Planting money in the ground with a spade.

Eight income-generating ideas for nonprofits

If you’re working with a nonprofit, chances are you have felt the steady decline in charitable giving in recent years. Donations are not funneling in through the traditional pathways that led to financial stability. What are you left to do? 

New income from old resources

Try something new! You can establish channels to generate passive income through existing resources. Just like with personal finances, income-generating ideas, or having multiple streams of income are ideal for building a healthy balance.

While you continue to serve your customers, engage outsiders in new ways. Here are eight ideas for generating extra income in your nonprofit organization.

1. Rent out your facilities 

Affordable banquet halls and conference rooms have become more difficult to come by, but the need for these spaces still exist. Does your community have food banks, farmers markets, or cultural meetings and activities? If you have the real estate, the event organizers could probably benefit from an affordable event space.

Advertise your available spaces on appropriate websites, or get creative by posting in places where people meet because they can’t find an affordable. Some ideas include libraries, coffeehouses and diners.

Not only are you opening up doors for new relationships to be forged, but you will also have them on-site as a captive audience. Depending on the type of event, you can set standard meeting room rental rates or offer a facility-use agreement with a deposit. Much of this can be completed online eliminating the need for administrative overhead. 

2. Get creative 

Partner with a large mainstream event in your community or start your own. If it’s a free concert, ask if you can encourage a $5 donation at the entrance. People feel better about spending when their attendance costs go toward a great cause.

Do you run a food bank? The gate fee at the event could be a canned-good per person. Imagine hosting a concert in your community that is well advertised and open to anyone. If you’re a church, you’re possibly laying the foundation to meet the unchurched. Leverage all your digital resources, such as Social Media, Website, E-Newsletters, and Google Ads, you’ll be able to reach more people than ever with your mission, especially young adults. You can raise a significant amount of funds if you’re able to charge for food and drink, set up donation areas, and create a raffle pool or 50/50 raffle. The best part of this idea, you’re engaging with new people so you need to be sure to capture their heart while you have their time.

3. Connect with like-minded organizations

Networking and collaboration with other nonprofits in your area can lead to in-kind giving partnerships and free professional services. This can cut down on overhead. In the long run, many powerful resources and funds can come from being known as a helpful hand in the community.

4. Invest in your facilities

Put your best face forward. Replace the stained ceiling tiles, buy the non-slip welcome mats and dust your light fixtures. You want to have a warm and inviting space for people to feel comfortable in. 

If you feel a sense of pride when you walk through the doors, so will your guests, volunteers, and donors. You can ask a volunteer who has an eye for visual details to help spruce things up. With the right volunteers, you could create a selfie-wall where young adult volunteers are encouraged to take a snap or post to Instagram. 

Social media creates organic buzz and can generate a lot of new interest when an audience is engaged authentically.

5. Participate in peer-to-peer fundraising

Do you have an upcoming event with low early registration? Sweeten the pot. Participants show more eagerness to surpass fundraising goals when donation levels are gamified. Gamification offers rewards at different levels. 

Start by offering swag bags to participants who hit benchmarks like $250. Increase the excitement by adding more swag as more funds come in. You can add something of more value at other benchmarks like $500, $1000, or even something really great at $10,000.

As you receive online giving, really engage these new donors by building out a nurturing campaign specific to their contributions. This will help engage your new supporters and increase donations exponentially. Limit the number of registered participants on a deadline to reach the initial fundraising amount, increase competition and motivate fundraisers. Having a dynamic giving portal will be essential for your peer-to-peer events, not only allowing participants to share their excitement through online channels but also giving your organization free publicity and traffic. 

We really love our Lakeland, FL, friends at QGiv, providing one of the greatest nonprofit fundraising platforms in the nation. 

6. Empower and motivate current donors

Tell them what you need, and be transparent. When you identify missions and present quality data on why your mission matters, your donors will feel empowered knowing where their funds are going. 

Create individual mission campaigns, set goals, and provide updates as you reach those goals. Better yet, build a recurring donor campaign so people can contribute monthly without a second thought. Make it clear in your request that you know many donors can’t stroke a check for $100 or $10,000 at once. You offer the ease and convenience of a set amount each month that can make a huge impact on a great cause. Provide a giving table so people see what $10 or $1,000,000 could do each year for your organization and who or how their funds are helping.

7. Leverage local and social media outlets 

Use accessible channels to generate buzz for all of your milestones, big and small. Not only does it provide your team with recognition, but you give the opportunity for members of your team to easily share their accomplishment across their own networks. 

Many media outlets still receive press releases, and the good news is you don’t have to fax them anymore, you can email them. Reach out to your staff, volunteers, and family and friends to share. The more positive buzz you build for your brand, the better.

8. Register through AmazonSmile and Facebook Social Good

Encourage your audience to donate to your charity while shopping… or scrolling Facebook. Yep, AmazonSmile and Facebook Donations are effortless ways to contribute. AmazonSmile allows your shoppers to donate a small percentage (.5%) of their eligible shopping. Since the start of the program in 2013, Amazon has provided $135 million to registered charities as of June 2019. 

Register your nonprofit following the steps outlined on AmazonSmile. Facebook has also made charitable giving easier by allowing individual funding campaigns for birthdays and special occasions. Visit Facebook Social Good to learn about registering a nonprofit so they can receive funds through Facebook fundraising.

Once you receive confirmation from these third-party donor funnels, create marketing campaigns on your own platforms like social media, email blasts, blogs, business cards and mailers. Don’t just wait for the end of the year. Remind people monthly to utilize extra funding.

No matter what you do, the cost of running your organization will continue to grow. Utilize the resources you already have and build income with everything your organization has to offer. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new ideas to reach new audiences. Once you identify your three top streams of passive income, we recommend investing more time resources into making them work even better.

Want to know how to execute innovative funding campaigns without watering down your mission? Get started here.