21 Easy Fundraising Ideas for Nonprofits in 2024

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Published:

September 7, 2023

Last Updated:

January 11, 2024

After a while, even the most seasoned nonprofit fundraising professional can run out of ideas for their next fundraising event or campaign.

Just like having writer’s block, it’s frustrating not to know exactly what to do to bring in those much-needed funds. But have no fear!

In this article, we’ve got you covered with a lineup of 23 unique and easy fundraising ideas that you can implement at your nonprofit organization.

Let’s get started.

Importance of Fundraising for Nonprofits

Fundraising

Fundraising is one of the most important elements of running a nonprofit organization.

From program expenses to staff salaries to rent, there are dozens of things that a nonprofit needs funds for to operate successfully. Nonprofits often rely on fundraising for donations from individuals to sustain their organizations and advance their missions.

Fundraising is also one of the main ways nonprofits can get the word out about their organizations.

Take, for example, the Salvation Army bell ringers you see during the holiday season.

The Salvation Army

Not only does their annual Red Kettle Campaign help bring in much-needed donations, but it also helps raise awareness about the Salvation Army’s mission to provide millions of free meals and Christmas gifts to those in need.

However, as important as fundraising for nonprofits is, it can also be one of the hardest things to do consistently. Coming up with new ways to engage donors can be challenging—which is why we’ve done the heavy lifting for you.

In the next section, you’ll find our curated list of unique and easy fundraising ideas you can implement at your nonprofit organization. With these ideas, your team can spend less time worrying about money and more time focusing on advancing your important mission.

21 Easy and Creative Fundraising Ideas For Nonprofits

Idea

Haven’t we all, at one time or another, run out of good ideas for fundraisers? If you don’t have a network of peers to brainstorm with, it may seem like the best fundraising ideas have come and gone.

But we don’t believe that here at Instrumentl—which is why we’re sharing some of our favorite fundraising ideas with you.

While these ideas for fundraisers can be implemented quickly, we advise you to thoughtfully consider and plan each of them for the best results. Make sure to think about your specific audience and what will resonate with them most.

So without further ado, here is our list of 21 unique nonprofit fundraising ideas!

1. Lemonade Stand

What’s cuter and more refreshing than cool lemonade served up by enthusiastic volunteers, especially children volunteers?

A typical lemonade stand doesn’t have to be fancy, and ingredients aren’t expensive. Ask a local business (or the property manager of a large office building) if they’ll allow your organization to host a lemonade stand outside of their facility for a great cause.

Naturally, this is an especially sweet fundraising idea during the summer months! It’s easy to create and provides great visibility for your organization too!

2. Trivia Night

Hosting a trivia night is a great way to engage your local community and raise funds for your cause at the same time!

Trivia fans will come for the friendly competition and bragging rights. Have teams pay an entry fee and encourage them to create a team name around something related to your organization. Animal rescue? “Pawsitively Trivia” comes to mind. Basketball team fundraiser? “Got Game Trivia Night!”.

Check out how the Central Texas Food Bank put on a Geeks Who Drink for a Cause Trivia Night! They even incorporated trivia questions about hunger relief as it directly connects to their mission. Consider doing something similar for your own organization’s trivia fundraiser.

Central Texas Food Bank

3. Book Sale

Some people read A LOT of books. Even in the day of digital downloads, some people still prefer to read physical copies.

Encourage people to donate their books and then have a book sale. It can be a larger event—for several hours or a full day—or it can be a simple shelf of books available in your organization’s office with a $5 donation for each book. No upfront costs make this fundraising idea one to bookmark!

4. Recycle for a Good Cause and a Green Planet

Ask your community to save their bottles and cans that are redeemable for cash.

Encourage them to ask their neighbors to “contribute” as well. Money earned by each volunteer participant is then donated to your organization. Know of a large festival in your area? Ask them if you can have their recyclables to redeem for green dollars.

5. Yard Sales

With thrift shopping becoming more en vogue, yard sales hosted by nonprofits are a great way to raise funds!

Your supporters are able to get rid of items they no longer need, while also getting the opportunity to buy something new!. Make sure to check with your city for any guidelines or regulations related to hosting a yard sale.

6. Sell T-shirts

Selling T-shirts is the perfect way to raise funds while also getting free advertising for your mission! If the design is good enough, your sales from this fundraising idea could be substantial.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital encourages donations by offering its monthly donors a “This Shirt Saves Lives” t-shirt. Whenever one of their donors wears their shirt, they are also raising awareness of the life-saving work St. Jude is involved in!

This Shirt Saves Lives

7. Guided Hikes or Tours

If your organization is fitness- or environmentally-oriented, consider hosting a guided hike or tour.

Enlist the help of a seasoned expert who knows a certain trail or region really well or who knows the history of a certain unique neighborhood. Sell tickets so your supporters (and their friends interested in the hike or tour) can participate in something together while getting out and about.

8. Wine Walls

Wine walls can be a really simple and effective fundraising strategy!

You can ask local restaurants, stores, or even your board members for wine donations. Then, at your next event, place each bottle in a brown paper bag and line them up side-by-side creating a long “wall of wine.” Attendees at the event can pay $25 for a mystery bottle. 100 bottles donated? That’s $2,500 of pure profit!

9. Scavenger Hunts

Similar to the group vibe of a trivia night, a scavenger hunt engages teams to search a geographic area for actual items (or pictures of things).

Teams must return by a certain time to the start area to share their scavenged items. Finding the most items in the least amount of time makes one team the winner.

10. Coin Collection Jars

Every penny counts, right?

Distribute jars branded with your organization’s name at high-traffic areas where people might have some loose change after a transaction. The main effort here is getting permission to place your jars at locations and then getting them emptied on a regular basis. This fundraising idea can also help get your nonprofit’s name and mission out in the community.

11. Birthday Gifts for a Cause

Consider encouraging your audience to make their birthdays fundraising opportunities.

Your supporters can announce that their birthday is soon on social media and request that they’d like donations made to your nonprofit in lieu of a traditional gift.

Austin Pets Alive! has created birthday wishlists that children can use for their parties. Instead of toys, their friends can bring them much-needed items from the wishlist that can then be dropped off at the shelter!

Austin Pets Alive

12. Bake Sales

A bag of cookies? A platter of cupcakes? Fresh bread? Can you smell the money these goodies will raise for your nonprofit?

Bakes sales are a fun and easy fundraising idea. Make sure to put your table(s) in a high-traffic area with a sign prominently noting that all money raised goes to your nonprofit.

Habitat for Humanity of Great Britain encouraged its audience to join its Bake Off to support their disaster relief efforts. All their supporters had to do was bake one of their favorite Ukrainian or British sweet treats and sell them to friends and family!

Habitat for Humanity of Great Britain

13. Online Class

Does someone in your organization have a really unique talent? Maybe there’s a subject-matter-expert on staff. Consider letting them teach an online class!

This is an especially good fundraising idea for learning institutions like aquariums, planetariums, museums, and more. Online classes are cheap to host and can be really engaging if you pick a topic that is of high interest to your audience.

14. Car Wash

Round up your able-bodied volunteers (teens are perfect for this fundraiser) and host a community car wash!

Make sure to have plenty of cleaning supplies and running water on hand. Car supply stores often will agree to host these events in their parking lots since people who take care of their cars may pop in to get a few car-centric supplies. Either charge a flat fee for cars, trucks, and SUVs or tell people “the suggested donation level is $X.” You’ll find that people often tip in addition to the amount.

15. Potluck Dinner

Recruit the top chefs from your community—either professional chefs or really good amateurs—and ask them to donate one item for a potluck dinner.

Groups of ten or so can bid on the opportunity to dine together at an intimate dinner party. A few appetizers, unique salad or soup, a main course, several side dishes, and one or two desserts from some of the best chefs is sure to make this fundraising event a success! And a unique venue makes the potluck dinner extra appealing!

16. Murder Mystery Party

This is a great idea for mystery lovers!

There are a variety of DIY murder mystery party packages that can be purchased online like this one and this one. Charge guests a fee to participate and let the murderous mayhem begin.

17. Donate a Drink

Encourage your community to forego their morning (and afternoon) latte and instead make a gift to your organization.

Depending on the size of your community (and mailing list and social media followers), this fundraising idea can generate a lot of donations!

Make sure the marketing is engaging and that it’s super easy for coffee lovers to make an online donation.

Check out how the Water Project encourages its audience to join in a water challenge to raise funds and awareness for the issue of water scarcity.

The Water Project

18. 50/50 Raffles

When you’ve got some skin in the game, it’s a bit easier to pull out that $20 and buy some raffle tickets.

The chances of getting 50% of the pot can be a real motivator. Raffles like this are a great fundraising add-on to an existing event—like a gala, auction, or even the 5K. Be sure to follow any local and state laws relative to raffles.

If you’re lucky, maybe the winner will offer to donate a portion of their winnings back to the organization!

19. Barbecue Cook Off

There’s something about a grill that gets people’s competitive juices going.

People—individuals or teams—can provide the food and spend their time cooking it up. Guests make a donation for a plate of food (or samplings from the various vendors). Specialty judges and/or people’s choice voting determines the best barbecue, and the winner gets a trophy and, of course, bragging rights.

Hometown Hero Outdoors is a nonprofit that hosts an annual BBQ cookoff to raise money for military service members, veterans, and first responders in their community. Check it out!

Hometown Hero Outdoors

20. Sneaker Drive

A sneaker drive is an easy way to raise money for your cause!

Your supporters get to rid their closets of tired, worn sneakers and your nonprofit organization collects a check from the donated footwear. Check out GotSneakers, a shoe donation organization that pays up to $7 for donated pre-owned sneakers. This is a great fundraising idea for green-focused organizations as the recycling of these shoes keeps them out of landfills and keeps their toxic materials from leaching into the ground and water.

21. Calendars for a Cause

As the year winds down, consider a calendar fundraiser.

Maybe your cause is really photo friendly (cute pets are perfect for this!).

Pick 12 great pictures and design a calendar to sell or to give away at a certain donation level. You can also get your community involved by having people submit their own photos to be considered. Don’t forget to give photo credits to those generous photographers!

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Wrapping Up: Next Steps

Fundraising

There you have it! 21 easy fundraising ideas for 2024!

We hope these ideas have inspired you with new ways to raise support for your organization. For more fundraising tips, insights, and resources, don’t forget to check out Instrumentl’s blog.

Happy fundraising!

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