There are occasions organizations, and individuals alike need fundraising inspiration to spark a campaign, inject life into an existing campaign, or funds for an emergency.
The nonprofit fundraising landscape changed remarkably in 2020, and fundraising techniques adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic are likely to stay. For over a year, virtual events replaced in-person ones. For the past decade-plus, the preference for online donating increased. While virtual events are likely to stay, many nonprofit supporters want a return to in-person engagements; a mix of traditional and virtual fundraising will attract donors and increase more funds.
We’ve curated a list of twenty engaging fundraising ideas for in-person and virtual engagements we know you, donors, and sponsors will love. Ready? Read on!
Twenty effective and engaging fundraising event ideas for nonprofits and charities:
Always an effective and popular in-person event, online auctions are an option, too. Like an in-person auction, attendees bid on items through an online auction platform. The nonprofit invites item bids, sets bid minimums and processes payments online. A key benefit of online auctions is the potential for global reach. This makes the auction more competitive than an in-person event. A wider audience brings in a more significant amount of support. Furthermore, the nonprofit saves money on venue charges, refreshments, and other overhead expenses.
Hundreds of millions of people worldwide use smartphones – so nonprofits cannot afford to miss out on such a broad user base. Whether by app, text, or mobile-
optimized website, mobile giving is simple to use. Besides, it’s a straightforward way for donors to support while on the go; also, mobile giving encourages impulse donations.
How mobile phones are used for fundraising:
- Responsive websites: To be effective and to keep up with the millions of screens out there, a site with responsive design delivers optimal user experience, whether they’re on a laptop, smartphone, tablet, or desktop; they should also be easy to navigate with an intuitive interface and a prominent “donate” call to action.
- Text Messages: Text messages are effective for fundraising, and they are fast — they are performed within seconds
- Text-to-give: Text-to-give is one of the simplest methods that a nonprofit can offer donors to contribute to charities. The donor needs to message a keyword provided by the nonprofit to a short code, with the donated amount charged to the phone bill. The nonprofit collects donation from the mobile service provider.
- Text-to-donate: The donor texts the keyword to a short code in this method. They are directed to a form to furnish contact and payment information.
- Scan to give: This is a method where donors scan a QR code provided by the nonprofit to donate.
Peer-to-peer fundraising is when your volunteers and supporters promote your fundraiser among their social circle for raising funds, thereby increasing the user base. The digital age ushered in an expedient way for supporters to spread the word about your nonprofit causes on social media. Also, peer-to-peer social media promotions are free!
Encourage Recurring Donations
Recurring donations are convenient for donors on a fixed budget or who desire to plan their giving. Erica Waasdorp, author of Monthly Giving: The Sleeping Giant and contributor to NonproitPRO, says that “donors typically give four times more than donors who only make on-time gifts.”
Matching gifts are donations companies make to nonprofits to match an employee donation, usually at a 1:1 ratio or higher. We recommend charities select organizations whose mission is aligned to your nonprofit.
Now, let’s look at ways to utilize events to garner support for your nonprofit:
In-person fundraising events are back on the scene, and supporters look forward to gathering with other like-minded folks. Suppose your organization or your supporters are looking for a virtual or hybrid event; iConnectX can help you set it up and manage it. IConnectX offers Zoom and other conferencing technology integration as well.
Events can be held in-person, virtually, or hybrid. One option is to schedule your event around a holiday or a specific time of year.
- December holidays
- Mother’s Day
- Father’s Day
- Summer holidays — a summer white party is always a popular adult option, Independence Day barbecues, Memorial Day, Labor Day
- Fall tailgates
- Costume parties around Halloween
- March Madness
- Super Bowl
- College bowl games
- World Cup
- NHL playoffs and Stanley Cup Championship
- Major League Baseball games
- New Year’s Eve
- Patrick’s Day
- Anniversary galas
An engaging event is a live music concert where local, regional, and nationally recognized musicians perform live and in-person or virtual. The nonprofit receives the net amount of funds after any operating, venue, and artists fees.
Host a virtual theme party any time of year! Most of the events we’ve listed here can be held virtually; we suggest timing the event around a meal so everyone is joined together at the same time.
Educational and Informative Events
You can organize events focused entirely on your nonprofit’s mission. Subject experts from your organization, supporters, sponsors, scholars, and more to provide insightful presentations. It’s also a wise idea to invite people who’ve benefitted from your organization’s help as testimonials to your work.
Classes like cooking or yoga classes are popular options. Choose a chef or Yoga instructor to lead the class virtually, in-person or hybrid. Contributions are made when supporters sign up for the class. Often, organizations will offer an option for an additional donation upon registration.
5k events, Running Events, and Walk-a-thons
Active events like these are back! Many supporters form teams of friends and family. These teams often have coordinated outfits or tee shirts, solicit sponsorship, and host pre or post-event gatherings to raise team fellowship and additional money. The Susan G. Komen Foundation’s Race for the Cure® and is arguably one of the best-performing and well-known nonprofit events in history. If you know of a nonprofit that’s held an event similar to the one you would like to organize, visit their website to create an event blueprint for your own organization.
When it comes to in-person fundraisers, competitions and contests are fun ways to engage supporters. Cooking, baking, road rallies, recreational sports – anything you think is competitive. An entry fee can serve as the primary means to raise funds.
A time-honored and engaging event, karaoke brings out the performer in everybody. This event can be done in-person or virtually; raise funds by charging entrance fees and offering sponsorships.
Talent shows are engaging events that can be held online or offline. Invite donors, sponsors, the community (local comedians, dancers, musicians, and singers). Funds can be raised through the entry fee for the event, and if your event is in person, you can sell t-shirts, souvenirs, and concessions throughout the show.
Raise Funds by Selling Used Books
Collect used books from local libraries, revitalizing their stacks, local bookstores, colleges, and supporters. Sell these books through your website or social media pages; this is a valuable way to recycle books and raise funds for a cause.
Garage or White Elephant Sales
Encourage your supporters and volunteers to host their own sales and donate proceeds to your organization or have supporters sell simultaneously in the same venue. Funds are raised through ticket sales, concessions, and item sales.
To make your event manageable and to ensure a seamless flow, a fundraising platform like iConnectX can make it easy for you to host fundraisers for your nonprofit. iConnectX enables nonprofits to organize and promote events with ticket sale capabilities, customizable URLs and landing pages, guest list and RSVP management, and secure payment processing.
Seasonal Product Sales
Product sales engage the community at large and supporters. Here are a few ideas for seasonal products:
- Hand-knit sweaters in the wintertime
- December wreath, garland, and Christmas tree sales
- Spring flowers (Mother’s Day!)
- Candles (around Christmas time or anytime)
For example, connect with donors through multiple channels, like social media, email marketing, and online fundraising page. Make sure that you have a solid online presence because this is where your donors will connect with your nonprofit and one another, which builds communities and supporter networks.
Communicate with your existing and potential donors through different digital channels: text messages, emails, social media posts, and online newsletters, for example. Video messages on social networks, including YouTube, are highly effective in attracting donations. We suggest you overcome shyness and show the world your and your organization’s personality!
Have a timed task for your supporters to complete and post videos to a social media channel of your choosing. This is a prime occasion to use hashtags and tagging to grow awareness of your organization. This type of outreach and promotion helps attract website visitors, find volunteers, and increase cause awareness.
Ideas for competitive tasks include:
- Soapbox derby cars – arrange to hold the race at a future date for even more fundraising and promotional opportunities
- Christmas tree decorating
- Sport-related challenges for individuals, like “most shots on the net in 60 seconds” for hockey and soccer, for example
- Activities like the Ice Bucket Challenge
A heartfelt mission with dedicated staff and volunteers can accomplish a lot no matter what you decide to do. iConnectX helps simplify and streamline event management so your organization can engage with supporters and run events rather than being tied to administrative duties.
Our platform offers:
- Dedicated URLs and customizable landing pages
- Ticket sales
- RSVP management
- Guestlist communication
- Virtual hosting capabilities
- Secure payment processing
- Recurring donation capabilities
- And much more!
We hope you find some from encouragement this list! If you did finds inspiration, tried any of these ideas, or wat to share your own, please share with us by commenting below or reaching out on social media. We’d love to hear from you!
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