26 Quick Fundraising Ideas to Raise Fast Funds for Your Nonprofit

November 21, 2022
9 minutes
Small, pink, analog clocks on a blue background.

Okay, nonprofiteers—raise your hand if you’re always working around the clock to beat the buzzer and meet a fundraising deadline ✋🏽✋🏿✋🏼✋🏻

Chances are, you’re raising your hand.

If your fundraising efforts are always under the pressure of the latest time crunch, you probably don’t have time to develop a brand-new fundraising strategy in time to meet the next fundraising benchmark. And that’s okay!

Quick fundraising ideas are the backbone of many successful change campaigns founded to face a serious problem that needed a timely solution. Saving the world usually doesn’t have time for a fundraiser that takes 6 months to plan ⏰

Agile nonprofit fundraisers must be willing to test the limits of creative possibility (and put in a little elbow grease) to raise fast funds. But don't worry—if you’re in a pinch to raise money for your organization, we’ve got you covered with this Quick Fundraising Ideas Playbook.

Featuring more than 26 lightning-fast fundraising ideas to get you started, this playbook is your guide to using automation, social media, and creative problem-solving to fundraise fast for your nonprofit 🏎

Let’s get started!

21 Creatively Quick Fundraising Ideas to Get You Started 🏁

Now that we've slowed your roll with that intro, we're onto fast funds. Try out one of these 21 creatively quick fundraising ideas to raise your revenue with lightning speed!

1. Community Coffee Stand ⚡️

Let's face it, everyone runs on coffee. Brew a hot pot o' joe or whip out the Keurig and some styrofoam cups. Set up shop at your local fall football game or community event and watch dollars pour in for your nonprofit.

Up the fast factor: Bring the hot water instead and provide tea bags, hot cocoa packets, and instant coffee and let customers whip up their own chai or mocha.  

2. Clothing Collection  ⚡️

Set up a donation bin at a local community space and ask for donations of new or gently used clothing. While you're there, you can also encourage and accept monetary donations for your nonprofit. Pro tip: seek donations at a time of year where people are turning over their closets.

Up the fast factor: You don't have to man the stand to take donations. Put up a poster in a prominent place and encourage donors to use a QR code to make a donation on the spot.

3. Kids Costume Parade ⚡️

For a small donation to your nonprofit, local kids can participate in a Kids Costume Parade around the neighborhood. Hosted around Halloween (or whenever, because costumes are always cool), a Costume Parade will give kids a chance to come together, get outside, and have some fun for a good cause. Make sure you post pictures on social media to spread the word and extend the donating timeframe.

4. Pet Photo Contest ⚡️

Arguably the quickest and cutest way to raise money. For a small donation to your nonprofit, donors can submit photos of their pets to your virtual Pet Photo Contest; community members can vote for their favorite pet picture for a $1 donation per vote. The winner of the Pet Photo Contest can serve the year as your unofficial nonprofit mascot.

5. Winter Hat Drive ⚡️

Similar to a Clothing Collection, a Winter Hat Drive (usually held in the fall) is a surefire way to raise dollars and donations for local community in need. Make sure you put a QR code on your donation box that links directly to your online donation page to accept monetary donations at the same time!

6. Cat Pet-a-Thon ⚡️

Who doesn't want to pet a cute cat? Honestly, no one. Partner with your local Cat Cafe to host a day of feline fundraising benefitting your nonprofit. Donors can come meet adorable, adoptable cats and make a donation to your nonprofit while they're there.

Up the fast factor: Collaborate with the cafe to come up with a co-branded coffee drink. Each purrchase is another donation.

7. Bake Off ⚡️

Paul Hollywood would be proud. For a small donation to your nonprofit, local bakers and amateur chefs can win Star Baker in a Bake Off! Choose a recipe and let each baker try their hand at making it the best. Bring in board members to judge to find the best baked goods in town!

Up the fast factor: Use this as a donor stewardship event and invite your recurring members to an exclusive baked-goods tasting.

8. Pancake Breakfast ⚡️

Level up your Community Coffee Stand with a Pancake Breakfast: Bring everyone together with some pre-made pancake mix (and that coffee/tea/cocoa from earlier). Sell the hungry masses plates of pancakes drenched in syrupy goodness.

9. Pub Crawl ⚡️

Get crawlin'! Participants can donate to join your nonprofit crew in an evening of pub crawling to local bars to benefit your organization. Pro tip: make sure that attendees have a way to stay engaged at each pub so that no donor is left behind. Pro-Pro tip: arrange for post-pub craw transportation so that REALLY no one is left behind.

10. Bowling Night ⚡️

Let's foster some healthy competition—host a bowling night at your local lanes where participants can join a team of nonprofit bowlers. For each strike, the team pledges to donate an additional $10 to your nonprofit.

11. Lip Sync for Your Life ⚡️

If you watch Ru Paul's Drag Race, you already know what we're suggesting: Host a lip sync battle in your backyard! Participants donate to perform and you can accept donations from your audience at the door. Make it a contest to see who's a lip syncing legend and have an evening of fun, laughs, and donations!

12. Karaoke Night ⚡️

Alternatively, if your donors prefer to sing with their real voices, host a karaoke night with the same premise! Gather at your local karaoke bar and accept donations when singers sign up.

13. Old Tech Drive ⚡️

Old technology is worth a pretty penny, plus, it's not good for the Earth to just throw it away when it's no longer useable. Host an Old Tech Drive to collect old or unused phones, computers, and tablets. Sell or trade in the tech you collect and give the proceeds to your nonprofit!

Up the fast factor: It may sound counterintuitive to drive around and do pickups rather than having people drop their Ye Olde Tech with you, but if people don't have to go out of their way, they'll be much more inclined to donate.

14. Silent Disco ⚡️

Host a Silent Disco at your home or a free community space—a public park would be perfect. Invite your supporters to bring their own headphones and choose their own music to dance to! Set the mood with vibey lighting and string lights to bring the disco vibe.

15. Community Yard Sale ⚡️

Sometimes we just need to get rid of stuff that doesn't bring us joy. Invite your nonprofit supporters to bring their old or unused items at your Community Yard Sale. All profits from the yard sale go directly to your nonprofit! Anything that didn't get purchased after the yard sale can be donated to a local shelter.

Up the fast factor: Combine this with the Old Tech Drive idea above for double the impact.

16. Instagram Influencer Takeover ⚡️

Reach out to a local influencer like your mayor, a news anchor, or other local celeb and ask if they'll go live on your Instagram to fundraise for your nonprofit. They'll bring their built-in audience and raise money (and awareness) for your organization.

17. Door Decorating Contest ⚡️

This one is great for schools, offices, or really anywhere with a door. Ask supporters to decorate their doors with your logo as creatively as they can. Encourage door decorators to get crafty, post pictures on social media, and link to your online donation page. The prize could be a wreath featuring your colors, mascot, or QR code.

18. Kids Draw-Off ⚡️

Like we said before, we love healthy competition. Encourage kids to submit their artwork (with grown-up help) to your Kids Draw-Off fundraiser! Post the artwork on social media and let your community vote by donation for the silliest, most creative, and most artistic drawings!

19. Annual Rug Roll ⚡️

We bet your community has some old rugs lying around Before they get tossed or donated, host a Rug Roll! It doesn't cost a dime for kids and families to come together on the big sledding hill behind the local high school and roll down the hill inside of an old rug, but when you sell warm drinks at the bottom of the hill... yeah, now you get the picture.

20. Pet Costume Contest ⚡️

Host a live party fundraiser for pet owners! Attendees make a donation to your nonprofit to get access to a zoom link. Challenge participants to make a DIY costume for their pets in under 5 minutes and share it with the audience! The winner gets their pet posted on your social media pages—but let's face it, everyone with a pet is a winner, so post 'em all!

21. Monday Night Mocktail ⚡️

You provide the mixers, your supporters bring the creativity. Invite your friends to a happy hour fundraiser and challenge them to get creative making a mocktail. For a small donation, attendees can share their mocktail creation while chatting and mingling with other donors.

Up the fast factor: Take your mocktail night virtual! You don't even have to provide the tea.

5 Small Scale Fundraisers in 5 Easy Steps ✅

Looking for something more robust? Try one of our small-scale fundraising ideas out for a spin; these fundraisers will take at least a week to organize, but they're much quicker to plan than your typical gala!

🎤 Open Mic Night

A good ol' fashioned Open Mic Night can be organized in less than a week and is positively profitable!

Here's how to make it happen in 5 quick steps:

  1. Find a local space to use at low or no-cost (think: high school auditorium, local cafe, community recreation center). Make sure they have a simple sound system with a microphone and speakers that can be used by performers.
  2. Once you've booked your space, put out a call on social media for local talent interested in performing for a good cause. Advertise to local community theatre groups and town community pages.
  3. Create a Facebook event page and invite your friends, supporters, and community to the Open Mic. Post about the event on social media consistently and frequently to generate buzz and spread the word.
  4. Host your Open Mic! As the evening MC, you can educate the audience about your nonprofit in between performances—by the end of the evening, they should be as inspired by your nonprofit as you are.
  5. Encourage your audience to donate to your nonprofit through your free Funraise donation page (accessible on mobile of course)! Pro tip: Project a QR code to quickly take donors directly to your donation the site from their phones.

⚽️ Fun Family Field Day Fundraiser

Local families are always looking for low-cost, fun weekend outings to entertain the kids. Bring everyone together with a Family Field Day that's easy to plan and quick to execute.

Here's how to make it happen in 5 easy steps:

  1. Find a local, outdoor space that is free for nonprofits or low-cost for community events (think: the back field at your local high school, town fairgrounds, YMCA fields, or public parks.)
  2. Source low-cost, fun games and activities for families and kids (soccer balls, bubbles, potato-sack races, face painting, water balloons). Assign your volunteers to host the different games.
  3. Use social media to bring together the community. Advertise in community and parent groups on Facebook to spread the word. Invite food trucks, local performers, and affiliated organizations to table throughout the day.
  4. Advertise your Fun Family Field Day as a free event with a suggested donation or require a food or clothing donation for entry—think creatively!
  5. Throughout the day, remind participants of how they can quickly donate to your nonprofit through your mobile donation page!

🎥 Movie Night and Community Talk-Back

Chances are, there's a film that relates to the mission of your nonprofit. Host an educational film night followed by a community talk-back session with members of your nonprofit!

Here's how to make it happen in 5 easy steps:

  1. Find a free or low-cost community space that has ample space and a projector screen
  2. Rent, purchase, download, or stream a film that relates to the work of your nonprofit. Prepare talking points for a post-film discussion about the film in relation to your nonprofit
  3. Advertise your film night on social media and use Funraise's event ticketing software to sell tickets. All the profits go towards your nonprofit!
  4. Sell popcorn and the sodee pop—it's always good to have refreshments for your audience. Luckily, popcorn and soda are low-cost movie staples that you can buy in bulk!
  5. Solicit in-person donations during the talk-back portion of your movie night using your mobile donation page. Not only are you raising money, but your event is raising awareness of the important work of your nonprofit! Pro tip: post-screening, pop a QR code to your donation page on the big screen.

🎯 Virtual Team Trivia Night

Everyone loves a little healthy competition! Raise money (and community awareness) for your nonprofit by hosting a quick and easy Virtual Trivia Night.

Here's how to make it happen in 5 easy steps:

  1. Choose a date and time for your trivia night and schedule the event on Zoom.
  2. Select a theme for your trivia night and make a slideshow of trivia questions.
  3. Leverage local sponsors and donors for raffle items to excite engage trivia participants throughout the night.
  4. Advertise your trivia night on social media (and you can again use Funraise's event ticketing tools) to accept donations as trivia tickets. Automate a personalized email with the Zoom link to your event to be sent upon purchase of a ticket.
  5. Have fun hosting your event and educating your virtual audience about your nonprofit!

💙 Community Solidarity Walk

Historical movements to advance civil rights relied on physical, boots-on-the-ground marches to raise community awareness of the cause. A Community Solidarity Walk can be a positive source of revenue and community engagement—and a great way to get press attention.

Here's how to make it happen in 5 easy steps:

  1. Choose a date, time, and route for your Community Solidarity Walk. You may need to apply for a street permit if you want to march or gather on public roads. Contact your local office of business or transportation to learn more about necessary permits.  
  2. Advertise your Solidarity Walk on social media and link participants to your donation page. You can also use Funraise's peer-to-peer donation pages so that individual participants can rally their community.
  3. Design a digital download kit on Canva for participants and supporters to print posters and informational pamphlets to hand out during the event.
  4. Draft a press release to send to local reporters and ask that they attend and cover the event. Prepare a brief speech to deliver at the beginning and end of your march to remind participants of the importance of the event.
  5. Go live on social media to generate online engagement throughout the walk and upload post-event photos and videos–always linking back to your donation page.

Take the Burden off Your Back 💙

If you're searching Google for a list of quick fundraising ideas, you may be a little stressed out about raising money for your nonprofit under a tight timeline. But before you get started, remember that you're only human. If you don't have a robust staff or passionate team of volunteers to help you with the heavy lifting, that's okay! That's why we're here!

Not only do you have the support of the entire Funraise team (I'll vouch for them as the author of this playbook 😉), you have innovative tech tools that will take the burden of fundraising off your back! Let's explore some ideas you can implement so that you don't have to refer back to this article over and over, shall we?

Automation Nation 💡

If you're not automating your fundraising efforts, you're doing a lot of extra work behind the scenes. All of those manual "thank you" emails you're sending to new donors? You're spending too much of your valuable time.

Instead, automate your email campaigns with customizable, personalized templates in the email program of your choice (Funraise integrates with Mailchimp and Constant Contact!) While you're working on emails, make sure you automate your digital donation receipts in Funraise's platform—you'll thank us later.

Get Speedy with Social Media 🚀

Social fundraising leverages the built-in audience that you (and your nonprofit) already have. Direct your social circle to  your donation page. Once you have your page set up, you can use social fundraising to sync your donation data, integrate instantly with different social platforms, and engage potential donors with your exceptionally-digital donor experience.

Moira Rose saying, "You're very speedy."

Quick fundraising: Key takeaways

  • Fast fundraising isn’t about taking the easy way out; fast fundraising effectively relies on utilizing your resources and leveraging your creativity to do as much good with as little effort as possible (because you’re busy saving the world!)
  • Don't be afraid to automate your fundraising communications to take the burden off your back.
  • Using social media to spread the word can make a small, quick nonprofit fundraiser a major success.
  • Nonprofiting is about bringing people together! Whatever your creative, quirky, kooky fundraising idea–use it to bring together your community in support of a good cause.

Next time you’re in a flash to fundraise, calm your nerves with a warm cup of chai and another peruse of our playbook to remind you that fast fundraising is the future. 💙

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