ebayOne of the most daunting tasks that nonprofits face is that of raising funds, and maintaining that fund base, so that they can continue to do the work for which they were created. The problem is that in this economy, every nonprofit is now faced with the job of competing with other nonprofits to get a piece of an increasingly smaller pie.

But not all donations need to be of the direct monetary variety. Donors are tighter with their money, and are becoming more concerned about where the money is spent. As a result, they sometimes want to give in different ways, and sometimes they might even like something in return. From the point of view of the nonprofit, creativity is crucial.

With that in mind, here are 5 non-traditional and creative resources that nonprofits can use to get donations of both money and items.

1. eBay Giving Works

Ever see a bake sale or yard sale for the purpose of raising money for a charity? Well, now you can do it online. eBay Giving Works offers everyone a chance to sell their old stuff, collectibles, and just about anything online, for the benefit of your favorite nonprofit. You can set it up so that either all or just a portion of the sale price goes to the charity. You can set up an account for your organization, and ask your supporters to sell their items on eBay with you as the beneficiary. People can search for your nonprofit and even purchase items that will directly benefit you. Here’s an example from International Justice Mission.

2. Amazon Wish Lists

Many of us have put items that we want for ourselves on a wish list on Amazon. It acts a bit like a bridal registry. But Amazon also allows nonprofits to put wishlists together. For organizations that take in-kind donations of material goods, there is often the risk that they will receive items that they really can’t use, despite the best intentions of the donor. This way, your donors can shop for you online, and have the items shipped directly to your organization. Here’s a small example from my clients at Water Street Ministries.

3. Crowdfunding

If you’re nonprofit is looking to start a new program or initiative, crowdfunding might be the way to go. Platforms like Kickstarter, Rockethub, and Indiegogo are just a few sites that can help you do this. Each platform has its own set of rules as to what you can and cannot do, so make sure you look at the all options before deciding on which one to use. Here’s an example from a youth theatre organization that used Kickstarter to fund a production of the musical, Oklahoma.

4. Fundraising contests

Platforms like Razoo and Crowdrise not only make fundraising easy, but they allow your donors to create their own profiles and participate in online fundraising competitions, to see who can raise the most for your organization. Sometimes adding that little bit of competition can spur people on to not only give more, but to talk about your nonprofit more, particularly on social media. The competitions can be between your own donors, or even between other nonprofits in your area, as was done locally with an event called The Extraordinary Give, which raised more than $1.6-million for local nonprofits in just 24 hours. It was such a success in its inaugural year that they’ll be doing it again this year.

5. Music and arts

cd_vol2Many local communities have strong art, music, and cultural scenes. I know that’s the case here in Lancaster, PA, with a cultural vibe thatcontinues to grow. One local nonprofit, Music For Everyone, tapping into the music scene to raise much needed funds. Each year local musicians and bands submit songs for inclusion on a compilation CD that is then sold to raise money for music education funding. And the quality of the music and performances is incredible. While this particular nonprofit is focused on music, any nonprofit can do something like this. I have one nonprofit client that is supported by quiet a few musicians and bands in our community. I’d love to have them donate songs for the purpose of releasing a CD which can be sold to raise much needed funds.

What other non-traditional or alternative means have you seen for helping to raise funds for nonprofits? Which of these are things you might want to try?