Fundraising for nonprofits is tough work. Asking for donations, applying for grants, and doing fundraising campaigns is enough to keep a full-time person busy at even the smallest nonprofit. A larger nonprofit can have an entire fundraising department—and even then, it can seem like there’s never enough money to keep everything running smoothly.
Because of this ongoing struggle, some nonprofits venture into other areas to help bring in much-needed funds. Here are a few options you might want to consider at your nonprofit organization:
Selling Tickets to Events
One idea (that you’ve probably already thought of) is hosting and selling tickets to a charity event. These events can be dinners, golf tournaments, concerts, a 5K run/walk, or any other type of event that your supporters would likely pay to attend. Ideally, these events would serve multiple purposes (like solidifying support from those who already donate and introducing your organization to new people), but ticket sales/entry fees should at least cover the cost of the event and hopefully provide your organization with some additional income.
Charity auctions are another great way to bring in some additional funds to your nonprofit. Often, people who wouldn’t give you a cash donation may be willing to donate an item or service that you can auction off or would be willing to purchase an item from your auction. Some of the best items to auction off are vacations. If you know someone with a vacation home, ask them if they would be willing to donate a weekend stay (or longer) at their place.
If you don’t want to organize an event at which you auction the items off, you could do an online charity auction instead. Just make sure you promote it well!
Selling Resources Related to Your Mission
If you run a nonprofit organization, you likely consider yourself an expert in your field. At the very least, you have valuable experience that you can share as a result of your nonprofit work. Some nonprofits choose to share their expertise with others who could benefit from it in the forms of books (or ebooks), webinars, training courses, educational materials, and the like.
Just because you’re part of a nonprofit doesn’t mean you have to provide these resources for free. Most people understand that creating these types of resources takes a tremendous amount of time and also has some hard costs associated with them. They will likely be happy to pay a fee for a resource that benefits them—especially when they know that doing so will also help support your organization.
At the nonprofit organization where I work, VitalChurch Ministry, one of the regular services we offer is church assessments. Our team will go into a church and do a full assessment of their ministries, staff, organizational structure, policies and procedures, and more. We help churches determine what they are doing well and what areas could use some addressing. These assessments typically include a survey component in which church members are asked questions on a variety of topics related to their church. Recently, our nonprofit decided to make our church survey more widely available to churches across the country.
We created a church survey that contains some of our most used and most insightful survey questions and formatted the survey in a way that makes it easy for church leaders to administer on their own. Any church that purchases and completes the survey gets a customized report with the survey results, as well as a one-hour follow-up call with one of our church health experts. Although we just launched the sales page for our church survey, we are hopeful that it will be a great resource for church leaders, as well as a steady stream of income for our organization.
Selling Branded Merchandise
While many nonprofits choose to give out branded merchandise for free to help spread awareness about their organization and cause, selling merchandise is also an option. If you go this route, make sure the merchandise is well designed and high quality—in other words, items that people will actually want to own or wear. Otherwise, you should stick to giving away your items as freebies.
With branded merchandise, you probably want to start small. Don’t go all out and spend thousands of dollars on items nobody may actually pay for. Start with a few items, and if the demand is there, branch out into others.
A word of caution about selling merchandise: the income generated from sales may be subject to the Unrelated Business Income Tax if the items you are selling are not related to your nonprofit’s exempt purpose. Before deciding to sell merchandise, you may want to consult with an accountant or a lawyer who specializes in nonprofits who can advise you in this matter.short url: