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8 Budget-Friendly Ideas for Awesome Nonprofit Fundraisers

nonprofit fundraisersNonprofits aren’t in the business of making money. After all, they’re founded to help others. Yet every non-profit needs to have enough funds to fulfill its mission.

What they need are budget-friendly nonprofit fundraisers. Here are 8 ideas for fundraising that will help nonprofits rake in the donations.

Charity Fundraisers That Cost Next to Nothing – Car Washes and Yard Sales

Car washes number among the most popular fundraisers for schools. The reason? It takes nothing but supplies students can bring from home plus a little sweat equity.

A car wash isn’t only a great idea for school fundraisers. Any charity can use these fun, community spirit-building fundraisers to rake in money while helping their customers to keep their cars clean.

Choose a weekend; find a location with a water supply (supermarkets or car dealerships usually love the extra publicity); get the owner’s permission to hold the car wash on those dates, and then line up the volunteers.

Mild detergent, buckets, sponges, soft brushes, and microfiber towels or chamois cloths for drying is all an organization needs to get started. If the volunteers want to offer extras, wheel cleaning products, as well as bug and tar removers could be add-ons for an extra dollar or two.

If some of the volunteers want to offer interior cleaning, set up a separate station where vacuum cleaners can operate safely apart from the wash station. Leather and vinyl cleaning products provide a finishing touch.

How To Make A Yard Sale Work

Another idea is having a yard sale. With Marie Kondo’s rise to fame as the world’s clutter-cleaning queen comes the urge to clear out closets so people can have more room for the things—and people—they love. Others, though, love snagging a bargain.

Collectors, for instance, as well as antique shops and other resellers, scour yard and garage sales to find the perfect item for their inventory. For charitable organizations, yard sales are a great opportunity for volunteers, their friends, and neighbors to donate their extra clutter for a cause they love.

Yard sales cost next to nothing, with only a few paid ads needed, thanks to free online marketplaces on Facebook, Craigslist, and others. For nonprofit fundraisers on a shoestring budget with willing volunteers, a yard sale can be a great moneymaker for little to no investment.

Fundraisers for Schools (That Don’t Crowd Out Homework)

fundraisers for schoolsWhile car washes can be fruitful sources of funding, many school organizations need money precisely at the time when homework and tests become most intense. Prom week, for instance, often comes close to finals—and the students on the planning committee are often upperclassmen whose college scholarships depend on acing those finals.

Donation Jars

For school fundraisers to raise money for one-time events like proms, banquets, and state competitions, donation jars placed around town work like magic to being in the money. They’re especially effective in small towns and rural communities, where school pride rides high and local businesses are favorite student hangouts.

Local businesses love to show their pride in the local kids and are usually happy to place donation jars by their cash register. It’s good for their business since students, their parents, and booster clubs will be more likely to patronize those businesses who help students raise money.

Guessing Games

Perfect for carnivals or as an adjunct to other school fundraisers, this low-cost fundraiser allows players to guess how many objects are in a jar, box, or another container. The person who comes closest wins a prize. Players pay a token fee, usually a dollar, for each guess.

Many fundraisers for schools that put these fun games to work earning money can even get both the prize and the objects donated from local businesses. Students don’t have to do much preparatory work except for finding donors, publicizing the event, and taking turns staffing the booth during the event.

Other Effective School Fundraisers


One of the more innovative fundraisers is to hold workshops in which students show off their expertise in a skill they’ve learned at school. Workshops are particularly effective for vocational schools or for classes in practical living, such as shop, home economics, or farming.

For example, a student farming association could organize a spring workshop on effective gardening techniques, while a shop class could raise money with a workshop to teach basic car maintenance skills. A home economics class could teach a workshop on creating tasty meals on a budget or even on making holiday decorations just before the winter holidays.

However, with a little imagination, other classes or school clubs could raise money through a workshop. For example, the high school French club could hold a workshop on conversational French while the math club could hold one on math skills for practical living.

Workshops help students reinforce their skills by teaching others—a most effective way to retain what they learn. The club (or the school program) also benefits from the money raised from workshop participants.

Host a Dunking Booth at a Carnival

Dunking booths have entertained carnival-goers for generations. Schools and school clubs can take advantage of the game’s popularity to rake in money for their school.

Enlisting the help of teachers and the principal can pile on the fun factor during fundraisers for schools—especially those that put those authority figures in a vulnerable situation. Who wouldn’t give a couple of bucks to see that teacher that gave them a “D” in the Algebra I mid-term fall into the water? It’s all in good fun and a great source of revenue for school groups during warmer weather.

Prizes don’t have to be break-the-bank expensive. You can create a sticker fundraiser by using low-cost promotional material, such as decals, labels and stickers with your school’s or other charity’s name and logo on it. For those who dunk “Teach” three out of three times, a larger prize, such as a mug, school T-shirt, or a school mascot in stuffed animal form.

Nonprofit Fundraisers That Won’t Break the Bank (or Turn into a Full-Time Job)

If your nonprofit doesn’t have a huge budget but has enough money to invest in low-cost charity fundraisers that don’t require a huge amount of time, there is a wealth of creative ideas that you can try.

Feature High-Dollar Donors on Your Social Media Page

school fundraisersCharity fundraisers don’t have to be overt demands for money. Sometimes the subtle touch says it all.

Recognize your high-dollar donors on your Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or other pages, either in a photo and a story or in a video. Other local businesses or philanthropists will likely be inspired by his or her generosity and do likewise. Be sure to include a call to action, including your contact information at the end of the story or video.

Local public radio stations have put that principle to work for years. During their fundraising drives, they often announce big donors on air, motivating others to do the same.


Jerry Lewis had it right when it comes to charity fundraisers. Get a bunch of friends and supporters together, put on a show once a year, broadcast it, and during intermissions, ask people to call in to donate to the group.

Although this idea is a fairly large undertaking, it’s possible if you can talk your local TV or radio station into donating an hour or more of broadcast time to your group. Be sure to publicize your event beforehand and enlist the area’s best talent to donate their time.

With the advent of podcasts, though, you might not need a traditional TV or radio broadcast to raise money. Simply broadcast your annual fundraisers online with a podcast.

Whatever your ideas for nonprofit fundraising, get in touch with the design professionals at Nova Custom Printing for all the promotional material you’ll need to make your fundraiser a smashing success. Give us a call today!


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