Must Have Envelope Fundraiser Guide and Ideas for Nonprofits

James Martin
Must Have Envelope Fundraiser Guide and Ideas for Nonprofits

Envelope fundraising represents an effective capital generation method that bypasses some of the enormity of the classic fundraising strategy process. For this reason, it’s well suited for low-budget, high-enthusiasm organizations who want to get the biggest bang for their buck.

This form of fundraising is a great way to engage all stakeholders; supporters, volunteers, staff, and of course, donors. It’s an interactive and enjoyable way to personalize and streamline the fundraising process, and it may be even easier than you think.

So, what would an envelope fundraising event look like for your nonprofit, and how would you go about setting one up? Keep reading to find out!

What an Envelope Fundraiser might Look Like for your Nonprofit

An envelope fundraiser, also called a money wall, is a form of fundraising that’s growing in popularity in schools and other youth-related organizations. However, it’s not exclusive to young people, and many nonprofits are taking advantage of this engaging and tactile form of fundraiser.

It works like this: a wall of envelopes is set up in an area with lots of prospective donor traffic. This could be the nonprofit headquarters, a town hall, or any other public space that’s been selected for maximum attendance.

The wall is managed by the fundraisers themselves and designed appropriately for the venue and the cause being supported. Then, donors are encouraged to visit the wall, learn about the cause, and take an envelope.

Each envelope is typically numbered. In some cases, these envelopes are all the same, but to make the best use of the format, it’s better to have a range of values. Donors take an envelope, fill it with the appropriate amount, and post it into a secure box next to the fundraising wall.

There is some variation in how this works, and this is one of the strengths of the method. Some drives state that the amount donated should match the number on the envelope; others simply say it should include the number on the envelope. For example, if an envelope has the number 12 in it, the donation could be $12, $120, $112, etc.

Donations are designed to match the fundraiser goals, and envelopes can be labeled internally or externally, depending on the desired approach. This means that a donor may not know the amount they are responsible for until after they pick the envelope!

These are the bare bones of the system and common to pretty much every donor wall drive, but one of the strengths of this fundraising method is its customization. You can change the look, the place, the amounts, and everything in between, and we’ll go over some ideas with this in mind shortly.

Even the specifics of the donations are up to you, and you should tailor the approach to your audience. We’ll go over how to design your own later on, but first, let’s go over some of the great benefits of the envelope fundraising method.

Why Putting Together a Money Wall Fundraiser Could Help

If you’ve tried other fundraising with varying degrees of success, but you’ve not tried a money wall yet, there’s a good chance you’ll be setting one up after you hear all the benefits. Here are a handful of perks of envelope fundraising:

Easy to set up – the simplicity of a money wall is one of its strengths. Especially when working with young people and volunteers, the process of designing and building the wall itself can be straightforward and fun.

Engaging – Getting all hands on deck in the design and build stages is a great way to motivate fundraisers too. The wall itself is quirky, fun, and engaging for younger contributors and for your donors too. The physical interaction creates a sense of real value, despite the fact that the drive itself costs almost nothing to run.

Variable donations – The system of envelope fundraising allows for a certain variability in terms of the types of donations you’re looking for. Whether your envelopes will range from $1-$10 or from $10 to $1000, you’ll be able to custom-make the wall for each audience. There is even the option for groups of people to collaborate on larger donations.

Anonymous – While it’s a public drive, the money wall design lends itself to anonymous donations. If envelopes are labeled internally, the amount each donor gives can be kept a secret.

Cash of check – Cash is a nice and easy form for giving, but an envelope holds a check just as easily. A check also has the added benefit of anonymity; it is the same size inside the envelope, regardless of its value!

Live tracking – As the envelopes disappear, supporters will be able to follow the progress of the drive, watching as your targets are met and being more encouraged to contribute and get involved. This is one of the ways in which a donation wall is particularly engaging.

Cost-effective – Here’s a major benefit to this method of fundraising: it can be set up with almost no overheads! You can run a money wall for the cost of a pack of envelopes and some ink. In terms of time, it can last as long or as short as you want it to, and you can vary the detail of the drive in terms of size and information available as you see fit.

So, this is a particularly useful method for people on a tight budget. And though it’s cheap, it’s not any less effective than other methods of fundraising. In fact, in many cases, it’s more effective! So, why aren’t more people trying this? Perhaps they’re wondering, like you may be, what an envelope fundraising wall might look like.

Fundraising Envelope Ideas

The versatility of this method for gathering funds is almost infinite. The same basic principle of a wall of envelopes has so much creative potential it would be hard to find two that are exactly alike. For a bit of inspiration, we’ve put together some hypothetical fundraisers for different causes that highlight the strength of this medium.

1. Smallest budget, high yield

An animal sanctuary is starting up and needs funds to build its enclosures. There is no external source of funding so far, and the money wall fundraiser will be sponsored by the founders themselves. The target is $10,000, and they decide to involve the local school and set up a money wall in the mall.

The location is near a pet store, and the mall donates its space for the drive. Six high school teens volunteer to help run the drive, and a class of elementary school kids is tasked with decorating 144 envelopes with animal drawings. All 144 envelopes are labeled with numbers from 1 to 144. Photos are printed of the sanctuary as it is, along with some educational material about the animals being protected.

A hand-made sign with the organization’s name is created, and the decorated envelopes are hung on the wall beneath it. Beside the wall is a secure post box for donations.

The drive is held on a weekend for maximum daily mall traffic and runs from 8 am to 4 pm. Throughout the day, envelopes are flying off the wall, and even the pet store managers contribute to some of the larger donations. When all the envelopes are returned after running the drive for both days of the weekend, the total amount gathered is $10,000! This is despite the largest donations being $144.

2. Small donations, maximum impact

An aged-care facility is looking for $2000 of funds to refurbish its premises. The residents help to design the wall, and the town hall is booked as the venue for the fundraiser. It’s timed with a village community heritage fete event that will go on all week, and the organization is designated a stall inside the hall.

The donors are expected to be from low-income households, so the envelopes are labeled accordingly. 300 envelopes are internally labeled with values from $1 to $10 to reach a total of $2000. Photos of the current premises and the design of the refurbishments are put up on the wall, and each envelope also has a raffle ticket attached to it. The presentation table gives out two raffle tickets for each donor who signs up for recurring donations.

By incorporating the raffle into the donation drive, the organization is able to drive engagement up, and all 300 envelopes are gone by the end of the week. Not only do they reach their target, but they also gather numerous donor lead details and sign up a few people for recurring donations too.

Envelope fundraising for fundraisers

An NGO with numerous volunteers puts out a challenge to its supporters. The challenge is to sign up to become a fundraiser for a week and take part in their internal money wall campaign.

Within a week, volunteer fundraisers have signed up, and an event is held at the NGO headquarters. In this instance, each volunteer takes an envelope with an amount ranging from $100 to $1000, and from there, they’re tasked with returning the envelope with a donation within a two-week period.

Each individual is allowed to use any means available to them to create their own mini-drive to meet the target on their envelope. In this way, the donations can be crowd-sourced, allowing for larger individual donations from the fundraisers themselves. They can gather it from friends and family, they can hold their own sponsored event, or they can team up with friends and go hunting for donors. Anything legal is fair game!

This becomes a great way for volunteers to contribute financially to their supported organization without needing to donate any of their own money and can allow organizations to hit higher targets than if the volunteers were donating themselves. It’s a way for people who would like to donate but can’t afford it to contribute financially to the cause they support, and this can help strengthen bonds between the supporters and the organization.

These are just three examples of the range of options available when you choose to set up an envelope fundraising effort. As you can see, the money wall fundraiser format itself can be used as a medium for dispersing information, gathering leads, and engaging the community, on top of all the donations it brings in directly, and without breaking the bank. If this all sounds like a good idea, let’s take a look at how you might start your own.

Putting Your Envelope Fundraiser Together

The setup is really quite simple. Before you get started, you’ll want to understand exactly what you want out of the drive, and this will help you with designing the optimal approach. Here’s what to consider when putting your own fundraiser together using the envelope wall:

Decide how much you’re looking for – What are these funds going to contribute to? You’ll need to have a set figure both for labeling the donation envelopes and for expressing to your supporters why you need their help. This part of the planning stage needs to be done before you consider getting other people involved because, without it, your drive will be directionless.

Where will you hold the drive – When you know how much you want, pick the right location. This is particularly relevant if you’re not going to be spending a lot on the promotion of the drive. You have a lot of options here. For setting up cold, you could get permission from a local supermarket to host you. If you’re targeting a particular event, make sure you have cleared it with the organizers. If you want to target a specific demographic, consider researching into where they are likely to be and when.

Of course, depending on your organization, you may not have to go anywhere at all. If you have a wide reach and a lot of supporters, or if your premises have a lot of through traffic, you can simply set it up where you are.

Pick the donation system you’ll be using – With the above information settled, you’ll be ready to design the details of the donations. If you’re going for a high yield, you might be looking for either very high numbers or more envelopes. Typically these drives consist of no more than 150 envelopes, but you can tailor it to your situation.

Design the experience - Then, are you going to be promoting anything else? How will you boost engagement? Will you have an announcer? Will you be offering any gifts or snacks from the stall? What information are you going to present along with the donation drive? Consider all the media you will use and who will be involved, as well as how long you will be there.

Then, look at your envelopes themselves. Good fundraising envelope ideas include tailoring the design to the case or adding a personal message, a joke, or a motivational quote to each. Consider the perspective of the person taking part, and try to make it a valuable experience for them. Even the donation box can be made fun. A classic post box works fine, but allowing donors to put their envelope into a ball and throw it through a net into the donations bin is one way to boost engagement.

Get the word out – Now you’ve got to promote your presence. As long as you make sure you have the relevant permission and permits and everyone who needs to knows you’re going to be there, your money wall is likely to be a resounding success. Send work out to your contacts, and consider investing in some airtime to put a local radio ad out.

To help you with promotion for the wall, or to help supporters sign for to your cause, consider Rally Corp. This is a text-based system to drive engagement, promote your cause, and make it simple for supporters to contribute. By leveraging mobile communication, you’ll get a boost to engagement and mobilization for supporters and be able to get the word out there to gather folks to come and take part in your envelope fundraising event. 


Using envelope fundraising, or money walls, to generate capital can be such a life hack in the world of nonprofits. For the right team, it’s a cheap, effective, and fun way to engage everyone you need to engage to hit your financial goals.

The process is simple: set up a series of envelopes for donors to choose from. The number on the envelope is the donation value they need to return it with. That’s all there is to it – the rest is up to your creativity.

You can make these drives as simple or as complex as you like; the more engagement, the better! From there, it’s just a matter of setting up in the right place, spreading the word, and leveraging your position to make the most out of the event, be it with donor sign-ups or donor education materials.

With our examples, you should have enough inspiration to get going on your own. Just make sure your donor box is big enough!