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How to Fundraise for a Nonprofit

Written by Safa Hijazi
Updated: January 17, 2024
9 min read
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Are you looking for effective ways to fundraise for a nonprofit? Look no further! Fundraising for nonprofits can be both rewarding and challenging, especially for students venturing into social impact. Many students decide to start nonprofit organizations for different reasons. Some like the hands-on, collaborative experience it brings, the leadership opportunities, and the chance to make a real impact. 

While fundraising may seem tricky, it doesn't have to be. In this comprehensive guide, we'll unlock the secrets to successful nonprofit fundraising campaigns and explore what makes a nonprofit unique from other organizations. As a nonprofit organization, we at aim to help you navigate the ins and outs of effective fundraising from our deep understanding of the subject.

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How to Fundraise for a Nonprofit

What Is a Nonprofit?

Let’s take a look at some of the factors that make a nonprofit.

 1. Having a Mission or Social Cause

Working towards a common goal or cause is a vital aspect of nonprofit organizations. A nonprofit's mission of bettering society or serving the public is what incites people to support your organization monetarily. When someone sees that your mission will do good in the world, that inspires support among the public.

2. Tax-exempt Status

A tax-exempt status is essential for an organization or group to be considered a nonprofit. This typically means that the organization does not have to pay certain taxes. A nonprofit can keep more of its revenue to further its goals and mission. The most common type of tax-exempt status for nonprofit organizations in the U.S. is under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

3. Not-For-Profit

Not-for-profit does not mean that an organization does not make a profit or have revenue, but rather, money earned is used for the organization's mission. The profit should not be used to distribute to shareholders or the organization's owners. Nonprofit organizations can participate in profit-making activities, but the allocation of funds to make strides is what makes an organization not-for-profit.

4. Public Transparency

Non-profits rely heavily on fundraising and donations from donors and the public. Due to this, nonprofits must be transparent with all the donations they receive and how they allocate their funds. This information should be accessible not only to the standards board but also to the public. A nonprofit should demonstrate how funds received will allow them to further their mission.


Nonprofit Fundraising Ideas

Have a Branded Fundraising Campaign

It is beneficial to create a website or an online page specifically for donations to streamline fundraising efforts. Because it is online, it is not only easier for the team to track donations that they receive but also more convenient for donors. They can simply donate money with a credit or debit card, Paypal, or any other online money service. Donating becomes easier, and this could increase the amount of donations that are received.

Having a branded fundraising campaign also creates a level of professionalism that looks inviting for people interested in donating to your nonprofit. On the fundraising campaign site, you can include different sections for your goals as a nonprofit and what you do with the donations. Make sure to include what you have already achieved as well to encourage donors. If the people who visit the site know exactly where their money is going, this can make someone more willing to donate.

The campaign site can also include photos of the nonprofit team, board members and their bios, and social media handles. This adds a level of credibility and trustworthiness to your nonprofit fundraising campaign. You can even create a catchy slogan and logo for your campaign to use in all your fundraising efforts and ideas. You want your page to stand out and have its own theme that distinguishes it from others.

Asking for donations can be a daunting task, and we know that here at For more ideas on how to ask for donations and build a relationship with donors, check out this article on asking for donations.


Recurring Donation Option

Along with having a convenient online donation campaign, the option to have recurring donations is a great way to fundraise efficiently. When a donor goes to make a donation, create an option where they can have a set amount donated on a certain basis. Monthly or bimonthly donations are common. They can set the amount of how much they would like to donate each month. Having recurring donations is a fairly easy way to solicit donations.

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Fundraising Events

Fundraising events are a great way to fundraise because they are fun ways to bring donors all together for a common goal. Events could be anything with a focus on your nonprofit campaign that brings people to buy tickets.

One event idea could be a dinner with some sort of entertainment, like a guest speaker. Donors can buy tickets for a certain number of seats, or they can buy tables. If your nonprofit receives donations from companies or community businesses, allow them to advertise themselves in exchange for sponsoring the event in some way. This way, the money from the ticket sales can primarily go into your nonprofit goals rather than fund the event.

Another event could be a community bazaar event. Nonprofit board members can reach out to different small businesses in the community to set up at a certain location. Then, a portion of all purchases made at the bazaar can go towards the nonprofit. This is a great fundraising campaign because it strengthens the nonprofit's connection with the community.

It also helps out small businesses as well. Make sure to have a variety of different things for people to buy so there is something for everyone! Even having food trucks from local restaurants is a great way to attract people to the event. Some bazaars even have an entry fee in which those proceeds can also go to the nonprofit.

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A virtual fundraising event can be beneficial for fundraising as well. Virtual events can take place over platforms like Zoom or livestreams. To receive the link, the donor would have to pay for their ticket first. Virtual fundraising events could be a variety of different things. You could hire speakers/experts to discuss a certain theme, host a movie screening, a trivia night, or even an open mic event.

Be sure to highlight your online campaign at your fundraising events so people can make more donations. Have QR codes around the event that people can scan and be easily directed to the fundraising page. This makes it even easier to make donations!

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Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

Something new to the fundraising world is peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns. These campaigns utilize individuals to gather donations through social media. It is a team effort where different people take to their social media accounts to promote the campaign to their circles online to get donations. Peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns are different from traditional fundraising because individuals are asking people to donate rather than the nonprofit organization itself.

This way of fundraising works because instead of a large fundraising campaign, people reach out to their own friends and families, and it becomes a grassroots way of fundraising. Social media posts and videos can also reach wider audiences and can be spread between different accounts. Let's say someone sees a post by their sister on their feed calling for donations for a nonprofit. This person can repost the video and send it out. People who want to donate through that individual's campaign would donate to their individual page. Then, some or all of the proceeds of that campaign will go directly to the nonprofit. One social media post can garner many donations! If you have multiple campaigns running, this can be a beneficial fundraising method.

A nonprofit can reach out to people who have larger followings (though this is not necessary) to recruit for peer-to-peer fundraising online. Online peer-to-peer fundraising is only one way to do it, though. You can even do different events in person.


Matching Gift Programs

Many people may not be aware that their company will actually match the donations they make to different organizations. Matching gift programs are a type of corporate philanthropy that nonprofits should definitely utilize. Making people aware of the different benefits they may have through their employer can encourage donations. Some companies not only match at a 1 to 1 ratio but sometimes even a double or triple match of what their employee donates.

Emails sent directly to inboxes, social media posts, and shoutouts during different fundraising events can get people interested in matching gift programs. These programs frequently happen during the holiday season, so let people know ahead of time. Highlight matching gift programs on your website and donation pages, too. Always make sure to thank your donors as well!

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Winning some sort of prize is an incentive for people to make donations. Create a giveaway with three top prizes (more or less depending on your goals). The giveaway announcement could be donated to social media. A certain amount of money donated will equal the amount of entries into the giveaway. It could be something like five dollars for one entry and ten dollars for three entries.

If you garner enough entries, then a majority of the money donated will go towards the nonprofit itself rather than the prizes. Having a variety of prizes can get more people to enter, too. You could even team up with local businesses to donate a prize. Perhaps a gift card to a local restaurant or a free item from a local shop. Spread the word through social media channels, email, and in person too. This is a fairly inexpensive way to raise money for your nonprofit.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Nonprofit Fundraising

What is unique about nonprofit fundraising?

Nonprofit fundraising must be regulated by the state you are operating in. This is for the benefit of the donors and to ensure that the organization is allocating the donated funds to where they belong.

Before a nonprofit organization can start fundraising efforts, they must register with the state that they are working in and any other states they would like to fundraise in. It is beneficial for a nonprofit organization to consult with a law professional to make sure that they are following all the regulations and rules of the particular state that they are in.

What are the best social media sites for nonprofit fundraising?

The more the merrier! Utilizing multiple different social media channels allows for different audiences to contribute to fundraising. If you only engage on one or two social media sites, you lose out on a whole group of people. So, really, all social media sites are the best!

Plus, content can be cross-posted between multiple different sites. Using Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, X, and LinkedIn will connect your fundraising goals with a large and diverse audience.

What can nonprofits use donations and funds for?

Nonprofits can use donations made to the organization for different purposes to further its mission. For example, funds could be used for educational programs on the nonprofit mission or different events to aid the community they serve. It could allocated to future fundraising events, too. Of course, there are operating costs that come with running a nonprofit, so funds can also be used for those as well.

What makes a nonprofit organization different from a for-profit organization?

Well, a for-profit company or organization has the goal of generating income for its own team and employees. A nonprofit organization, on the other hand, uses the revenue and donations it generates towards the community and a charitable cause.

Each has a different goal, which leads to different rules when it comes to operating. For-profit companies must pay taxes on their profits, while nonprofit organizations receive a special tax designation where they receive tax benefits. 

Tax deductions for charitable contributions and donations can be confusing. But we’re here to help. Check out our article on tax-deductible donations to better understand charitable contributions.

For more fundraising information, crowdfunding ideas, and answers to scholarship questions, browse through our Scholarship Blog today!

Safa Hijazi

About Safa

Safa is a great writer and researcher. She brings a unique blend of creativity and analytical skills to our writing team, honed through her diverse experiences in both literary and media fields.

Safa is an undergraduate student at the University of Michigan majoring in English and Creative Writing with a minor in User Experience Design.


Safa has always loved writing and reading. She loves to write poetry and informational articles. She was an English summer intern at Michigan News where she assisted in planning, researching, and writing news articles. With the knowledge she gained at this internship, she became a skilled article writer. 

She now works for Michigan News as a media assistant, focusing on graphics and social media writing. Safa’s poetry collection, “Let Us Get Lost in the Valleys,” was a first-place winner of the Hopwood program's Keith Taylor Award for Excellence in Poetry by the University of Michigan in 2023. She also won the Seham Elasmar Memorial Scholarship for writing and media from the Islamic Scholarship Fund to support her English education. Safa's experience and passion for writing allow her to provide students with valuable information and insights.

Safa is no longer with the Writing Team, but we continue to value and appreciate her contributions.

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