Fundraising can be brutal on organizers, volunteers, and donors alike. You gotta make money, you gotta prove you were not out of your mind when you planned that Under the Sea Gala. The mermaids didn’t put you over budget.
It’s crucial for fundraisers to be successful and, because of this, it is even more important to come up with unique fundraising ideas that are fresh and inspiring to excite everyone involved. Sure, you might go with the tried and true events folks are used to. But Have you ever sat down with your team to throw the proverbial spaghetti against that wall?
Nevertheless, even the most exhilarating fundraising event must be properly promoted to ensure success. Before showing you our seven favorite fundraising ideas, we’d like to share the following online marketing tips with you to help guarantee your next fundraising event is a big hit. You don’t always need splashy. Think organic. Think grassroots. Scratch the “mandatory fun” ideas. Here are some bold ways to bring people together or just get the ideas splattering.
Developing an Online Marketing Strategy for Your Fundraiser
- Start by making sure you have a system such as Paypal or another software program capable of processing your online donations. A “Donate Now” button should be easily visible on your nonprofit’s homepage.
- Create an event-specific landing page you can link to in your emails and social media. According to Hubspot, a whopping 48% of marketers build a new landing page for each of their marketing campaigns. Your landing page should include details about your fundraiser and cause, inspiring images, and a “Donate Now” button.
- Build an email marketing campaign specific to your upcoming fundraising event. Submit personalized emails to your donors, volunteers, and supporters to give them notice of the event and how they can provide assistance. Don’t leave out individuals who only attend certain “types” of fundraising events. For example, certain individuals may participate in a 5K run for charity simply because they love to run. Be sure to cater to these folks as well.
- Use Facebook, Twitter, and your other social media accounts to post about the upcoming event and connect with followers. A study from Nonprofit Tech for Good shows 55% of those who engage with nonprofits via social media have been inspired to take further action.
- If you need more volunteers or specific goods for your fundraiser, submit a call-to-action via social media requesting these services or items. Always encourage followers to pass your messages along to their friends and family.
- When all is said and done, don’t forget to submit thank you emails to those who volunteered their time or donated to your cause.
Putting the “Fun” Back in Fundraiser
While online promotion is key to the success of your event, you need a captivating fundraising idea to grab your audience’s attention and ensure a sizable turnout. Here are seven unique fundraising ideas we really love that we hope to inspire you as you brainstorm for your own fundraising event.
#1: A Low-End Event
It is so easy to get caught up in the idea that everything needs to be fancy to be successful–white linens, black tie, jazz band. Such an event usually comes with a high ticket price (and high costs). But we’ve found that the “low end” event can be just successful when done with confidence and pizzaz. Instead of a ritzy dinner or cocktail event, get a little campy with a gourmet hotdog or BBQ evening (complete with photobooth). It will be fun, interesting, and brand-new. It will also be cheaper to throw off. Tell donors that you are trying something new and keeping your costs down in the process (while keeping your ticket price the same). They’ll respect your commitment while being able to let loose a little and have a good time.
#2: Stink Week
It is not a new fundraising idea to ask participants to set up their own fundraising pages and goals. This one, however, is a particularly unique idea, and one we find a lot of fun. In 2012, The Decibels Foundation partnered with the Caroline Bass Fund at Children’s Hospital in Boston to get folks to “raise a stink” about hearing loss. Stink Week asks participants to set up their fundraising page, goal, and then stink, literally. Some simply wear the same shirt every day, cleaning it each day, while others fully commit to stinkin’ all week long. Maybe you won’t do a Stink Week, but fundraisers such as this show that something big can start from just a simple phrase.
#3: The Reverse Raffle
This one’s a lot of fun. Everyone knows about asking people to donate some small amount for a small chance to win a big prize. The Reverse Raffle, however, really turns everything on its head. Here, everyone gets one free ticket when he or she comes through the door. But instead of winning something awesome if their numbers are called, they win an embarrassing prize–wear a silly wig, kiss an animal mascot, etc. To get out of winning such a prize, participants can then “sell” their ticket back to the organization. The sheer fun of this event is the reason it ranks on our list of unique fundraising ideas.
#4: Ladies’ Night Out
In October, right around Halloween, Mothers Trust Foundation in Lake County, IL host what they call the “Betty Bash,” an exciting night of “mystical fun” that includes tarot reading, magicians, DJs, dinner and drinks. They get local businesses and restaurants to join with them, making the night an immensely huge success. They host a silent auction, where they also have an “auction” of actual cases in which they’ve “performed magic.” We love this idea not just because it’s fun and well-timed, but because it is well-planned from start to finish, targets the perfect audience for the event, and heavily involves the local community.
#5: Superhero Runs
Regardless of the time of year, whatever your agency or focus may be, a superhero run is a versatile event that can fit easily into your fundraising plans. Invite participants to dress as their favorite superhero and be a hero for a cause. These are great events that attract a wide audience from your community–families, young professionals, athletes looking to both train and help. Who doesn’t want to be a superhero?
#6: Zombie Run
While we’re on the topic, zombie runs are such a big hit right now. Everyone’s got zombie fever and it doesn’t even matter if the run happens around Halloween–if you host it, they will run. Themed runs, in general, are great, and this one is almost always timely.
#7: The Non-Event
If you are more passionate about the cause and less passionate about the event, consider the non-event (or “no-show fundraiser”). Simply put, this is a fundraising event that raises money without the event actually happening, saving time and money for both the organization and the guest while still really effectively promoting the cause. People get an invitation to an event that does not happen and donates to the host. The Borgen Project does this really well for poverty and world hunger. Read about other examples here.
Go Get Em’ Tiger!
Even the most phenomenal fundraiser needs the right kind of advertisement to be a success. For future fundraisers, use the online marketing tactics and event ideas listed here to reach your fundraising donation goals.
What are some of your favorite fundraising ideas? Comment below and let us know some of the most unique fundraising ideas you’ve either tried or heard of.
Ps. But wait… There’s more!