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Our Top 5 Favorite Fundraisers for Small Nonprofits

Top 5 fundraisers for small nonprofits

Our Top 5 Favorite Fundraisers for Small Nonprofits

For small nonprofits looking for the right fundraiser, we have five favorites that can bring in money while engaging your existing supporters and introducing new people to your organization’s work. These can be done fully or partially virtually, depending on your situation.

Here are our favorite fundraisers:

$5 Friday on Facebook

Post a request for a specific, urgent need, such as tuition for five students on the waiting list for your tutoring program or hay for the month for your rescued horses. Post a photo or a video with a description of the need. $500 is a good goal, and you can increase the goal as donations start rolling in if needed. The key to a $5 Friday is to limit your ask to just $5. Many of your supporters will be willing to chip in $5 toward an urgent need, especially when they see how their donation will make a difference!

When 100 supporters chip in, you have raised $500. Try to build on your momentum and keep your fundraiser going through the weekend with frequent updates and compelling content. You might be able to get to $1,000!

Virtual tour

Use your phone to record a tour of your operation. Describe how your organization goes about its work. Share some insider details, and speak in a relaxed, conversational tone. Think about the behind-the-scenes news your supporters might be interested in. Then, let everyone know what you need funding for right now. “We need to raise $1,000 by the end of the month to spay community cats this month or we’ll end up with more kittens than we can take care of.” “To provide food to all the families seeking our services this month, we need an additional $3,000.”

If you don’t have a physical location or your program is on pause because of the pandemic, you have to get creative. The key to a virtual tour is motion. Instead of talking directly into the camera, you need to walk around and show your supporters something. Maybe you can share the artwork kids in your program made or thank you letters from families you supported. Maybe your workspace at home has color-coded post-it notes with all the different needs you are trying to fund and a vision board of your many success stories. When you share about your work from the inside, your supporters will feel connected to your mission and want to give.

Open House or Visitor’s Day

When it is safe to do so, open your organization up to supporters. Remind them why they have supported you in the past, and let them know where you are headed and what it will cost to get there. How many more people could you serve if you had $5,000? Show them how many more lives you could change, how many animals you could save, how many students you could educate, how many families you could feed.

Then, make the ask.

Have a link ready to send out while the ask is in progress, and invite people to give right from their phones. Or, have a donation jar on the welcome table near the sign-in sheet. You might be surprised at how much money gets dropped into the jar.

Online auction on Facebook

This one takes some legwork. Enlist your most dedicated volunteers to put together fun and interesting auction items. For example, a veterinary practice might let someone be a veterinarian for a day. Someone might have some nice camping gear that could be used to send a family on a camping trip. Another supporter might have a cabin or other rental property to offer for a weekend getaway. Create a coffee lovers basket with contributions from local coffee shops. Several volunteers can go in together for a wine basket. Gift cards to tutoring centers, spas, exercise studios, and cool experiences are always a hit at auctions.

You can power your fundraiser through Facebook, where most of your supporters already are. You will still need to create a landing page for your auction outside of Facebook, but you can invite people via a Facebook event and promote your auction items through frequent updates. We’ve seen nonprofits set up Facebook groups specifically for their auctions and once people join the group, they’re more likely to see posts made in the group about various items, which keeps the auction top of mind for bidders.

T-shirt Sale

A t-shirt sale can be a great way to raise funds and promote your organization. When people wear your organization’s t-shirt, they become a walking billboard!

The most convenient way to hold a t-shirt sale is to use an online t-shirt company. Advertise the sale on social media and via email marketing, and the company will produce and ship your shirts after the order window closes, charging you based on the number of shirts you sell. The more shirts you sell, the lower the production cost and the greater your profit. If you have in-person events, you can buy shirts in various sizes and sell them the traditional way.

Any of these fundraisers can be just what you need to jumpstart your fundraising, fill out your fundraising plan, activate your volunteers, inspire your board, power your programs, and change more lives.

Author Biography

Author of Our Top 5 Favorite Fundraisers for Small Nonprofits

Sandy shows founders and leaders of small nonprofits how to fully fund their dream so they can make the difference they want to make in the world. She has helped dozens of small nonprofits go from “nickel-and-dime fundraising” to adding 6 figures to their bottom line. As a trainer, she shows her students how to find ideal donors, connect through authentic messaging, and build relationships that stand the test of time, so that fundraising becomes easy and predictable.

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