If you are the founder or employee of a nonprofit organization, you are probably not short on passion for your cause, your product, or the people you serve.
You may, however, be short on fundraising ideas.
Let’s be honest. Fundraising does not always feel so… fun.
For some, fundraising may feel more like a necessary evil than an opportunity to engage and connect with your community of supporters.
That is why it is time we flipped the script on fundraising.
Nonprofit fundraising is not only about raising money. Fundraising also provides opportunities to create buzz around your cause, recruit ambassadors, and connect with your donor base.
In reality, putting together a fundraising campaign is one of the best ways to foster long-term support for your nonprofit organization!
With these fifteen creative fundraising ideas for nonprofits, you can help people catch hold of your nonprofit’s vision while acquiring the resources you need to help actualize that vision.
15 creative fundraising ideas for nonprofits
- A backyard brunch
- Take me out to the ballgame
- Throw a gala - but make it themed
- An upgraded bake sale
- Piggyback off of a holiday
- Video game tournament
- Host a bowl-a-thon competition
- Play top chef
- Teach a fitness class
- A night out at the movies
- Fantasy football fundraising
- Host a mini golf tournament
- Partner with a local coffee shop
- Oil change drive through
- Dessert night
1. A backyard brunch
Pass the pancakes, please!
Everyone loves a good weekend brunch, and this passion for candied bacon and eggs benedict can double as a creative nonprofit fundraising idea.
Find a nicely manicured backyard with trees or a garden, skim Pinterest for decor inspiration, and send out your invitations!
Impress your guests by hiring a local chef or learning to make brioche french toast yourself!
2. Take me out to the ballgame
Or the basketball game, or the soccer game, or the… you get it.
The key here is to choose a local team that supports nonprofit organizations through a foundation or charity program.
Professional sports teams may donate money, memorabilia, or blocks of tickets to help local nonprofits raise funds.
Some teams will also allow members of your nonprofit to take shifts working in a concession stand for a percentage of the sales.
3. Throw a fundraising gala - but make it themed
Throwing a fundraising gala is a longtime favorite fundraising tactic in the nonprofit world, and this is for a good reason.
Many people enjoy getting dressed up and dancing the night away for an important cause. If you want to add a twist to this classic event, consider giving your event a theme.
Casino Royale, Around the World, or Masquerade are just a few of the themes that will take your gala to the next level.
4. An upgraded bake sale
There is nothing wrong with a homemade brownie wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, but the recent popularity of craft cookie shops has made the fundraiser’s job a lot easier!
Contact your local cookie shop to see if they donate to nonprofits or charities, and then sell the cookies at a price above their market value.
Bonus points if you deliver the cookies to donors with a “thank you” note printed in your nonprofit’s brand colors.
5. Piggyback off of a holiday
Is it Christmas time? Sell tree ornaments or Christmas wreaths! Is it St. Patrick’s Day? Consider hosting a night at the local pub!
The key here is considering activities or items that people are drawn to during the holiday seasons and then utilizing them as opportunities to fundraise.
6. Video game tournament
Are you looking to recruit a younger donor base? This creative fundraising idea is perfect to attract a younger crowd.
Combine popular video games with a few classics, and invite community members to donate or lend their video games for the cause.
To encourage participation, offer a cash prize to the winner!
7. Host a bowl-a-thon competition
This idea combines nostalgia with competition to make one creative fundraising event.
Encourage teams to set goals, raise money for your nonprofit, and come together for a fun bowling event. Don’t forget the socks!
8. Play top chef
For this creative nonprofit fundraising idea, work with a local chef to host a cooking class for your donors.
If your nonprofit is local, you may want to do a twist on a local favorite. If your nonprofit is international, consider selecting a cuisine from the country or countries your nonprofit represents.
Depending on your donor base, this creative fundraising event can be held in person or live streamed.
9. Teach a fitness class
Help people work on their fitness goals while spreading awareness for your cause.
Depending on the type of fitness class, you can host your event outdoors in a local park to save on facility rental fees.
From yoga to CrossFit to track and field, there is no shortage of ways to blend fundraising and fitness.
10. A night out at the movies
Give your donors a movie experience they will not forget by turning your nonprofit’s parking lot into a drive-in theater!
To pull this off, you will need to rent a projector movie screen, set up a sound system, and look into movie licensing.
Otherwise, this option is relatively low-cost. Another fundraising idea is to rent out a local dollar theater for a private screening.
Invite your donors to watch a movie or documentary that is relevant to your cause, and work with the theater to see if a percentage of concession sales can go toward your nonprofit.
11. Fantasy football fundraising
Not only does this creative nonprofit fundraising idea bring people together for healthy competition, but it is also an incredible revenue generator!
Simply organize a league, invite your friends and donors, and charge money at the door.
Make sure to name the league after your nonprofit to increase awareness about your cause.
12. Host a mini golf tournament
Golf tournaments are a classic (and classy) way to raise charity funds, but the mini golf rendition is a bit more family-friendly and accessible.
Start by identifying a mini golf course in your community that offers discounted rates for charity events.
Then, ask local businesses to sponsor each hole for a specific amount of money in exchange for acknowledging their sponsorship at the event.
13. Partner with a local coffee shop
Coffee sleeves are one of the most underrated pieces of marketing material.
Raise awareness (and money!) for your nonprofit organization by partnering with a local coffee shop for a month and providing coffee sleeves printed with your campaign information.
The shop may even be willing to donate a percentage of their sales to you at the end month.
14. Oil change drive through
This fundraising idea takes scheduled car maintenance and turns it into donations!
Hire a local mechanic for a day rate and advertise inexpensive and fast oil changes at the location of your choice.
You can also work out a deal with local oil change locations for coupons you can sell to donors.
15. Dessert night
No matter how you slice it, desserts are a crowd pleaser.
Bring donors and community members together for a decadent dessert tasting night with live music, art, and conversation about your cause.
Recruit friends and community members to contribute a unique dessert and serve with decaf coffee and espresso.
Your nonprofit, donors, and local community are unique, and the way you fundraise for your cause should be, too.
At the end of the day, fundraising presents you with an opportunity to raise awareness about your cause and engage your donor base in a creative way that will leave an impression.
At the core of fundraising is community–building inspired by the belief that if you are passionate about your cause, there are other people out there that will be, too.