Top Nine Nonprofit Funding Sources for Any Organization

| 7 min read Crowdfunding

In order to pursue their mission, nonprofits rely on funding from multiple sources. From corporate sponsorships to federal grants, this article explores nine nonprofit funding sources that can help your nonprofit grow its budget and continue making a lasting impact.

1. Grants from local, state, and federal governments

Cities, counties, states, and th6e federal government issue grants to nonprofit organizations that can often transform their yearly budget. Applying for these grants can be time consuming with no guaranteed approval, but there are key benefits if your nonprofit does earn a grant.

Biggest benefits of government grants

  • Grants from a government agency can give a charity more credibility, which can help secure more funding from other sources.
  • Government grants are usually made in significant amounts that can make a real difference to a nonprofit’s bottom line.
  • Government grants require no repayment as long as funds are spent as outlined.

Biggest drawbacks of government grants

  • Grant writing is complicated and takes a lot of time, patience, and persistence—and the competition can be stiff.
  • Government grants often come with conditions and milestones you must meet and report on.
  • Government grants are usually only offered to registered 501(c)(3) organizations.
  • Grants are meant for specific short-term purposes, not a permanent nonprofit revenue stream.

2. Individuals

Individuals gave more than $286 billion in 2017, according to Charity Navigator, making them one of the best charity funding sources. For this reason, it’s wise to focus on individual donors and make them a central focus of your strategy

There are many ways to seek individual support, including social media, direct mail, advertising, public relations, events, merchandise, affiliate links, and more. To reach new audiences, let your supporters know that crowdfunding is one of the best ways to raise money for charity.

3. Membership fees

Collecting membership fees from individuals or organizations is another nonprofit revenue source that offers reliable and recurring donations to your cause. In exchange for signing up for a membership, members usually receive specific benefits, like tickets to your events or special recognition.

Another benefit of a membership program is that it can create a sense of ownership and encourage members to contribute in other ways.

4. Charity crowdfunding sites

Crowdfunding has become one of the most popular alternative revenue sources for nonprofits and one of the best ways to reach supporters from across the globe. It can easily dovetail with your social media campaigns and simplify online giving for your donors.

Crowdfunding platforms make it easy for both individuals and charities to raise funds for specific needs and keep supporters engaged. For example, when you post updates on GoFundMe, supporters can read about how their donations have made a real difference. This type of communication loop can help supporters feel appreciated and even increase donor retention.

See these fundraisers for inspiration:

Learn more about the top charity fundraising sites below:


GoFundMe offers nonprofit fundraising, making it easy for charities to meet their revenue goals without running into the red tape that often accompanies other fundraising strategies. Powered by PayPal Giving Fund, charity fundraisers through GoFundMe receive direct transfers, and donors are sent tax deduction receipts.


CrowdRise helps nonprofits use social fundraising to make a difference. The platform can help nonprofits sell tickets, manage events, and grow their donor base. Premium and enterprise models with advanced features and service are available. CrowdRise is owned by GoFundMe.


Classy is tailored to large nonprofit organizations operating in multiple locations. The site helps remote fundraising teams work collaboratively and includes a fundraiser reporting tool. Another feature helps teams organize volunteer events, including ticketing and event registration.

5. Foundations

The second largest source of funding for charities comes from foundations, which gave over $66 billion in 2017, according to Charity Navigator. To receive funds from most foundations, your charity will need to be a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Foundations often focus on giving to:

  • People in a particular demographic group or specific geographical area.
  • Certain types of nonprofits. A foundation might direct money to nonprofits in areas such as environmental protection or civil liberties.
  • Particular types of support, such as funding new projects or research.

Foundation types

  • Family foundations are legal entities set up by an individual, family, or another group for a specific purpose, usually philanthropy. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is one example, though most family foundations are small and focused on a single issue or particular location.
  • Corporate foundations get grantmaking funds primarily through contributions from a for-profit business. These foundations are often the charity wing of a corporation. Examples include the Walmart Foundation and the Ford Motor Company Fund.
  • Community foundations have permanent funds or endowments established by many donors for the long-term benefit of residents in a specific area. Examples of community foundations include The Cleveland Foundation and The New York Community Trust.

How to find and apply for foundation grants

The following sites can help you review any foundation’s grants, application materials, and more:

6. Earned income

Earned income is distinct from other forms of charity funding because it comes from the sale of products or services. Many public charities can receive a large chunk of their revenue by renting out their space, offering classes, or selling a product that’s unique to their cause. Your nonprofit might consider whether selling products or services would fit in with your mission.

7. Corporate sponsorships

Corporate social responsibility has become increasingly important to large and small businesses alike. Consumers are trusting socially responsible companies more and rewarding them with their dollars.

How corporate social responsibility can benefit charities

  • Some businesses look for nonprofits to partner with and support. They may wish to fund specific initiatives, events, or fundraisers.
  • Businesses might offer matching donations as part of your fundraiser.
  • Businesses can provide publicity to your nonprofit when they announce and promote your partnership, helping boost revenue and awareness.
  • Businesses may provide volunteer grant programs that enable employees and others to more easily volunteer for your organization.

8. Planned giving programs

Planned giving is known by many names: bequest giving, gift planning, deferred giving, legacy giving, and estate planning. They all describe the same thing: someone leaving money to charity in their will.

Once your organization becomes well known in your industry, make a pitch to your supporters for planned giving. It could grow to become a significant piece of your fundraising pie.

9. Volunteers

According to the Urban Institute, 25.1% of US adults volunteered with an organization in 2017, contributing an estimated 8.8 billion hours to the public good. The value of all those hours? Approximately $195 billion.

So while volunteers’ time isn’t technically a revenue stream, your organization might want to view it as one. Boosting the number of hours volunteered for your organization is a valuable win.

Expand your nonprofit’s revenue sources today

Are you ready to boost your nonprofit’s revenue and jumpstart new growth? GoFundMe wants to help you bolster your budget and reach new donors. Our fundraising model means that you can keep more of your donations, and our blog offers fundraising ideas that can help if you’re new to crowdfunding, like our charity crowdfunding guide. If you haven’t already, sign up to create your fundraiser today and help your nonprofit make an even bigger difference.

Start a nonprofit fundraiser

Written by caitlin