top of page



Seven Tried-And-True Alternative Forms Of Funding For Nonprofits

Running a nonprofit can be an extremely rewarding experience, although not always monetarily. Securing funding for a nonprofit organization comes with a lot of ups and downs.

Usually, nonprofits need to branch out and secure numerous streams of revenue in order to keep doing the work they’re doing.

Luckily, there are quite a few alternate forms of funding available for nonprofits. Yet, it can be difficult to know where to look, especially for those just starting out or located in particularly saturated areas. To help, seven members of Forbes Nonprofit Council share some of the alternative funding.

1. Used Goods Retail

Used goods stores are our most successful means of funding our mission. We are the original social enterprise, and our thrift stores have been the model we've used since 1902 when our founder, Reverend Edgar J. Helms, began the first operations to help the impoverished and disenfranchised discover the power of work by selling donated items and using the funds to provide services. - Kimberly Lewis, Goodwill Industries of East Texas, Inc.

2. Social Campaigns

We do social media campaigns and accept social payments. These digital fundraisers include stories of those we have helped in video format to illustrate how donating helps. We also go live with our videos to talk about what we do and those we have helped. - Gloria Horsley, Open to Hope

3. Corporate Donations

Where great philanthropy and a great marketplace intersect -- that's where a lot of corporate sponsors want to be. We use the philosophy of numbers (#) and numbers ($). We leverage our current brand membership and equity while also articulating the potential "win-win" by tapping into our unique marketplace. This approach has attracted project, event and corporate donors. - Aaron Alejandro, Texas FFA Foundation

4. Service Funding Fees, Government Grants

Our school started with a fee for service funding. The surplus allowed us to build our distinct mission without restriction. Later, we received government contracts which gave us professional development and efficiency. Government contracts don't pay 100% of costs or allow a cash reserve. Our target is 60% contract, 40% fee for service funding and three months of cash reserve. - Ronald Tompkins, 82nd Street Academics

Forbes Nonprofit Council is an invitation-only organization for chief executives in successful nonprofit organizations. Do I qualify?

5. Self-Sustained Programs

Our operational budget is 90% earned income. We host events and programs throughout the year to engage the public in our educational mission. By creating self-sustained programs, we're able to be strategic and specific with each of our donations, helping to deepen our work in key issue areas without relying on that income to fund our basic programs. - Kristine Sloan, StartingBloc

6. Social Enterprises

Some foundations are well-suited to generate “internal income” by creating social enterprises, which both supplement traditional funding and deliver products and services to low-income people. In our case, the loan capital we provide enables people to create or expand their own businesses, powering our own work while also creating jobs, income and savings that would otherwise not have existed. - Rupert Scofield, FINCA International

7. Fun Fundraising Dinners

We love fundraising dinners. You can contact a local restaurant, and they will often donate a portion of their receipts to you! It's fun, engaging and brings your supporters together. You can talk about your mission, have a roundtable on what people love about your organization and build culture and funds at the same time. You do need to market! - Pamela Hawley, UniversalGiving




bottom of page