While brainstorming ideas for a fundraising event I have coming up, I tried to think of all the events I had been to and what I liked and remembered most about each of them. After some pondering, I realized that I couldn’t come up with much of anything.

There wasn’t a single event that stood out to me.

I couldn’t even think of the causes most of the events were supporting! This got me thinking. What could the organizations have done better to keep my attention? What could they have done differently to engage younger generations? I came up with a list of things that I, as a Millennial, would like to see at a fundraiser; things that would get me interested and entice me to continue supporting the cause beyond the event. Millennials are a difficult generation to cultivate, we know. But with a little fun, excitement, and passion, we can be swayed to become some of your most ardent supporters.

1. Get Personal

One thing that I noticed about most of the fundraisers I’ve been to is their lack of personal interaction. They didn’t know who I was, nor did I feel as though they cared.

I didn’t feel like my donation or presence at their fundraiser was appreciated.

Maybe that’s the reason I didn’t return, or even remember much about their organization at all. I want to feel like I’m really helping, like what I am doing is making a difference, and it’s up to the organization I’m supporting to remind me of that! With some thoughtful engagement, such as personal interactions or follow-ups from the nonprofit, I would have been more likely to return.

2. Be Passionate

Another thing I love to see at fundraisers is the passion organizations hold for their mission. But sometimes it’s as though organizations get bogged down by all the craziness of getting the event put together that they miss opportunities to remind participants of the important work that’s being done. Passion, however, cannot be left out. It is one of the most important parts of the day. Tell a story about the incredible impact the organization is having and how all of the donations and support will make a difference—give them reasons to return and keep giving.

3. Be Thankful

Like being passionate about your organization, thanking people for their contributions and their time is also very important. Following up with a thank you goes hand in hand with being personal. This makes the donor feel like what they did really made a difference and increases their chance of continuing to support your cause. Following up with a thank you also reminds them of the fundraiser, and how much they enjoyed your awesome event. A simple thank you will always go a long way with your donors. Be EXTRA thankful, make sure you let them know how much you really do appreciate their generosity.

4. Be Informative

An obvious, but crucial thing I like to know before I attend a fundraiser is where exactly my money is going to and how my donation is going to help. Don’t just give a general overview of your organization or its mission statement. Go in depth and really help the participants understand your work and give them REASON to donate. Inform them of the need, but also give examples of ways your organization is already having impact and how each supporter is a playing a part. A good way to do this is to tell a story of someone who has benefited from your organization. Show them pictures of your mission in action and let them know that their continued support is helping those in need.

5. Make it FUN!

Last, but certainly not least, make your fundraiser FUN. Make it a day that people look forward to every year, an event that people will tell their friends about. It’s evident that fundraisers that are actually fun and exciting are the most memorable and the ones that I;m most likely to go back to. These are the fundraisers that I WILL donate money to, just to ensure that the event itself is successful. These are the fundraisers I will remember, and therefore continue to support.

All of these techniques may seem obvious. You may be reading this and thinking that you already do all of this. And if you do, I applaud you, but there is always room for improvement. To gain more, go the extra mile. Take a look these steps and find a way your organization can enhance each one, even just by a little. The nonprofit world is growing, and the Millennials are rising. Keeping the Millennials in mind, and with just a few small advancements, your fundraisers could evolve and rise to the top with this new generation.


Emma Schaafsma is a Marketing intern at Blackbaud in Charleston, SC. She is also a full time student at the University of South Carolina and is about to start her junior year. She plans to graduate in 2017 with a degree in Business Marketing and Management. Emma is an active member in the Make-A-Wish program and has participated in many fundraisers for the nonprofit.

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