You’ve worked hard to build a strong donor acquisition strategy to market your mission to the public, but are your board members playing active roles in your fundraising? It’s more important than ever that your team is all hands on deck for your fundraising strategy!
Your board members are your mission’s leaders, ambassadors, and top supporters. Plus, they usually also donate to your organization themselves. With their leadership and dedication, your board members are an immensely valuable part of your organization’s fundraising efforts. They can (and should) be vital resources and partners to help drive your fundraising ideas to success.
Ask your board members to help support, market, and participate in your fundraising ideas to maximize their results. We’ve listed our favorite proven fundraising ideas that you can leverage for risk-free fundraising, split into five categories:
At Boardable, we aim to help boards be more impactful through their work with powerful software that makes collaboration a breeze. As experienced board professionals ourselves, we know that it can be difficult to get board members to want to fundraise. This is why we’ve pulled together these high-ROI campaign ideas that are sure to inspire your team to get involved.
These risk-free fundraising ideas are much more powerful when your board members get involved. These leaders can support, contribute, and become your most valuable assets. Ask them to help with your marketing initiatives and to leverage their connections to take your campaigns even further.
When it comes to fundraising, many board members are hesitant to participate. They might see it as time consuming and tedious, but when you choose easy, risk-free fundraising ideas, participation becomes a breeze. Make it as simple as possible for board members to participate with these great risk-free fundraising ideas.
An incredibly straightforward risk-free fundraising idea is a classic tactic that nonprofits, for-profits, and individuals have found success with for years. That idea, of course, is t-shirt fundraising. Selling branded merchandise serves the dual purposes of both raising funds for your organization and marketing your brand.
When supporters purchase your well-designed, branded t-shirt, they become walking billboards for your mission. Whenever anyone asks them about their shirt, they have the opportunity to discuss your organization and their connection with it.
Plus, there are t-shirt fundraising platforms specifically for nonprofits that let you do all of this for free! You can design and sell your t-shirt directly from an online store or campaign page, while your platform provider takes care of all the payment processing, order fulfillment, and customer service.
Your board members can get involved by promoting your t-shirts to their network of friends and family, as well as purchasing the product themselves. You may even ask them to participate in an online peer-to-peer campaign that sells t-shirts to grow your audience with their network of connections.
Between $4 and $7 billion dollars goes unclaimed each year in matching gift funds, according to Double the Donation. Many companies offer corporate philanthropy programs that provide employee matching gift opportunities. These gifts are contributed by the company to match donations made by their employees, usually at a 1:1 ratio.
The key to unlocking this proven fundraising idea is getting your board’s buy-in and promoting the opportunity to your supporters. Many people don’t know if they’re eligible or even that the programs exist. Therefore, promoting these opportunities and encouraging donors to check their eligibility is the key to unlocking these additional donations.
Board members can help with this risk-free fundraising idea by promoting matching gift opportunities. You may ask them to send emails, post to social media, or simply tell supporters they’re close to about these opportunities.
Many of your board members are likely donors themselves. Be sure that your board members also check their own eligibility for any of their donations!
Beyond t-shirts, product fundraisers are a longstanding tradition for all sorts of organizations raising funds for a wide range of causes. Simply sell various products to your community, such as branded merchandise, gourmet snacks, and discount cards. Many supporters will be willing to pay a higher price for the item knowing the proceeds are going to a mission they care about.
When you work with a dedicated product fundraising company like ABC Fundraising, many of these fundraising ideas come risk free with no upfront investment. All you have to do is take pre-orders using a custom-branded online web store that is provided by your fundraising company. Then, your fundraising partner will distribute the products you sold, charging you a low wholesale price while your organization retains the profits for your mission.
Get your board involved by recruiting board members as volunteer salespeople. This way, you can expand your organization’s reach to incorporate each member’s own network of support. Encourage them to share the link to your online web store via email, text, and social media!
Volunteer grants are a part of many corporate philanthropy programs. In these programs, companies reward their employees’ volunteer work with charitable organizations by making a financial contribution to “match” the time spent volunteering. With no upfront costs, pursuing volunteer grants is an entirely risk-free fundraising idea.
Similar to matching gifts, many of your volunteers may not know that this financial “match” is available to them. Spend time promoting volunteer grant opportunities to your supporters and ask them to research their own eligibility. These grants are essentially free money for your organization, and much of these funds unfortunately get left on the table each year. Be sure to capture as much of that funding as possible to increase your revenue without asking donors to dig deeper into their pockets.
Many of your board members are volunteers themselves. Ask them to research their own eligibility for volunteer grants, because many employers will count board work as a form of volunteering. Their regular meetings and work they do for your organization can easily translate into additional funds for your mission.
If they’re not eligible, ask them to help promote these opportunities. They can post to social media or talk to volunteers at events, sharing educational resources on this type of program and encouraging people to check their eligibility.
Walk-a-thons are a proven fundraising idea that’s been completed successfully both in-person and virtually by many organizations. They’re very affordable as many of the expenses that accompany a walk-a-thon’s planning process are optional event add-ons (such as entertainment or additional products to sell). Optional upfront costs and a high return on investment make this a promising, risk-free fundraising idea for your cause.
To raise funds at a walk-a-thon, ask your supporters to sign up (you may or may not choose to charge a registration fee). Then, have them obtain sponsorships and pledges to walk certain distances, such as $5 for every lap on a track. If your event is virtual, provide instructions for them to track their walking distance from their smartphone or watch. Then, collect funds from the sponsors based on their total distance.
Your board members can get involved with walk-a-thons in a variety of ways. Ask them to participate in the walk themselves and secure sponsorships from their network of family and friends. You can emphasize this involvement by asking your board members to organize a walk-a-thon team among their network and even their coworkers. You may also ask them to sponsor one of your walkers or to volunteer at the event itself.
Whether you’re running board meetings or hosting events to connect with donors, going online is a fantastic way to eliminate geographical barriers and open up participation to a wider audience. If you need inspiration for online campaigns, try out some of these virtual, risk-free fundraising ideas.
Crowdfunding is an excellent proven fundraising idea when your organization has a specific item or project to rally support for. Simply partner with a crowdfunding platform that suits your needs, write up a description of your fundraising project, and choose your campaign’s goal. Promote the opportunity on social platforms, over email, and in other organization publications.
Social media will likely be your crowdfunding campaign’s greatest asset. According to Crowd101, “for every order of magnitude increase in Facebook friends (10, 100, 1000), the probability of success increases (from 9%, 20%, to 40%).” If your organization is raising funds for a specific project and has a strong social media presence, crowdfunding could be for you!
Check out these other great crowdfunding statistics to help position this as a proven fundraising idea that will work for your cause:
Your board can help promote your crowdfunding campaign after you’ve pushed it live. Come up with templates that they can use on their social media accounts to encourage their followers to contribute. You may also ask them if they happen to know any influencers or other prominent individuals in the social media world who might be willing to push the campaign as well.
If you have a team member, volunteer, or know someone in your community with an interesting talent, you may ask them to teach a virtual class to share their skills. All you need is video conferencing software for live courses, or you could pre-tape the course and grant attendees access upon registration.
When it comes to this type of event, get creative and think about the types of activities your audience will enjoy. For example, you might host courses related to your mission, or go off in a completely different direction with classes for cooking, baking, cake decorating, basket weaving, dance, or drawing. Simply charge a small registration fee to attend the virtual event and make a final donation appeal at the end.
Ask your board members to attend the classes themselves! Maybe they’d be willing to even host the class themselves. When they get involved with your organization’s activities, it will strengthen their engagement and relationship with your mission. Plus, depending on how you organize your classes, they may get the chance to meet some of your valued supporters and develop impactful relationships.
For your next risk-free fundraising idea, consider hosting a virtual book club. This is a great way to lead a discussion about an insightful topic while collecting donations. Gauge your supporters’ interest in joining a book club and the type of books they would want to read. Then, organize weekly or biweekly virtual meetings to discuss the book.
In order to “meet” during a virtual book club, you’ll need to use either free video conferencing software or partner with a book club site that allows you to create your online club platform. To raise funds, you may ask supporters for a registration fee or a small donation during the book club meetings themselves.
Ask your board members to either host a book club on their own or attend the book club that your donor engagement team puts together. They might be the ones to survey donors about what books they want to read, or they may promote your book club to their social networks. No matter how you involve them, this proven fundraising idea is a great way to help them stay engaged with both the mission and your supporters.
Social media takeovers are a great way to find new supporters and followers. Here’s how social media takeovers work: your organization allows a supporter to take over your social media accounts for a day. This person posts regularly about your mission and brings their own followers to your page. When you host a social media takeover, be sure to tell whoever is taking over the page about your donation goals and where to direct supporters in order to donate (i.e. your donation page).
If you know an influencer or notable local figure who supports your mission, they’d be the perfect candidate to ask to participate in a social media takeover. They can bring their many followers to your organization and help you spread awareness, gain followers, and generate donations using this proven fundraising idea.
When you’re looking for the perfect candidate for your social media campaign, be sure to ask your board members if they know anyone who might be a good fit. You never know what kind of connections they may have until you ask! Who knows? They may even be great fits for the job. After all, they’re already closely connected to your mission and understand your organization’s goals.
5Ks are immensely powerful fundraising events that many organizations leverage each and every year. However, with everything going digital, a fantastic option to maintain momentum is to take your 5K virtual! Simply create a registration page and ask supporters to sign up to run. Then, they can complete their race from their own neighborhood while tracking their time on an app or tracking device.
One of the primary benefits that comes with taking this proven fundraising idea online is that you can expand your reach much further. You’ll open up participation beyond people in your immediate area! Runners from around the country, or even the world, can support your cause.
Your board can help you raise funds by participating in your 5K themselves and by promoting the opportunity to their vast network of potential supporters. You may also ask them to sponsor your runners or the event as a whole!
Don’t forget to incorporate branded merchandise into this risk-free fundraising idea as well. Ask your board members to start a peer-to-peer merchandise fundraiser for the event to encourage the teams to create and sell apparel leading up to the race. Participating will be much more enticing for donors if they’ll get an event t-shirt, hoodie, or hat in exchange for their contributions.
Many of your supporters work at home and are conscious about when they go out in public. Encourage them to stay active by hosting virtual workout classes. In fact, home fitness was one of the fastest-growing trends this year, and the live streaming fitness market is expected to grow 35% per year until 2026.
Ask supporters to make a contribution to your cause in order to join the online class. Then, post either a video online or host a live class using video conferencing software. Ask your teammates and board members if they (or someone they know) would be interested in volunteering to teach a dance, yoga, Zumba, or other type of workout class in order to keep costs low.
Your board members can help get the class started by aiding your search for a teacher. One of your board members might even be willing to host the class themselves if they’re a fitness buff. Then, once it starts, they can help keep it going by continuing to promote the opportunity to their own network of friends and family. This is the ultimate risk-free fundraiser that promotes healthy lifestyles among supporters.
Video games can be played entirely online, making them the perfect proven fundraising opportunity to take virtual. Simply find an online game that your supporters would enjoy playing from their own homes. You might choose to use a popular console game for Xbox or Playstation, or make it more accessible by choosing an online PC game.
Ask supporters to pay a small donation to enter the tournament, then let them play from the comfort of their own homes. Don’t forget to provide your winner with a prize!
As leaders in your fundraising initiative, ask your board members to promote the opportunity to get involved with the video game tournament. You may even ask them to play themselves if you have a couple of gamers on deck.
Google Grants are a perfect virtual idea that leads to more website and campaign traffic. Google offers up to $10,000 per month for nonprofits to promote their website using ads on the search engine results page for specific keywords.
You’ve seen the ads on Google search results pages when you’ve searched for various terms. Re:Charity’s Google Ad Grants guide provides this great example, showing you what these ads look like:
When you’re listed first on the search engine results page, your organization gets in front of more viewers. This means increased brand recognition and additional visitors to your website.
Ask your board members to conduct the initial research about the keywords that best represent your mission. They may choose these keywords through conversations with their networks, their own independent research, or based on your current campaigns. Then, you’ll know which ones to target when applying for a Google Grant.
When it comes to managing an organization, every moment matters. Make some room on your next board meeting agenda, and maximize every second in the boardroom by picking the ideas that are quick and easy to implement. Let’s explore several quick yet highly effective risk-free fundraising ideas that might work for your cause.
The Give-It-Up challenge is a proven fundraiser in which you ask your supporters to give up a single daily habit that they’ve picked up over the years and instead contribute those funds to your organization. Whether it’s their daily Starbucks, a regular bowl of ice cream, or maybe even online shopping, everyone has a habit they may want to break for one reason or another.
Plus, this fundraiser guarantees that the money contributed won’t negatively impact your supporters’ budget. They’re simply donating the money that they would’ve already spent elsewhere.
Your board can help with this challenge by promoting the opportunity to their networks of friends and family or by participating themselves! They may find that it’s even a relief to give up their daily Starbucks double mocha frappuccino and instead know that those funds are going to a good cause.
A raffle is a classic proven fundraising idea where supporters purchase tickets for the chance to win a prize. You can choose to either host your event online or in person depending on your organization’s preferences.
There are a couple of ways to reduce the risks associated with this fundraiser for your cause. First, you can get in touch with local businesses and ask them to donate items for the prize that you’ll give to the winner. Or, you can set up a 50-50 raffle, in which your winner will receive half of the funds generated through ticket sales.
Encourage your board members to solicit donated prizes using their connections in the community. Your board members most likely know business owners or individuals who can contribute enticing prizes. When they’re the ones to ask, the chance that someone will say “yes” is much higher since they’re already acquaintances or even friends with the board member asking.
Shoe drive fundraisers are risk-free fundraisers for both your organization and your supporters. This is because there are no upfront costs, and supporters don’t have to dig into their wallets to help your organization! They can give gently used and new shoes to your organization, which can then repurpose them to generate revenue. In other words, there are zero upfront costs for everyone involved.
Here’s how it works: Your organization partners with a shoe drive fundraising organization. That organization provides you with collection materials that you can put up at your facilities and around the community for people to deposit unwanted shoes that are in good condition. After the collection period ends, you call the partnering organization to schedule a pickup. They’ll send you a check in return for the collected shoes.
Your board members can help take your shoe drive further by promoting it to their own network of friends and family. They can be the ones to set up collection bins around the community. You may even decide to capture images of board members donating their own shoes to share with the community and spread the word about the campaign.
Traditionally, restaurant partnerships allow organizations to schedule a specific day when supporters can eat out at the parterned restaurant and part of the day’s proceeds are directed to the organization’s mission. The restaurant receives free marketing from your team while your organization receives the donation from the percentage of proceeds agreed upon at the onset of the partnership.
However, nowadays, you probably don’t want to encourage large crowds to congregate in small restaurant spaces. To move forward with this risk-free fundraising idea, make sure your organization partners with restaurants that deliver or offer curbside pickup so that supporters can participate from their homes.
Encourage your board members to get involved with promoting this proven fundraising idea. You may ask them to livestream their own pickup from the restaurant or lead a meal-time discussion online using video conferencing tools.
Peer-to-peer fundraising is a proven fundraising idea in which supporters are empowered to raise money on behalf of your mission. Your organization leverages peer-to-peer software to help supporters create their own fundraising pages to promote to their friends and family in order to raise funds.
Peer-to-peer fundraising is powered by social proof, the concept that your supporters’ networks are more likely to contribute simply because their friend or loved one supports the cause. OneCause’s Social Donor Study supports the concept, finding that 55% of first-time donors reported wanting to support their friend who was promoting the campaign.
Your board members are some of the most well-connected individuals at your organization. By gaining their approval for social fundraising and encouraging them to start their own campaigns, you have built-in ambassadors who will help spread the word and raise money for your campaign. Be sure to ask your board members and other fundraisers to write a personal note about their connection to your mission to evoke emotion and drive giving.
RELATED: Getting board members involved in fundraising is a no-brainer. These people are naturally the most connected to your cause. Learn how to inspire them to get more involved with our ultimate board fundraising guide.
You need to get creative to inspire your board members and donors to engage with your fundraisers. Let’s explore a few unique proven fundraising ideas that will pique people’s interest and inspire ongoing participation.
Ask your supporters to tap into their creativity by encouraging them to create a new design for your organization’s merchandise. This design can appear on your face masks, t-shirts, hats, mugs, and other products that you sell in your next campaign.
Get supporters involved in the campaign process early by asking them to pick the winning design. This will get them excited to see which one wins, and getting them involved early means they’ll be more likely to contribute to the campaign when it goes live. Alternatively, you might have your board members vote on their favorite designs to make sure you end up with one that fully captures your cause.
When you start selling the winning design on various merchandise items, ask your board members to purchase one. Then, ask them to take a picture of themselves sporting the design to post on social media or feature in your newsletter. This will help market the campaign while congratulating the winning designer.
Pet photo contests are a great way for your supporters to show off adorable images of their animals while helping raise funds for your mission. Simply ask supporters to submit their cutest pet pictures, then promote the campaign and encourage other supporters to vote for their favorite picture with their dollars.
The picture that raises the most funds will win the contest. This is a perfect proven fundraising idea for Halloween and Christmas because supporters can dress their pets up in fun costumes before snapping their photos!
Ask your board members to vote for their favorite picture. Then, they’ll share that photo on their social media pages, encouraging others to also contribute and cast their vote. You may even ask your board to present a prize for the winning picture!
Who doesn’t love cupcakes? A tasty and attractive pastry is a proven fundraising idea that everyone will love getting involved with. Host a virtual cupcake decorating party where people craft delicious creations and snap a picture of their finished product. Share these cupcake designs online and encourage supporters to vote for their favorite.
There are a few ways you can raise funds during this event. You can require a small donation to enter the contest, ask supporters to contribute voluntarily during the virtual decorating event, or have supporters vote using their dollars once all cupcake designs have been submitted.
To get your board involved with this fundraising idea, you can take a similar approach to the animal photo contest. Ask your board members to vote and share the contest on social networks. Or, ask them to participate in the decorating and share their own creations!
As people find home-based hobbies to occupy their time, many individuals have turned to gardening. This makes a plant nursery drive the perfect risk-free fundraiser. Ask your supporters to donate plants that they’ve grown or nursed this year. Then your organization can sell these plants back to the community.
Because you’re relying on donated plants for this campaign, it’s completely risk-free! You don’t have any upfront costs for the plants themselves. Also, you can sell them outdoors on a nice day, creating a safe and entertaining outing for supporters.
This is a great board member fundraising opportunity because your green-thumbed board members can participate in either activity. They can donate their own plants to the fundraiser, or they can purchase new plants and show them off on social media. Just make sure they tag your organization to further promote the opportunity.
A virtual trivia night is an educational experience that you can use to raise funds while spreading awareness and knowledge about your mission. Use an online trivia platform to ask your attendees questions related to your mission and see how much they know about the subject.
To raise funds with this event, you can either charge a small admission fee to join or ask supporters to donate throughout the event itself. Don’t forget to offer a small prize to the winner! This prize can be donated by a local business to keep your upfront costs minimal.
To get your board members involved with this proven fundraising idea, ask them to host it. As experts on your mission, they can be very helpful in creating the questions and presenting them to your supporters. They may even be able to provide additional insight or other fun facts throughout the event.
Supporter cookbooks are a personalized risk-free fundraising idea that brings your supporters together as a community. Ask everyone to submit their favorite recipes so that you can create a cookbook specifically for your supporters.
When everyone has submitted their favorites, ask your supporters to fill out order forms to buy their copy of the cookbook. This way you can order the exact number of cookbooks that you need for the fundraiser and guarantee a positive ROI.
Your board members can be key contributors to your cookbook, providing their favorite family recipes. They can also volunteer to help you put the book together and create attractive designs for the front cover.
Professional training might not be a fundraising idea per se, but it can help your organization raise additional funds over time. When you encourage your development teams’ continued learning, they’ll know the tricks of the trade necessary to help them get more from your fundraising strategies.
If you can handle the upfront costs, you can sponsor your employees and board members to learn more about the sector and best practices through training programs. You can also encourage these individuals to pursue nonprofit courses without sponsorship if you want to reduce any associated risks.
As the leaders of your fundraising and strategic initiatives, you should encourage your board members to also undergo the training opportunities that you find to develop your team. This ensures they’ll be informed and knowledgeable as they make financial decisions for your organization.
There are very few things in life that are risk-free. However, when you launch a fundraiser with no upfront costs, you are guaranteed to receive a positive return on investment. Plus, when your board members get involved, your ROI only increases as they’ll be fully invested in helping your organization succeed.
Even risk-free fundraising ideas require your organization to conduct research to make sure you’re getting the most out of the campaign. You’re off to a great start by reading through this guide! Keep up the great work by continuing your research with these other helpful resources from the Boardable team: