14 Ideas For Fundraising & Support

Good ideas for helping great organizations do more good work

My spouse and awesome life-partner Hapy is one of the most giving people I know. She is an empathetic to the Nth (EMPth?) degree and can't see a worthwhile organization in need of help without finding a way to lend a hand.

As a result she is involved with a myriad of worthy charitable initiatives both in her professional and personal life. She serves on good works committees through her day job and volunteers much of her free time toward things like acting as community chair of the St. Jude Walk/Run To End Childhood Cancer in Columbus, Ohio and organizing groups to cook meals for families staying at The Ronald McDonald House. Other favorite non-profits she supports are The Heart Association, and The Williams Syndrome Association.

There are only so many volunteer-able hours in the day (and only so many donate-able dollars in the bank account!), so I thought a brainstorm on the topic of how to rally support (and funds) for non-profits would make a great topic for Five Buck Brainstorms.

I've posted this brainstorm at no-charge because non-profits need every advantage they can get to win support (and donations) for their cause. If at least one of my ideas in this collection adds to the success of a worthy cause in some small way, I am happy to be of help.

Let's get started...

14 Ideas For Fundraising & Support

For the purposes of this brainstorm, each idea focuses on finding "support" for a worthy non-profit cause whether that support manifests as money, time, or both. Although the ideas are skewed toward organizations with official non-profit standing, many (if not most) of the ideas can be applied toward getting this kind of support for just about any business or organization.

As with all topics on FiveBuckBrainstorms.com -- this is a "living" collection of ideas. That means I will be adding more content and concepts as they pop into my head.

  1. No Budget For Your Cause
    Remember that no one you reach out to is sitting on a pile of money labeled to be donated to your charity, no matter how worthy it is. In the cases where a company or individual actually does have a personal or corporate budget for cause-related issues, that money is likely ear-marked for another charity -- there are many worthwhile causes out there. If the person you're speaking with does have a donation budget, be sure to ask how you can get your organization considered for future gifts. Otherwise, find a business-related reason that it might make sense for them to support your cause. Ask questions about the type of people they'd like to attract as customers. Does their customer profile match with the people involved with your charity? Do they have a goal to elevate their presence in the comunity? Are they looking for ways to engage their employees with the community or find an activity they can participate in to build teamwork and improve attitude? Teaming up wth your organization could help move their company closer to those goals.

  2. Advertising and Marketing Dollars
    Check your local advertising publications (PaperMint, ValPak, GoldMint, PennySaver, etc.) for companies that might be good matches for your cause's sponsorship opportunities. These companies are spending money on a regular basis to reach members of the community. Suggest a plan for them to skip one month of traditional advetising and invest in your charity's cause. Show them how investing those dollars in your cause will help them achieve many of the same goals they are trying to achieve by running those ads. Branding, awareness, couponing, etc. can all be achieved by being a sponsor at one of your charity's events -- and they get the added benefit of actually meeting their customers and prospects face-to-face and making a personal impression.

  3. Consumers want to do business with companies who do good
    There was a study out a few years ago that stated most consumers want to do business with companies that "do good works". One of the primary reasons they didn't do business with some socially responsible companies was the simple fact that the companies weren't telling consumers about the good works they were doing! Having a presence at a worthwhile event can help increase that awareness among the public. People in the study said they would spend more money with the companies, trust them more than competitors, and support the same causes as a company they trusted. Convince a company to support your cause and their customers may follow.

  4. Company Parties and Team Building
    Ask companies if they typically have holiday parties, team building events, annual awards ceremonies, etc. If so, propose that they ask employees for their opinion on taking the budget normally spent on stale sub sandwiches and sodas, and instead invest it in a worthwhile charity like yours. Given the opportunity, most people will choose the option to do good. Depending on the situation, you may even be able to help them host their awards presentation at your event or provide refreshments to them as volunteers.  And there is nothing like pitching in as a company to for a worthwhile cause to build camaraderie among peers.

  5. Crowdfunding
    There are a variety of Kickstarter-ish crowd-funding websites where non-profits can create campaigns and share them with friends, family, and strangers in order to garner support and easily collect contributions. These sites usually keep a percentage of donations in exchange for using the platform, but those rates vary by service provider, so be certain to read the agreement carefully.

  6. Sell Artwork
    Have the group which benefits from the donations create original art which can be sold for a flat rate or on an auction site like eBay. Art created by children, seniors, and even animals is exciting, vibrant, fun, poignant, and serve as a physical and visual reminder of the contributors' donation. It also spark conversations by the other people who see the art, which enables conversations about your organization's good work to spread exponentially.

  7. Restaurant Nights
    What started as a unique way to dine out while doing good has turned into standard practice for most restaurants. Speak to your favorite dining destination about scheduling an evening where your charity can earn a percentage of each diner's dinner check. This tactic usually involves your organization promoting the event date and providing flyers (many restaurants will give you a PDF that your team can print) to distribute to people who will be participating. Diners will typically need to present their flyer at the start or end of the meal in order for their total to count toward the initiative. Be sure to remind your attending diners to treat the restaurant staff well, tip generously, and thank the manager for participating if you'd like to keep this event going well into the future.

  8. Delivery Dollars
    When people read about the idea above, they sometimes forget that for many homes carry-out and delivery are a standard. Don't overlook the local Chinese food carryout or pizza delivery place. Locally-owned establishments are usually easier to approach and are more willing to support their community of customers. You can speak directly to an owner and avoid having to contact national corporate offices in order to gain permission.

  9. Charity Shots
    Does your non-profit include a few supporters who enjoy the occasional cocktail or craft beer? Have them approach their local watering hole about offering a special cocktail, shot, or draft beer in support of your cause. Arrange for a special donation to be made (typically a dollar per drink) to your organization. Remind your team members to promote this offer in their social streams and to create Facebook Events so their friends and connections will see the details in their social feeds. Hang flyers at work, send emails to your friends (they were probably going out drinking anyway!) Want additional support inside the bar for your drink special? Tip a server and/or bartender an extra $20 or $50 and ask them to tell their patrons about the promotion. They'll appreciate the added incentive (and they'll add to their other tips by adding an extra shot or two to other people's bar tabs).

  10. Your Favorite Places
    Like the restaurants and bars mentioned above, we all have our favorite stores, service providers, and businesses with whom we enjoy working with. They likely provide above average service, they are friendly, and generally have common interests. It's also likely that they would care about the same causes and charities. Be sure to approach the people you do business with and tell them about your fundraising or volunteer initiative. You may not even have to ask them to participate -- they may ask you about how they can help!

  11. Thinking about it
    Some people you approach for donations of money or time will procrastinate on making a decision to commit by telling you they want to think about it. Ask them what they specifically want to think about and then ask them what circumstances are going to change between now and when they wanted you to call them back. If they say they'll have a pay check coming in or a budget will be made available, thank them and call back when they asked! But if they hesitate or say their not sure (or that nothing will change) then give them examples of what will be different in regard to your cause... will X number of families face additional crisis without support, will Y-number of additional children go to bed hungry, will Z-number of women remain in unsafe domestic situations because they don't have the means to leave an abusive spouse? Show the person you're speaking with that delaying can be missed opportunities to positively impact their community.

  12. Do you know of anyone else who...
    Whether a person you're speaking with opts to donate or volunteer (or neither), be sure to ask them if they know of anyone else who might be interested in participating in your efforts. Most people who execute this technique stop here. And they may get one or even two names, but more likely the person will say they can't think of anyone, but will contact you if they do. Here is the trick that will usually get you five or more names... When you ask "do they know anyone" the persona tries to think of everyone. You need to give them a frame in which to consider specific groups of people the know so that they can see their faces and think of their names. For instance, ask the person if they are a member of a social group like a bowling league or golf club or book club or chaber of commerce, etc. And then ask them if they know of anyone in that group who might be interested in supporting your cause. This gives the person youre asking a finite number of people to consider, which actually leads to them thinking of more names they can share with you. Sometimes you can convert this into an invitation to comes speak to that entire group of people for a few minutes they next time they meet. Give this technique a try, you will be amazed at the results you get!

  13. Don't take "No" personally
    It's tough asking people you don't know for money they don't have to donate to people they don't know. Tough, but not impossible. The trick is to redefine what you hear when they say "no". No means "not now" it doesn't mean "forever". Think about ways you can revisit the topic at a later date. Ask if you can contact them again about your events during a different time of year. No can also mean "I don't understand enough about the organization (or you) to trust you with my money." Make sure you are providing social proof of the impact your organization has in the community, give examples of past successes. Be personable and tell them why personally beame involved with the organization. A No can also mean "I can't afford to donate any amount of money right now, but I am too embarrassed to admit it." Give ideas and options for helping your cause that go beyond just writing a check. Give them ways get involved in rallying others, sharing event information with their friends and co-workers, or volunteering.

  14. This idea will give you an extra edge
    If you want to more easily gain buy-in and participation from the people and businesses you approach -- spend a little extra time before you contact them in order to come up with a specific idea or two (or three!) on how they can participate. Come up with a unique angle for an offer or sponsorship that is a perfect fit for their brand or overall business goals. Ask a bottled water company or water cooler service to sponsor a water station at your charity marathon. Ask a real estate office or insurance agents to volunteer at registration tables. Their participation become contextual and helps them connect with existing customers and new prospects. There is nothing worse than asking someone to help your cause and then having no ideas on what form that help can take.

I’m pleased you chose to read this Five Buck Brainstorm!

New brainstorms are posted all the time, so visit frequently to find bargain brainstorms on a variety of topics you can use to kickstart your own creative efforts.

You are invited to explore additional innovative possibilities by choosing one of your favorite ideas from this (or any) Five Buck Brainstorm and purchasing a more in-depth custom idea generation session from Don The Idea Guy on that (or any other) subject.

Visit the Brainstorm page on the Don The Idea Guy website for more details.

I wish you true success in executing your ideas, and hope you’ll contact me if I can be of further assistance in helping you put these ideas into action.

Keep Thinking BIG,

Places You Can Sell Your Ideas

If ideas are a dime-a-dozen:
Where can I find lots of people with lots of dimes?

The only question I get asked more than “how do I come up with more ideas?” is “where can I sell my ideas?” -- and these two questions couldn’t be further apart.

The answer to the first questions is all about efforts and exercises to produce creative concepts in large quantities, whereas the most successful and profitable answer to the second question is more about access, influence, and creating solutions to very specific problems.

For the first time ever, I’ve assembled a collection of some favorite resources for showcasing and selling your creativity, and finding problems for you to solve (at a profit!)

The typical Five Buck Brainstorm includes at least 12 ideas, but this one has TWENTY!

Some of these resources may be new to you, some may be familiar, but all hold potential for you to profit from your ability to put creative and innovative ideas into action and into a marketplace of people willing to trade you some dimes (lots and lots of them!) for your best ideas.

Let’s get started...

20 Ideas for Places You Can Submit & Sell Your Ideas

1. BumpSale
When someone asks me about selling ideas, I tell them to start simple. Go make a buck off one of your ideas today, and then go out tomorrow and make two dollars. Keep increasing the profit you make by just one dollar everyday for a year, and at the end of the year you will have generated $66,673.00 ($67,039.00 if it’s a Leap Year!).Entrepreneur and fellow idea guy, Jason Zook, rode this business model like a pro when he launched iwearyourshirt.com. He wore and socially amplified the promotion of a different brand’s t-shirt every single day of the year. The business model charged just one dollar to do this on January 1st, but if a company waited too long to reserve a campaign date they’d likely end up paying $365 on December 31st.

The model proved so popular that Jason created a website which automated the process to allow others to use this same pricing structure. BumpSale.co allows you to set a start price and raise it by a preset amount with every subsequent purchase. Check it out a bumpsale.co or get it and a ton of other stuff as part of Jason’s BuyMyFuture project.

2. eBay
People sell some really odd things on eBay. Images of messiah(s) on toast and grilled cheese sandwiches, pop-star hair clippings, celebrity toothbrushes, ad space on a guy’s forehead, etc. Why not package up your ideas into “top-secret sealed envelopes” and sell them to the highest bidder?

3. Fiverr.com
One of the easiest places to offer your innovative idea, product, or service and earn a minimum of $5.00 per sale is a website called Fiverr.com. Fiverr allows you to post and/or buy offers of products and services called “Gigs” ranging from $5.00 and up.

4. Braineet.com
Braineet offers creative challenges to the public from brands like Nespresso, Dove, Taco Bell, and Axe offering rewards for the best contributions. Braineet also allows the public and brand consumers to post their own ideas for open review by peers and product manufacturers. The site isn’t that old, so challenges aren’t posted as frequently as you’d hope -- but you can sign-up to be alerted when new challenges are posted.

5. IdeaHunt.io
This is another site which allows users to contribute and comment on ideas posted by users, but also allows users to post “Idea Hunts” on a specific brand or goal and collect ideas with the promise of rewards. IdeaHunt allows campaign creators to invite specific community members via social media or leave it open to the general public.

6. IdeaConnection.com
This site follows much of the same format as the two previous sites, but it has been around a lot longer and has a more proven track record with idea sellers as well as the idea buyers. This is a great place to contribute to innovation challenges and they tend to be more specific and targeted in their campaign goals (and the challenges seem to lean toward the more technical side). Campaigns for categories like Biotech, Medical, Automotive, Chemical, Engineering, and Energy are common. You should consider ideaconnection.com if your ideas tend to be process driven or you hold rights to patents and intellectual property.

7. Innocentive
Another source for finding online innovation challenges is Innocentive.com. This site allows users to either post a challenge (Seekers) or to participate by contributing ideas (Solvers).Their categories include scientific challenges for engineering and chemistry and agriculture, as well as business and entrepreneurship, and social innovations. Rewards range across the board, and I’ve seen $20,000 and $30,0000 prizes in some categories.

8. Challenge.gov
Who says the government doesn’t pay attention to the little guy? This government program in the United States not only listens to your suggestions, they’ve paid out over $220 million dollars in prize money to people contributing their solutions to posted government challenges. More than 250,000 people have participated from countries around the world and in every state in the Union. In the five years since its launch, they’ve posted 260+ innovation challenges. Check the latest problems that need your solution at Challenge.gov.

9. Skild
This company provides the platform for companies interested in running their own innovation challenges and was founded by veterans of the XPRIZE Foundation. Pay special attention to their Customer Stories page for links to clients running challenges, and it may be worth your while to follow their social media feeds and sign-up for their email list for possible early alerts of client challenges. Visit Skild.com for details.

10. Cisco Innovation Grand Challenge
This is an annual competition started in 2014 by Cisco. Prizes include a mix of funding and mentorship to help the award winners make their ideas a reality. Visit http://innovationgrandchallenge.cisco.com for details.

11. Associations and Trade Organizations
I mentioned the strategy of creating solutions to existing problems during my Idea Summit interview with Beck Power. The best places to find problems you can solve for a profit is by becoming involved in industry associations organizations. Read their publications, visit their websites, monitor their social media, and start connecting with them on Linkedin. The American Society of Association Executives is another good place to get started.

12. Amazon/CreateSpace
You know what books and CDs and DVDs and MP3 files and MPEG files are?
Idea Delivery Devices. The largest distributor of IDDs is inarguably Amazon.com, and the easiest mechanism for getting your IDDs into the world’s largest marketplace is CreateSpace.com where you can upload your valuable ideas into one of these easy to consume (ans easy to buy!) formats, approve a mock-up, and have it for sale on Amazon.com within a matter of days.

13. GumRoad
GumRoad.com is one of my favorite places to package and sell my ideas. GumRoad is super easy to use and you can get a product posted and for sale within minutes. GumRoad also features a free user level that doesn’t cost you a thing unless you sell something. They have an unmatched combination of features which allow you to sell products as diverse as digital file downloads and physical copies of DVDs or apparel individually or all within the same product bundle. You can also create your own affiliate programs and get others to promote and sell your ideas in exchange for a commission.

14. Virtual Summits
Assemble a virtual audience based on industry, interest, or brand and propose a solution or product you have that matches their need or market. Here's a good ebook on the topic to get you started.

15. YouTube Cards
One of the more innovative marketing options on YouTube.com is their Card feature which pops a small expanded promotional box into the corner of a video you’re watching. These little promotional blocks display for just a heartbeat before minimizing into a button which can be clicked to expand it again. You can time the appearance of these cards to coincide with the video content, as well as include an image, link, and a small amount of promotional text. What a great way to pitch your solution-for-sale -- within the context of videos being watched by people interested in your topic!

16. Sell the service and solution -- not the idea
Want to sell an idea to a specific company? It’s a steeper climb, but you may want to begin by reframing the concept of what you are selling. Don’t focus on selling “an idea” -- very few people inside of a business (sometimes no one!) is in charge of buying ideas or ha a budget for buying concepts. What they have a huge budget for is solving problems. The trick is identifying the issues a company is experiencing that they’d find the most value in eliminating. Resources to monitor for this approach are Google Alerts, Linkedin discussion groups, social media comments in relation to the brand and its products, and the company’s Press Room page on their website. Position your idea in terms of a solution they need, and pitch the value of paying you to help put it into action.

17. On-Demand Physical Products
The first place I found where I could create cool physical products online and have them manufactured and fulfilled on-demand was CafePress.com. I still remember the first t-shirt design I uploaded there!) Advancements in technology have only added to the list and made some truly innovative items produced on a made-to-order basis. Everything from messenger bags and mugs to socks and super-hero action figures. I even did a Five Buck Brainstorm on this topic.

18. Private Club
While the dream might be to sell one big idea to one big company for one big paycheck, what if you found a dozen companies willing to pay a smaller monthly or annual fee to be a member of a private club where you “give” them all your great ideas? Instead of a single lump sum payoff you may be able to receive ongoing recurring revenue for your ideas. Why deal with concerns over patents and IP rights and simply embrace the idea that big ideas can’t actually be protected (only very specific forms and end results the ideas take can be protected) and have as many people as possible working on implementing some variation of your core concept. Members don’t even get the rights to your ideas -- only the right to hear them first.

19. Course Websites
Websites like Udemy.com and Teachable.com allow you to post your own content as an online classroom and sell it to students interested in your topic. There’s really nothing which would preclude you from selling your ideas in this manner as well. It’s especially effective for selling your ideas in a video or slideshow format because of the course-style platform. If you’re worried about the corporate terms of services being a potential point of contention, you could create your own course-style site using WordPress themes or a private course platform like Teachery.co.

20. Develop it yourself
Another way to get more money for your idea, is to prove that your idea can earn money. Some ideas and concepts may preclude you from creating a “real” version of it, but if you believe in your idea and its potential, you should be willing to invest some level of your own time, energy, and money to prove your theory. Use a web-based graphics program like Canva.com to mock-up the idea you had for a phone app. Have someone on Fiverr create a realistic drawing of your new backpack design. Get someone with a 3D printer to generate a physical model of the Bluetooth travel mug you have in mind. Use craft supplies to create a prototype version of your board game idea. Use free website builders like Wix.com or Strikingly.com to tease concepts and invite people to sign-up for early launch or pre-order notification. Ask how much they’d pay for the finished product or service. Ask which stores they feel should carry your item. Every name in your database and every piece of feedback adds value to your idea and provides proof of your concept.If you get enough positive feedback you might decide to put the idea into action yourself -- using crowdsourcing websites like Kickstarter.com and Patreon.com to financially support your efforts in order to make your idea a reality.But that’s a completely different brainstorm, so this is a good place to stop!

One more thing...

You want to sell more ideas?
Then you need to give more ideas away.

Let’s say you had one million dollars and you had to use it to invest in someone’s idea. Would you be more likely to invest in an idea from John Doe, someone you’ve never heard of, had no reputation that preceded them, had no previous victories you could research, and had no one to check with for recommendations and testimonials -- or would you invest in an idea from Steven Spielberg, a guy with a very public track record and list of happy customers who have profited from his past ideas?

All it takes one person to put one of your ideas into action and earn a couple bucks from it for you to be able to justify charging more for your ideas.

One of my successes was an author who got a copy of my book 100-Whats of Ideas (www.100whatsbook.com) and announced publicly that one of the what-if questions it contained sparked an idea for his next book.

In another case I freely gave an idea for an ancillary product to a very high profile sales trainer and public speaker. He loved the idea so much that he paid me to have it produced and would happily refer other speakers to me if they needed fresh ideas for their own business (those referrals are the people you charge for the raw concepts alone.)

Giving ideas away or selling them for a ridiculously low price (say… five bucks?) is one way to begin earning a reputation as a prolific (and profitable) idea generator.

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