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20 Great fundraising ideas

Even if you have tried some of these ideas, it may well be worth your while to revisit these ideas, and give them a fresh twist to suit your current needs.

Speak out
Use every opportunity to tell people what you do. Repeat your message as often as possible. Make sure you get out into your community, using volunteers and staff to spread your message with passion. Go fishing for new contacts, and meet the people who are important to your organisation.

Use the telephone creatively
Develop a great telephone personality, and use the phone as a communication tool, to secure gifts in kind, or discounts on items you need. Use the telephone to thank donors, and invest time to develop meaningful relationships.

Involve beneficiaries
Take beneficiaries to your fundraising meetings and allow donors to engage with the people they are helping. Use photographs which illustrate your work, and use case histories to show how people are benefitting.

Get lots of media coverage
You can’t fundraise unless you communicate your work to prospective donors. Come up with bright and unique ideas. Create excitement and energy to get your organisation well known. Develop good contacts in the media.

Organise a stunt
Attract publicity by organising an exciting and unusual event. Invite the media and send out a press release and photographs.

Find a celebrity
Celebrity involvement encourages others to support your cause. Invite the celebrity to be a guest of honour at functions, participate in events or write for your publications.

Ask the next person you see
Always carry information about your work, and make sure you give people a way to respond/give. Develop your speaking skills, talk about your work and ask for a gift.

Don’t take no for an answer
Be persistent and have the courage to challenge a ‘no’. Ask people to reconsider their response, and find out why your application or request was rejected.

Get your first 100 donations
The best people to use to get new donors are people who have already given. Ask everyone you know, and ask them to do the same.

Multiply the value of donations
Encourage donors to give tax-effectively, making it cheaper for them to give – and to give more. Ask donors to give a monthly gift.

Invite people to see your work
Seeing is believing, and visitors may have an experience they will remember for a long time. People who see your work are more likely to support your cause.

Inspire people to fundraise for you
Use people who are inspired by your work as ambassadors. Set up local fundraising groups, which can organise events and raise money. Make sure they are passionate about and share your mission and values and are ‘right’ for your organisation.

Make a shopping list
Ask for items to be donated, or ask for a big discount. Ask as directly as possible, and approach the person who can make the decision. Use your shopping list to develop long-term relationships with donors – go back and ask again in the future. Thank them and tell them how much their donation helped.

Break your work into bite-size chunks
Be specific in what you are asking for – ask for manageable amounts. People prefer to support a specific need. Make what you are asking for appealing and attractive.

Be a good neighbour
Tell people in your community about your work, and invite them to come and see what you do. Organise an open day, and show people around your facility. Invite them to become volunteers during their visit.

Organise a really fun fundraising event
Think about organising one great event a year. People participate because they enjoy the event – so make it enjoyable. Get participants to become regular supporters. Use the event to inspire donors and to increase their commitment.

Organise a sponsored event
Give participants a target amount to aim for, make sure they collect all their pledges, and make sure you collect all the money from participants.

Turn promises into cash
Auction off items that money can’t buy. Your supporters will find them attractive – lunch with a celebrity, a dinner cooked at home by a well-known chef, or a week at a holiday home. Get lots of exciting things to auction, and find someone who can act as a lively auctioneer.

Develop great ideas
Try something nobody else has tried. Funders like innovation. If your idea is a winner, they can take credit for helping you get started.

Get a website
Make your website a great ambassador for your work, and encourage online giving.

Michael Norton is the honorary director and a trustee at the Centre for Innovation in Voluntary Action. Visit

This article first appeared in Fundraising Forum: Issue 27, June 2006.

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