How to Start a Fundraiser With No Money: Ideas + Solid Tips

How to start a fundraiser with no money
Want to raise funds for a good cause but have no money to spend on putting together a fundraiser? Wondering if it is even possible to start a fundraiser with no money?

Starting a fundraiser can be a great way to raise money for a cause or organization that you’re passionate about. However, one of the biggest fundraising challenges that people face when they’re trying to start a fundraiser is the lack of funds to get it off the ground.

Fortunately, there are many ways to start a fundraiser with no money, and in this post, we’ll be exploring some of the most effective strategies that you can use to launch a successful fundraiser without breaking the bank. Of course, the key to a successful no-money fundraiser is to get creative and use non-monetary resources.

So whether you’re an individual looking to make a difference or a non-profit organization seeking to raise funds, these tips will help you get started on the right foot.

Preparation to start a fundraiser with no money

1. Get clear on your ‘why’

Many people want to create an impact or raise money for a cause. But because the cause is not clearly defined, they do not find the motivation to work against all odds and get themselves off to a start.

So, you will not be able to start a fundraiser with no money unless you feel really driven. In order to feel driven about a cause, you must spend enough time defining it.

So sit down and ask yourself

  • What is it about a cause that makes me feel like raising funds?
  • Why is the fundraising so urgent that I must start without any money for fundraising?
  • How will working for this cause make me feel?
  • What will I do with the money raised?
  • What real noticeable difference will it make?

You can even undertake this activity as part of a group interested in making a positive change.

Once you have crystal clear and honest answers, you would be able to figure out if you are willing to go the extra mile to raise money for a cause or work towards starting a fundraiser without any initial budget or capital to spend.

The ‘why’ need not be lofty like eradicating hunger, global literacy, etc. It could be something smaller but important to you like

  • rebuilding a play area
  • improving the financial resources of a local kindergarten school
  • supporting a particular nursing care
  • creating awareness for children’s health or any health issue like cancer, mental health, etc.

No cause is too small if it is important to you. The whole purpose of this exercise is to find out if the cause is important enough for you to start working on even if you have no money to host a full-fledged fundraiser.

2. Define the goal of the fundraiser

The goal of your fundraiser is different from the ‘why’ you found out in Step 1. The goal of a fundraiser has to be measurable and clear.

  • How much money do you want to raise?
  • How do you want to use the money you raise?
  • In how much time do you want to raise the money

The fundraising goal should be a clear one-line statement that you arrive at answering the above questions. An example is

“Our goal is to raise $50,000 within six months to support the construction of a community center that will provide educational programs, recreational facilities, and a safe space for youth in our neighborhood.”

How to start a fundraiser with no money: Actionable Tips

Now that you know how much funds you need to raise, for what, and in how much time, it is time to lay down a fundraising plan.

Some ways in which you can raise funds without any starter money are:

1. Virtual Fundraiser Events

Virtual fundraiser - how to start a fundraiser with no money

Some virtual fundraising ideas are

  • virtual talent shows or concerts using free platforms like Youtube or Facebook Live
  • virtual auctions of donated items using platforms like eBay which charge a commission on the total sales but you don’t need to make any upfront payments
  • virtual walks, runs, or fitness challenges by simply relying on the reporting by participants done using their own fitness tracking apps on Apple Watch or Fitbit collected in a Google sheet. If not, collect participation fees to cover the costs of apps like Strava or MapMyRun.
  • virtual game night conducted on the free version of Zoom, or Google Meet.
  • virtual lessons or classes using a free version of Zoom or Google Meet.

2. Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is one of the easiest ways to start a fundraiser without any money. All that you need to do is create a compelling page on a crowdfunding platform like GoFundMe which is absolutely free for starting a fundraiser.

GoFundMe charges a transaction fee from the donations received using the platform so you don’t need to pay from your pocket when starting a fundraiser.

3. Direct Donations

If you can identify people or organizations that you could directly reach out to for seeking donations for your cause, you can simply approach them and seek donations.

You can use free apps like Venmo, Paypal, or Cash App to collect money.

4. Text-to-Donate

You can set up a text-to-donate system where supporters can text a specific keyword to a designated number to make a donation. This method is particularly effective for mobile fundraising campaigns.

You can use Give Lively or Give Butter to set up a free text-to-donate campaign.

5. Collection Drives

You can raise funds in the form of non-monetary collections. You could collect based on a specific list of classroom donation items or just simply organize a broad collection drive for clothes, food, books, toys, electronics, etc.

6. Sponsorship Request

Sponsorship is one of the quickest and the most direct way of fundraising without spending money.

Make a list of relevant organizations, businesses, or individuals with whom you could tie up for sponsorship. You could invite sponsorship in the form of money or donations directly linked to the cause (e.g. requesting a healthcare provider to sponsor medical equipment for a hospital) or you could request sponsorship in other forms like

  1. Event Sponsorships – sponsoring fundraising events like galas, charitable walks, fundraising fetes, etc.
  2. Program or Project Sponsorships – sponsoring a specific project or program associated with the fundraiser such as sponsoring the awareness campaign, marketing campaigns, etc.
  3. Cause-Related Marketing Sponsorships – This is when you tie up with an organization’s marketing efforts. The organization, in this case, pledges a part of its total sales or profits to your cause.
  4. Media Sponsorships – you could get sponsorship for the media promotions of your fundraiser so that you don’t have to spend money on it.
  5. Employee Matching Programs – if you are raising funds from the employees of a particular company, you can seek an employee matching sponsorship from the employer. In this case, the employer matches the funds donated by its employees.
  6. Naming Rights Sponsorships – naming rights are one of the most lucrative sponsorships. If you want to cover the cost of fundraising, get a name right sponsor who wants to have their brand or company name associated with your fundraiser.

How to promote a fundraiser without spending any money

While the actual fundraising activity often doesn’t need much money, the part that adds to the fundraising cost is the marketing and promotion of the fundraiser. But there are ways in which even the promotion of the fundraiser can be taken up without spending any money on it.

1. Use Social Media

Use social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to promote your fundraiser. Create a page or group for your fundraiser and share it with your friends, family, and followers. Use relevant hashtags and encourage others to share your posts.

2. Join Online Communities and Forums

Participate in online communities and forums relevant to your cause. Engage in discussions, share information about your fundraiser, and provide value to the community. Be mindful of community guidelines and ensure your engagement is authentic and genuine.

3. Write Emails

Send out an email to your contacts, explaining your fundraiser and how they can support it. Make sure to include a link to your fundraising page and any relevant information. Personalized and heartfelt messages can have a significant impact.

4. Use Word of mouth

Spread the word about your fundraiser through word of mouth. Tell your friends, family, and colleagues about your cause and ask them to support it. Encourage them to share your fundraiser with their own networks.

5. Use Local media

Reach out to local media outlets like newspapers, radio stations, and TV stations and pitch your fundraiser as a story. You may be able to get free coverage that will help you reach a wider audience.

6. Join Local Communities or Participate in Local Events

Reach out to local community groups, organizations, and businesses that might be interested in supporting your cause. Attend community events, introduce yourself, and share information about your fundraiser. Seek opportunities to speak about your cause and engage with local media for possible coverage.

7. Collaborate

Identify like-minded organizations or individuals who share a similar mission or target audience. Collaborate with them to cross-promote each other’s fundraisers or causes. This can expand your reach and tap into new networks of potential supporters. The collaboration could be online or through offline ventures.

8. Seek Sponsorships

To save promotion costs, as stated above, you could reach out to organizations that could sponsor your marketing and media coverage costs. This would allow you to promote your event in a professional, structured manner without spending money on it.

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