All organizations need money to operate, and fundraisers can help fill in the gaps. Sometimes, though, a simple bake sale isn't going to cut it. If you need to raise big money for your organization, you need to think bigger. Choose fundraisers that encourage people to spend or donate a lot of money or that cost very little to run, increasing your profit levels.
Gala or Dinner
Throw a big gala or dinner and people will want to come. It's likely that you'll incur some costs to set this up, such as food or location costs, but try to get as many donations as possible. A sympathetic band, for example, might offer its services for free. Set ticket prices high enough to make a decent profit, but low enough that you don't alienate your base of supporters. For example, it's common for political fundraisers to cost $2,500 per plate, but a $75 ticket may be more affordable for your school's wine tasting event.
Silent Auction or Raffle
In a silent auction, bidders simply write their bids on a piece of paper and the highest bidder wins the item. In a raffle, everyone who purchases a ticket has a chance to win the item. If the items are donated from area businesses or other supporters, the amount that you raise is pure profit. If you can get a few high-ticket items it will generate a buzz about your auction or raffle, making it even more successful.
Direct Mail or Email Campaign
Simply asking your supporters to make a donation can be a viable way to raise money, and it doesn't cost a lot. Sending through the mail can attract attention, but it's cheaper to send an email, along with a link where the recipient can donate online. You have to ask for permission to send emails to your supporters, but they can sign up for your list through a website or at local events. If you have a list of 10,000 supporters, and everyone sends just one dollar, you'll have raised a lot of money. Get specific about how you'll spend the money that a person donates, which makes people feel that their money is making a difference.
Federal and State Grants
While not always thought of as a traditional fundraiser, the government offers money to qualifying nonprofit organizations, which can be a way to raise big bucks compared to the time and effort invested. Search through Grants.gov to see which types of grant programs your organization might qualify for, then write grant proposals for the money. If one of your supporters is a grant writer, she may donate her services for free.
Maggie McCormick is a freelance writer. She lived in Japan for three years teaching preschool to young children and currently lives in Honolulu with her family. She received a B.A. in women's studies from Wellesley College.