October, my favorite month, is rapidly approaching. Not only are there beautiful leaves, pumpkin-flavored treats and kitschy Halloween decorations to enjoy, but it’s also National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In its honor, I thought it would be appropriate to dedicate a post to fundraising.
Fundraising is, after all, marketing.
Non-profit organizations and charities face the same main challenge as corporations and businesses: getting the message to the masses and competing for precious consumer dollars. As an added hurdle, non-profits tend to have significantly smaller budgets and often lack tangible goods to offer as a return on investment.
People only have so much they can give. In order to differentiate your organization from the rest of the worthwhile charities and admirable missions in the marketplace, you need to think outside the box.
Sonic Promos works with a variety of non-profit organizations and charitable event planners, and we understand the importance of standing out from the crowd. Here are three of our favorite creative ideas, adaptable to the individual or organizational level:
Host a night-in. Galas and events are a common way for large non-profit organizations to raise funds. Side note: sorry to switch up the nouns and verbs on you here, but these are the big-wigs, people… they don’t fundraise, they raise funds. Big, glamorous events, though lucrative, take a lot of resources – time and dollars – to produce. For a creative alternative, send donors an invitation to join you for a charitable night-in! Pair a formal paper invitation (including a donation envelope as the rsvp, of course) with a small gift of packaged bath salts, cocoa mix or movie theater candy. People might want to support your charity, but have trouble finding time to attend your event. Give them a good case for giving and an excuse to spend a relaxing evening at home.
Organize a virtual silent auction. Silent auctions are a popular fundraiser for many reasons. With just a little effort and organization, they can bring in a significant amount of money. Additionally, they provide sponsors with the opportunity to benefit from a little marketing by putting their product(s) or service(s) up for bid. The main downside to silent auctions? Much like events and galas, they’re geographically-specific and inherently limit the potential reach of your donor base. Instead, move your auction to a location where everyone can participate: the Internet. Organize an online auction by asking sponsors, friends and family members to contribute items or services for sale. Have them send you a photo of said good. Build interest before the big day by posting these photos on your website. On the day of the actual sale, buyers will email you their bids. Throughout the day, post and update the highest bid on each item so your buyers have a chance to outbid one another. At day’s end, announce the winner of each item, and arrange to have the prizes shipped via mail.
Give potential donors something they don’t want. I have seen this creative tactic used a lot lately, involving everything from goats to embarrassing lawn ornaments. ?!?... Allow me to explain. Using lawn ornaments as an example, the individual or organization seeking donations purchases 20-30 pink flamingos (or gnomes, pinwheels, gazing balls… it’s your choice) and stakes them in a neighbor’s lawn. They are removed once the neighbor has made a small donation. Said neighbor is then offered the chance to select the next lucky recipient, and the game continues on.
We hope this gives you some good ideas. Happy fundraising – in October and all year long!