14 Product Fundraising Ideas to Raise More for Nonprofits

The Keela Team • Dec 13, 2021
product fundraising for nonprofits

From schools and sports teams to nonprofits furthering the social good, countless groups need to raise money to continue operating. But with so many good fundraising ideas out there, how do you choose the right one for your group?Product fundraising might be the answer!

Product fundraising (or merchandise fundraising) is a powerful way to secure the funds your organization needs to engage donors and provide something memorable in exchange for generous contributions. The idea is to design items for fundraising and sell them to generate revenue for your organization.

Especially when branded to the organization, fundraising products naturally spread brand awareness and help your organization connect with both existing and new supporters. Plus, promoting these types of fundraisers is incredibly easy since high-quality pictures of your products are much more eye-catching than generic text appeals. When you put custom products in front of your passionate supporters, it’s an easy sell!

Even with all of these great benefits, it’s up to your team to determine what products will appeal to your audience. To help, we’ve pulled together the ultimate list of popular product fundraising ideas, why each one will make your organization stand out, and how you can sell the most custom products possible. From custom t-shirts to bouquets of flowers, these 14 product fundraising ideas will take your fundraising to the next level.

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1. Custom T-Shirts: Best Overall Fundraising Product

Custom T-Shirts: Best Overall Fundraising Product
Custom t-shirts are a fantastic fundraising product for spreading brand awareness and reinforcing supporters’ commitment to your cause.

Why We Love This Fundraising Product

Nonprofits among many other causes have gravitated toward custom t-shirt fundraisers for quite some time, and for good reason! Everyone loves a comfortable t-shirt, especially when the cause behind it means something to them. 

T-shirts are highly customizable, making it easy to brand them to your cause. Supporters will be reminded of your mission each time they see your t-shirt hanging in their closets. 

Wearing it out and about is the ultimate endorsement of your organization. When supporters are out in public, this will naturally spark interest in others. Even if they’re not compelled to ask about the organization, they’ll see the name and logo and may pull out their phones to do a quick Google search to learn more.

Especially when your t-shirt fundraising platform doesn’t charge upfront costs, this fundraising product is highly lucrative! You can sell shirts online without paying for the products upfront, then collect any profits after the shirts are sold. In other words, the money your organization earns will directly fund your cause without the platform taking out a chunk in fees.

Tips for This Product Fundraiser

Creating the ultimate t-shirt product fundraiser is incredibly easy when you take a few notes from other successful campaigns. Here are a few t-shirt and fundraising event ideas and tips that have been successful in the past to guide your strategy:

  • Infuse your cause and branding into the design: Use your organization’s official colors, catchphrases, and name in your design. This will inspire supporters to buy one to publicly show off their commitment to one of their favorite causes.
  • Pair it with other fundraisers: T-shirts are the perfect addition to any campaign, from 5Ks to fancy galas. Brand it to the campaign so that people will be compelled to purchase memorabilia. Just make sure to get everyone’s orders in advance to be sure you have enough merchandise.
  • Choose a platform that offers effective design tools: You don’t have to be a professional t-shirt designer to create a standout product. Leverage a free t-shirt fundraising platform that offers design templates, premade graphics, dozens of great fonts and colors, and easy editing tools to create designs in a variety of styles and fabric colors.

2. Decals and Magnets: Most Versatile Product Fundraiser

Decals and Magnets: Most Versatile Product Fundraiser
Decals and magnets are fundraising products that supporters can put on their cars, water bottles, laptops, or pretty much anywhere.

Why We Love This Fundraising Product

Custom decals and magnets are simple fundraising products that can have an immense impact on your next fundraising campaign. For these, you can stick to a simple logo or get more creative with your design. Either way, the great thing about these fundraising products is that they represent a high-value marketing opportunity as people drive around town with your logo featured on their cars. Plus, decals and magnets are highly versatile in terms of how you sell them.

Let’s say you’re the head coach for a high school football team. You can sell customized decals and magnets at the games or have team members sell them to their friends and families. If you’re a fundraising development officer at a museum, you might use them as a membership incentive or as a token of appreciation for your active volunteers or major donors.

Tips for This Product Fundraiser

No matter how you choose to infuse this product into your fundraising strategy, there are several tips you’ll want to consider:

  • Choose waterproof and UV-resistant decals or magnets. Most people who buy your product will put it on their cars, which means it’ll constantly be exposed to the sun, rain, and other elements. Make sure it won’t fade quickly, or customers may be disappointed!

Choose a font that’s easy to read. Part of the reason you’re selling this fundraising product is to market your organization’s cause. Make sure to use a legible font type, size, and color.

3. Tote Bags: Top Functional Fundraising Product

Tote Bags: Top Functional Fundraising Product
When it comes to product fundraising, tote bags are easy to sell since they can be used in supporters’ daily lives.

Why We Love This Fundraising Product

Tote bags can easily be branded to your organization, then sold as a standalone fundraiser or alongside your other fundraising efforts. As our most functional fundraising product idea, tote bags can be used in pretty much any context, from grocery shopping to a day at the beach. 

Not to mention, it’s an eco-friendly alternative to plastic. Environmental research estimates that the average American family takes home around 1,500 plastic shopping bags each year, and one reusable bag can save over 22,000 plastic and paper bags. As more people become aware of their carbon footprint, these will provide an excellent opportunity to swap out single-use plastic and paper bags for reusable bags while supporting your cause. 

Tips for This Product Fundraiser

If this sounds like the right fundraising product for your organization, try out these tips to make the most of the opportunity and inspire more sales:

  • Offer tote bags as part of a set. If you’re selling apparel, simply reuse the design from your other merchandise or create a complementary design to go with it. This simplifies your design process and creates a “collect them all” mindset for buyers.
  • Make sure there’s plenty of contrast between the foreground and background. You want a design that really stands out, so make sure the ink is high-quality and provides plenty of contrast against the material.

4. Coupon Books: Best Annual Product Fundraiser

Product Fundraising Coupon Books
Coupon books are great for product fundraising each year.

Why We Love This Fundraising Product

Coupon books and discount cards have been staple fundraising products for decades. They’re packed with great deals for the stores and restaurants community members go to and inspire them to check out others they haven’t visited. The best part about these fundraising products is that they offer way more value than the actual cost of the product, making it an easy sell to buyers. As part of their CSR initiatives, companies like to jump in to provide discounts as a part of nonprofit campaigns to spread brand awareness while supporting a worthy cause.

You’ll either need to create your discount cards by contacting local merchants and businesses in your community and lining up deals or reach out to a company that offers coupon books to restaurant chains in your area. Either way, assign expiration dates to the coupons. That way, if your product fundraiser is a huge hit, you can make it an annual campaign that gains more and more traction each year.

Tips for This Product Fundraiser

Here are a couple of ways to increase coupon book sales and make the value of the fundraiser extend beyond the campaign itself:

  • Talk to participating local businesses about forming partnerships. If you’re creating your coupon books, see if local businesses would like to stay in contact and continue supporting one another after this fundraiser as part of their corporate giving initiatives
  • Emphasize the value of each coupon book. As we mentioned, this fundraising product typically has a considerable monetary value for buyers. The amount they’ll save makes it easy for them to justify buying one.

5. Hats: Top Fundraising Product for Brand Awareness

Product Fundraising Hats
Create branded hats and spread brand awareness with your next product fundraising campaign.

Why We Love This Fundraising Product

Mugs, pens, and other fundraising products can easily be left sitting idly on a desk, but apparel like hats will naturally be used in public. Just like with t-shirts, hats create brand awareness each time someone wears theirs out and about. It serves as a form of social proof when friends and family members see their loved ones repping your brand, instantly establishing a sense of trust.

Studies have shown that wearables are the most influential promotional product for consumers between the ages of 18 and 44. Both hats and shirts were ranked in the top 5 products to positively influence consumers, making apparel the perfect product for raising money and strengthen brand loyalty.

Tips for This Product Fundraiser

Here are a few ways you can create a hat that fits your buyers’ style and boosts brand awareness:

  • Choose the style that works best for your audience and the time of year: The classic baseball cap always works well, but your audience might prefer snapbacks. Or maybe the weather is cooling off, and you want to sell stylish beanies.
  • Rep your logo and other brand elements: You don’t have a ton of design room to work with, so make the most of every bit you have. Supporters like to be loud and proud about the causes they support, so feature your logo, the organization’s name, and other recognizable elements in your hat’s design.

Sell it at events: Hats pair perfectly with the events that are already on your organization’s calendar, providing an additional stream of revenue.

6. Gift Wrap: Best Holiday Fundraising Product

Product Fundraising Gift Wrap
 For your next product fundraiser, sell gift wrap around the holidays.

Why We Love This Fundraising Product

As much fun as it is to rip off wrapping paper during the holidays, buying it can be tedious, especially around the holidays when you’re more focused on buying the perfect gifts for loved ones. Not only is this fundraising product low-cost, but everyone needs to buy wrapping paper at some point anyway. They’ll be even more inclined to buy quality wrapping paper if their money goes to support a charitable cause. 

What’s great about this is that you can even turn it into an event toward the end of the year during a time when people are out shopping. Set up a table in public (with permission), such as at a mall, and offer to wrap people’s gifts for the cost of the paper plus a donation.

Tips for This Product Fundraiser

With the holiday season just around the corner, here are a few ways to set your gift wrap product fundraiser up for success:

  • Start selling early instead of waiting until you’re already well into the holiday season. If you choose to just sell the gift wrap, make sure to do so early on so that people can stock up before the chaos of the holidays. If you’re offering to wrap gifts too, set up your table a little closer to the holidays when people are busier and more likely to pay for someone else to do the wrapping. 

Take several cultures into account by buying wrapping paper that reflects a variety of holidays. This extra thoughtfulness will go a long way, making it easy for everyone to participate in this product fundraiser.

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7. Water Bottles: Top Product Fundraiser for Sports Teams

Water Bottles: Top Product Fundraiser for Sports Teams
Sports teams can easily sell branded water bottles, a great fundraising product that people will use daily.

Why We Love This Fundraising Product

Keep fans hydrated with custom water bottles branded to your sports teams. From national teams to school teams, water bottles are low-cost and customizable essentials, and fans will love repping their favorite teams. 

Plus, you get the bonus of free promotion for your organization when people use them in public. The benefits of this product based fundraising idea live on well after your campaign wraps up. Fans will continue promoting your team (or whatever your cause is) wherever they bring their custom water bottles.

This fundraising product isn’t limited to just sports teams, either. It just naturally fits since they want to promote healthy lifestyles. Water bottles can work for pretty much any nonprofit that wants to spread brand awareness! All it takes is a standout design that’s branded to your organization.

Tips for This Product Fundraiser

If custom water bottles sound like the right fit for your organization, keep these best practices in mind to make sure you maximize sales:

  • Sell dishwasher-safe water bottles. The last thing you want is for your product to become a nuisance to buyers! Quality is a major selling point, so make sure your water bottles are durable and dishwasher safe.

Match the design to your branding standards. Don’t overlook the marketing aspect of water bottles. Center the water bottle’s design around your logo and ensure the color scheme matches your official standards.

8. Quote Candles: Top Fundraising Product for Churches

Quote Candles: Top Fundraising Product for Churches
If you work at a church and need a great product fundraising idea, try selling quote candles.

Why We Love This Fundraising Product

In faith-based communities, candles often have a strong significance. Pair those with powerful scripture, and you have an inspirational and meaningful product. Quote candles are the perfect product for people to buy themselves as a personal reminder or gift to others as a token of good faith. 

After all, U.S. retail sales of candle products are estimated at $3.14 billion every year, and consumers are frequently purchasing candles as a focal point for their home décor and view it as thoughtful gifts.

This product fundraising idea is highly customizable since your fundraising team can pick the quotes, scripture, or hymn verses to include. You can select the ones that will best resonate with the congregation. For this, you could either buy candles in bulk and attach the scripture yourself or outsource the work to a company that sells this type of fundraising product.

Tips for This Product Fundraiser

If you’re in charge of fundraising for a church or other faith-based organization, here are a few ways to make sure this fundraising product sells:

  • Choose the scents and quotes based on the season: Around the holidays, you might go with scents such as pine or gingerbread cookies so supporters can keep their homes smelling festive. Then, select relevant scripture or verses from hymns or carols sung around that time of the year.
  • Think carefully about your target audience: Take a look at your members to get a sense of what quotes will resonate with them. For instance, if you have a lot of families within your congregation, choose quotes and scripture that align with family values.
  • Consider the ingredients in the candles: Some product fundraising companies offer candles made with environmentally-conscious ingredients, such as natural soy wax, lead-free wicks, and recycled packaging. If you’re willing to slightly increase prices, eco-friendliness might be a good selling point.

9. Face Masks: Best Health-Conscious Product Fundraiser

Face Masks: Best Health-Conscious Product Fundraiser
Encourage your supporters to stay healthy with a face-mask product fundraiser.

Why We Love This Fundraising Product

Try selling high-quality fabric face masks branded to your organization. Even looking past the pandemic, these fundraising products will likely carry value as community members will likely wear them whenever they’re feeling under the weather so they won’t get others sick.

With an affordable platform that enables you to design and sell your custom face masks, this is a low-cost, high-return fundraising product. Masks can transform a bad situation into a positive one for your organization! Donors and supporters will appreciate that you value their health and well-being, getting them more excited to buy one in support of your cause.

Tips for This Product Fundraiser

If you want to promote healthy lifestyles in your community, try out these face mask fundraising tips:

  • Brand the mask to the organization: Selecting a fabric color associated with your brand and adding your logo will go a long way in promoting brand awareness. Anyone who buys one will wear it out in public, providing the perfect opportunity to spark conversation with others about your cause.
  • Keep it simple: You have a smaller surface area to work with compared to larger products like t-shirts. The printable area on masks is about 4 square inches, so stick with large, easily readable fonts and designs.

Cut down on costs by using fewer colors: To increase your profit margin, limit the number of ink colors you include in your design. Plus, this will help keep your mask design simple.

10. Shoe Drives: Top Eco-Friendly Product Fundraiser

Shoe Drives: Top Eco-Friendly Product Fundraiser
Run a shoe drive product fundraiser and send any you collect to a fundraising provider.

Why We Love This Fundraising Product

While most product fundraisers require your nonprofit to sell something to the community, shoe drives take a different spin on the term. Funds2Orgs’ unique fundraising ideas guide explains that instead of selling shoes to your supporters, you’ll collect shoes from them and work with a shoe drive organization to make sure those shoes find a good home.

This means that you’ll be rehoming and finding new life for an already existing product instead of introducing new merchandise to the community. Talk about eco-friendly! What’s so great about this product fundraising idea is that your supporters don’t have to spend a single penny. They likely have shoes that they never wear, and you’ll simply encourage them to free up some closet space in support of a good cause.

Tips for This Product Fundraiser

If you’re in search of a creative eco-friendly product fundraiser, here are some suggestions to set your next shoe drive fundraiser up for success:

  • Set up multiple drop-off bins around the community: Don’t make people come to you to donate their shoes. Placing several bins in well-trafficked places (such as your community rec center or a grocery store) makes it easy to donate. Even people who have never heard of your organization will be able to join in.

Host a shoe drive as part of your next race or walkathon: Encourage people to bring an extra pair of shoes to donate to your cause. They’ll likely jump in when they learn that a simple act can help your organization to raise awareness and more.

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11. Cookie Dough: Best Product Fundraiser for Schools

Cookie Dough: Best Product Fundraiser for Schools
Cookie dough is a fantastic product fundraising idea for nonprofits, particularly schools.

Why We Love This Fundraising Product

Nothing tastes quite as great as homemade cookies, but high-quality cookie dough can certainly come close. Cookie dough fundraisers are one of the most popular school fundraisers, making it easy for buyers to whip up a batch of cookies whenever they’re craving a snack. Perfect around the holidays, it’s an easy, classic school fundraiser that all ages can enjoy — there’s no age limit for people to enjoy a delicious cookie. Plus, that makes it easy for anyone to sell, including kids! 

There are plenty of cookie dough fundraising websites out there. Some sell pre-formed nuggets of dough, while others provide gallon tubs of it, letting your buyers scoop out their ideal-sized cookie. It’s up to whatever fits your organization’s budget (and taste buds) best.

Tips for This Product Fundraiser

Think this product fundraiser would work well for your organization? Here are a few tips to set your fundraising team up for success:

  • Consider how long shipping and delivery will take: You’ll ideally want to host the fundraiser several weeks before you predict people will actually need the dough (such as around the holidays). Depending on the provider you choose, you may have to deliver the dough yourself, or set up a pickup window for buyers to retrieve their orders. Some companies will deliver for you, though. Just factor in shipping time when planning your fundraiser’s timeline.

Offer different flavors: While classic flavors (like chocolate chip) are a must-have for this fundraiser, keep in mind that everyone’s taste buds are different! Give buyers a range of options, so they can choose their favorites or be adventurous by trying something new.

12. Mugs: Top Fundraising Product for Winter

Mugs: Top Fundraising Product for Winter
Keep supporters warm during the winter with branded coffee mugs as your next fundraising product.

Why We Love This Fundraising Product

A quality mug can make supporters’ days a little better when getting their daily cup of coffee or cozying up next to the fire with hot chocolate on a chilly winter evening. Custom mugs are practical and usable fundraising products that will remind supporters of the organization each time they use them.

All you need to do is incorporate your cause into the design, and they’ll instantly be reminded of your organization each time they fill up with their favorite hot beverage.

Tips for This Product Fundraiser

If you want to fit this product into your fundraising calendar, try out these best practices to make them incredibly easy to sell:

  • Put thought into the design. With free reign over the design, you can create anything from a simple black-and-white logo to an intricate, multicolored drawing. This custom mug design guide gives plenty of options to spark inspiration, no matter what your design taste is.
  • Offer it as part of a larger merchandise set. If you’re creating multiple custom products, slightly vary the designs on each item to create complementary merchandise. While you may vary some elements, choose the same fonts, graphics, and colors to make it appear that each item is part of the same collection. 

Make sure it’s microwave and dishwasher-safe. Just like with water bottles, you don’t want your mugs to become a nuisance for customers. Making sure they’re durable and can be put in the dishwasher and microwave will reduce the work people need to do to actually use your product.

13. Candy: Best Product Fundraiser for Big Groups

Candy: Best Product Fundraiser for Big Groups
A candy product fundraiser is ideal when you have a lot of participants.

Why We Love This Fundraising Product

This fantastic fundraising product makes for the ultimate group fundraiser. If you have a large fundraising team (such as a school where you want students to get in on the action), encourage them to sell candy to their friends and family. 

Even if you’re working on a strict budget, this classic fundraising idea is within reach, especially if you go with low-cost candy. This fundraiser isn’t bound to a particular part of the year or age group, either!

Tips for This Product Fundraiser

There are a few ways you can go about this product fundraiser to make sure you earn as much money as possible:

  • Choose either traditional dollar candy bars or gourmet chocolate items: The latter is the best choice in terms of profits because people are willing to dish out a few extra dollars for high-quality candy. However, dollar candy bars also have name recognition and sell well.
  • Choose customizable candy if you also want to spread brand awareness: Simply adjust your candy’s packaging to include your organization’s logo and name. Depending on the candy distributor you choose, customizing the wrappers doesn’t cost much more, and it goes a long way in reminding people who sold them their delicious treat.

Combine your candy fundraiser with other elements. For instance, let’s say you’re raising money through school fundraisers. You might start a candy gram fundraiser, allowing buyers to send candy with handwritten messages to their friends in other classes.

14. Flowers or Flower Bulbs: Top Fundraising Product for the Community

Flowers or Flower Bulbs: Top Fundraising Product for the Community
Sell flowers and simultaneously beautify the community for your next product fundraiser.

Why We Love This Fundraising Product

If you’re looking for a way to raise money and benefit the whole community, try a flower or flower bulb fundraiser. It’s a great way to get your audience involved in beautifying the town, and everyone will want to share updates as their plants grow. For people who don’t have a place for new plants, flowers make for great gifts pretty much any time of the year. 

The most efficient way to conduct this product fundraiser is by selling bulbs or seeds via a brochure sales approach. Show buyers exactly what you’re offering with pictures of what to expect, so they’ll feel confident in what they’re buying.

Tips for This Product Fundraiser

Think your audience would be interested in a flower fundraiser? Here are a few things you’ll want to consider before launching your campaign:

  • Choose flowers that are easy to grow in your local climate: Consider the time of year and what grows well in the area that you live in. Think about how ecstatic they’d be to see their flowers flourish versus how disappointed they’d be to see their plants wither in just a few weeks.
  • Determine whether you want to sell perennials or annuals: Perennials are the better choice if this is a one-time fundraiser since they’ll regrow the following year. Otherwise, annuals are the better choice if you plan to host this fundraiser again.

Sell flowers around Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, or springtime: As we mentioned, these make for great gifts, so sell them around holidays commonly associated with flowers. Springtime is also a great time since everyone’s ready for flowers to bloom after a cold winter.

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Product fundraising is an incredibly valuable asset to your organization’s regular fundraising calendar. Whether you think custom apparel will sell well or want to connect with supporters through their favorite candy, there’s something out there that will be the perfect fit for your cause and help you raise money.

Still not sure what might work well in your community and bridge the physical distance with supporters? Reach out to your supporters to see what they’d love to see from your organization. Happy fundraising!