We all know how it is. Fundraising can get boring,…
Love to fundraise, but feeling a bit worn out? It happens to the best of us. No matter how dedicated you are to your favourite cause, a little burnout can sometime occur.
Inevitably, the idea of mounting another complicated and challenging fundraising campaign can fill you with dread. Raising money is hard work – and it never ends!
There’s no shame in taking a little bit of a breather, so if you need to take a break, go right ahead and do just that. That way, you’re more likely to come back to it later rather than pulling out of your passion piece altogether.
However, keep in mind that not every fundraiser has to be incredibly complex – and easy fundraising ideas that are fun and simple to organise can be just as effective as more complicated endeavours.
Here are a few that take almost no planning, but can be huge successes. Before pulling the pin, why not have a go at these?
1. A Danceathon
This idea is easy because it’s different! When things are new and exciting, it’s easier to garner interest.
The venerable dance contest is so easy to set up it’s almost trivial, and yet can deliver a shot of cash almost immediately. It’s a simple scenario: You need a space (any large room will do, from a gym to a school theatre), a band or even a DJ – or even just an iPod hooked up to the sound system – and some tickets.
Couples buy a ticket, and then compete to see who can dance continuously the longest, with the last couple standing winning some percentage of the pot, or a donated prize.
You need a few volunteers to act as judges to tap out couples who fall asleep or stop dancing for more than a second, but that’s about as complicated as it gets.
2. Bid War Karaoke
This is a simple fundraising idea because everyone loves Karaoke!
Karaoke gives people the chance to get up on stage and sing – whether they can actually sing or not. One of the most fun events to organise is a Karaoke Night with a twist – there’s a limited list of songs to sing and people have to bid on the ones they want!
All that’s needed is a band or karaoke machine, printed lyric sheets (which can be generated from the Internet) and a sound system.
As an extra incentive, make a rule that once someone has put their name in to sing, they have to sing something – even if the song they wanted has already been taken!
3. Crazy Sponsors
This idea takes us back to basics.
Gather your volunteers and get a sponsorship going. It works like this: Your volunteers promise to give up something. It could be something healthy, like cigarettes, or something crazy, like talking. Then you solicit sponsors for them.
So say you vow to give up talking for three days – people can sponsor you at various amounts, which they only pay if you keep your promise. Whether or not sponsors are free to try to trick you into failing is up to the organising committee.
It may be tempting to do this online, but really – this idea is great for the workplace, community groups and even groups of friends. It’s face to face and it’s fun!
4. Ice Bucket Challenge
We all saw it: The ALS Ice bucket Challenge became a viral sensation, but more importantly, it was a phenomenon, ramping up ALS charity receipts from about $2 million in 2013 to over $80 million in 2014.
As the most exciting and effective fundraiser in recent memory – and a really easy idea to implement – there’s obviously a lot we can learn from this viral hit.
Your chances of repeating this success are probably slim; even if you created your own knock-off ‘X Challenge’ you won’t see the same virality that made this take off – that sort of lightning only strikes once. But you can analyse the challenge and pick out the replicable aspects so you can turn your next activity into something more effective.
What are the take-aways of the Ice Bucket Challenge (IBC)?
- The IBC was one of the simplest fundraising successes we’ve ever seen – all you needed was a camera and a bucket of ice water. People did it on their own time, in their own way.
- People were allowed to put their own stamp on it – to be creative and funny, or serious and heartbreaking. Part of the fun is seeing how different people jump off from the starting point.
- People were free to nominate the next participants in their personal chain, and were free to either donate directly or do the challenge. Giving people some limited choice made it fun for everyone.
- There was no reason to expect the IBC to go viral – but, and here’s the lesson, the Internet video component made it possible for it to go viral.
So how can we take those lessons and apply them to our own efforts?
- Keep it simple. The IBC is easy and requires no special sign ups or roundabout procedures. People feel like they’re doing something on their own using a loose set of simple guidelines, making them feel like they’re in charge.
- Be open to virality. You can’t force your ideas to go viral, and the harder you try the less likely it will happen. That’s okay! But make it possible for it to go viral by baking in Internet aspects like online video.
- Give people options. For all the people dumping water on their heads in videos, many more are simply opening their chequebooks. Give people a range of ways to participate and you’ll be rewarded with higher engagement.
Finally, stop trying to make it happen again. This was a once-in-a-lifetime moment that likely won’t be repeated, at least not in this precise way. Use the lessons, not the details, and find your own exciting way to raise money.
5. Big Hearted Canvas
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These ideas may seem easy, but they do work. Why? Because people do actually want to give. They just need someone to ask them!
People have a disturbing tendency to assume that nothing easy is worth doing. This presents itself in a wide variety of activities: We simply distrust anything we perceive to be ‘too easy.’
The end result is we often make our chores and projects unnecessarily complex and difficult simply out of a mysterious instinct that tells us anything worthwhile should be difficult.
That’s why so many people reject simple ideas in favour of projects that require a lot of up-front investment and labour – when the fact is, easy often works just as well for one simple reason: People want to give to deserving projects.
This list above shows that the work you put into a passion piece doesn’t have to be dull and hard. If you’re feeling a little tired after your last Herculean efforts to raise money, sit back and enjoy a simpler, easier way to raise money.
And that’s the secret – These ideas work just as well as complex, convoluted ones because, in the end, the idea is just the excuse people use to give money.
A good time is generally guaranteed to all – and your receipts will probably be on par with past efforts, too.
Why we all seem to feel the need for an excuse to give to good causes remains a mystery, but the fact is this: If you went around to friends and co-workers asking for pledges because you’re running a charity 5K, and then simply didn’t run it, no one would demand their money back as long as the donations went to the charity in question. The run itself is superfluous – as are all fundraising concepts, at the core.
You can make these events above as complex or as simple as you like, but you’re in control. These events don’t need to be incredibly difficult – unless you make them so.
Keep it simple, and you’ll enjoy the same success as you would with a really difficult set up – except without all the extra expenses, so maybe you’ll actually clear more profit from the event.