fundraising for nonprofits

Fundraising for Nonprofits – 9 Ways to Raise Revenue

The nonprofit sector brought in $1.4 trillion in 2022, equal to 5.6% of the gross domestic product in the U.S., reports Independent Sector. In other words, there’s an ocean of revenue out there, but fundraising for nonprofits isn’t easy, especially for a newer nonprofit.

But how can you get your nonprofit to stand out from the crowd? People are vastly more likely to contribute to a nonprofit if they feel a connection to the work it does. These nine nonprofit fundraising ideas help foster relationships, get the message out, and achieve goals to do good.

1. Show People Your Work

A powerful way to get people invested in—and to invest in—your nonprofit is to invite them to see the work you do in real-time. If you have a physical location, invite people to stop in for a visit. Open your doors on certain days for a meet-and-greet with key players, or give a weekly tour to show what you do. For example, the Prison Yoga Project helps inmates recover with a focus on healing rather than punishment by offering regular yoga instruction to convicts. Potential donors may sit in on classes to see what they are all about.

If inviting people to your nonprofit organization’s workplace isn’t an option, go to them. Attend gatherings at churches, offices, homes, fundraising events, and so on. Talk about what you do, and how individuals can help, whether that’s by volunteering or donations.

2. Throw a Fundraising Event

Planning an event for a nonprofit is like winning the lottery when the ticket sales and donations start rolling in. But planning events is sort of like raising children. They’re costly, time-consuming, and a lot of work—and extremely rewarding. Not to mention, hosting events is one of the best ways to get the community involved. You may want to plan a one-off event or an ongoing series of events. You’ll want to get creative so people come to your event. You’ll want to be even more creative to get people to come back to the next one.

Habitat for Humanity gives people a chance to get directly involved with volunteer opportunities to help build houses. The American Museum of Natural History holds sleepovers, so you can spend a night at the museum. Many other events involve food, from pancake breakfasts to baking competitions to five-course gala dinners at fancy hotels. You may also host walkathons, wild and crazy mud runs, beer fests, paint parties, bingo nights, barbecues…the list goes on and on.

Whatever you decide, Ticketstripe makes it simple to sell tickets for nonprofit events, with the lowest fees for nonprofits of any event ticketing software. You can customize your event page, ticket types and packages, add donation options—and you’ll own your own list of participants to reach out to for your next fundraising effort.

3. Use Social Media to Get the Word Out

Cyberspace (as we used to say) is a no-brainer to grow your following, share progress, and collect online donations. Popular social media sites Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok might be the best way to generate engagement or, at the very least, keep people aware of your nonprofit’s goings-on. Make sure your profile is complete and includes a direct link to your donations page. Encouraging followers to like, share, or comment on your posts increases their reach and potentially draws in more supporters.

Facebook and Instagram also host online fundraising for nonprofits, which makes it easy to draw in funds, whether promoted directly from your nonprofit’s posts or from supporters who ask their friends for birthday donations to your cause—one of the most successful types of peer-to-peer fundraising.

You may also get creative and combine posts and fundraising by devising a sharable video or “challenge” campaign. The Ice Bucket Challenge offered a brilliant mix of both to become one of the most viral crowdfunding campaigns in history, raising hundreds of millions of dollars for ALS. While you may not be able to replicate that, even just a few dozen shares on a compelling video can garner attention and donations.

4. Offer Virtual Events on the Digital Stage

Ever since COVID, virtual events have boomed in popularity, and they’re a great way to drum up engagement and raise funds with much less planning and overhead than in-person events. Speaker events, panel discussions, behind-the-scenes broadcasted tours, concerts and performances, interactive games or trivia challenges, guided yoga or other fitness classes, even auctions and sales on goods can all be hosted over Zoom—and you can sell tickets to virtual events with Ticketstripe.

5. Make the Most of Crowdfunding

A crowdfunding campaign can be a good way to raise capital quickly. Donations platforms like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, Patreon, and GoFundMe are a few of the biggest sites for collecting larger-scale donations over a set period of time.

To be most successful, nonprofit fundraising campaigns that use crowdfunding generally have a specific goal that’s timebound to increase urgency. That said, you don’t want to overuse these campaigns as a nonprofit fundraising strategy because people can feel fatigued at the constant ask for cash, even if you offer incentives for donations.

6. Seek Grants from Private and Individual Foundations

successful fundraising ideas for nonprofits

Every nonprofit leader dreams of winning a huge grant from a wealthy private organization. The truth is, only a handful of smaller organizations win big grants from major private donors each year. Instead of focusing on the big guns like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, hone your search for grant money from organizations more aligned with your nonprofit’s specific mission. Every foundation has different priorities for funding. Some give exclusively to a certain field or cause. Many family foundations give based on geography or the community being served.

To find potential donors for your organization, start by making a shortlist of prospects. The Candid’s Guidestar Search is a good place to find foundations in your city, state, and internationally. Pro Tip: Read the annual reports of the other nonprofits in your field or region and scan their list of donors for potential leads. Once you narrow in on your targets, take a look at your prospects’ average gift amounts so you know what’s a feasible request. Once you’ve decided which grants to go for, it’s time to begin the writing process. There are a ton of good resources on grant writing online. Above all, your submission needs to be specific, compelling, and error-free.

7. Sell Services or Products

Some people have some strange notion that nonprofits shouldn’t make money by selling goods or services, and if they do, something fishy is going on. This is totally bogus! Plenty of legitimate, successful fundraising for nonprofits is done. Goodwill sells donated goods, while nonprofits for women’s shelters may open a small bakery that employs homeless women. The National Breast Cancer Foundation sells teddy bears, face masks, and bracelets, among other things, branded to promote the cause. And let’s not forget, the Girl Scouts have been dominating the cookie game since 1912!

While selling will most likely make up a small portion of your fundraising goals, it can make you enough dough to make a difference. You can start small with promotional items, such as logoed T-shirts and other products. Or think outside the box about what services or products you may sell that are unique to your mission. No matter what, be transparent about what portion of the proceeds goes to support your organization. Pro Tip: Do your legal homework if you want to open up a for-profit division to raise funds. Do you want to launch the business as an LLP? B Corp? Pick an option that gives you enough flexibility to fulfill your purpose and meet your financial goals.

8. Seek Sponsorships and Make Business Partnerships

Sponsorships typically make up a small percentage of a nonprofit’s total revenue, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an avenue worth exploring. But don’t make the mistake of looking at a potential sponsor as a goose that lays golden eggs. Dollar signs in your eyes can scare potential prospects away.

Not only that, a partnership with an outside company can be about so much more than recurring donations. Trusted businesses may encourage days of service, providing their staff the option to volunteer to work for partnered nonprofits. Or your organization may be offered other opportunities to network and make important connections, such as in-service presentations.

9. Don’t Limit Your Options!

It should come as no surprise that fundraising for nonprofits doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all approach. You’ll find you need to employ any combination of these strategies to raise money for your nonprofit—as well as some careful pivoting when one way doesn’t work out. The most important thing is to remain nimble while finding and utilizing the best tools for sharing your message and raising money to support your mission.

For example, you may find that your target audience favors one social media platform over another or that partnering with several local businesses is more fruitful than seeking funding from corporations outside the community you serve. When it comes to events—whether in-person or virtual—we believe that Ticketstripe is the best option for nonprofits to sell tickets and collect donations, both financially and practically. Want to give us a try? Using Ticketstripe is totally free!

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