It’s not easy fundraising these days. With increasing pressure for nonprofits to maximize impact while minimizing overhead, it can be difficult for fundraisers to justify big, fancy galas or swag-overloaded charity runs.
But whether you’re a small, mid-size, or large nonprofit looking for creative ways to put on cheap fundraisers, here are a couple of ideas that are fun, creative, and get people giving!
1. 50/50 Raffle
Have participants purchase raffle tickets to enter a drawing. Half of the entry fees are awarded as the winner’s prize, and half goes to your charity.
2. Cooking Competitions
Who doesn’t love a good chili cook-off? Contestants bring in a specific dish, their best entree, or whatever criteria you choose. Diners donate for the meal, and vote for the winner.
3. Trivia Night
All you need is a charismatic host, some witty contestants, pens or pencils, some paper, and some thought-provoking questions. Contestants can either play solo or as a group, writing their answers on slips of paper and turning them into the host. Use separate rounds to increase the points and raise the stakes.
4. Sports Tournament
Healthy competition and a desire to win can get a number of people involved, especially if it’s for charity. Host a round-robin or bracket-style tournament in a friendly team sport. It can be basketball, dodgeball, flag football, or whatever you choose. Teams’ entry fees count toward their donations to your cause.
5. Restaurant Partnerships
There are several local and chain restaurants that are happy to partner with a nonprofit for a night or two. A portion of the restaurant’s earnings for the day go toward that particular organization. There are sometimes even situations where an organization’s volunteers or employees help work behind the counter, or in the dining room, to earn a share of wages.
6. Silicone Wristbands
Remember the Livestrong bracelets? They’re actually really inexpensive to make — as low as 3 cents per wristband. If sold for $1 or $2 donation, the markup is pretty astounding. There are several online companies that do custom work, so create a good share-worthy slogan and offer them as part of your merchandise line.
7. Yard Swap
Not enough junk lying around at your office? Outsource it! Have volunteers bring their used or unwanted items to a yard sale event. Then those same people can hunt for others’ items and take them away to a new home, with all the proceeds going to your charity.
8. Amazon Smile
If your nonprofit isn’t using Amazon Smile yet, that needs to happen pronto. Here’s the basics: Amazon shoppers can select a charity to support. For each of their eligible purchases, Amazon donates 0.5% of the proceeds to your nonprofit. Did I mention it’s free to set up?
9. Grocery Loyalty Cards
On a similar note, many grocery stores offer partnership programs to local charities. Shoppers can modify their grocery loyalty card to specify which charity they’d like to support. In turn, the grocery store allocates rewards to the charity based on their participating shoppers’ purchases.
Most people think they can sing, so why not have a little fun with it? Have audience members vote for their favorite contestant. You can even bring in a “celebrity” panel to complement the American Idol vibe of the whole thing. Winners receive a portion of the proceeds, while your audience gets to enjoy a fun-filled and slightly embarrassing evening.
11. Lip-Sync Battle
This is a personal favorite, especially if you’re terrified of singing in public. Participants choose a song they’d like to lip-sync then perform it for a voting audience or judges. Lip-syncers can go all-out, by wearing crazy costumes or channeling their inner Jimi Hendrix with a killer air guitar solo.
12. SMS Giving
SMS giving is similar to a text-to-give campaign, but it’s much more cost-efficient. Set up an SMS message within your donor management platform to send out to your donors, prompting them to reply to the text with a specific code or phrase (like “GIVE” or “DONATE”). Once they do so, your SMS autoresponder replies back with a link to a mobile donation form.
13. Peer-To-Peer Fundraising
While many people use crowdfunding websites (like Kickstarter or GoFundMe) to raise money for their projects, medical bills, and more. Nonprofits can utilize the same strategies through peer-to-peer fundraising, which positions your volunteers as crowdfunders specifically for your organization. It’s an effective tactic to use on social media, and your fundraisers’ support is free of charge.
14. Shave Your Head
It seems pretty drastic (and it’s probably one of the reasons it’s further down on the list), but if you’re willing to part ways with your hairdo, then shaving your head for charity will have people go wild. Set a goal for donors to meet by a certain date. If they match that goal, then your or one of your incredibly dedicated employees or volunteers will shave their head as a thank-you. Bonus points if you send a video of the shaving to your donors in an email. Even more bonus points if you broadcast it on Facebook Live.
15. Corporate Matching Gifts
If you’re struggling to get the funding your organization needs, matching gifts are a great way for a company to show they care about their employees. With Double The Donation, nonprofits and organizations can accept corporate matching gifts by integrating their online donation forms with matching options. While other tools or manually matching gifts can be tedious works, Double The Donation makes it simpler for companies to give on behalf of their employees.
Matt Sutherland is the Communications Director for Click & Pledge, an all-in-one online fundraising platform for nonprofits. Matt’s favorite activities include playing pickup lacrosse games and turning his guitar amp up to 11. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn.