Kickstart Your Supporters with 5 NEW Fundraising Contest Ideas | npENGAGE

Kickstart Your Supporters with 5 NEW Fundraising Contest Ideas

By on Jul 19, 2011


Contests work well in the Event Fundraising Space

It’s a great time to start fundraising contests if you’re managing or helping run a fall fundraising event. In fact, I bet you’re already planning a few.

We’ve all see and likely implemented the typical “raise $100 this week and be entered into a drawing to win a prize”. But as you go about your planning this season, I’d like to get you thinking about contests a little differently.

Instead of asking participants to raise a [insert $ amount here] ask them to complete a series of tasks that will lead to raising more money.


What do I mean by tasks?

How about the next time you communicate with your participants you ask them to send 5 emails to their friends and family? While this is not an outright fundraising ask, it will result in dollars raised.

When it comes to fundraising, what we’re really trying to do is get participants to take action. For some, raising $100 or $200 may seem daunting, but sending 5 emails is something everyone can do.

What’s great about task-based contests is that you’re encouraging participants to use online tools. We know that participants who use Friends Asking Friends raise six times more than non-users.


What other task based contests can you run?

  1. Encourage participants to engage their social network by updating your Facebook status 3 times in the next week. In communications to your participants be sure to provide participants with directions on how to update their Facebook status. And for good measure give them a sample update. For example: Did you know kids get Arthritis too? Check out how I’m moving to find a cure: link to personal page.
  2. Hold a contest that asks participants to upload a video to YouTube that tells you why they run/walk/ride in your event. Enter all participants into a drawing to win a worthwhile prize. You’ll build your YouTube presence, uncover compelling stories and generate new, heartfelt videos that, with permission, could be added to your website.
  3. Encourage a timely action. For example, announce in your event newsletter and on social media that the first team to add 10 new members wins a free pizza party. Besides adding new registrants, your participants may begin to read your communications more closely.
  4. Hold quirky and offbeat contests that show a little personality. For example, in honor of national Donald Duck day (June 9th), hold a contest that enters all participants who receive a donation from someone named “Donald” into a drawing to win a gift card.

Remember: participants are not professional fundraisers, so always include directions, tips for success and share with them why this task is important.


Now it’s your turn!

What types of contest have you seen work effectively?


Frank Barry, director of new growth ventures at Blackbaud and blogger at npENGAGE, helps nonprofits use the Internet for digital communication, social media, and fundraising so they can focus changing the world. He’s worked with a diverse group of organizations including LIVESTRONG, United Methodist Church, American Heart Association, Big Brothers Big Sisters, ChildFund Int’l, InTouch Ministries, Heifer Int’l, University of Notre Dame and University of Richmond. Along with writing for industry publications like Mashable and Social Media Today, Frank facilitates discussions, presents solo sessions and organizes panels for industry conferences such as NTC, SXSW, BBCon and numerous others. When he’s out and about he enjoys talking to interesting people about how they are changing the world – check out his interviews. Say Hi on Twitter – @franswaa or Google+

Comments (6)

  • Sarah Homan says:

    Love this idea. Always looking for creative ways to keep eveyone sending out emails and following up with folks who haven’t responded.

  • Goss5165 says:

    Some great ideas!  But, you didn’t follow your own advise. . . You didn’t give us directions for “updating” our status.

  • ContestCause says:

    How about running a t-shirt fundraising design contest at – ask people to vote for their favorite shirt or design their own. They can buy the shirt online to support your fundraiser.

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