8 clever ideas for nonprofit fundraising

8 clever ideas for nonprofit fundraising_featured image

Fundraising is a central part of many nonprofit organizations. But while there are many bread-and-butter events that roll around every calendar year, often, the best way to spark community interest around your cause (other than social media marketing(opens in a new tab or window)) is to brainstorm unique fundraising ideas that will grab the attention of your intended audience.

Choosing a fundraising idea for your cause can be difficult for several reasons. Firstly, there are many factors to consider: Donor feedback on your idea, budget restraints, marketing and time commitment. And secondly, its success is dependent on community interest.

With so many nonprofit(opens in a new tab or window) initiatives out there, it’s important to choose unique fundraising ideas(opens in a new tab or window) that will not only attract attention but generate donations. Below, we’ve brainstormed eight ideas to get you started—with some design ideas along the way.

Give It Up initiatives

Whether it’s a New Year’s resolution or a birthday wish, many people will take any excuse to give up less desirable habits. So, by starting a campaign that encourages participants to give something simple up, you are providing them with an incentive for something they wanted to do in the first place. In terms of donations, participants can donate the money they would’ve spent on the habit, or accept donations from their family and friends if they reach their goal.

When designing your flyers(opens in a new tab or window) and posters(opens in a new tab or window) we suggest giving participants some ideas of common vices they can give up. Think: Coffee, chocolate, social media, or even all of them!

A similar idea was promoted by the Washington City Paper(opens in a new tab or window). Here, they’ve used bright, contrasting colors to make their promotional image stand out.

Blog banner by Washington City Paper

Bright, creative and a clever use of juxtaposition are what makes this Red Illustrated Floral Art Fundraiser flyer(opens in a new tab or window) stand out on screen and on the page.

Book swaps

One common household item that needs to be decluttered is people’s bookshelves. Book swaps are not only fun, they’re also a sustainable way to consume new literature and give books a second life. To raise money, you can charge a small entrance fee into the book fair along with putting affordable price tags on each book.

In this Cream Book Drive Fundraising Flyer(opens in a new tab or window), various font sizes have been used to create a hierarchy of text. The text in dark grey highlights what the event is and where it is being held, which makes it easier to read.


An effective way to help your cause is to forgo the fundraising required to pay for labor costs and ask for volunteer participation instead. Crowdsourcing is a great way to do this.

To begin, design each job description and divide them into individual volunteer roles for whatever your needs may be. Write clear instructions for what each volunteer will be doing and the time commitment required.

Thanks to the internet and social media, you are able to publicize this for free—a key reason crowdsourcing has become so popular recently. When designing your volunteer call-outs, make them bright, clear and to the point.

The use of contrasting colors makes this Purple and Green Earth Volunteer Flyer(opens in a new tab or window) stand out. There is also a significant use of white space to give the flyer a clean look.

Movie nights

Casual movie nights are a low-touch fundraising idea that are fun and easy to replicate periodically throughout the year. All that is required is a vacant space that is large enough for a projector and an audience, some chairs or bean bags, and you can also attempt to convince your local cinema to provide popcorn and drinks on the night.

To level-up your movie nights, you can also host themed movie marathons that are specifically targeted to the rom-com devouts and horror buffs.

The use of a white border in this Yellow, Blue and Red Stars Movie Night Invitation(opens in a new tab or window) isolates the information and makes it easier to read.

Build a viral challenge

Viral challenges are a great way to use the power of the internet to spread the message of your cause across national borders. An example of this can be seen in the A.L.S Bucket Challenge(opens in a new tab or window), which reportedly raised 115 million US dollars for the A.L.S Association.

If you’re wanting to try and replicate this type of success, there are a few factors that can make it a success.

  1. Make your message simple: You want your cause and the purpose of the campaign to be easily understood and explained over any type of design.
  2. Make the guidelines clear: A possible issue with any viral campaign is that people can get the intention wrong. Provide clear instructions for how to complete the task, and where/how to donate.
  3. Make it time-efficient: People are busy. To encourage people to complete the challenge, it needs to be quick, easy and time-efficient.
  4. Make it stand out: Part of the allure of the bucket challenge was that it was funny to watch, and secondly, it’s not something you see every day. When ideating, think of what will stand out on saturated social-media platforms.
  5. Make social media the priority: Unlike other fundraising ideas, viral challenges need to be social-media friendly. Before launching it to the world, ensure that you have carefully thought of a unique hashtag and a digital marketing strategy.

This #ChallengeAccepted social media graphic(opens in a new tab or window) clearly displays the hashtag that the audience can use. It also creates a sense of intrigue as the details have purposely been left out, thus creating intrigue.

Board game tournament

Take things offline with an epic board game tournament. For an entry fee, gamers will be able to take turns at playing a wide range of board games within increments throughout the day. Incentivise players with prizes, awards and snacks to keep energy levels high.

When starting to design your flyer, think about three our four colors you want to use. In this Black and Orange Basketball Fundraiser Flyer(opens in a new tab or window), the use of orange, black and white are the colors of a basketball, perfectly illustrating what the fundraiser is all about.

Donation kiosks

For larger organisations, donation kiosks are a convenient way for the community to donate conveniently, whether that be on their morning walk, or commuting to work. While purchasing or building a donation kiosk may seem like a significant investment, the fact that they can be used for clothing drives, food drop-offs and monetary donations makes them a versatile donation tool.

By creating banners, posters and merchandise around this stand, your kiosk also serves as a marketing tool that has high exposure.

When running a donation kiosk it’s worthwhile having a staff member of volunteer present so that people are able to ask questions and get more background information before they donate.

When designing a flyer for your event, think about the best way to illustrate the main concept with pictures as well as words. This will automatically bring the audience in without needing to read the details. This Red and Blue Cookies Drug Awareness Poster(opens in a new tab or window) has also incorporated the central theme into the name, so you immediately know that the event in baking related.

Casual Friday

After a long week in the office, Casual Friday (track pants included) are a welcome idea for most. For a gold-coin donation allow your team to come in whatever they constitute as casual attire. If you already work in a relatively relaxed environment, why not try an activewear day and encourage a lunchtime walk, or pyjamas and hot chocolate instead.

Related: You may also try initiating a raffle draw for your fund-raising. Here, we have a raffle ticket template(opens in a new tab or window) section where you can personalize your design in minutes!

Remember: when fundraising, you've got to stay organized. In order to do that you can take advantage of free software - Firmbee(opens in a new tab or window), which will help you organize all your NGO tasks, teams, and financial information

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