7 Fundraising Ideas to Cover Startup Costs
Anytime you’re faced with a financial challenge, you do what everyone else does: start looking for some good fundraising ideas.
Whether you need money to start a nonprofit, fund a program, or cover the cost of a special project, raising money can be daunting if you don’t know what you’re doing.
But it doesn’t have to be hard.
In fact, once you get the hang of it, fundraising can be easy and fun!
Not only is it exciting to watch the money pour in, it’s thrilling when people send you notes of encouragement along with their donation.
That’s when you know they really care about the work your nonprofit is doing (or going to do).
So, let’s look at some fundraising ideas to quickly raise $1,000 quickly to cover startup costs, special projects, or whatever you need.
Most of these ideas assume you have people you can ask for help, like friends, family, and former co-workers. The people around you right now are the most likely to help, especially if you’re just getting your nonprofit started.
Some of these ideas are a lot easier if you have a Facebook page for your nonprofit or at least a bunch of friends on social media.
Don’t have that? It’s ok. Just use what you have.
If you don’t have social media, what DO you have that you can use? Are you a member of a big church? A member of several small clubs? Live in a neighborhood with lots of kind people? Do a quick inventory to see where you have access to lots of people who might help you.
Read through these fundraising ideas and see which one(s) jump out at you. You’ll probably see 1 or 2 that look easier or more interesting to you than the others. Pick the one that you’re most interested in.
Once you choose the one you want to try, lay out a plan in as much detail as possible including when you’ll start, when you need the money, what exactly you need to do to successfully execute the idea, what tools/resources you’ll need, and any other details you can think of. The more detail, the better since this is your action plan.
1. Do an “Easy Thousand.” This one leverages the power of relationships to bring in the money you need. Here’s how it works: Get 10 Board members, volunteers, or donors (whoever will say “yes” to helping you). Ask them each to ask 10 people for $10 each. When that happens, you’ll have $1,000.
10 people x 10 people x $10 = $1,000.
You can change this to $15,625 by changing the numbers to 25 like this: get 25 people to ask 25 friends for $25 each.
This fundraising strategy can also give you a bunch of new donors!
2. Hold a house party. Ask Board members, volunteers, and donors to host a gathering of their friends. You attend to represent the nonprofit and share a very short presentation on your organization followed by a testimonial from the evening’s host about why they’re involved and why the mission matters to them. Then, give the guests the chance to make a donation.
Hand them a pledge card or an envelope and make sure to get names and addresses so you can properly thank them for their donation. Some guests may want to take theirs home to think about it, so be ready to partner with your host to follow up with those people later.
3. Hold a “Non Event.” Create a fictitious event and send out invitations asking people to buy “tickets” to this event that won’t take place. A “No Ball at All” can be a great way for people to give and get a chuckle at the same time. It’s a great theme for an appeal and usually works well.
4. Host a birthday fundraiser. Ask friends and family to make a gift in honor of your birthday. Facebook makes this easy and you can set a goal so that others know how much you are trying to raise. Start a week or so ahead of your birthday so people have a few days to give.
5. Launch a viral email campaign. Write a short, compelling email including a photo and/or video and send it to all your contacts. Be sure to include your fundraising goal and what the money will be used for. Include a link to your “Donate Now” button on your website or tell people how you’d like them to donate (“Send your donation through PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org”). Then ask your friend to forward the email on to others who might be interested in helping.
6. Host a Peer-to-Peer fundraiser. Asking friends to ask their friends to give is the best form of fundraising because it relies on connections. People will often give because their friend asked them to.
Use an online tool like Giving Grid to make it more fun. Set a goal and let people know what the money will be used for like “Our goal is $1,500 to buy 3 surgical kits for our spay/neuter clinic.” People love knowing how their money will be used.
7. Host a Launch event. Whether you’re starting a new nonprofit, kicking off a new program, or adding a special piece of equipment, a launch event can help you announce the news and raise money at the same time. The key is to get the right people at the event, whether it’s in-person or virtual. If you fill a room with people who care about you and/or care about your cause, they’re the most likely ones to give to support the new venture.
No matter who you ask, your need to be ready to share who you’re trying to help, what the need is, and how the donor’s money will make a difference. Don’t ask them to support you or your nonprofit. Ask them to partner with you to change lives. It’s a subtle but important distinction and often is the difference in the amount of money you raise.
There are literally thousands of fundraising ideas out there and different things you can do to raise money. The bigger your donor base gets, the more flexibility you’ll have and the more unique ideas you can try.
One of my clients hosts a dessert auction each year, with cakes and pies donated by local restaurants and individuals. They auction the goodies on a Sunday afternoon early in the holiday season. They promote it to their usual supporters and anyone looking for a delicious dessert for a holiday gathering. It generates several thousand dollars without a lot of expense.
Using one of these ideas can be helpful in raising short-term money. Ultimately, you should have an annual fundraising plan to guide your fundraising activities throughout the year.