Encourage donations to your nonprofit
Guest post by Jeff Havens
If you work in a non-profit, then the following two statements are probably true: you believe in the cause you support, and you don’t really like asking other people for money. It will help if you think of it as “encouraging like-minded individuals to support a great cause” rather than “desperately begging reluctant donors to shell out a few more bucks,” but that mental shift, while important, isn’t enough to get you the money you need.
So here are a few concrete ways you can turn your fundraising drive into something fun for everyone.
Set A Goal, Then Publicize It
The goal of “raising money” is simply not specific enough to get people excited. So pick a specific dollar amount you think you can raise, and then up it by another 10-25%. Doing so will accomplish several things: it will give everyone something to strive for; it will force you to work harder than you would with an ill-defined fundraising goal; and it will open the door for all kinds of fun competition, which we’ll be talking about below.
Create As Much Competition As Possible
People like to feel like they’re a part of something; that’s the only way to explain why people get so caught up in sports rivalries when they’re not being paid for it. It’s also why there’s no better way to make people feel invested in your non-profit than by turning your donors into teammates. An easy way to do this is to partner with another non-profit and “compete” against them to see who can raise the most money. This will energize your most enthusiastic backers to lobby more aggressively on your behalf. And the best part is that in the end, everyone wins.
Incentivize Your Team To Push For Success
If you’re at all familiar with crowdfunding in general and Kickstarter campaigns in particular, then you’ll know that people not only enjoy feeling like part of a team but also getting something in return for donating. But how can you afford to give something to dozens or hundreds or thousands of people? Easy.
• Donate Your Expertise – If you’re raising money for a theater, you could give your top donor (or donor team) a private concert or theatrical performance for a fixed number of people; an animal shelter could give a free dog grooming session to anyone who donates more than $50 or $75; a community garden could offer free landscaping services to their top donor; and the list could continue forever. These things should cost you a little time and almost no money, and they’ll almost certainly spur people to donate more than they would have otherwise.
• Donate An Experience – This could also be called “Convince Other Business To Donate Their Expertise.” So try talking to a local hotel and see if they’d be willing to donate a 2-night stay (or free passes to a local water park, or dinner for two at a local restaurant, or you get the idea) then turn around and offer those prizes to whoever raises the most money. You can sell the idea as a great advertising opportunity for your business partner, and it will cost them less to give you something like this than it would to give you the monetary value of the item. Once again, everyone wins, and now you have something that will induce people to donate more.
• Donate Your Pride – This one’s my personal favorite. There’s no better way to make your donors feel like part of your team than by making yourself the visible leader of that team; and there’s no better way to do that than by promising to do something foolish, absurd, embarrassing, or otherwise noteworthy if you meet your fundraising goals. The options here are limitless and will depend on who you are and what makes sense to your donor base, but here are some ideas:
- Shaving your head, beard, or that iconic mustache you’ve had since 1971.
- Dyeing your hair bright pink, purple, green, orange, or all of the above.
- Agreeing to go bungee jumping, polar plunging, or any other crazy activity, especially if it’s well known that the experience will be nerve-wracking for you and you can film it to show to those who can’t witness it personally.
- Walking around town for a day wearing a ridiculous outfit (for example, a Santa outfit or inflatable sumo wrestling suit) and making a point to visit as many public places as possible.
- Having 25 crème pies thrown in your face (again, don’t forget the video!).
- Wearing your arch rival’s sports jersey for an entire week.
- Singing karaoke in public, especially if you have a terrible singing voice. Don’t forget to borrow a guitar and a rockstar wig!
- Participating in a mud wrestling tournament.
- Agreeing to go without coffee, cheesecake, or some other well-known staple of your diet for a week or a month.
Basically, the more work you’re willing to put into your fundraising operation, the more you’re going to get out of it. Most importantly, don’t forget that if you’re supporting a worthy cause, there are people who want to donate to it. It’s your job to make it more enjoyable to donate to you than to somebody else.