Ten Giving Ideas More Creative Than Cash

We’re approaching the most critical fundraising season for nonprofits. A lump sum cash donation with no designation would probably make your year-end giving dreams come true. But the reality is that the last year and a half has left many individuals and donors facing financial challenges and uncertainties. It’s important to not lose connection with those who have a desire to support your mission but not the cash to do so anymore. Plus, those who do have the funds might want to do something different yet still meaningful. Here are ten creative giving ideas to help your organization raise support heading into 2022.

1. Send a Newsletter with a Christmas Card

Offer to provide your supporters with extra copies of your year-end newsletter to include with their own Christmas greetings. For those who have gone digital, include a button graphic and link. To make this even more effective, be sure to include plenty of mentions and photos of your volunteers and supporters in your year-end synopsis. It’s a great way to honor those who currently support you while growing your audience through their connections.

2. Share a Facebook Fundraiser 

Social media exposure can be especially important during year-end season. Encourage your supporters to participate in a small Facebook fundraiser for your organization—perhaps even focusing on #GivingTuesday. It’s a good idea to keep goals small and reasonable so all donors feel like they’re making an impact. Also, encouraging your audience to share the fundraiser will help them feel involved if they’re not able to contribute any funds.

3. Branded Goods as Gifts

No matter the budget constraints, people will still give gifts around the holidays. Why not give them the option to purchase a shirt or hat with your nonprofit’s logo or message front and center? Just make sure your organization’s swag is desirable, affordable, and (of course) for sale. 

4. Recommendations for Corporate Match Programs

There are businesses out there with programs that match employee donations to eligible nonprofits. Putting out a mass call for volunteers and supporters to check into these programs can yield major results. Here’s a tip: be prepared to offer guidance and setup tips for corporations interested in launching a new program. 

5. Recommendations to Service Organizations for Grants

People who volunteer are often involved in service organizations such as Rotary, Kiwanis, or Lions Club. All of these organizations give support (volunteer and/or cash grants) to nonprofits in their community. Ask your supporters for a recommendation to club leaders or even a meeting.

6. Monthly Giving Program

Consider implementing a monthly giving program. Donors who have an altered financial position may be interested in converting their support to a lower increment monthly gift. While this will lower the year-end intake, it will maintain and possibly strengthen your annual support.

7. Encourage the Whole Family to Get Involved

In many households, gift giving is simply an exchange of funds or gift cards. Many are looking for new giving ideas and ways to make their gifts more meaningful. An organization I previously worked with received funding for a food truck from a family that decided to invest their gift budget for each other into funding 10,000 pounds of food for those in need. They then came together to help distribute the food. Provide meaningful ways that families can connect and support your mission this season. When they do, be sure to share the story to inspire others.

8. Amazon Wish List

Create and share an Amazon wish list for your organization. Include affordable necessities that are often overlooked but really make a difference such as paper products, cleaning products, office supplies, etc. Bonus: when your supporters use an Amazon Smile account, they can designate Amazon’s charitable support to your organization as well.

9. Essentials Bingo Card

Try to think of giving ideas that are fun and interactive, like an “Essentials Bingo Card.” By publishing the Bingo game through your newsletter and social media and putting out your in-kind needs, new donations can accrue. Plus, the “gaming” aspect may get dormant donors excited. Source creative prizes for winners and have some fun!

10. Save the Date

Your gala or golf outing may have been cancelled in the past year, but chances are you will now host some sort of fundraising event (whether hybrid or virtual) in the coming year. Sell tickets early as a way to bring in support for year-end. When the event rolls around next year, those who already purchased their ticket several months ago will be more open to a donation or sponsorship. Plus, there is something very encouraging about receiving a spring gala invitation in the midst of a pandemic and the middle of winter.

Most of all, don’t be afraid to test new giving ideas. Your supporters may not have the money right now, but they can still show support in other ways. If there were ever a time to demonstrate a little courage and creativity, it’s now.

Person holding a gift tied with ribbon

Katie Appold

Katie’s nonprofit career includes a variety of leadership roles for human service, foundation, and publishing-related nonprofits as well as many volunteer roles. Under Katie’s leadership, nonprofit organizations have developed new programs related to free healthcare, affordable and accessible housing and literacy programs for K-12 students. In her first Executive Director role, Katie increased the annual revenue of the organization she led by 300% and received the top grant prize in the nation for affordable housing through the Federal Home Loan Bank of Indianapolis. Today, she leads Nonprofit Hub and Cause Camp, which collectively serve more than 50,000 nonprofits throughout North America. Her educational background includes an undergraduate degree in business administration and a masters degree in nonprofit leadership. Katie serves as the board president of Gracious Grounds, a housing organization serving individuals with disabilities. She is an active member of the Grand Rapids Young Nonprofit Professionals, the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce, Cause Network, and the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

October 21, 2021

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