Fundraising Frequently Asked Questions

Fundraising offers an exciting wealth of possibilities for doing good and motivating local, national and even international communities to join you in your quest. However, it can be a daunting task, especially if you have only just set up your non-profit organization or have recently taken on a new role with an existing cause. From IRS paperwork and health and safety procedure to the etiquette of approaching local businesses for sponsorship deals, there is a lot your charitable cause needs to know about.

Our list of FAQs is here to help ordinary people become expert fundraisers. If there are any topics that you feel are missing from our list, do email us at and we will do our best to incorporate them for future visitors.
What do you have to do to register a non-profit organization?
Safe to say there is a lot of paperwork required to register your charitable cause and if you want to fundraise across state boundaries the paperwork increases even further. Start by registering your non-profit in the state where it is based and then register in all the other states in which you plan to ask for donations. This applies to online fundraising as well as in-person activities, so if you are intending to get national coverage for your non-profit, make sure you register in every state.

Don’t worry, you don’t need to fill in 50 odd registration documents, as many states accept the Unified Registration Form, just be aware of exceptions to this rule and of variations in fees, supporting documentation and deadlines from state to state.

This is not the place to provide an exhaustive list of each state’s requirements for registering a non-profit organization, but it is important that you are aware of everything you are legally obliged to do in each of the states in which you plan to fundraise, as you may face penalties or even felony charges for non-compliance. The National Council of Non-Profits is a useful resource for anyone looking to register a non-profit, whether it is a small local cause or a big national charity.

When can a new non-profit organization start fundraising?
There is no legal stricture preventing you from fundraising before you receive your 501(c)(3) status from the IRS. However, any donations you receive at this stage are not tax-deductible. To avoid confusion, we would advise you to wait until you are officially registered as a charitable organization before you start fundraising.

Is there a minimum amount of fundraising that the law requires me to undertake?
There is no minimum figure that you are required to fundraise, but your non-profit needs to make at least one third of its income from public donations. These can come from individuals, companies or foundations, but must not be from your charity’s own founders, board members or members of staff.

What is multichannel fundraising?
The multitude of options we have for communicating with each other in the modern age has made fundraising simultaneously easier and more complicated! Non-profit organizations can ask their supporters for donations in person, over the phone, via email, on social media, in letters, via online donation pages, at events, on their own website and on the websites of other organisations.

The key to successful fundraising is to establish a balance that does not run your organization into the ground, generating endless communications for every single channel and does not bombard (and therefore alienate) your supporters with repeated requests for money on every available channel.

This article on the QGiv website is really helpful in determining when and how you should communicate with the individuals, corporations and foundations that you would like to approach for donations or nurture for continued support.

What is peer-to-peer fundraising?
Peer-to-peer fundraising is based around a non-profits ‘hub’ online fundraising page. In order to gain maximum traction among their peers, your individual supporters then create sub-pages that feed into your organizations central page. For example, a cancer charity has a fundraising page for everyone taking part in the Boston Marathon on its behalf. Individual athletes who are running to raise money for the charity each create their own individual page to explain why they chose your cause and to share their training progress and their experience on race day. Each of these individual pages will resonate more profoundly with that person’s friends and family than your central page.

What are some good fundraising ideas?
There are a whole host of fundraising ideas out there and the challenge is finding the ones that are the best fit for the resources you have available and the people and organizations that support you. When you are planning your year’s fundraising activities, try to spread them fairly evenly throughout the calendar and remember to capitalize on times when people are often feeling generous, such as Christmas. Discover some of our favourite fundraising ideas here.

What are some good virtual fundraising ideas?
The key to a successful virtual or online fundraiser is a thorough, detailed schedule (to avoid awkward silences, people talking over each other and everyone losing focus) and to get participants relaxed and engaged as quickly as possible. Explore our virtual fundraising ideas here.

What are some good fundraising ideas for sports teams?
In our experience, the best fundraising ideas for a sports team are based on the sport that you play, so soccer teams run great Beat the Goalie fundraisers and Keepie Uppie challenges and swim teams are the perfect organisers for swim-a-thons. Check out a few of our sport-specific fundraising ideas here.

How do you fundraise in a recession?
The best way to fundraise during a recession is to foster lasting relationships with your supporters. This is pretty important at the best of times, but it becomes crucial during a recession. Here are our top tips for helping your non-profit raise vital funds when times are tough:

• Foster recurring giving channels – Monthly/quarterly gifts are the bread and butter for many non-profit organizations. Asking for a small regular donation allows you to build lasting relationships with your supporters and gives you the opportunity to spend less time asking for money and more time thanking people for their contributions.
• Keep in touch with supporters – Letting people know how you are faring during the recession will keep you at the forefront of people’s minds, so that when they do have a bit of spare cash to donate, or are looking for a beneficiary for a sponsored challenge they are undertaking, they may well think of you first.
• Be brutal with your fundraising calendar – Take a long, hard look at the events in your fundraising calendar. If there is anything in it that seems to expend a lot of time and energy to organize but offers little in the way of returns, shelve it and try something else instead.
• Avoid panicky communications – Times may be tough, but hysterical communications begging for bail out money make it sound as if your organization is nearing collapse. Few people will support a charity using this kind of messaging, so focus instead on the ways your charity can help those in need during the recession.
• Be grateful – When people are watching their spending, charitable giving can fall victim to streamlined outgoings. One way to combat this is to regularly thank your supporters for their contributions. This can be done in a variety of different ways, from texts to their mobiles, videos on social media and emails that reach out and personally thank them for their continued support.

How do you ask for donations?
The channel you use and the way in which you ask for donations for your non-profit depends on who you are asking and the form their donation will take. Speaking to a foundation for a grant or on-going financial support requires a different tone (and a lot more homework) than shaking a donation bucket outside Walmart during the holiday season. Again, this article on the QGiv blog is a really useful resource to help you plan the timing and tone of your donation requests.

How do you ask a company for donations?
Approaching a company to support your organization has the potential to obtain substantial funding. Your non-profit may be able to secure a corporate grant or benefit from in-kind donations, staff contributions via payroll deductions, volunteer grants or gift matching. In return the company may receive tax benefits and a boost to their profile in the eyes of the general public.
Approach companies whose ethos seems to fit with your non-profit’s. If you run an animal sanctuary, shortlist veterinary pharmaceuticals companies and pet food and accessories brands.

Before you contact anyone, put together a comprehensive proposal that details what you do and how much money you need to achieve your goals. Asking companies for support for your non-profit is a bit like a job interview and the more questions you prepare for the more likely you will be to succeed.

Finally, do not be too downhearted if your initial approaches are rejected. Many companies have existing CSR (corporate social responsibility) programs that limit the amount they can give and the types of charity with which they can work. As with a job interview, ask for feedback on your performance and find out when the company plans to look for new charities to partner, so that you can be ready to approach them again at a more opportune date.

How can I fundraise for myself?
There are any number of reasons why you may need a bit of financial help to achieve a personal goal and the good news is that anyone can fundraise for themselves. The best way to start is to create a fundraising page with a reputable provider, such as fundly or gofundme.

The most successful campaigns have a clear financial goal and a well-written explanation of why the money is needed. Share your fundraising page on all your social media channels and encourage friends and family to do the same. Boost donations by taking on a personal challenge, such as a marathon or a mountain climb, to prove your own commitment to your goal.

What is a 50/50 raffle?
A 50/50 raffle is an attractive fundraising idea because it presents very little in the way of upfront costs – all you need to purchase are the raffle tickets. No need to invest in raffle prizes for a 50/50 draw, as the winner receives 50% of the takings from sales. Your non-profit retains the other half of the money, hence the name 50/50 raffle.

How do you win a 50/50 raffle?
In a book of raffle tickets, each number has a stub printed with the same number. As each ticket is sold, its stub is folded and put into a bucket. When you have finished selling tickets someone with no vested interest in the draw picks a ticket stub from the bucket and the person who holds the corresponding ticket wins 50% of the money generated by ticket sales (the other half being retained by organization that sold the tickets).

Are 50/50 Raffles considered gambling?
Yes. It is against the law to hold a raffle of this kind in the USA unless the organization conducting and benefiting from it is an IRS 501(c)(3) charity.

How do you start a 50/50 raffle online?
If you want to extend the reach of your 50/50 raffle and make it more secure to manage you can host it online using a platform such as Dojiggy or Rafflesnow.

What are the most profitable fundraisers?
This is not what you want to hear, but there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to making lots of money for your cause. Here are our top tips for hosting profitable fundraisers:

• The most successful fundraisers make use of the resources you have immediately available to you. Think about what your closest supporters can do to help you quickly and easily. For example, schools and kids’ sports teams can raise money by asking parents to donate their time and their skills, not just their spare cash.
• Volunteers who feel valued and important will spread the word about your event and help to make it succeed, so ensure that everyone willing to help has a clear role and that you regularly thank them for their time and remind them that you couldn’t do it without them.
• It is important to allocate time and money to advertising your event. The best ideas in the world won’t be successful if you don’t let everyone know they are taking place.
• Simplicity is key if you are looking to make maximum profit from your fundraiser. Complication costs time, money and manpower, so save the more elaborate ideas for a time when you are able to prioritise raising the profile of your cause over raising money fast.

How can I raise money fast?

The quickest and easiest way to raise money is to go online and create a fundraising page with a trusted provider such as Fundly or Gofundme. Spend time creating a well-written, thought provoking page, which clearly explains how much money you need and exactly how you intend to use it. You can then take to social media to share your story and encourage your friends and family to donate and to spread the word about your campaign to their contacts too.

How can I make $3000 fast?
Fundraising campaigns with quite modest totals can be run fairly easily using trusted online platforms such as Fundly and Gofundme. The worthiness of the cause will have an impact on the speed with which you can reach your total, as people are far more likely to donate to life-saving health treatment than support a gap year trip of a lifetime.

How can I fundraise $5000 fast?
Fundraising 5000 dollars fast can be done fairly easily using trusted online platforms such as Fundly and Gofundme. The worthiness of the cause will have an impact on the speed with which you can reach your total, as people are far more likely to donate to life-saving health treatment than support a gap year trip of a lifetime.

How can I make $100 per day?
If you are looking for fundraising campaigns that provide a steady income rather than a one-off surge of capital, consider initiatives such as collection boxes at the till points of local businesses, hosting regular social events, asking for continued donations of unwanted items (that you can then sell on for your cause) and signing up to cashback and donation websites.

Does Amazon donate to fundraisers?
Amazon’s AmazonSmile initiative allows customers to generate donations for their chosen charity when they make eligible purchases on the Amazon website. You can apply to register your cause here or, if you know that the charity you wish to support is already registered with Amazon, you can sign up to AmazonSmile and search for them using their name or EIN number.

What companies give charitable donations?
Many companies support good causes as part of a corporate social responsibility agenda. Some pick a certain charity or charities to support for a given period - say a year or two – and then select a new one to partner. If you think that your cause would be a good match for a company, approach them to find out whether they would consider supporting you and at what point in the year they accept applications from charitable partners.

What items sell best at silent auctions?
Weekend hotel packages, premium home accessories, fine dining restaurant vouchers, outings and experiences and sports memorabilia all do well in silent auctions.

Fundraising Expert

Fundraising Expert is a driving force for effective fundraising and increasing donations. Helping you raise more!
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