8 Creative Fundraising Ideas to Advance Your Mission | npENGAGE

8 Creative Fundraising Ideas to Advance Your Mission

By on Aug 24, 2018


Fundraising for your cause is exciting, challenging and should be unique to your mission. Annual appeals, #GivingTuesday and end-of-year fundraising campaigns are imperative to sustaining your operating costs, however, stimulating a donor or member to give beyond those efforts can be challenging. By developing a creative giving platform, you can intensify donor momentum, increase funding and heighten awareness.

While setting your organization apart from others and generating familiarity can be challenging, creative interactions will help you cultivate new donors and engage existing ones. Here are eight strategies that can help you differentiate your organization and increase fundraising results:

  1. Creating giving societies can promote a sense of exclusivity to your donors. As your relationship with a donor matures, they should move up the giving society ladder through clearly defined giving levels. As their commitment increases, so should recognition, perks and communication from your organization.
  2. Donation cards can be a great way to receive extra funds and contact information, and also an opportunity to educate donors on their fund allocation. Whether you host a gala, informal dinner, drop-in, auction, golf tournament, race, etc. donation cards are an effective, easily distributed piece of collateral. Engage your donors through storytelling by sharing how you are utilizing their money. Be sure to add increments to each card because dollar amounts, connected to a tangible impact, guide the donors’ understanding of what they can influence. Keep amounts and explanations simple and use examples.Below is an example of a two-sided donation card. Louie’s Kids is a nonprofit that fights childhood obesity and promotes family wellness.


    1. Challenge gifts can increase the number of gifts received. Securing a 2:1 match reassures donors how their gift will make twice the impact. Below are two examples of successful matching gift challenges:

    Live auctions are a great platform to showcase a matching gift. The auctioneer will announce to guests that a donor (anonymous or named) will generously match donations up to $10,000. He/she will start by asking for a $2,500 donation, going down in increments, until he hits $100. By the time your auctioneer reaches the $100 donation, everyone in the room should be able to give.

    A social media campaign can be designed specifically for any challenge gift. Developing a few communicative posts, informing your supporters how their $25 donation will be amplified into a $50, is impactful.

    1. Tell a story in your appeals. Donors like to feel connected to causes they believe in. Focusing on donor impact creates a sense of ownership and value, ultimately increasing giving. Include imagery to enhance the connection. People naturally look at pictures before reading text. Capitalize on this by using images to tell your story and evoke the donors’ emotions. Utilize photos that invoke feelings of empathy and joy to help your donors develop drive and energy to support your cause. Comparative pictures (before and after) work well to achieve this.
    2. Host a neighborly function: Peer-to-peer interaction is very effective and a great way to cultivate new donors. Identify a current supporter who is a strong advocate and ask them to host an intimate, invite-only gathering in their home. Assure them that your staff will handle all the logistics and that their efforts will be spent on creating the invite list and networking. An exclusive cultivation event will allow one-on-one interactions, encourage personal/specific opportunities and appeal to a higher-level donor.

    Below is an example of an invite to a peer-to-peer event. The host invited friends and neighbors.



    1. Peer-to-peer challenges are a great way to increase awareness and revenue. The most successful, by far, was the ALS Association’s Ice Bucket Challenge. Over the course of a few months the Ice Bucket Challenge raised over $115 million dollars, increasing their research budget, bringing awareness to their cause, and moving them closer to developing a cure. The challenge went viral and took fundraising challenges to an unpreceded, exciting level.

    To learn more about the fundamentals of this challenge, click here.

    1. Raffles are great for lower monetary commitments while generating revenue. Showcasing large value items and selling tickets for a low dollar amount promotes ticket sales. Alternatively, allowing a smaller number of raffle tickets with a higher price will increase the donor’s odds. Both ways can be effective, however, should be customized to the raffled item’s value.

    Example: Chance to win a Scout 195 Sportfish Boat

                       Tickets-$50 each

                       1000 tickets sold

    You can sell these raffle tickets online, at events and at your establishment over a specific time period.  If you are not able to get the boat donated, getting it at a discounted rate could potentially still generate $25,000 if you received the boat at 25% off.

    Note: there are rules and regulations associated with raffles custom to each state; make sure to check your state’s laws.

    1. Create an awareness challenge that showcases your organization without a monetary commitment. Part of your success relies on brand exposure and communicating your mission. Your organization will need to develop a creative way to gain publicity. A great example is the police officer lip sync challenge. They generated awareness, strengthened their brand and are having fun! This environment can increase visibility and lead to new possibilities.

    Personally, I believe the best lip sync video to-date was created by the Seattle Police Department. Take a look by clicking here.

    Innovation is the basis of a successful fundraising plan.  As your plan develops, reflect on your donors’ likes and dislikes, utilize feedback from your members and asses your presence in the community. Your possibilities are limitless but make sure to customize your plan to your organization and mission. Good luck on your fundraising efforts and don’t forget to have fun.



Tanya Fitzgerald is a senior marketing manager at Blackbaud, previously having served as a customer success manager for Blackbaud Arts & Cultural Solutions. Prior to joining Blackbaud, she was the Board & Special Projects Manager for the South Carolina Aquarium focusing on major gifts and fundraising events while managing the Board of Directors and junior board. Previously, Tanya was involved with Louie’s Kids for six years, a non-profit that focuses on childhood obesity and family wellness, as a board member and volunteer managing their fundraising efforts. Currently, she is involved with the Charleston Animal Society’s fundraising events and is a member of their Board of Directors philanthropy committee. Tanya enjoys giving back and sharing her non-profit knowledge helping our customers succeed.

Comments (7)

  • Alysia Carter says:

    It is encouraging to see that we are currently doing most of these. I worry about donor fatigue and struggle with implementing all of the great ideas with our current donor base.

    • Tanya Fitzgerald says:

      Hi Alysia-

      Its great that you are concerned about donor fatigue because its an issue that can arise. Ideally, not every effort will be directed to your entire donor base. Each of your efforts can be segmented by donor level. For example, a raffle can be social media driven while a peer-to-peer campaign is an effort that conducted on your behalf. You will want to plan your campaigns for each calendar or fiscal year in advance to ensure that you are targeting different level donors so fatigue does not hit. Also, make sure that each time you contact a donor you are not asking them for support. Don’t forget to communicate with them so they understand what your campaigns support. A donor that understands your needs will give more often that one that’s kept in the dark.

      Have fun and get creative!


  • Sue Trussell says:

    I think this can be applied to not just to non-profits but also to civic organizations that ask for donations.

  • Emily says:

    Already implementing a lot of these. glad to see we are on the right track.

  • Mary Sommer says:

    We also use several of these ideas. We could vary things; raffles tend to be part of the gala event, maybe one that the front desk could promote to members and other visitors.

  • George Buss says:

    This is a great list to run through when trying to come up with an idea for the latest fundraiser. The one thing that runs through all of the them is decent storytelling. Without a good story, events can be a meaningless party with little ROI.

  • Joe says:

    I have bookmarked this article for future reference. Thanks!

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