Should My Nonprofit Use Passive Fundraisers?

Many nonprofits have changed the way they think about fundraisers, leading many to wonder if passive fundraisers are a good choice for their organization. Some professionals may be unfamiliar with this fundraising approach and aren’t exactly sure how it works, let alone how they can get started. 

To help you decide whether passive fundraisers are right for your nonprofit, this guide will answer some basic questions about this fundraising method and provide a brief overview of how to launch your first passive fundraiser. 

What are passive fundraisers?

Passive fundraisers are fundraisers that earn revenue for your nonprofit when supporters take actions they likely would have anyway. One of the most well-known examples of passive fundraising is AmazonSmile, which allows shoppers to contribute to their favorite charities while making routine purchases on Amazon. 

In addition to Amazon, there are a variety of other passive fundraising opportunities, including other online shopping programs, restaurant partnerships, and grocery store fundraising programs. For these examples, all of the donations made come from the retailer or business owner, meaning that your supporters won’t need to spend any more than they normally would to participate. 

Benefits of Passive Fundraisers

Why should your nonprofit get started with a passive fundraiser? For many nonprofits, passive fundraisers bring several benefits such as:

  • Steady revenue. Unlike fundraising events and campaigns, passive fundraisers aim to provide a steady stream of revenue throughout the entire year, rather than one big fundraising push. This extra source of income can add up over time and give your nonprofit an extra fundraising boost between campaigns. 
  • New giving channel for supporters. Passive fundraisers are a convenient giving option for mid-level donors who are interested in increasing their support but may not have the capacity to reach back into their wallets for another donation. 
  • Easy to get started and manage. Most passive fundraising programs are easy to get up and running. For example, shopping programs will handle all of the relationships with retailers for your nonprofit, so you won’t need to worry about negotiating contribution rates. 

Different types of passive fundraisers might focus on a few of these benefits more than others. For example, all of your supporters can participate in an online shopping program, but only local ones can join in on a restaurant fundraiser. 

How to Get Started

Most passive fundraising programs are designed to be easy to get up and running. In fact, in most cases, starting a passive fundraising program requires just three steps: 

  1. Research programs. As mentioned, there are several types of passive fundraisers, including multiple options just for charitable shopping programs. Research different programs’ requirements, fundraising methods, and retailer networks. Additionally, compare contribution rates for each program. For example, AmazonSmile has a rate of 0.5% for each purchase, which can be offset by the sheer number of purchases but might also fall short compared to other programs. 
  2. Sign up. Once you’ve found a program that fits your fundraising goals, get in touch to register your nonprofit. Some programs will set up branded shopping pages for you that you can then direct supporters to. 
  3. Market to your supporters. Even though they’re called passive fundraisers, your promotional efforts should be anything but. Reach out to your supporters to help teach them how passive fundraising works and how they can support your nonprofit at no extra cost.

Explore your options and remember that your nonprofit doesn’t need to choose just one passive fundraiser. It’s completely feasible for a nonprofit to host both an online shopping program and the occasional restaurant partnership night. 


Passive fundraisers are an inventive way to earn your nonprofit extra revenue and a helpful income stream for many organizations. Explore your options to see what type of passive fundraiser best fits your nonprofit. Good luck!

Written by Korri Piper, Sales and Marketing Consultant & Director of Vendor Relationships at ShopRaise.