Going Against the Fundraising Grain: Three Unconventional Fundraising Tactics

Sometimes people dread fundraising because they view it as simply asking people to give you their money. However, you don’t have to take the common approach to fundraising. You can, and should, have fun to help your nonprofit raise money.

 We’ve asked around and collected some of our favorite, more unique fundraising approaches. These can help you enjoy the fundraising process and engage the community in a different manner than a straight ask campaign. We have seen these done with great success and you can easily adapt them to fit into your nonprofit’s culture and mission.

1. Flocking


Birds of a feather fly together, especially when you have dozens and hundreds of plastic pink flamingo birds. This fundraiser involves all the great plot lines from your favorite spy movies: late-night attacks, betrayal, payback-counter attacks, and of course, insurance. Flocking involves planting dozens or hundreds of the plastic flamingos in a person’s yard during the night to give them a surprise when they wake up.

During the event, your nonprofit raises funds through payments to place the birds in yards, remove the birds and people buying insurance to make sure the birds don’t end up in their yard. Check out this detailed overview of all the steps necessary to run a flocking campaign. These are all great steps, and we highly recommend giving each Flockee a letter explaining what just happened and placing a sign with your organization’s name on it—as well as a way to contact your nonprofit for more information.

Flocking can be a fun way for the community to take part in your fundraising campaign, while allowing people to play practical jokes on one another. Flock away!

2. Challenge Causes

When is a donation not a donation? When it’s a response to a challenge from a friend. Recently, people taking the Plunge for Landon have been popping up on our social media feeds. This trend started to help raise money for Landon, a child in northwest Missouri who suffers from cancer. This started when people began jumping into cold bodies of water (lakes, rivers and bathtubs) and then challenging their friends to do the same. For every friend that fulfilled the challenge, the challenger donated an amount set in their challenge.

But don’t get your swimsuit and nose plugs just yet. This idea can be expanded to include whatever crazy act you want: Hot Tamales for the Homeless, Cartwheels for Cancer, Trampoline Jumping for Toddlers—or any alliteration campaign fits your cause. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s something that resonates with your mission and won’t put your participants in danger.

Whatever the challenge, this can be a good way to engage people that isn’t restricted by geography—using healthy competition to help your fundraising campaign. In fact, we challenge you to start a challenge campaign.

3. Stop the Bop

You may have heard of the popular fundraiser Stop the Bop where people pay money to make Hanson’s smash 1997 hit “MMMBop.” This method of fundraising is popular in high schools where they play MMMBop during passing periods until they raise a set amount.

So how can you use this? Contact area businesses and ask them to play a song on repeat on their speaker system (during the work day or perhaps their lunch room) until a certain goal is met. You could set your goals on an individual business level or as a collective group with several business participating at the same time. You can borrow a tactic from dueling pianos to switch to a different song based on a person’s donation and keep playing that song until another donation comes in.

However, some organizations out there (like the Nonprofit Hub team) wouldn’t mind listening to MMMBop all day. Feel free to choose a different artist that might help you raise funds. For example, we think that you could raise a lot of coin by doing a Stop the Kidz Bop, Nickelback Attack, $98 for 98 Degrees, Can’t Stop-Won’t Stop for Miley or Bieber Cash Bash.

The important thing to remember is that this is fun good-natured way to get people to donate based on their music preferences and hatred of certain groups.


These examples are all fairly simple, fun and can be accomplished without much prep work (i.e. no city license for a food festival). They can help engage the community more and involve fun activities that you can enjoy more than just a straight ask. Enjoyable that is, unless you’re the one listening to Nickelback.


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.

June 3, 2014

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