40 Inspiring Fundraising Ideas for Nonprofits and Charities

Alliance  ·  December 17, 2020

We understand the passion that goes into working for a nonprofit organization. Day in and day out, you work to help solve problems faced in our world today. But running a nonprofit is no easy task, and requires ongoing fundraising support to continue furthering your mission, as well as cover costs associated with maintaining the organization such as staffing related expenses, website and marketing costs, administration, and more. Without the generous support from individuals willing to donate to your organization, your nonprofit would not be able to maintain all of these ongoing expenses. In this article, we will provide some out-of-the-box online digital marketing and fundraising ideas for nonprofits of every size to help support your fundraising efforts.

What is online fundraising?

Online fundraising includes support via donations for nonprofit organizations through the internet.  Online donations have seen consistent growth throughout the years, with an average of a 15% increase in online donation rate each year. Online fundraising is especially important to consider in today’s world during the pandemic, when other fundraising opportunities such as in-person events may not be a viable option. Online fundraising also opens the door to global expansion of your nonprofit, and for new individuals to support your cause that local in person activities or events might not allow. 

Online fundraising is also great from a customer retention standpoint, with an average of 38% of online donors giving again the following year. Through a combination of consistent online communication, digital marketing efforts, and online fundraising, a nonprofit can gain a majority of its donational requirements through online opportunities.

Below are some examples of virtual online fundraising opportunities for your nonprofit. We have broken down our ideas based on the size of your nonprofit organization.

Small and Medium Nonprofit Fundraising Ideas:

1. Landing pages for online donations- Before beginning any virtual fundraising, you want your website to fully support these efforts with a great online donation platform. You may want to consider having a dedicated landing page regarding online donations for any new visitors coming to your website. Some elements to include in your nonprofit landing page would be:

  • A clear and concise headline
  • A subheading that further describes the purpose of the page
  • Inclusion of storytelling through a real time example to create emotional connection and encourage support
  • Relevant statistics that showcase your organization’s reach or help provoke the need for support towards your cause
  • A clear call to action (such as support our cause, donate now, or volunteer today)
  • Imagery that resonates well with your audience and is relevant to your brand

2. Peer to Peer fundraising- Have current donors share and encourage donational support for your organization via social media.

3. Flash fundraising- Share one-day fundraising opportunities via email or social media,  perhaps on a day of significance or importance to your organization. Include stories to back your mission or cause.

4. Host a live steam social media event- Social media is a relatively inexpensive way to encourage donational support, so try using a live stream fundraising event via Facebook Live, Youtube, or Instagram. Ideas for live streams include panel discussions, conferences, and webinars.

5. Dedicated social media campaigns- Much like the live stream events mentioned above, social media campaigns are an easy way to expand your outreach. Both Facebook and Instagram now offer donation friendly features, such as online fundraising setup or direct linking to your website’s donation page. Some tips when creating social media fundraising campaigns include:

  • Choose social media platforms that offer features that are useful to your organization and have the demographics that support your donor’s demographics
  • Make your donation pages shareable through social media
  • Use platforms that allow for the types of messaging your brand requires to best tell your story (for example, Twitter posts might not be long enough to get your message across, whereas Facebook might be better for a longer post)
  • Engage donor engagement through group fundraising efforts, challenges,  or virtual events


6. Email fundraising- One of the most powerful forms of digital marketing, email allows you to connect with a large community on a recurring and frequent basis. Email fundraising can be done as often as you like, and can easily be sent to a large audience.

Some tips to consider in your email fundraising campaigns include:

  • Segment your audience by current giving status, demographics, and topics of interest
  • Choose a subject line that is intriguing, urgent, and to the point to provoke email opens (this is important as subject line accounts for 33% of email open rate)
  • Include personalization within the body of the email (such as a first name or company name)
  • Include real time examples and relevant imagery within the body of the email to help tell your brand’s story and create emotional connection
  • Include call to action areas within the body of the email (such as a link to your donation page)


7. Virtual awareness campaigns- These types of events help raise awareness for your mission through multimedia content (such as a video or virtual slideshow) that incorporate real life examples and storytelling strategies online as a way to encourage donational support.

8. Ambassador campaigns- By actively recruiting individuals that are involved in supporting your cause through an ambassador program, you can increase donational efforts and expand your reach. Have your ambassadors promote your donation links and help tell your story via their own social media pages or online marketing efforts.

9. Host recurring donation campaigns- For organizations with a smaller global reach, recurring fundraising campaigns hosted on a monthly or quarterly basis are a great way to encourage support from repeat donors.

10. Birthday fundraisers- Encourage followers on your social platform or marketing list to host a virtual fundraiser to family and friends on their birthday to help support your cause.

11. Small scale crafting virtual events- Hosting creative classes or crafting workshops can be a great way to personally connect with your audience and increase donations. For example, a virtual paint and sip night or cooking class can easily be executed without a large budget through different social media channels.

12. Host a virtual movie night- Another low cost alternative, a virtual movie night is a great way to encourage donations from sales through online tickets. Choose a movie that resonates well with your organization and encourage a virtual question and answer session at the end to make it a great community event.

13. Host a virtual book club- Book clubs are great small scale events that can be hosted on a recurring basis. Considering asking for a small donation before your meeting or posting your donation link in the group chat function.

14. Host a virtual exercise class- A virtual exercise class is a great way to get your community moving and you could offer some at-home options such as yoga, aerobics or basic strength training. These can be held on an ongoing basis, even weekly, if your nonprofit has the time to allot to this fundraising effort. You can request donations before or after each class as a way to support your organization.

15. Host a virtual webinar- A webinar is another event that can easily be executed on a small scale. Just a bit of planning will be required ahead of time, but all you will need are panelists and discussion topics that are relevant to telling your brand’s story and helping connect others to your cause.

16. Virtual Happy Hour- Have your nonprofit partner with another business and offer to host a virtual happy hour. During this social event, attendees can be offered the option to donate the cost of their drink towards your organization as every little bit helps.

17. Test to resolve challenges- Encourage your community to give up an expensive habit the next month or so, then offer to have them donate the money they have saved towards your cause. Ideas could include giving up alcohol, sweets, shopping, eating out etc. These types of challenges can easily be promoted via social media to encourage additional support from friends and family.

18. Online gift boxes- Create gift boxes to sell online as a way to support your nonprofit. This type of donational effort is especially effective during the holiday season.

19. Create an online store- Creation of an online store is another great way to encourage donational support online. Your store could include everything from tickets to online events to merchandise related to your cause.

Large Nonprofits Fundraising Ideas:

20. Host an online crowdfunding campaign- Fund new projects or ventures through crowdfunding, an alternative financing method encouraging small donations from large groups of people.

21. Host a donation matching online campaign- By offering to match a donors’ giving amount, your organization is more likely to increase support and attract more donors who may potentially contribute on an ongoing basis.

22. Host a virtual race- Consider taking your main in-person donation events and offering them in a virtual way to attract donors. For example, a 5k run could be hosted virtually by having runners track their time, run the allotted distance on their own time, and share photos, with medals to be mailed to winners. These types of events also still resonate well with sponsors, as their logo can be included within the online invitation for advertising purposes or on race gear sent to attendees.

23. Host an online games tournament- Virtual game tournaments can be easily hosted online and encourage some friendly competition as well as donational support with a small allotted amount going to prize money for winners.

24. Host an online trivia night- Much like the games tournament, an online trivia night encourages interaction within your community. Donations from ticket sales can be dedicated to supporting your organization.

25. Host an online concert- Consider partnering with local musicians and host an online concert event where a portion of ticket sales can be allotted towards your cause.

26. Host an online auction- Auctions can easily be set up to run virtually and allow individuals to bid on donated items from sponsors. Profits from sales can be made as a donation to your nonprofit’s cause.

27. Host an online gala dinner- Take your normal in-person galas and transition them to run virtually. Consider offering attendees tickets for a virtual dinner party with recipes or kits they can make at home.

28. Social media takeovers- Consider reaching out to organizations with a large social media following that might allow you to organize an online donation effort through their channel. This campaign could include a social post overviewing your organization and impact, or a live event on social allowing followers to ask questions and connect on a more personal (but still socially distant) level.

29. Offer free gifts with online donations- Gifts are an easy way to enhance your online fundraising campaigns and encourage larger amounts of support. For example, if someone donates a certain amount, they will receive a free t-shirt or they could donate a large amount and receive a higher value gift such as a restaurant gift card. Donation gifts could also be directly related to your cause and a way to give back to the community, such as a free meal or medical assistance to someone in need.

30. Retail E-Commerce Partnerships- Consider partnering with other online retailers to see if they would be willing to dedicate a portion of proceeds towards your cause for a period of time. This is especially effective during the holiday gift giving season.

31. Host a virtual yard sale- Make the most of your decluttering by hosting a virtual yard sale. All proceeds from the sale can directly support your fundraising efforts.

32. Host a virtual talent show- Give talented individuals the opportunity to shine via a virtual talent show. Have them submit videos showcasing their talents and compile them into a video for this event. Donations for participation and attendance is a great way to double your fundraising efforts.

33. Host a virtual kids night- Stuck in the house with nothing for the kids to do? Have your nonprofit host a virtual kids night, which could include crafts, activities, or storytime right from your computer.

34. Host a virtual date night- Much like the kids night, let couples have a fun evening to themselves by selling tickets for a virtual date night. Ideas could include cooking demonstrations, cocktail classes, trivia and games, or a virtual movie night for a fun night in.

35. Create online petitions- Online petitions are a great way for nonprofits to encourage people to take action towards your cause. These attention-attracting statements are a great way to increase visibility for your nonprofit and demonstrate the need for action and change as a way to increase support for your mission.

36. Host a virtual conference event- A multi day virtual conference event is a great way to donational support for your organization through education. These types of events are a great way to facilitate discussion and strengthen your support. You can include local experts and valuable community within your discussions as a way to add value to these types of events.

37. Host a virtual scavenger hunt- Instead of an in-person scavenger hunt, offer tickets to an  online event that encourages individuals to hunt around their own home or your website for clues to complete their mission.

Socially-Distant Fundraising Ideas:

38. Host any of the events mentioned above outside, using tents and requiring appropriate face coverings for safety. Outdoor activities such as hiking, walking, golfing, running, and water sports can also easily take place using appropriate social distancing requirements.

39. Collaborative art projects are another idea. Consider a group mural or large project related to your cause, and encourage contribution to the project with a donation at different time slots throughout the day to encourage social distancing.

40. Setup donation kiosks. This could be done at a local business via a tablet, and allow donational support to be made without direct physical contact. Donation add ons could also be included upon purchase at a local retailer.

Virtual fundraising might require a bit more creative planning and technology than traditional efforts, but it offers an excellent opportunity to expand your global presence and donation potential. As mentioned above, many in-person fundraising events can easily be altered into a fun, virtual alternative that still can generate great support. When coupled with other forms of digital marketing, your nonprofit can greatly scale its support efforts.


Need Help with Your Nonprofit Digital Marketing Efforts?

Alliance Interactive is a full service digital agency providing nonprofit digital marketing and website support since 2004. We are a top ranked agency by Clutch, and have a vast understanding of the needs of a nonprofit website from our experience working with these organizations for over 17 years.