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ASU Lodestar Center Blog

Beyond the gala and auction: 5 innovative fundraising ideas for nonprofits

fundraiser ideas

Fundraising is a critical portion of every nonprofit’s day-to-day work. But consequently, the longer your organization is working, the harder it can be to keep fundraising methods from going through the motions. Recycled fundraising ideas are unlikely to catch the eye of new donors, and even more likely to lose the interest of long-term ones. On the bright side, an innovative and new fundraising idea can do the opposite: piquing the interest of donors new and old in addition to spreading awareness of your organization’s brand. 

Read this list to discover a few new fundraising ideas to try out, or even use them as a starting point to create your own original idea. 

Organize a Paint and Sip

A paint and sip fundraiser can be a great way for an organization’s employees and supporters alike to build relationships in a low-stress environment. The concept is versatile and can be customized to fit the unique circumstances, persona and audience of any organization. The event can be done-up as a formal wine mixer complete with painting instructors, or done-down to be a casual evening of free-reign painting and casual, even child-friendly, drinks. Nonprofits can raise funds by either charging for entry or encouraging donations throughout the night. While arrangements will need to be made by your organization for drinks, painting supplies, venues and other elements, the rest will run itself for an event that even the planner can relax at. 

Restaurant collaboration

Most people are no stranger to this common fundraising technique where a restaurant agrees on a time period where a portion of sales are donated to your organization. While the idea itself may be a little played out, a few extra steps can take this idea from exhausted to exhilarating. While chain restaurants are notorious for being the ones to participate in this type of fundraiser, consider taking your fundraiser to a locally-owned business instead. If your supporters are local, they will be eager to try out a small business in their area while also supporting your organization. Your organization can also set up a time to be present at the business so supporters can be greeted and thanked in-person. 

Partner with a local sports team

Support your local community and organization at the same time with this family-friendly fundraiser. Team up with a local intramural sports league as a charity partner, where a portion of proceeds from their game can go to your organization. This win-win agreement helps both sides: encouraging people to show up and show out for local sports leagues and help support your organization's good cause. While this is the simplest form of charity sporting events, a near endless amount of ideas are possible within the collaboration. Consider events that would even include your supporters in the action alongside the league, such as a walk-a-thon, tournament, and more

Host a giveaway

A giveaway can be a great way to add some extra motivation for people to support your organization. Consider offering entry into a free giveaway with opportunities for more entries by donating. The items you give away can be customized to best fit your organization’s audience and goals. While this type of fundraiser is easiest to hold online over your nonprofit’s social media channels, a giveaway fundraiser can be an additional part of any in-person event as well. Be sure to look into state and local laws for conducting a charitable raffle during your planning. 

Start a Virtual Competition

If your organization is spread out across a wide area or even operates entirely virtually, unite the entire organization through a virtual fundraiser. This idea will be especially effective for nonprofits with a strong online presence. Call on your followers near and far for a competition where they can vote for a winner by donating or even enter themselves. The topic of this competition can be as out there as you’d like. Consider a cutest pet competition, a dessert decorating competition, or a t-shirt design competition— the more creative the better! 

While these are just a few fundraising ideas, this integral part of a nonprofit’s functioning has nearly endless possibilities and room for creativity. A great fundraiser is not just good for the organization, but also for the organization’s supporters and community.


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ASU Lodestar Center Blog