Fundraising in a Poor Economy: Tips for Non-Profit Organizations

Although fundraising is a great way to benefit a non-profit organization, a poor economy isn’t exactly conducive to massive donations. People are scared about whether or not they will wind up homeless themselves, so they aren’t going to want to part with their money. There are ways, however, to improve fundraising efforts during a poor economy if you start to think outside the box.

1) Donations of Time

One of the best ways to promote fundraising in a poor economy is to ask for volunteers. This is an area where many non-profit organizations are struggling, and a pair of able hands is often more valuable than a cash donation. In fact, a large team of volunteers can eliminate some of the expenses that hinder your non-profit, reducing the need for monetary contributions.

The best way to handle this is to give people an option. When you talk to groups at events, call individuals on the phone or distribute literature, ask people to donate either time or money, or both. This can dampen the disappointment of fundraising in a poor economy, and can elevate the spirits of non-profit organizations. Plus, once you’ve assembled a team of volunteers, you’ll have more people to send out for donations.

2) Offer a Service

Rather than fundraising by calling people and asking for cash, try offering a service for which all proceeds will go toward your cause. Non-profit organizations can use volunteers to offer car washes, lawn services, auctions and other money-making ventures that will bring in the cash. In a poor economy, individuals are much more likely to pay for a service they need than to offer cash donations while receiving nothing in return.

Fundraising in a poor economy

Non-profit organizations can get creative with these fundraising efforts. Offer services that you usually don’t find in connection to non-profit fundraising, such as web design for businesses or shopping assistance for the elderly. Poll your volunteers and find out what talents they have that can be leveraged for your organization.

3) Host a Sporting Event

Sporting events are great fundraising activities in a poor economy because regardless of their difficult lifestyle choices and worries about retirement, people need to have fun. According to, the local Junior League has experienced enormous success with their Bowl-A-Thon fundraiser.

Not only do sporting activities offer a great way for people to have fun and socialize, but they offer network fundraising. If each participant in the sporting event must raise a certain amount of money in order to compete, you gain access to hundreds of people you might not otherwise have met. It is also a good idea to choose events that can be held indoors during the summer or the winter.

Fundraising for non-profit organizations doesn’t have to halt in the middle of a poor economy. However, you do have to think harder about the fundraising efforts that will bring in the most cash without resorting to underhanded tactics. In the end, you’ll find a way to make sure your organization stays afloat. Learn how to form a Wyoming company.


April McClellan-Copeland, Nonprofits must get creative at fund raising amid poor economy ,