beyond the tedious sales of wrapping paper, cookies, and pies, but stop short of extensive grant writing. They have been tested and approved by my local schools and nonprofit breastfeeding support groups and just might work for your organization too!

14 Easy Fundraising Ideas for Non Profits cash in hand jpg

Photo by Dani Simmonds

In these tough economic times, nonprofits must get creative in raising funds. This list of ideas offers a variety of options for non-profits to employ based on their particular resources: people, time, community support, computer access, and storage space.

1. Grocery stores’ loyalty cards. Many grocery stores and food warehouses allow you to register your store savings or rewards cards to benefit local non-profits. The non-profit signs up to be a partner, then asks its members to take a few minutes to register their cards online so that a portion of each of their grocery purchases goes toward the non-profit, at no cost to the members! Here in California the stores with community programs include Albertsons, Ralphs, Valu+ and Vons. This idea takes a little effort initially but pays off handsomely over time as the rewards trickle in. Groups should keep in mind that the stores often require patrons to re-register their cards each year. Also, some stores allow patrons to divide their reward contributions among several organizations so they do not have to choose between benefiting their local elementary school or their breastfeeding support group — they can benefit both!

2. eScrip. Organizations that directly support the education of youth can register with eScrip. The eScrip concept is similar to the grocery loyalty programs above but works for several additional types of stores and restaurants.

3. Amazon affiliate program. Sign up to be an Amazon.com Associate and earn anywhere from 4-15% commissions on the purchases people make after clicking through your affiliate link on the web! This program is particularly helpful for groups that have a website. (By the way, if you don’t have a group you want to benefit, you could always benefit your (for-profit) blogger by clicking through one of the book links in her gift giving guide whether or not you buy one of the listed books!)

4. Restaurant nights. Several fast food and family restaurants will donate a percentage of profits from one or more nights to a nonprofit. The group distributes a flyer announcing the day and time of the benefit and patrons must show the flyer at the time of purchase for the percentage to be applied. This activity also builds a sense of community as people dine together for the event!

5. Community garage sale. Supporters who might not be willing or able to donate cash are often willing to donate gently used items for a group garage sale. In kind donations to a nonprofit are tax deductible.

6. Silent auction. Individual supporters and local businesses might also be willing to donate items to be sold at a silent auction. Hold a potluck dinner or a cookie exchange or an open house, and people can browse and bid on the auction items.

7. Gift basket raffle/drawing. Movie night, chocolate, gardening, baby shower, day at the beach, gift card tree: these are all popular themes for gift baskets that can be raffled off. Solicit donations of new or gently used items for the baskets and sell tickets for a drawing. Just be sure you comply with state and local regulations about running a “raffle” or “drawing.”

8. United Way. In addition to asking for direct donations to your group, apply to your local United Way for admission as an official United Way member agency. Invite your supporters to specify your non-profit for any United Way contribution.

9. Sponsored walk/bike ride. At a local school, park, or trail, hold a walk or bike ride and solicit sponsorships per lap or mile. Contact local police to notify them of your plans and to obtain any necessary permits for the gathering. In conjunction with the event, why not also hold a silent auction and/or gift basket raffle?

10. Grants from stores. Many local businesses will honor requests for donations of cash, gift cards, or gift baskets to raffle. Some have simple grant applications while others can be approached in person, by telephone, or by letter. Make your plea for support and you might just be surprised by the response! Be sure to follow up with a thank you note from your group and ask your supporters to mention your group when they shop at that store.

11. Gift card sales. Instead of offering the grocery loyalty card savings discussed above, some stores sell gift cards tied to rewards. For example, some offer a refillable gift card. When you use the card to purchase items at the store, a portion of the receipt goes to benefit the non-profit. When all the money on the card has been spent, the card can be refilled either at the cashier station or at the customer service counter. Other stores offer discounts on large amounts of gift cards. One Whole Foods Market I know offered $500 worth of gift cards (in $25 and $50 denominations) for $475 when purchased by a nonprofit. If enough people in your group are interested in gift cards you can make $25 on each purchase of $500.

12. Holiday gift wrapping. During the weeks leading up to Christmas major stores such as Borders Books and Sport Chalet allow charity volunteers to set up a table at the store to wrap customers’ gifts for a donation (usually a $1 or $2 per package). The store provides the boxes. wrapping paper and tape. All you supply are the people to staff the table! Call at least a few months in advance to reserve your time slots as the popular ones go quickly. Be prepared to have two to three people volunteer to fill each time slot.

13. Ideablob. If your non-profit has a big new project that requires funding, try submitting your idea to Ideablob. Ask your supporters to vote for your idea online and you just might win one of the $10,000 monthly giveaways. That’s how the Mothers’ Milk Bank of New England won $10,000 for new milk processing and storage equipment!

14. Squidoo. Sign up to be a Squidoo charity and your group can earn ad royalties and commissions from Amazon (if you are an affiliate as discussed above). Squidoo also occasionally runs charity giveaways and Squidoo charities can benefit from those as well!

Your Thoughts

If you’ve done fundraising for a non-profit, what worked for you? What was not so successful? Which idea has the best return for the least effort, or is the most fun? Leave a comment!