44 Ways to Turn Nonprofit Supporters into Fundraising Superstars | npENGAGE

44 Ways to Turn Nonprofit Supporters into Fundraising Superstars

By on May 8, 2017


Turning supporters into fundraisers isn't always easy - here are 44 ideas for you to test today!

Turning your supporters into fundraising superstars isn’t easy. It requires the right combination of fundraising expertise, engaged staff members, and savvy technology.

When done well, the results are impressive. Supporters can raise significant amounts of money and bring new donors to your organization.

Organizations that turn supporters into fundraisers continue to be leaders in online fundraising, and this growth is now an important contributor to their overall revenue.

So, how can you help supporters become fundraising superstars? Below are 44 tips I’ve learned, organized by topic and ordered from easiest to hardest to implement.

Teach Supporters to Fundraise and Provide Samples

  1. Encourage them to use their social network. According to the Global NGO Online Technology Report, Millennials are most inspired to give by social media. It’s crucial that you encourage your supporters to use social media to raise awareness for their fundraising efforts.
  2. Offer rewards for fundraising levels achieved. A few years ago at a SXSW conference, keynote speaker Seth Priebatsch predicted a shift from the “social layer” to the “game layer” over the next decade. Make fundraising a game by offering rewards for levels achieved (E.g. $50 gift card for $5,000 raised).
  3. Encourage them to start a team of fundraisers. Not only do teams raise more money for your organization, they add camaraderie and competition to fundraising.
  4. Hold contests. After the initial excitement wears off, your fundraisers may need motivation. Create contests that reward fundraising activity. (E.g. Highest fundraiser in June receives 4 movie passes).
  5. Provide samples of everything. Don’t let your fundraisers get stuck on something you could have easily helped with. Supply sample fundraising emails, Facebook posts, tweets, phone scripts, thank you notes, approved logos, etc.
  6. Provide fundraising success stories. Tell them how to raise money, acknowledge challenges they’ll likely face, and be clear on the impact their donations will have on your mission.
  7. Provide fundraising tips so they know how to get started. Not every method of fundraising will be for everyone. Provide numerous ideas, but do emphasize the most efficient methods such as sending email through a tool like everdayhero.
  8. Tell them how to approach their business contacts. Contacting a vendor or customer is different from asking their neighbor for support. Provide tips on fundraising with the corporate world.
  9. But…let them know your key corporate relationships. You probably already receive support from many local companies. Avoid embarrassment and disappointment for everyone involved by disclosing who already generously supports your cause.
  10. Offer tips for approaching the media. Your fundraisers may be fearless in promoting your cause. This is good. When approaching the media, though, they may need help. Offer tips and advice to receive coverage of their efforts.
  11. Explain which types of fundraising events are most efficient. Recommend focusing on events that raise the most money for the least amount of work. For example, happy hours generally outperform bake sales.
  12. Hold fundraising lunches/seminars/receptions to teach them how to fundraise. While success stories may have provided ideas, these sessions will let fundraisers “ask the experts” and get their questions answered.
  13. Create an online community for your fundraisers to interact and share their ideas. Other fundraisers may have great tips or advice. Provide a way to collaborate and share.

Connect Supporters to Your Cause

  1. Allow your fundraisers to raise restricted money. They may have been moved by one aspect of your cause and will want to fundraise for it.
  2. Invite your top fundraisers to join your volunteer committee. This will make fundraisers feel closer to your organization and responsible for its success. Doing this will also inject some new enthusiasm and ideas into your committees.
  3. Offer a tour of your hospital/school/office to further connect them to your cause. Meeting the people who will be helped and seeing the places that will be impacted by their efforts will give your fundraisers extra motivation and experiences to tell more personal stories when fundraising.
  4. Keep them updated on how donations will be used. Let them know the outcome of their hard work. If it’s an annual event or program, you want these fundraisers back each year.
  5. Celebrate their accomplishments annually with a thank you party/dinner/reception/etc. It’s an extra opportunity to say thanks, connect them to your mission and encourage future participation.

Treat Fundraisers Like VIPs

  1. When someone creates a fundraising page, call to say thanks and answer questions. Let them know you’re there to help. Not sure you have time to offer this type of assistance? What if you knew they’d raise $20,000?
  2. Check-in occasionally. At some point, most fundraisers will feel discouraged, intimidated or confused about fundraising. Offer your expertise (and encouragement).
  3. Ask them what you can do better. Your fundraisers likely could have used additional support or resources at some point. Learn what else would’ve helped, and provide this for future fundraisers.
  4. Implement their good ideas. It will help them take ownership of the program and feel responsible for its success.  If you don’t implement an idea, tell them why not.
  5. Find out what motivates your fundraiser. They are likely fundraising because of your cause, to be part of a team or receive an incentive (it’s true). Find out what motivates them and tailor communications accordingly.
  6. Celebrate their milestones. Your fundraisers will likely be really excited when they reach their goal. Capitalize on this opportunity to thank them. Tools like everydayhero will even send automated messages when 50% or 100% of the goal is reached.
  7. Respond quickly to fundraiser questions and complaints. Problems + slow response times = frustrated fundraisers. They may stop fundraising altogether until they hear back from you. The longer that takes, the less fundraising momentum they’ll have.
  8. Offer your fundraisers any “extras” you have. Have extra tickets to the game? An extra seat at your gala? Call your top fundraisers first. Treat them like VIPs.
  9. Arrange meet-and-greets with celebrities at events. Regardless of whether it’s meeting a professional athlete or a radio station DJ, give your fundraiser the VIP treatment whenever possible. It may keep them motivated.

Highlight Your Fundraisers Online and Create User-Friendly Forms

  1. Make it easy to find a fundraiser’s page on your website. The more website visitors have to search for pages, the less likely they’ll donate. The Ride For Roswell does a nice job placing “Donate to a Rider” prominently on their homepage.
  2. Make donation forms concise and compelling. Help your fundraisers by creating donation forms that are concise, compelling, and easy to complete.
  3. Spotlight a new fundraiser on your website each month. It provides recognition and encourages others to start fundraising.
  4. Ensure the registration form is concise and easy to complete. This makes it simple for anyone to get started and prevents frustration during the initial steps.
  5. List top fundraisers on your website. Recognition and competition are two powerful motivators that may inspire some fundraisers to send out another batch of emails. Check out how YWCA Calgary does it in their Walk A Mile event.

Help Them Follow Personal Fundraising Page Best Practices

  1. Allow supporters to create a fundraising page whenever they want to. If a supporter wants to raise money for your cause, don’t make them jump through hoops to support you.
  2. Give supporters the ability to set up a fundraising page for any occasion. Maybe they want people to donate on their behalf instead of having them buy presents for their birthday. Or maybe they’d like to help you get that new facility quicker. Whatever the cause, make it simple for them to get started and flexible enough to support their efforts.
  3. Add a great default photo to fundraising pages. According to the Blackbaud and the Run Walk Ride Fundraising Council’s Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Consumer Survey, only 45% of fundraisers personalize their fundraising page. Your photo may inspire others to donate.
  4. Make your default “My Story” compelling on fundraising pages. Not all fundraisers will change the “My Story” area. Your default story may inspire others to donate.
  5. Add page sharing tools to the fundraising page. Free tools like Add This allow the page to easily be shared via email and social media.
  6. Let them create a Friendly URL for their page. It’s much easier for fundraisers to tell potential supporters to visit a specific page, instead of your home page.
  7. List the names and amounts of each donor on fundraising pages. Peer pressure has a funny way of inspiring larger gifts. Show gift names and amounts on a donor wall.
  8. Allow them to change their goal at any time. Once they reach their goal, it’s less compelling for friends to support them. Let them up their goal at any time, with tools like everdayhero.
  9. Allow them to import email contacts into their fundraising dashboard. Once imported, fundraisers can keep track of which contacts who have donated, not opened the email , forwarded the email, etc.
  10. Allow fundraising pages to be shared on Facebook and Twitter from their fundraising dashboard. Every extra click you eliminate saves your fundraisers time. Remember, social media can have an incredible impact on peer-to-peer fundraising effectiveness.
  11. Allow fundraisers to upload either photos or videos to their page. A video can tell a more powerful story than a photo. Give fundraisers the option to upload a video.
  12. Create short education videos for every step of the way. Show them how to register, setup a page, import contacts, email family and friends, and other important fundraising activities.

OK, there’s my 44. So, what tips do you have for us

This article was originally published in 2011 and has been updated to reflect the latest best practices and advice.


Mike Snusz brings 18 years of fundraising experience to his role as a Senior Team Lead on Blackbaud’s Professional Services team. He leads a team of digital consultants and works with nonprofits to improve their digital fundraising, monthly giving, email marketing and peer-to-peer fundraising programs. Prior to Blackbaud, Mike managed the turnaround of the Ride For Roswell from 2003 to 2005 in his hometown of Buffalo, NY. When he’s not contemplating fundraising, Mike enjoys hide and seek, tag, and dance parties with his two kids.

Comments (8)

  • Chris Tuttle says:

    Great post, Chad!  Lots of useful and immediately actionable tips and suggestions for any organization to implement.

  • GoodTwo.com says:

    Great points here! I’d add giving your supporters tools or ideas that let them get creative with their fundraising. So many people are uncomfortable with the “ask” or going back again and again to the same people–having different things to offer can be an asset. Think facilitating ways for them to throw events, etc. I’ve seen some really successful online fundraising bake sales, which I think is a fantastic idea–a bake sale on steroids, where goodies are shipped anywhere in the world. And, shameless plug, there’s our free too, which lets people fundraise using great deals as rewards for their donors.

    Talking to nonprofit organizations every day, they seem to love it when they can offer something that will excite not only donors but the fundraisers/supporters themselves. It’s a shot in the arm for them when they’re fundraising for the cause.

    • Mike Snusz says:

      GoodTwo, great suggestion. You’re right – events are a fantastic alternative. As we discussed on Twitter, some events can raise quite a bit. Marathon fundraisers at my old organization liked to hold happy hour events at local bars. Their events often raised over $1,000, especially if they found a few donated items to auction off.

      In addition, email is obviously a great tool to overcome that fear of making an “ask.”

      Who else has tips to share?

  • Jayden Coleman says:


    Most Useful & helpful tips. I’ve also written an article on Peer to Peer fundraising – an introduction for non-profit organizations.Please suggest if any corrections needed.

    You can read here http://blog.givecentral.org/2017/05/17/peer-fundraising-nonprofit-organizations/


  • Adrienne says:

    Wow! This is quite a list! I don’t know if I could’ve come up with 44 different ways to raise money like you did. One of the points you made that I found myself nodding my head while reading was to make the registration process as easy as possible so that supporters don’t get frustrated before they even sign up. Great post; very useful! From your friends over at https://www.easy-fundraising-ideas.com .

  • Taylor Gibbs says:

    Hey Mike, it’s a great list!

    The personalized outreach where you call and say thanks that you mentioned under Treat Fundraisers like VIPs is something that gets overlooked by almost all nonprofits.

    It’s amazing the thought and energy that goes into attracting supporters, getting them to set up fundraisers on a platform like Everyday Hero (https://www.everydayhero.com/us/) but then so often organizations drop the ball with ensuring that fundraisers who register are as successful as possible.

    A quick call can do wonders for solidifying those relationships!

    From your friends and integration partner at https://doublethedonation.com

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