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Top 5 fun and easy fundraising ideas for small nonprofits

By Wayne Elsey
November 12, 2019

Your nonprofit may be small, but that doesn’t mean it can’t still have an epic fundraising season. Unique fundraisers, when scaled according to a nonprofit’s fundraising capacity and audience, can be incredibly effective and helpful for nonprofits of all sizes.

The biggest obstacle to a successful nonprofit fundraising campaign is a hesitance to mix it up! Simply not being bold or creative with your asks is the fastest way to bore your audience.

You should be eager to boost revenue and have fun during your fundraising campaign. Don’t needlessly overextend yourself when there are plenty of effective and efficient ways to fundraise for nonprofits of your size.

Our top five fundraising ideas for smaller organizations are:

  1. Host a shoe drive fundraiser
  2. Hold a charity auction
  3. Organize a 5k or 10k run
  4. Promote a matching gift drive
  5. Encourage peer-to-peer fundraising

Let’s get started with the best fundraising ideas for small organizations!

01. Host a shoe drive fundraiser

1. Host a shoe drive fundraiser

A shoe drive fundraiser enables your organization to bring your community together, raise support for your mission, and provide resources for small business owners in developing economies around the world. You’ll need to partner with a shoe drive fundraiser facilitator to help connect all the moving pieces.

To complete this fundraiser, your organization will:

  • Step 1: Collect gently worn, used, and new shoes from your community.
  • Step 2: Contact the shoe drive fundraiser facilitator to arrange a pickup.
  • Step 3: Wait for your shoes to be processed.
  • Step 4: Enjoy the check!

This type of fundraiser can easily be combined with an event or activity that your organization hosts, maximizing the revenue from a single event. You may want to consider appealing to your local PTA about partnering on a shoe drive fundraiser to increase your drive’s visibility and extend the reach of your organization.

A shoe drive fundraiser is a good bet for hosting a simple, easy, and quick fundraiser with little to no cost to your organization.

02. Hold a charity auction

2. Hold a charity auction

Holding a charity auction is a great way to forge new connections within your community, because you’ll need to procure a variety of auction items.  These items can be anything that you think will appeal to your community members. They may include:

  • Signed book by a local author
  • Original piece by a local artist
  • Themed gift basket
  • Travel package
  • Music or sports lessons

There are many ways you can run your auction. You can do traditional bidding, turn your event into a silent auction with paper bids, or even employ mobile bidding to streamline the entire bidding process.

No matter what type of auction you host, make sure you stay organized and take advantage of the opportunity to engage directly with your community.  Although charity auctions typically require a significant investment of resources and time to plan, they are still great for small nonprofits, as long as you carefully adapt the event to fit your own needs and audiences.

03. Organize a 5k or 10k run

3. Organize a 5k or 10k run

Hosting a 5k or 10k run requires a more significant and strategic planning period for your organization, but the payoff well outweighs the time invested. Don’t let your organization miss out on such an opportunity because it thinks organizing a run is out of its reach.

With a 5k or 10k run, you can bring in revenue in several ways, including:

  • Participant-wide entry fee
  • Selling branded merchandise (T-shirts, wristbands, water bottles, etc.)
  • Selling food and beverages at an optional after-party celebration

If you want to add an extra level of excitement, think about adding a second option for people to raise more money the longer they run. With this strategy, you can fundraise more and more money from pledgors as your race continues and allow the spectators to contribute as well.

Plus, this sports-themed fundraiser is an excellent opportunity to combine an event with a shoe drive fundraiser! You can ask participants and spectators to donate their retired pairs of shoes, thus generating some bonus revenue for your organization.

04. Promote a matching gift drive

4. Promote a matching gift drive

Matching gift programs are an easy way for your organization to tap into the realm of corporate philanthropy. Don’t make the mistake of overlooking or ignoring this crucial fundraising component.

Matching gifts can easily be incorporated into all kinds of unique fundraising ideas where supporters make direct donations. Take advantage of this fundraising technique and incorporate it into your usual fundraising efforts.

If you are unfamiliar with matching gift programs, they are quite simple:

  • Step 1: An individual donates to your organization.
  • Step 2: The donor determines their matching gift eligibility.
  • Step 3: The donor submits the proper forms to their employer.
  • Step 4: The employer matches their gift to your organization at a 1:1, 2:1, or sometimes 3:1 ratio.

Statistics reveal that the majority of potential matching gift funds—an estimated $4-$7 billion of available funds—go unclaimed every year. Learn more about matching gifts and why you should be encouraging them at your small nonprofit.

05. Encourage peer-to-peer fundraising

5. Encourage peer-to-peer fundraising

Peer-to-peer fundraising allows you to leverage your existing donor relationships to gain even more supporters and expand your audience.

The social aspect of this fundraising method is the perfect way for your donors to share their excitement about the work your nonprofit does.

To host a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign, follow this basic structure:

  • Determine your fundraising goal and set up a campaign.
  • Recruit volunteers to set up individual campaigns.
  • Provide resources for volunteers to use while fundraising.
  • Encourage your volunteers to share their campaign pages.
  • Watch as your fundraising revenue increases!

Don’t forget to utilize good peer-to-peer fundraising software or online platforms to smooth the process of setting up and managing campaigns. Look for engaging social media sharing features and gamification tools to help your volunteers get their followers excited.

Closing thoughts

Fundraising for your small nonprofit doesn’t have to be a hassle. You can be effective and efficient with your fundraising while managing to have fun with these top fundraising ideas!

Tags: Fundraising