Fundraising is usually thought of as the province of adults,…
Many people make the mistake of thinking that fundraising is all about the money. Of course it’s partly that, but it’s certainly not the full story. Sure, you can implement simple fundraising ideas, but if you forget about people – your volunteers, your donors, your sponsors – it’s not going to work out in the short term or long term.
People drive everything. It’s the reason so many others become sympathetic to your cause or organisation and it’s the reason they’re attracted to your fundraiser in the first place. Even our own super simple Big Hearted Canvas fundraising opportunity requires people power.
But often your cause – whether it’s cancer, disability or animal welfare – can be tough for people to cope with, particularly if they’re completely immersed in the struggle.
That’s why it’s so important to keep your volunteers inspired, motivated and excited with creative, fun ideas.
But how do we design a simple idea that’s also going to lift spirits? Here’s a few basics:
1. Low cost of start-up. It shouldn’t require a massive investment just to get it off the ground.
2. Simplicity of organisation. It has to be within the grasp of the talents you have at your disposal.
3. Creative influence. It has to attract not just your existing supporters who probably would donate anyway, but also a wider audience.
Here are a few simple ideas that are sure to excite and motivate everyone involved in raising money for your cause. Any individual or organisation should be able to implement one of these right away – with little to no planning or up-front cost.
1. Open house
People love to go behind the scenes and get the VIP treatment. Offer up ‘backstage passes’ to your organisation and give donors the VIP treatment.. This could include:
- Guided tours through parts of the building or facility that are usually off-limits.
- A quick crash course in what goes on behind the scenes.
- A meet-and-greet with the people in charge.
- A nice luncheon or reception.
This makes people feel special, so it will attract those who might otherwise ignore your pleas, and it’s super-easy to organise, since all you have to do is ask your own organisation to provide access – and your own people can act as tour guides.
If you don’t have anything extra special to offer by way of a tour, ask a local community organisation, business sponsor or government department to give your donors a similar VIP treatment.
2. House party
Sometimes the oldest tricks are the best ones: Throw a party!
If you have a hall, school gym or, in a pinch, a volunteer’s large house, organise a party and act like you’re back in university and collect donations at the door.
All you need is the space and donated food and drink. Music can be someone’s MP3 player plugged into the stereo or, for something more above board, hire a DJ (or find a volunteer).
If you’re in a hall, bring in people’s spare couches and rugs to make the space feel more like someone’s living room. Then send out personal invitations to key members of the community and make it a Friday night they won’t forget.
Some options include:
- If it’s adults-only and you don’t have time to arrange for wine and beer donations, make it BYO drinks.
- Make the door charge whatever the guests want to donate or set a range of entry fees based on whether they brought food and wine or other fun ‘perks’ like a dance ticket. That is, no one can dance unless they have purchased a ticket!
- Include a further income stream by selling raffle tickets at the party itself.
Again – this can be organised in a month or less with almost zero resources. It all comes down to the enthusiasm and energy of your volunteers.
The larger the prize the more people happily purchase a ticket or three, but other reasons aside from the prize draw people to lotteries.
For one, it’s a form of light gambling that people enjoy. For another, the possibility that every ticket is a winner is exciting.
What really makes lotteries worth emulating is the question of what happens when no one wins. Unlike a drawing or a raffle, no winner is guaranteed and the pot keeps getting bigger. This builds excitement.
Holding a lottery as a fundraiser for your cause, school, club or church means that each time no one has the winning ticket, another round of ticket sales grows the pot.
As the pot gets bigger, buzz builds, which drives more ticket sales. It’s easy to see how this can quickly become a big deal – a lot of fun and a successful fundraising season for you.
4. Fun fines
No one likes getting traffic tickets, but you can turn the simple idea of issuing traffic fines into a fun event by declaring a ‘Fun Week’ or something similar.
Participants sign up and get badges they agree to wear all week and you appoint volunteer ‘Fun Officers’ who have ticket books. When they observe any non-fun behaviour, they issue a ‘summons’ and the participant has to pay a fine to the organisation.
The success of the ticket system depends on getting everyone to participate and designing the rules to be enjoyable and relaxed, not annoying and fussy. And of course, the most fun is when everyone starts competing to get the ‘worst’ fine possible by breaking as many of the rules as possible.
You can easily see infinite variations on this idea – an idea where the only way to win is to play very, very badly!
Take this basic concept – borrowing ideas from money-making systems in the real world – and see where it leads you.
Every time you see a local government raking in funds, think about how it works and how you might be able to reinvent it for your own organisation.
5. Car wash
The humble car wash is another super simple, fun option. All you need is a driveway or a local street where you don’t need a permit then gather up some volunteers, a bit of soap, a hose, access to water and some towels.
Put up some hand-made signs and have a few volunteers posted at the intersections to flag down cars and pitch them a nice clean car.
You can pop these up as often as you like through the good weather and spend next to nothing on supplies.
Put the fun back into fundraising
The simpler an idea is, the less that’s required to set it into motion. If your idea is easy enough that it can implemented tomorrow, with little prep and a skeleton staff of volunteers, that probably means you won’t need to invest any funds in equipment or space.
You also won’t need to spend weeks convincing people to donate time or services to the cause and you won’t need to work up complicated budgets or spreadsheets that look like you’re planning to invade Europe.
The end result? The money starts coming in immediately, not a month from now, and you get to keep more of that money for your organisation. That alone should inspire you to keep it simple.
As with anything else, there’s always a danger of making fundraising more complex than it needs to be. The moment we start trying to be clever, we get lost in the weeds and can easily lose sight of the real goal, which isn’t to be clever, but to raise money.
And don’t forget, while nothing lifts spirits more than raising money for your cause, it may as well be fun in the process.