Expanding Your Fundraising Calendar: 4 Unique Fundraisers

Thank you ShopRaise for this blog post.

If your nonprofit startup is looking to hit the ground running with fundraisers, you’ll need to start planning a full calendar of events, campaigns, and programs. If you’ve done your research, you’re likely already familiar with some staple fundraising activities such as crowdfunding campaigns, walk-a-thons, and galas to name a few. 

However, you can get your fundraising off to a stronger start by diversifying your revenue sources with fundraisers you might not have first considered. Passive fundraisers, supporter-led campaigns, and variations on classic events all put their own spin on a nonprofit’s usual fundraising activities, giving your supporters new, innovative ways to get involved. 

To help you start brainstorming new fundraising ideas for your nonprofit, this article will explore four unique fundraisers you can add to your calendar: 

  1. Online Shopping Fundraisers 
  2. Hybrid Auctions 
  3. Peer-to-Peer Campaigns 
  4. Matching Gifts

The activities are designed to supplement your regular fundraising calendar to generate additional revenue and give supporters new opportunities to engage with your nonprofit. Consider how you can promote these new fundraisers alongside your large-scale campaigns to maximize your potential earnings. Let’s get started! 

1. Online Shopping Fundraisers

Your donors can support your nonprofit steadily throughout the year without spending a cent more than they normally would with online shopping fundraisers. Shop for a cause programs raise funds by equipping nonprofits with an online shopping fundraiser app and browser extension their supporters can download. 

Then, supporters can start raising funds by making purchases through the app or browser extension at participating retailers. All of the funds raised come from the retailers, meaning your supporters won’t need to spend any more than they usually would to participate. 

The relationships with the retailers will be managed entirely by the online shopping program your nonprofit partners with. This means you can focus on your relationships with supporters and promoting your new fundraiser, while your online shopping partner program handles the exact contribution rates. 

To get started with this fundraiser, your nonprofit can take the following steps:

  • Research online shopping program partners. Ensure the online shopping program you partner with has relationships with retailers your supporters already shop at, such as major chain stores like Walgreens, Macys, and Staples. This will make it easy for your nonprofit to encourage supporters to join your online shopping program, as they won’t need to change their normal shopping habits. 
  • Sign up. Get in touch with your online shopping program partner to sign up and receive an app and browser extension branded for your nonprofit. You should also be able to monitor your incoming data and fundraising progress to track your program’s success. 
  • Promote your fundraiser. Reach out to your supporters to inform them about your shopping fundraiser and explain how they can get involved. While shopping fundraisers can be considered a form of passive fundraising, your nonprofit should take an active approach to promoting it to involve new supporters and keep current supporters shopping through the app or browser extension. 

Shopping fundraisers are an easy way to expand your digital fundraising strategy. However, keep in mind that these fundraisers are designed to help nonprofits earn revenue slowly. In between your major fundraisers, online shopping programs can bring your nonprofit a reliable stream of income that will only grow over time. 

2. Hybrid Auctions 

Charity auctions are a popular nonprofit fundraiser for a few reasons. Unlike most fundraisers, donors are given tangible items and prizes in exchange for their contributions. Sometimes, auctions can even attract new participants who are primarily interested in winning an item, rather than just bidding solely to support the nonprofit. 

Increase your auctions’ accessibility and potential audience by trying out a hybrid auction format. With hybrid auctions, guests will be able to view items and place bids in person at your venue or from the comfort of their own homes. To set up your hybrid auction, you’ll need to: 

  • Procure items. All auctions need items guests can bid on. Your nonprofit can procure items by partnering with local businesses, your community center, and websites designed to help nonprofits find auction items. Photograph each item to add it to your event catalog so guests participating from home can see what they’re bidding on. 
  • Reserve an event space. Have your guests register ahead of time so you can determine how many will be attending in-person. This will help you choose an appropriately sized venue and set it up as needed to accommodate your expected guests. After all, if you’re expecting forty in-person guests, there is no need to set up sixty tables. 
  • Set up live-streaming tools. Give your guests attending from home a way to participate in the fun with a live-stream. Live-stream any activities happening in-person at your auction, such as live music and speeches, so they can experience what it’s like to attend live. 

For a hybrid auction, ensure your nonprofit has auction software that tracks bids in real-time so both guests at your auction and at home can fairly bid against each other. Plus, with remote auction software, you can continue your hybrid auction for several days, kicking off with an in-person event and then encouraging guests to continue bidding in the following days. 

3. Peer-to-Peer Campaigns

You can incorporate a peer-to-peer fundraising element into almost any fundraiser you have planned. Peer-to-peer fundraising involves recruiting your supporters to volunteer to raise funds on your nonprofit’s behalf, leveraging their personal networks to earn donations from new supporters. 

Here are three steps for launching a peer-to-peer campaign: 

  • Recruit volunteers. Reach out to your supporters to recruit volunteers for your campaign. Some nonprofits have rolling peer-to-peer campaigns that allow supporters to sign up at any time, while others specifically recruit well-connected volunteers, such as their board members, for specific campaigns. 
  • Set up individual fundraising pages. Most people who give during a peer-to-peer campaign donate to support their friend or family member. Help each volunteer set up and personalize their personal donation page to allow their friends and family to donate to them directly. 
  • Provide ongoing support. Keep your volunteers motivated throughout your campaign by routinely checking in on them, ensuring they always have someone they can reach out to if need be, and generally showing your appreciation throughout the campaign. Be sure to also thank your donors for their contributions to increase your chances of retaining them for the long haul.

Peer-to-peer campaigns can be especially effective for organizations that already have a large group of regular members, such as schools, teams, and nonprofits with a reliable volunteer base. Encourage your volunteer fundraisers to engage in a bit of friendly competition with one another, while also supporting each other’s efforts to ensure the entire campaign is a team effort. 

4. Matching Gifts

Your supporters can increase the amount of each donation if their employer has a matching gift program. Essentially, when an employee who works for a business with a matching gift program donates to a nonprofit, they can fill out a form to have their employer match their gift. Many matching gift programs have 1:1 matching rates, but some have ratios as high as 1:3. 

Of course, many people are unaware of whether they qualify for a matching gift or not. To make your matching gift program a success, be sure to:

  • Educate supporters about matching gifts. Promote your matching gift program by first explaining the essentials of matching gifts as many of your supporters will likely be hearing about them for the first time. Emphasize that matching gifts are essentially a free way to increase the donor’s impact on your mission. 
  • Prompt donors to discover if they are match eligible. You can help donors discover if they qualify for a matching gift program by directing them to a matching gift search tool or database. Donors can then enter their employer’s name to see if they have a matching gift program and if there are any requirements to apply for it. 
  • Help them fill out their application. If your donors need assistance filling out their application, be sure to provide them with all the support they need. Doing so will help them complete their applications faster and can ensure that they will continue to apply for a matching gift each time they donate in the future. 

You can also encourage supporters to see if they qualify for a volunteer grant. Like matching gifts, volunteer grants are donations from your supporters’ employers. For volunteer grants, your supporters will need to volunteer a certain number of hours at your nonprofit, then fill out a form to qualify for their program. Just like with matching gifts, be sure to help them uncover their eligibility and help with each step of the application process. 

Coming up with new fundraising ideas can be hard. Fortunately, there are many creative solutions that allow your supporters to help raise funds outside of their routine donations. Explore your options to see which types of fundraisers make the most sense to add to your fundraising calendar. Good luck!

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