A fundraiser has to make money. Last year, we didn’t. This year, we do better,” I once told those in a non-profit meeting. The fundraiser dinner the year before had barely broken even. As the nonprofits’ new president, I hoped we would make money on our talent show.

The previous year, the former president had cooked for two days to prep food for a dinner theatre production for 200 people. Food expenses had eaten the profits, We had charged $10/plate and required all kids performing to purchase tickets. Families were irritated they had to buy tickets for their own kids to eat for a fundraiser for a choir they paid tuition to join. And I wasn’t going to cook for two days for a dinner.

We re-invented the talent show and fundraiser:

  • Instead of dinner theatre, we hosted a dessert reception.
  • We asked chorus families to donate gourmet desserts.
  • Our only food expenses were for tablecloths, iced tea, lemonade, and coffee. We sold canned soft drinks to those who wanted them.
  • Because we had desserts instead of a dinner, we got rid of the tables and could seat more chairs to sell more tickets.
  • We lowered the price to $5/ticket and no ticket charge for the performers.

Results? The room was packed, families were happy, with the lower price more grandparents and extended family members could attend, and we made a huge profit. The fundraiser made money.

I’m still a volunteer nonprofit fundraiser. Each year, I need to raise thousands of dollars for organizations to fund educational opportunities for youth. Despite the tough economy, each year, I have raised a little more money for the organizations I support. How?

If you work harder and smarter, funds can still be raised.

  • Count every dollar and make every dollar count.
  • Mix your fundraising efforts with targeted  social media, email, direct mail, and personal contacts.
  • Believe passionately in your cause.

Success is the only viable option for nonprofit fundraisers. If you fail, the causes you support will be unable to fulfill their missions.

Fundraisers have to make money. They still can, with the right tools and a good strategy.


Today’s guest post was written by Mary Biever – computer coach, speaker, and writer. I’ve known Mary for a couple of years and love her content. Check her out on Twitter at – @marybiever