How to Avoid a Fundraising Rut—Fresh Fundraising Ideas

Ruts are a funny thing. Sometimes, you might not even realize that you’re in one. When something works, it works. Why mess with a good thing, right? But have you ever considered that it could be even better?

Nobody loves fundraising. OK, let’s rephrase that. Somebody out there gets a kick out of asking other people for their money, but the majority of us…we’re not about it.

I know, it’s intimidating.

That’s why fundraising and the campaigns that they entail can become stale. Once you become familiar with an event, it becomes easy. If you’ve reached that point, it’s time for some change.

You don’t have to let it get there. You have the power to put on a fundraiser or make an appeal that wows – every single year. Let’s take a look at how to get out of that rut.

Recognition and Evaluation

You can’t fix something if you don’t know that it’s broken. How many times can I repeat this? Recognition and evaluation. Recognition and evaluation.

“But, this is the way we’ve always done it,” is no longer an acceptable answer. There’s something to be said about the longevity of an organization (25th annual does have a nice ring to it).

Recognize that there is a time to make changes and updates. Just because you’ve always done something a certain way doesn’t mean it’s the right way.

For example, one organization I’m involved with does a fantastic job of recognizing when a tradition has outgrown itself. They make a point to tell new members to be on the lookout for things that are outdated, as well as consistently reminding active members to point out outdated traditions.

Next, evaluate what needs to be done based off of the recognition. You don’t always need to replace a tradition that you nix, but it could be beneficial in some cases.

A Fresh Spin

I challenge you to think beyond the gala. I’m not saying that if you do a gala, you’re wrong. They can be incredibly rewarding and effective for your nonprofit. If a gala is your annual event, simply make efforts to give it a fresh take.

Silent auction? Raffle? It’s been done. That doesn’t mean you can’t do them, but it does mean that you could try something new. Try incorporating the raffle that you always have, but instead of simply reading off the numbers, make a scavenger hunt to find the winning tickets. Remember that it doesn’t have to be a complicated upgrade – it can be a simple alteration that gives your fundraising a new take.

Throw in a photo booth so that your attendees can take home a physical reminder of the event. The best part? You can make your own photo booth and have a volunteer shoot the pictures. Borrow a camera if you don’t have one.

The best way to find a new or unique fundraising option is to brainstorm with your staff and volunteers. Set the rule that no idea is a bad idea, because sometimes a ridiculous statement can turn into the best idea with a few minor alterations.

If you’re looking to get beyond the gala, consider these other unique fundraising ideas. Gap Year also put together a comprehensive list of fundraising ideas. Print them out or pull them up on a screen to kick off your brainstorming meeting.

What ideas have your organization come up with to get donors excited about giving?


Lyndsey Hrabik

Lyndsey is a former editor for Nonprofit Hub and Nonprofit Hub Magazine. She now serves as a guest contributor, writing on topics such as social media, technology, marketing and starting a nonprofit.

September 11, 2015

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