If you’ve read my book I HAVE MY 501(C)3! NOW WHAT?!? Your Blueprint to Starting Your Nonprofit Without Being the Sole Funder you know that the entire plan costs $881.40. I get asked often how to pay for the plan. Board members are the source of funds. But what if you still aren’t able to raise enough for the things you need the first year? I don’t like nonprofits to use events as funding sources the first year because it is too easy to get dependent on them and find yourself on the event hamster wheel. But I also understand the reality of needing funding and not having sustainable fundraising activities in place. So, here are ten ways to raise your first $500 from I HAVE MY 501(C)3! NOW WHAT?!?


  1. List all your friends who are interested in your organization or similar organizations. Decide how much each one should give. Write to them on your own stationery, include a brochure from the organization and a return envelope. Phone those people who don’t respond in two weeks. Some people will need 10 friends to give $50, and some people need 50 friends to give $10. Most people will need a combination such as: 2-3 @ $50; 4-5 @ $25; 15 @ $10. Have your Board members do the same.
  2. You and your Board can give part of the $500. Then ask your friends to join you in giving $25, $50, or whatever their gift is. This is most effective because you are not asking them to do anything you haven’t done.
  3. Hold a Garage Sale with your Board. Give some or a lot of things to your organization’s garage sale, making sure they are worth $500, and then help to sell it all.
  4. With 4 or 5 friends, have a spaghetti dinner at a church or union hall or other big room with a large kitchen. Charge $10 per person and feed more than 50 people. You can charge extra for wine or garlic bread, or for dessert.
  5. Have a fancy dinner at your home or a regular dinner at someone’s fancy home. Serve unusual or gourmet food or have special entertainment. Charge $25 or more per person and have 20 or more guests.
  6. Get three friends (or your Board) to help you have a progressive dinner. Start at one person’s home for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, progress to the next person’s house for soup or salad, the next person’s for the main course, and the last person for dessert. Either charge by course, or for the whole package. To make it extra special (and much more expensive), get a limousine for the evening that carries guests from house to house.
  7. Solicit small businesses, churches, synagogues, or service clubs for $500. If you are active in a church or own your own business and are involved in business organizations or service clubs, this can be very effective. You can often raise $200-$500 with a simple proposal and oral presentation.
  8. Invite people to your birthday party and ask that in lieu of gifts they give money to your organization. Make this a Board fundraising option to their get/give fundraising requirement.
  9. Collect cans for recycling. Ask all your friends to save their cans and bottles for you and turn them into a buy-back recycling center.
  10. Ask friends who belong to service clubs, sororities, antique collecting groups, support groups, bridge clubs, etc. to discuss your organization in their group and pass the hat for donations. A once-a-year sweep of even small organizations can yield $100 from each.

If you would like to know the plan or more fundraising ideas, check out  I HAVE MY 501(C)3! NOW WHAT?!? Your Blueprint to Starting Your Nonprofit Without Being the Sole Funder on Amazon.

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