Skip to content
We are now Bonterra

15 innovative and effective fundraising ideas for nonprofits

October 09, 2022
Nonprofit event runners serve healthy meals, including salad, fruit, and rolls, to people at a fundraising event, showcasing a fundraising idea for nonprofits.

Fundraising is critical to a nonprofit organization's success, as it provides the funding necessary to sustain and expand its life-changing programs. However, developing effective fundraising strategies can be a challenge, especially for organizations with already limited resources and expertise. 

That's why we've put together this guide, which highlights 15 creative and actionable fundraising ideas to help nonprofits raise the funds they need to pursue their purposes. Let’s get started!

1. Set up an online fundraising page.

Online fundraising pages serve as a central hub for your nonprofit's fundraising efforts, allowing supporters to donate, learn more about your purpose, and track the progress of fundraising campaigns in one place. It should be hosted on your nonprofit website and include a donation form so that donors can easily give.

For the best results, offer multiple donation options, such as one-time gifts, recurring donations, and suggested donation amounts. You should also drive traffic to the page through a multichannel marketing strategy in which you include the link in all campaign-related messages such as email, social media posts, and direct mail.

2. Create a peer-to-peer campaign.

Peer-to-peer campaigns are an engaging fundraising idea in which nonprofits rely on their supporters to fundraise on their behalf. Supporters set up personal fundraising pages that are linked to the nonprofit's fundraising campaign, then reach out to their own networks to solicit donations. When done correctly, peer-to-peer fundraising allows you to attract new donors to your cause and raise funds without exhausting your resources or your time.

To start your own campaign, provide supporters with easy-to-use fundraising tools, such as custom fundraising pages, email templates, and branded social media posts. You can also create games, challenges, and competitions to make the process fun and inspire participants to raise more. For instance, you might create a tiered reward system, with each of your top fundraisers receiving a prize.  

3. Send a video message

Sending donors a video message as part of a fundraising campaign can be a powerful way to connect with your supporters and show the impact of their donations. Have a member of your organization sit in front of the camera and explain the details of your fundraising campaign, including the goal and deadline for accepting donations. Include testimonials from your intended beneficiaries and consider taking viewers on a journey through the communities you serve. 

By leveraging the emotional power of video, you can inspire donors to become more engaged, to continue supporting your cause, and to become advocates for your cause within their own networks.

4. Consider SMS fundraising.  

SMS fundraising is a highly effective way to connect with donors because it offers a direct and personal mode of communication–text messaging. To get started with SMS fundraising, ask supporters to opt-in to your texting list. Then reach out to donors with updates, fundraising appeals, and event invitations. Consider incorporating compelling visuals like emojis and concise language in their text messages to inspire action.

5. Create a board fundraising campaign.

A board fundraising campaign encourages board members to take an active role in raising funds for your organization. By leveraging their connections and influence, board members can help your nonprofit access new sources of funding and increase their visibility within the community. Ask them to set a personal fundraising goal, lead fundraising events, or make personal donations. 

6. Create a giving club.

A giving club is a group of supporters who commit to making regular donations to your nonprofit over a specified period of time, whether that be monthly or annually, in return for a reward. To ensure your giving club is a success, build strong relationships with members, provide regular updates on the impact of their support, and offer compelling incentives, such as exclusive access to events, free branded merchandise, and public recognition. 

7. Build a major gifts program.

A major gifts program is a fundraising strategy that focuses on developing and nurturing relationships with individual donors who have the capacity to make significant donations to your nonprofit. Identify potential major donors within your organization and create a plan that outlines the goals, strategies, and tactics needed to cultivate and secure their support. 

You should also establish clear guidelines for how major gifts will be acknowledged and develop strong donor stewardship practices to maintain long-term relationships. 

8. Host a virtual fundraising event.

Virtual fundraising events have many benefits, including access to supporters outside of your local area, reduced overhead costs, and the ability to reach a larger audience. 

To host a successful virtual fundraising event, such as a virtual auction or online trivia contest, focus on promoting the event through various channels, offering interactive opportunities for attendees to give during the event, and ensuring that the technology and platform being used are reliable and user-friendly.

9. Create a plan to re-engage lapsed donors.

Re-engaging lapsed donors is generally easier and more cost-effective than acquiring new ones. Reach out to lapsed donors and connect with them on a personal level, reminding them of their previous support and demonstrating the impact that their past donations have had. This can lead to re-engagement and potentially increased giving in the future.

10. Ask your one-time donors to become monthly donors.

Convert one-time donors into monthly donors by making a clear, compelling case for the value and impact of monthly giving. One effective way to do this is by highlighting the benefits of regular gifts, such as the ability to sustain ongoing programs and initiatives, reach wider audiences, and achieve more meaningful impact. You can also offer creative incentives to motivate donors to become monthly supporters, such as exclusive updates or behind-the-scenes access to your work.

11. Leverage matching gifts.

Matching gifts are a form of corporate philanthropy in which a company matches their employee's donation to a charitable organization. Matching gift programs are a valuable fundraising tool for nonprofits as they automatically increase the size of the donations received. Promote these programs to donors, highlighting the impact that their donations can have once they are matched and by providing easy-to-follow instructions for donors to follow in order to ensure their gift is matched.

12. Implement a planned giving program.

Planned giving programs are fundraising campaigns that encourage donors to make charitable gifts as part of their overall estate and financial plans. These types of gifts are typically made through a will or trust and can include a variety of assets, such as real estate, stocks, or retirement plans.

Nonprofits can use planned giving programs to establish a long-term, sustainable source of funding that supports their goals. Offer seminars or informational resources to help donors understand the benefits and options of planned giving, as well as work closely with donors to identify their areas of interest and preferences for how the gift will be used. 

13. Host a social media fundraising campaign.

To host a successful social media fundraising campaign, determine which channels would be best for appealing to your target audience and amplifying your message. For instance, Tiktok is popular among Gen Z, while Facebook is used primarily by Millenials

Additionally, consider the type of content that each platform is designed for. For example, Instagram is ideal for images, Twitter for quick updates, Facebook for long-form written content, and TikTok for short videos. Once you choose your ideal platform, creating content that tells a compelling story of impact and provides clear calls-to-action can help drive donations. 

14. Focus on younger donors.

Targeting young donors is crucial for nonprofits to ensure their long-term sustainability and success as younger generations often have different philanthropic interests and preferences than older donors. To encourage their support, leverage social media and other digital platforms to reach younger audiences where they spend most of their time. You should also consider partnering with influencers to host online events like challenges, competitions, and virtual concerts. 

Additionally, highlight the impact of your work and provide insight into how donations make a difference. By demonstrating authenticity, transparency, and an understanding of the issues that matter to young people, you can engage younger donors and cultivate a lifelong commitment to their cause.

15. Find a corporate sponsor.

A corporate sponsor is a company that provides financial or advertising support to your fundraising campaign or event. For nonprofits, finding and leveraging corporate sponsors can be a valuable fundraising idea that can help them raise more money and awareness for their cause. 

To find corporate sponsors, research companies that align with your purpose and reach out to them with a well-crafted sponsorship letter. Once you have secured a corporate sponsor to fund your campaign or event, leverage their support by highlighting the partnership on your website and social media channels, promoting the sponsor's products or services, and offering exposure and recognition to the sponsor through signage or other marketing materials. 

Next steps: Putting your fundraising idea into action

By leveraging a variety of these fundraising ideas, you can engage with donors and raise meaningful support for your cause. Remember to align your intended fundraising idea with your target audience, goals, and budget. Doing so will help your nonprofit succeed well into the future. 

Ready to Get Started?

    Guided Fundraising
  • Nonprofits
  • Fundraising ideas