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,