The Best Fund Raising Ideas for Non-Profits

The best fund raising ideas for all non-profits include these that will help you conserve your cash, and therefore raise more funds for your organization.

Because of this fundraising idea website, people often ask me...

What is your single best fundraising idea ever for non-profits, including charities, schools and churches?

My answer is always the same...

Find a great barter and trade exchange... and join as soon as possible.

(In my personal story about non-profit fundraising, I explain my love and appreciation for barter, and how I owe so much of my success to barter and trade.)

Fund Raising Ideas with Barter and Trade - Questions and Answers

  1. What is a barter and trade exchange?
  2. A barter and trade exchange is a for-profit business or corporation that facilitates the exchange of goods and services between their members.

    They bring new customers and business to their members, and help them to conserve cash. They do this by offering an alternate currency, usually called barter dollars, or trade dollars.

  3. What are barter and trade dollars?
  4. Barter dollars, or trade dollars, are an alternate form of currency that is used between members of the exchange. Each exchange has their own name for this currency. The value of this currency is the same as cash, except it can only be used within the exchange.

    However, many barter and trade exchanges are affiliated with groups of exchanges. This opens up a wide variety of opportunities for spending your trade dollars beyond the members of your local exchange, sometimes internationally.

  5. What goods, services, and operational necessities can your non-profit organization expect to acquire through a barter and trade exchange?
  6. Look at where your non-profit is currently spending cash. Chances are that you can stop spending money for these expenses and start using barter dollars instead.

    These expenses may include:

    • Rent or property purchases
    • Book-keeping and accounting services
    • Legal fees
    • Advertising and marketing expenses, including print, radio, internet and TV
    • Staff bonuses and incentives
    • Labor for building repairs and vehicle maintenance
    • Computer repairs
    • Printing costs
    • Catering services
    • Facility rentals
    • Postage and shipping fees
    • Stationery supplies
    • Entertainment costs for fundraising events
    • Travel expenses, especially hotels
    • Restaurant meals
    • Transportation, including bus, car and limousine rentals
    • Prizes for raffles or silent auctions

    Your fund raising ideas and opportunities to conserve cash are limited only by the diversity of members in your barter and trade exchange network.

    Whatever fund raising ideas you have planned for the future, chances are you will be able to use barter dollars instead of cash to organize your fundraiser or fundraising event.

  7. Is this type of currency legal?
  8. While every country has their own tax laws, in the Unites States barter and trade currencies are legal.

    According to the IRS, "Barter dollars or trade dollars are identical to real dollars for tax reporting. If you conduct any direct barter - barter for another’s products or services - you will have to report the fair market value of the products or services you received on your tax return."

    For your non-profit organization, I suggest you consult with a tax accountant and an attorney. Online tax software is no replacement for professional advice. Make sure they are both familiar with the laws regarding barter and trade for non-profits. Share these fund raising ideas with them and follow their advice.

    Most barter and trade exchanges have accountants and lawyers who are members, and are very experienced in this area. And yes, they accept barter dollars!

  9. Are there fees for joining and using the services of an exchange if you are a non-profit organization?
  10. Barter and trade exchanges are typically for-profits that do charge fees. As a non-profit organization, you can always ask the owner or broker to waive or reduce some of these fees.

    • An exchange usually charges a membership fee, either once upon joining, or as an annual fee.
    • They may charge a monthly administrative fee too, but this is generally just a few dollars.
    • There is a transaction fee on all sales, purchases and exchanges. This fee is billed either to the buyer, the seller, or as a split between the two. The amount is usually a percentage of the transaction amount. This may be billed in cash, barter dollars, or a combination of both.

    Every barter and trade exchange operates differently and you can always, always negotiate.

  11. How can a barter and trade exchange help your non-profit raise funds?
  12. By using barter dollars instead of cash you will automatically raise more funds for your organization. If you look at how much of your donations you currently spend on operational costs, you will immediately see how your non-profit can benefit from belonging to a barter and trade exchange.

    When it comes to fundraisers and fundraising events, your exchange will be able to assist you with bigger and better fund raising ideas. They can help you to utilize the goods and services that their members provide, thus reducing the amount of money you would normally spend.

  13. What types of non-profit organizations can benefit from joining a barter and trade exchange?
  14. Unless you have something specific in your by-laws that prevents you from joining a barter and trade exchange, ALL non-profits can benefit.

    This can include:

    • Schools
    • Hospitals and clinics
    • Volunteer services
    • Charities
    • Professional associations
    • Political organizations
    • Fraternal organizations
    • Churches, synagogues and other religious organizations
    • Etc.

    If there is something in your by-laws that prevents you from joining a barter and trade exchange, remember that rules are not made to be broken... but they are made to be changed, especially when doing so makes financial sense for your non-profit organization.

  15. How can your non-profit contribute to the exchange and earn barter dollars?
  16. When you join an exchange, ask for a line of credit. This means that you can start to save cash immediately by using barter dollars instead.

    Then take an inventory of all your resources and see what you can offer the barter and trade exchange.

    • Do you have facilities you can offer for rentals?
    • Barely used meeting rooms?
    • Classrooms empty on weekends and in the evenings?
    • Empty car lots?
    • Available office space?
    • Computer labs for online courses?
    • Large kitchens that are suitable for catering?

    Any time you are not fully using your facilities, you can be earning barter dollars by renting this valuable space.

    All valuable gifts-in-kind that you receive may be traded through the exchange too.

    For example, say a member of your community donates a used computer to your non-profit. If you don't need the computer, your options are to either store it or sell it through your newsletter, message board, the newspaper or the internet. Chances are you will get very little cash for the computer in today's market.

    Now, if your were to offer the same computer to the barter and trade exchange, everyone benefits. You will get a lot more in barter dollars than you would in cash. Why? Because members of the exchange love it when they can use their barter dollars on hard goods like computers and electronics.

    Are you struggling to raise funds through donations because of the economy?

    Ask members of your community who are either small business owners or service providers to donate a few hours a month to the exchange on your behalf.

    Do you have artists, graphic designers and photographers who may be willing to donate their original artwork?

    The number of fund raising ideas with which you can raise extra funds and earn barter dollars for your non-profit organization are limited only by your imagination.

  17. What should your non-profit organization look for in a barter and trade exchange?
  18. A local exchange with a diverse membership list is usually best. Make sure your barter and trade exchange has a broker, owner, or manager that is present. They should be available and eager to help you find ways to conserve your cash and spend your barter dollars wisely.

    You also have the option of joining more than one exchange. Some businesses join as many local barter and trade exchanges as possible.

  19. What other ways can your barter and trade exchange help you raise funds for your non-profit organization?
  20. Barter and trade exchanges often offer their members incentives for introducing new businesses and service providers into their exchange. This incentive may be in the form of cash, trade dollars, or a combination of the two.

    You can negotiate with your broker to receive a portion of a new member's joining fee, as well as a percentage of their monthly transactions.

    As a non-profit, you are in an ideal position to help members of your community, your donors, your congregation, and your organization by actively promoting your exchange.

    All the business owners and service providers in your community can enjoy the cash-saving benefits and new business opportunities that an exchange provides for their members.

    This really is a win-win situation and can help you raise significant funds for your non-profit on an ongoing basis.

Fund Raising Ideas and Solutions

To assist non-profits with their fund raising ideas and needs, I am compiling an international directory of barter and trade exchanges.

This is a directory of exchanges that accept non-profit organizations into their exchange and...

... have a broker, owner or manager that will actively help your non-profit conserve cash and raise additional funds through creative fund raising ideas.

I also ask barter and trade exchange experts to share their best nonprofit fundraising ideas with you.

If you have any questions about these fund raising ideas, please don't hesitate to contact me.

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