How to Go From ‘Wish List’ to ‘Donation List’

Crowdfunding is a great way to raise money from the masses to help underwrite projects for your nonprofit. But if you know what you need to buy with that money, then there might be a different method of crowdfunding that could be a better way to ask for support.

Over at Community Organizer 2.0, they featured a campaign by the Center for Great Apes. Instead of asking for a monetary donation, the Center for Great Apes set up an Amazon Wish List. Their list includes items such as tarps, tubs, toys and Gatorade. The way they set up their wish list is thorough, and allows the potential donor to know exactly how they are helping the organization.

If your nonprofit is interested in setting up a wish list, here are a couple tips demonstrated by the CPA to help you reach your goals.

  • Explain the purpose of each item: Why do you need this? CGA is quite thorough in this regard and is clear why they need each item. For example, they ask for two-way radios because, “These radios are used by all staff and volunteers when on grounds. Very important for the safety of all humans and primates on grounds.” Other items are specific to the needs and likes of certain apes, so it allows the donors to make a more personal connection.
  • Keep the items affordable: Requesting new computers might be necessary, but if you are asking one person to donate $1000 for a new laptop might not be realistic. The most expensive item on the CGA list is under $300 and a more that two-thirds of items are under $50.

Before you run to Amazon to set up a list, be sure to put some thought and consideration into your wish list. For example:

  • The wish list should be integrated into your normal fundraising campaign. Even though you aren’t asking for cash donations, the wish list should still fit into the rest of what you do for fundraising. You should promote the wish list like you would any other campaign. Include it in your website, mailing and other promotions.
  • Be thoughtful and deliberate about what you put on the list. Your wish list should be substantial enough to give donors enough choices to buy, but you should also keep it limited to items that are high need for your organization. It is difficult to get people excited to buy office supplies, but if they have the opportunity to purchase items used by the population you are helping, whether that is apes, children or cancer patients, donors will be more likely to back your cause.
  • As with any donation, follow-up is important. This might be more challenging, because Amazon doesn’t always show who is purchasing gifts, so you need to be more public with your thanks. Once these items are purchased, demonstrate how the gift has impacted your organization. Use your storytelling skills!

Read more from Community Organizer 2.0 by clicking the link below.

An Unexpected Nonprofit Fundraising Story [Community Organizer 2.0]


Lincoln Arneal

Lincoln Arneal was a Senior Editor at Nonprofit Hub who brought loads of real-world nonprofit experience to the team. He was the past executive director of a nonprofit that provided leadership development to junior high and high school students. He looked to bring the insights from his time forming, developing, and running a nonprofit to help others in their quest to do good. Lincoln also had a legal background and had written for various newspapers (covering high school sports) for the past 15 years. He could be followed on Twitter at @NPLNK.

September 3, 2014

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