Easy fundraising programs
A lot of large corporations offer easy, no-hassle fundraising programs for registered 501(c)(3) nonprofits (so the corporation can get a tax writeoff). Typically, the programs are structured so that you can receive a percentage of the proceeds of sales made when your members purchase things from the corporation. This is the low-hanging fruit of fundraising; you generally have to do very little besides sign up and occasionally remind your members to register for the program, and you get money! I will describe a few that I know of below. Please contact me if you know of any others that I should include here.
With all of these programs, make sure to read the fine print because they all have limitations on how you're allowed to advertise your participation in the program.
Additionally, before starting any fundraising, check if your state has any specific reporting or registration requirements. In California, if you do any fundraising or collect donations to support your organization, you have to report annually to the state Office of the Attorney General, which is responsible for ensuring that all charitable donations in California are being used legitimately. See the filing requirements page for further details.
Amazon's nonprofit donation program is Amazon Smile. When customers shop starting at Amazon Smile instead of regular Amazon, a small percentage (about 0.5%) of the proceeds of qualified sales go to the nonprofit that the customer has chosen to support. There is no cost to the customer or the beneficiary organization, and the customer's regular Amazon or Amazon Prime account still works the same.
A few months after you have received your official 501(c)(3) status (it takes a while for the information to trickle down to Amazon from the IRS), your organization will appear in Amazon's list of qualified nonprofits. You have to register your organization to actually receive the donations and hook up your organization's bank account for a quarterly direct deposit. Then, you just have to tell your members to use Amazon Smile and choose your organization as the beneficiary. Make sure to read the fine print; advertising Amazon Smile in print is forbidden, so don't print a big notice in your concert programs.
Supermarket rewards programs
Many supermarkets (particularly ones that are subsidiaries of the Kroger Company) offer regional community rewards programs. After you sign up your organization with the program, your members can register their supermarket rewards cards (the things you swipe or scan at the register to get the discounts), and a percentage (generally about 4%) of the proceeds from the sale go to your organization. The Dexter Community Orchestra uses the Kroger Community Rewards Program to great success, receiving about $1000 a year from the program. The RCO has registered for the equivalent program with Kroger subsidiary Food4Less, but it is proving far less lucrative because not many of our members shop at Food4Less.
Here are some similar programs I was able to find after some quick Googling:
- Albertson's Community Partners Program (no longer active, as of late 2017)
- Baker's Community Partners Program
- City Market Community Rewards
- Dillon's Community Rewards
- Food4Less Community Rewards
- Food Lion MVP Community Rewards (probably no longer active, as of late 2017)
- Foods Co Community Rewards
- Fred Meyer Community Rewards
- Fry's Community Rewards
- Gerbes Community Rewards
- Kroger Community Rewards
- Ralph's Community Contributions Program
- Smith's Community Rewards
Corporate donation matching
Some companies offer match their employees' charitable donations. Have your members check with their employers to see if matching funds are available.