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18 Nonprofit Fundraising Ideas

18 Fundraising Ideas for Nonprofits
Susan Guillory
Susan GuilloryUpdated September 6, 2023
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If your nonprofit is like many, you’re constantly looking for ways to raise money. And while grants will get you so far, it’s always good to have a backlog of fundraising ideas for nonprofits you can turn to when it’s time to raise some extra cash.

Why Is Fundraising Important for Nonprofits?

Because nonprofits are not for profit, they don’t bring in revenues the way a for-profit business would. And while you could get a nonprofit business loan, it can be a good idea to raise capital through fundraising, as well. 

18 Fundraising Ideas for Nonprofits

Here are 18 fundraising ideas for nonprofits to consider.

1. Ask for Corporate Donations

Did you know that corporations donate, on average, $21 billion to nonprofits every year? Asking for corporate donations can be one of the simplest ways to gain funding for your nonprofit. Look for both local corporations that are interested in donating to organizations in their area, as well as national companies that look for nonprofits in certain fields to give money to.
  • Pros: Can provide big funds
  • Cons: May be hard to get

2. Hold an Art Show

If your community has a thriving art scene, you can ask local artists to donate some of their work for an art show and auction, with the proceeds going to your cause.
  • Pros: Costs are low if art is donated
  • Cons: You’ll have to find artists willing to donate art

3. Host a Book Sale

Most people have books they no longer want laying around. Why not ask for a donation of those books and then hold a book sale to raise funds?
  • Pros: Easy profits
  • Cons: Profits may be low, given you’re selling used books at a low price

4. Have a Raffle

Similar to having artists donate art, you can ask local businesses to donate goods and services, and then hold a raffle to give away prizes. You can charge for the tickets to fundraise.
  • Pros: Your community will be excited at the prospect of winning prizes
  • Cons: It’ll take legwork to organize business donations

5. Create a Gala Event

Everyone likes to get dressed up for a night on the town now and then, and your nonprofit can hold a gala for such an occasion. Seek out a venue, caterers, and musicians that are willing to donate time and services to your nonprofit, and charge for tickets.
  • Pros: Can bring in high-dollar donations and ticket sales
  • Cons: You may need to spend some money for the event

6. Put on a Community Garage Sale

All you need is a parking lot and some gently-loved items to have a garage sale that will help your nonprofit raise funds. Ask people in your community to donate items and volunteer to help.
  • Pros: Easy to host
  • Cons: Profits may not be high

7. Give a Dinner in Your Community

Some of the most successful fundraising ideas for nonprofits are community events involving food. You can host a fish fry, taco night, pancake night, or meal of your choice and charge for admission. Or you can find a restaurant willing to partner with you for free.
  • Pros: It’s a great community-boosting event
  • Cons: You’ll need to market the event to sell tickets

8. Host a Walkathon

You can raise funds and get people out and active by hosting a walkathon or marathon. Map out an area in your town that is easy to get to and that can be blocked off for several hours. Ask local businesses to offer coupons or snacks to participants.
  • Pros: Requires next to no cost
  • Cons: May require coordinating with local government agencies 

9. Have a Car Wash

We all need our cars washed now and then, and most people would be happy to pay volunteers for a nonprofit to handle the dirty work!
  • Pros: No overhead
  • Cons: Requires volunteers and a sunny day
Recommended: 12 Fundraising Platforms for Nonprofits

10. Throw a Carnival Night

Fundraising can be a family affair when you host a carnival night complete with games, rides, food, and magic! Again, look for local businesses to donate or at least offer discounts on products or services, and charge for admission.
  • Pros: Great opportunity to bring in profits
  • Cons: Requires lots of planning and volunteers

11. Put on a Trivia Night

Trivia nights in pubs are all the rage coast to coast! Partner with a bar or brewery to host a night of fun trivia, and get donations for prizes.
  • Pros: Easy setup
  • Cons: Possibly low profits

12. Partner with a Church or Religious Organization

There’s no reason your nonprofit has to do all the heavy lifting for fundraising alone. One of the best nonprofit organization fundraising ideas is to work with a church or religious organization. You can partner in hosting an event or they can ask for donations during their services.
  • Pros: Can amplify your reach
  • Cons: May have to coordinate with another committee to plan events

13. Have a Bake Sale

This is a sweet way to raise money for your nonprofit. Ask volunteers to bake their favorite treats, then sell them at a community event.
  • Pros: Easy profits
  • Cons: Requires coordination and volunteers

14. Host a Virtual Event

Not every fundraising idea for nonprofits has to be a physical, in-person event. You also have options online. You can create a virtual event with speakers, performers, and musicians, all in the name of your good cause. Sell tickets online beforehand.
  • Pros: No in-person venue needed
  • Cons: May take a lot of organization and planning

15. Create a Crowdfunding Campaign

There are crowdfunding platforms that help you extend your fundraising reach far beyond your local community. Create a campaign and market it, and anyone who wants to support your cause can.
  • Pros: Can reach donors further away than your local community
  • Cons: Requires serious marketing campaign

16. Create an Online Donation Campaign

One of the simplest fundraiser ideas for nonprofits is to add a “Donate Now” button to your website. It should be easy to find and should allow donors to use their preferred method of payment (credit or debit cards, Paypal, Venmo). 
  • Pros: Easiest way to open the door to donations
  • Cons: Is a passive form of fundraising and may not raise much

17. Make It Easy to Donate on a Mobile Device

If you’re trying to reach Millennials as donors, don’t overlook making your donations mobile-friendly. After all, more than half of the emails you send to your list are read on a mobile device. Text donation requests are another option to consider.
  • Pros: You’ll reach your demographic on their terms
  • Cons: You need someone tech-savvy to lead the campaign

18. Host an Online Auction

And finally, here’s one of the best virtual fundraising ideas for nonprofits: host an online auction. Rather than have to deal with the logistics of arranging an auction in person, you can use an auction platform (or even hold the auction virtually via streaming video) and attract a wider audience online.
  • Pros: No in-person venue needed
  • Cons: Requires looking for businesses/individuals to donate items

Other Ways for Nonprofits to Get Funding

If fundraising for nonprofits isn’t enough and you need a different avenue for acquiring funding, here are some options to consider.

Business Loans

There are different business loan types for every type of company, including nonprofit organizations. There are loans that don’t require collateral, loans for organizations without a business credit history, loans for working capital, and more.Before applying for business loans, create a budget for how you will spend the money so you only borrow what you need.


You can also consider grants for nonprofits. With grants, the money does not have to be repaid. Corporations and local and federal governments offer grants to businesses and nonprofits in certain industries or who meet other criteria, like being run by minorities.Recommended: 11 Funding Sources for Nonprofits

The Takeaway

With so many fundraising ideas for nonprofits, it’s a matter of making a list of which ones you want to try for your nonprofit business. Luckily, there are a variety of options, both online and in person, for raising money.If you need money faster and are wanting a small business loan, Lantern by SoFi can help you find a loan that fits your nonprofit’s needs. With Lantern, you can receive a small business loan offer from one of our leading lenders by filling out one simple form, all with no obligation to you.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can a nonprofit do to raise money?
What is the most profitable kind of fundraiser?
What are some unique fundraising ideas to try?
Photo credit: iStock/artursfoto

About the Author

Susan Guillory

Susan Guillory

Su Guillory is a freelance business writer and expat coach. She’s written several business books and has been published on sites including Forbes, AllBusiness, and SoFi. She writes about business and personal credit, financial strategies, loans, and credit cards.
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