Especially during difficult economic times, charities and nonprofit organizations should consider fundraising strategies that require little or no cash outlay. The revenues generated by free fundraising ideas can be directly used for the work of the organization and require no upfront expenditure of already limited funds. Here are 10 free fundraising ideas that can produce great results.

  1. Radio call-in donations. By enlisting the help of a local radio station, charities and nonprofits can often achieve significant donations without any cash investment on their part. This is especially useful for local organizations, since support for these charitable activities can be linked directly to benefits for the community and those fundraising may be more likely to gain support from local stations.
  2. Coffee can fund drives. By using discarded coffee cans, decorating them with handmade appeals for donations and placing them in high-traffic areas including convenience stores and grocery stores (with permission, of course), charities and nonprofit organizations can increase their visibility while increasing donations.
  3. Recycling. One of the most innovative and green-friendly free fundraising ideas is collecting used cell phones and ink cartridges from local businesses and individuals for recycling and reuse. These items can often be sold to online or local companies for refurbishment and refilling, generating cash for the charitable organization.
  4. Gardening and lawn care. By offering a lawn care service for a minimal donation, charities can often achieve significant donations and beautify their neighborhoods at the same time.
  5. Singing telegrams. Offering singing telegrams for donations can often produce significant revenues on a short-term basis; this is especially appropriate during the holiday season or around Valentine’s Day.
  6. Sacking groceries. By partnering with local grocery stores, charities can often arrange to sack groceries for a day or a weekend in return for donations to their cause. This can sometimes be combined with donation slips that can be added to the overall grocery bill and paid for at the time of sale. This can potentially be one of the most effective free fundraising ideas.
  7. Public classes and private lessons. This fundraising idea requires that volunteers and staff members draw on their own special talents to offer classes in music, dance, self defense, languages and/or any other skill that they can impart to others. By requesting donations in return for these lessons, charities can often boost their funding while helping the larger community.
  8. White elephant sales. By soliciting donations of unwanted items and then offering them in a garage sale or yard sale, nonprofit organizations can often realize significant financial revenues without spending a single cent.
  9. Guided tours. For a small donation, charities and nonprofits can arrange guided tours of various points of interest in the local community or of the nonprofit organization’s facilities and operations. These tours can be a temporary fundraising measure or a permanent part of the activities of the charity or nonprofit.
  10. Asking for donations from walkers in popular areas. Engaging walkers in popular areas and asking them for donations can often prove financially rewarding for charities and other nonprofits. Before setting up donation stops, charities and nonprofits should arrange for a permit from the city so that they do not inadvertently violate any local laws.

Bonus Free Fundraising Idea: GoFundMe. GoFundMe is the digital equivalent of asking for donations face-to-face. This free platform will allow you to raise money from your Facebook friends and email contacts. It’s 100% free to launch your fundraising page.

You've read this article, now take the next step. Call 1-866-781-4988 for free advice and fundraising product samples or fill out this quick form to receive your free fundraising guide. The key to fundraising is taking action and always making an effort to move forward. Don't forget: You can also submit your own fundraising ideas here.

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