5 simple fundraising ideas for non-profits

  • Fundraising is hugely important for charities – but what is the best way to go about it?
  • How can your non-profit apply for grants and how do you get permission for street collections?
  • We look at five ideas for raising money for your organisation, and where you can go to get further information

Charities are always looking for new and better ways to raise money. Tried and tested fundraisers such as bake sales or sponsored runs are one solution, but perhaps trying something different would work better for your organisation?

We have five simple suggestions to help people of all fundraising abilities raise money for non-profits of all shapes and sizes.

1. Resource-raising

If you are looking for equipment or supplies to be able to run your club or charity, why not ask for the items to be donated rather than raising money to pay for them?

Resource-raising is often referred to as ‘Goods in Kind’ or ‘Gifts in Kind’. Companies (or individuals) with a social conscience donate:

  • Goods such as food, art materials, laptops, furniture, building materials
  • Services such as office space, event venues, advertising space
  • Expertise such as marketing, book keeping, management support

How to ask for goods in kind

  • Approach companies directly – contact companies who make donations in this way. Some have information on their websites and you can apply online. In other cases it might be more effective to contact them directly by email or letter
  • Add a request to your website, blog or social media site. Be clear about what you will and will not accept. It can help to show how the gifts will be used and the difference they will make. Here’s an example from Book Aid International
  • Sign up to In Kind Direct. They redistribute donated stock from companies to not-for-profits. It is free to join. You pay a small handling charge per order, which covers delivery. They currently have laptops, printers, toys, clothes, books, footballs and even cleaning products in their online catalogue

You can find more about how to generate gifts in kind, including legal requirements, in the research paper From fundraising to resource-raising by Carol Beaumount.

2. Collection boxes

Collection boxes are a great way to raise income and awareness of your cause. You could approach your council for permission to hold collections in the street, or approach supermarkets or railway stations.

You could also ask local shops to host a collection tin on their counter and for supporters to collect at home. The Institute of Fundraising’s guide to charitable collections provides information on how to gain permission and the legal regulations.

Tops tips

  • Always seal and number collection boxes to ensure they are not tampered with
  • Every penny counts. Give mini envelope or card collection boxes to your supporters to collect their spare change at home or work. For example, in one year Michael Sobell Hospice raised £3,038 from home collection boxes and £15,000 from collection tins
  • Book your 2015 Christmas collection now. Popular locations for Christmas collections are often reserved a year in advance
  • You could include the cost of collection boxes in your funding application

3. Council funding

County, district, city, town and parish councils all have different funds available that could benefit non-profits. County and District councils are likely to have Funding Advisors or Community Liaison Officers who can advise you on the council funds available. Many, such as Hackney Council, also have pages on their websites with details of how to apply.

A simple letter can be all that is required to apply to a parish council – they usually award smaller grants of between £50-£200.

Free resources
Councils often provide funding newsletters and guides. Some councils subscribe to open4funding, which provides free online funder searches to local charitable groups.

Who else can help?

  • County counsellors often manage area specific funding
  • Mayors may select different local charities to support annually. Some also have separate charitable trusts supporting local causes

4. Grants from businesses

Many businesses such as banks, building societies, airports and supermarkets give grants. Information can be found on the company’s websites under their charity, community or corporate responsibility sections. Here are some examples.

Greggs The Bakers
The mission of the Greggs Foundation is to ‘make a difference to the lives of people in need in the heart of our local communities’. Grants include:

Collect a nomination form at your local Waitrose to apply for Community Matters funding, which offers a share of £1,000 each month. See the Waitrose video for more information.

For more information see Tennyson Insurance’s guide to raising funds from supermarkets.

The Zurich Community Trust (UK) Limited is funded by an annual donation from the Zurich UK businesses and by generous donations from Zurich UK employees. As a registered independent charity, grant giving is at the heart of what we do and remains our primary objective. Since its inception in 1973, the Trust has donated over £64 million.

Last year we awarded around £2 million of grants, touching the lives of over 90,000 disadvantaged people. Grants tend to range from £100 – £5,000 (depending on location) and support disadvantaged people to live a more independent lifestyle. We fund a range of issues including supporting carers, special needs children, older people, people with disabilities, counselling, homeless people and many more.

5. Charitable trusts and foundations

What is a charitable trust fund?
There are around 7,500 grant-making trusts and foundations in the UK, awarding a total of ₤2 billion in grants each year to charities. (Source: Fit4Funding)

Directories of funders

  • Pop along to your local library – paper directories can be expensive to buy, but most libraries stock reference copies you can browse
  • Funding Central is a free online guide to more than 4,000 sources of funding. It is regularly updated
  • Guidestar is a good free way to find small local funders

How to apply
Each trust fund will have its own criteria, some will have application forms, while many require a simple letter of application.

Create a good funder mix

Using a blend of these five methods should create a good funder mix, providing you with both restricted and unrestricted income (restricted income is for a specific item or service, while unrestricted income refers to general funds available for charitable purposes).

Making sure that your fundraising is coming from different sources can help you protect your charity from shortfalls when one source comes to an end.

Find out more with In Brief’s guide to the use of charity money and charitable spending.