15 really bad real ideas from real nonprofits

A lot of crazy bad ideas get kicked around at nonprofits.

Most often in board meetings.

Here’s a list of some that have actually been considered, from Wild Apricot, at 15 Utterly Insane Fundraising Ideas People Actually Thought Would Work.

Please use these as a warning!

  • “Just call Bill Gates!”
  • Collect and sell slightly used airplane toiletry kits on eBay.
  • Become a medical or recreational marijuana dispensary.
  • We have an anonymous syringe exchange program that works primarily with homeless substance users. It was once suggested by a funder, that we take pictures of all of them and make a coffee table book.”
  • Host a naked cycling race for sponsorship.
  • “Have you ever heard of crowdfunding!??!?”
  • Hold an onion peeling competition with sponsorships to see who can last the longest without crying.
  • “Hire only very attractive young women with nice bodies…it works for pharmaceutical reps?”
  • “Just write a grant!”
  • Create a heartwarming animated film about cats to make some extra cash.
  • “What if you challenged people to dump ice over their heads?”
  • Make an indoor pool “nude” for one night only and charge admission.
  • “Just ask [sponsors] nicely.”
  • Offer lap dances to your biggest donors.
  • Agree to be tasered, charging $1,000 for each second of shock.

Keep searching for good ideas.

Just move on from the bad ones before anything terrible happens!


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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About the blogger

Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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