Fundraising on a Budget: Spend Less, Raise More!
It’s no secret that most nonprofits operate on limited budgets. With your resources stretched thin, you might be wondering how you can pull off a successful fundraiser. After all, you need to spend money to make money, right? Not necessarily.
As a nonprofit, your organization can find pots of money by following less traveled and low-cost paths to meet funding goals. The trick? Learning how to raise money by capitalizing on technology, timing your fundraisers intelligently, and building strong relationships. We share the top low-cost strategies for fundraising on a budget. You’ll boost your revenue in no time!
When half of the US population averages 5-6 hours per day on their smartphone, it’s safe to say that the technological revolution arrived long ago, completely changing how we work and play.
If your nonprofit isn’t taking advantage of digital tools, you’re missing out on an effective and low-cost method to raise cash and awareness.
Raise cash online
There are remarkable fundraising sites out there that let you plan, promote, and pull fundraisers like a pro.
- For individuals: If you’re raising funds for your own cause, GoFundMe or Kickstarter are popular options. Whether you need revenue for a creative project or to offset the costs of a medical procedure, crowdfunding sites let you create campaigns that cost little, but can reach donors all across the world. The potential payoff is huge.
- For nonprofits: If you’re a nonprofit, the best fundraising platform will be tailored to anticipate the unique needs of nonprofit organizations. It should be easy for your donors to use, and totally free for you. On sites like RallyUp, for example, you can host online auctions and raffles, run crowdfunding campaigns, and sell items from the comfort of your office (or living room—we won’t tell!). Look for support, too: the right platform will walk you through the process of customizing your donation pages, so that your donors can really connect with your mission and be inspired to give.
Upgrade your website
Investing in a high-quality website is one of the smartest decisions a nonprofit can make. In an age when people expect websites to be quick, intuitive, and informative, having a low-quality page will cost you donors and funds. Sure, it takes some cash up front, but it will deliver more revenue over time.
Make sure your site ticks these boxes:
Level up your social media strategy
Social media is one of the biggest drivers of nonprofit donations across the globe, which is why 9 out of 10 nonprofits have a social media account. Best of all? They’re free or low-cost to use.
Three tips to make your social media presence count:
1. Have a good story. When someone lands on your Facebook page or Instagram account, they should be able to tell right away what you stand for and why it matters. Be creative and thoughtful with your narrative so visitors can learn something new while feeling like their contribution will genuinely make the world a better place.
2. Post regularly and often. More than half of nonprofits say that they don’t have a social media strategy, posting irregularly or infrequently. If your audience can’t rely on your posts for interesting information, encouragement, and insights, they’ll start to wonder why they follow you in the first place.
3. Engage with donors. Your supporters aren’t just numbers on a page. They’re people who care about your mission. The more appreciated they feel, the more likely they are to repost, retweet, and share, all of which means more donations for you. Post sharable, catchy content, thank your donors publicly, and reply to comments and messages.
Be In Season
When you’re planning your next fundraiser, whether in-person or online, save resources and time by letting the seasons guide you. Here are some seasonally themed ideas to spark your imagination:
1. Spring:DIY Valentine’s Day Card sales / First Day of Spring Dog Walk-a-thon / Mother’s Day Brunch and Raffle
2. Summer: Live streaming an outdoor concert / Organic produce sales / Golf tournament sweepstakes
3. Autumn: Back to school movie night / Pumpkin Pie Contest / Spooky Halloween Mystery Gala
4. Winter: Holiday Lights Drive-Thru / Photo Op with Santa / Winter Getaway Silent Auction
Make the Most of Events
Events offer unique and totally free opportunities for nonprofits to attract supporters. After all, half of the work has been done for you: bringing an audience of potential donors into one space!
- Sports Games. During your kid’s next football game, set up a hot cocoa stand. It doesn’t cost much, but students of all ages will love it. If it gets popular, come back every Friday. Bring cookies. Repeat.
- Community Gatherings. Next time there’s a public talk at the local campus, a neighborhood block party, or a store opening, ask the event planners if you can (briefly!) address the audience. Take advantage of the gathered crowd to introduce yourself, summarize what you do, and encourage people to donate.
- Networking Events. Check to see if local businesses or organizations are hosting seminars, workshops, or conferences in your area. If you can’t attend as a participant, reach out to the organizers to ask if you can set up a booth or give a brief talk. Be strategic about it: research the speakers or attendees, have a goal in mind about whom you want to chat up, bring business cards, and practice your elevator pitch.
A nonprofit sinks or swims on the strength of its relationships with donors, supporters, and the community as a whole. Creating, building, and maintaining relationships doesn’t require a lot of money, but it does require time. Trust us: it’s worth it.
Make your relationships work for you with the following tips:
- Reach out to businesses. Corporate philanthropy is an integral part of successful business models, and small companies will be especially enthusiastic about working with you. Keep in mind that corporate support won’t always take the form of direct donations. Businesses will often donate venue space or equipment. While that may not sound like much, it’s actually a big deal. Think of it this way: how much more impressed will your donors be if, instead of holding your next fundraiser at the neighborhood playground, you host it at an upscale art gallery or coffee shop? If the owner of that gallery or coffee shop supports your cause, those are exactly the kind of freebies that will make your events stand out.
- Make sure your staff is happy. Even if your budget is tight, there are ways to ensure that your organization’s staff feel supported and appreciated, especially when nonprofit turnover is high. Thank your team often, celebrate their successes, and start small rituals: think pizza night once a month or a coffee break every day at noon. Whatever you plan, regularly remind everyone from your volunteers to your board director how important they are.
- Keep your donors on board. To ensure that your supporters continue to care about, and contribute to, your organization, it’s critical to make them feel valued. Thank-you letters go a long way—yes, even if they haven’t donated anything in two years! Regular updates on social media or email newsletters are effective methods to let supporters keep tabs on what you’re up to.
Save Money and Stay on Mission
If you have the right infrastructure in place, your nonprofit will attract more funds. Digital tools are a major component of today’s nonprofit strategy, and most of them are free or cost very little, so make sure you’re taking advantage of them!
Bottom line: do what you can to elevate your digital presence, plan your fundraisers wisely, and lean on your strongest relationships. Happy fundraising!