5 Creative Nonprofit Fundraising Ideas

Tara Garmon
March 2, 2022

Many nonprofits continue using the same tried-and-true fundraising methods year after year because they work, but if 2020 and 2021 taught us anything, it’s that things that used to work cannot always be counted on to do so. And even if old methods are still working, it never hurts to diversify. So let’s take a look at some new and interesting fundraising methods for 2022 and beyond.

Digital Fundraisers

It costs a lot to hold a fundraising event–from the cost of renting a venue to catering and furniture rentals and security for guests–the costs add up and take away from the funds being raised. But with more people becoming used to telecommuting for work and school, the idea of attending digital fundraisers is more welcoming than ever.

Key guests like politicians or celebrities invited to attract attendees will find it easier to fit a digital event into their schedules because they’ll be able to attend from anywhere in the world, even if they have another event taking place. Attendees will also find it easier to attend, and those who can’t will be able to view the recorded broadcast later.

An easy way to facilitate a digital event is by hosting it live on YouTube. This will have the added benefit of driving traffic and subscribers to your channel as attendees share the live event on their social media, which you should remind them to do at several points during the event. 

YouTube has two important features that help facilitate such an event. First, they have a live chat that allows attendees to communicate with each other and with the channel during the broadcast. And, most importantly, they have the built-in ability to hold a fundraiser.

To create a fundraiser on YouTube:

  1. Sign in to your YouTube Studio account.
  2. Look in the menu on the left side and click Monetization. 
  3. Click Giving.
  4. Click Get Started.
  5. Click Create a fundraiser.
  6. Choose a 501(c)(3) U.S. nonprofit to support. If your nonprofit isn’t listed, you can contact YouTube through the “Request a nonprofit” link.
  7. Follow the steps YouTube gives you to finalize the process, including adding a title and description. You can also choose a duration for the fundraiser if you’d like it to end at a specific time. The duration can be changed at any time.
  8. Add the videos or live streams you want to take donations from.
  9. Click PUBLISH.

You can also create community fundraisers that will allow other channels to collaborate with yours. Such joint fundraisers allow you to expand your reach by asking YouTube influencers or other channels to assist in your fundraising efforts. Learn more about YouTube fundraisers here.

Online Live Auction

Another great way to use online technology for fundraising is with a live auction. Sites like Bidding Owl make it easy to run live auctions online, and although most have hefty yearly fees along with taking a percentage of bids, Bidding Owl only takes 5% of winning bids. This is significantly cheaper than eBay, which charges 9% and doesn’t have the live and silent auction features that Bidding Owl has.

You’ll want to solicit donations of items several weeks or months before the auction takes place. It’s a good idea to form your auction around a theme if you can. For example, vintage clothing (especially name brands) can sell at great prices and doesn’t usually cost much to ship because of the light weight. The good thing about these auctions is that you can hold them as often as you like so you can have different themes for different auctions.

Online Rummage Sale

Just like a traditional bake sale or rummage sale, you can hold online sales for donated items. Unlike auctions, these sales have fixed prices for items instead of a bidding structure, but the benefit of such sales is that they can run for a fixed length of time or until all items are sold, whereas traditional sales might end with many items left unsold.

There are a plethora of sites that make selling online easy. Etsy can be a great choice since they have huge built-in traffic, but keep in mind that their fees are quite high and they don’t have special pricing for nonprofits. Additionally, Etsy prefers handmade or vintage items, so you can’t sell just anything there, but if you can receive donations of handmade or vintage items you’ll find a great market for those items on Etsy.

Merch Sales

In the past, selling merch like t-shirts with your logo or slogan required a hefty upfront investment to purchase the merch with no guarantee that the items would sell, plus the cost of distributing the items. These days, you can create merch for your nonprofit in a snap with zero upfront costs and zero hassle dealing with shipping via sites like RedBubble.

With these sites, you simply upload your design (such as your logo or slogan) and the site will make it available on whichever merchandise you want. For example, RedBubble has t-shirts, hoodies, dresses, mugs, journals, posters, stickers, shopping bags, and even more unusual items like pillows, bath mats, and shower curtains!

Once an item is ordered, RedBubble will print it and ship it directly to the buyer with no interaction from your organization, and they’ll send you payment for your portion of the items’ sales each month. You can even set the percentage you’d like to mark up your items so you can make as little or as much for each sale as you want as long as buyers are happy to pay those prices. They also charge no upfront fees or monthly fees. They simply give you your portion of item sales each month.

If you’ve ever wanted to offer merch for your organization but didn’t want the upfront cost or hassle involved in printing it the traditional way, warehousing it, and shipping it, this is a fantastic alternative. Plus, once your designs are uploaded, they will be available through the site forever (unless you later choose to take them down).

Business Partnerships

Partnering with a business is another great nontraditional method of fundraising. In the past, it was difficult to set up such partnerships because you’d have to approach businesses and try to convince them to hold a fundraiser, which could be time-consuming because many businesses either don’t see the value in donating or already have nonprofits they’re working with. But now programs like Aspired are making it easier than ever to find and establish partnerships with businesses.

With Aspired, a business can add their products or services to the Aspired platform and offer a chosen percentage of each sale to the nonprofit organization of their choice. There’s no additional work involved for the business because the payment is sent automatically to the nonprofit twice per month. It’s that simple!


If your traditional fundraising methods are still working, there’s no reason you should stop using them. These methods can be a great supplement to traditional fundraising methods, or you can replace any that aren’t working well anymore. The great thing about using these online methods is that they work very well in tandem with other methods. For example, if you do hold an in-person event you can use that event to promote your online fundraiser. For example, if you hold a live auction event at a venue, you can direct users to your online auction after the event to bid on excess items that couldn’t be included in the in-person event.

Plus, methods like Etsy and RedBubble, and partnerships with businesses, can run on a perpetual basis, allowing you to keep raising funds from them on a regular basis with little to no additional work from your organization, which makes them ideal for ongoing efforts.

Tara Garmon
Social impact writer. Driven to help startups and small businesses succeed while providing value and making a difference in the world.
The easiest way for nonprofits to reach new donors and partner with businesses they love. Get started free: www.aspiredworld.com

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