Individual giving is the lifeblood to nonprofit fundraising. As a nonprofit grows its individual donor base, it develops a pool of supporters upon which it can cultivate for sustained giving.
To engage your individual donors, it’s important to develop at least one marquee campaign or event. By offering one consistent event, your organization builds brand awareness and can successfully budget and plan.
It’s also important to experiment with new campaign ideas, so your individual giving programs do not become stale or stagnant.
We compiled a list of ten fresh ways to engage your individual donors. These ideas can become events offered year after year, or you can experiment with one or two to enliven your program. (Thank you to the participants of StratusLIVE’s session during the United Way Great Rivers Conference for a portion of these ideas).
1. Promote donor-hosted events.
Take the pressure off your event staff by asking one of your board or affinity group members to host an event. Examples could be a dinner, cocktail party, or game night. A member of your outreach staff can attend to answer specific questions about your organization. This serves as an opportunity to grow your individual donor base through peer-to-peer networks.
2. Offer family-friendly volunteer events.
There is no better way to get the whole family involved than through volunteering. These events could be cleaning a local park or community garden, packing care packages, or serving at a soup kitchen. When the whole family participates, you build a child’s affinity for philanthropy at a young age. Parents will also feel a deepened connection with your cause.
3. Show an outdoor movie.
Warm temperatures in the spring and summer offer the perfect environment to host an outdoor movie night. Consider movies that have a local connection – either featuring an actor or actress from your hometown or state or a movie filmed in your community.
Sell tickets to the event or ask that participants make a small donation to your cause.
4. Host a ‘Cocktails and Candles’ event.
This evening event pairs custom cocktails with candles made by a local vendor. The candles can be available for purchase and support your cause. Consider developing a signature scent that coordinates with your organization’s mission.
5. Sell historic ornaments.
In every community, there are features that make that community unique – whether it’s a treasured clock tower in the center of town or an iconic bridge that connects one town within another. Work with a vendor to develop ornaments that celebrate these local treasures.
These ornaments can serve as keepsakes that community members seek out season after season. A portion of the proceeds of the sale can be donated toward your organization.
6. Expand your affinity groups.
Your affinity groups are the gateway to new givers. Ask the members of these groups including women or young professional groups to reach out to one individual within their network who may be interested in getting involved with your organization.
7. Host a ‘shop local, give local’ event.
Ride the marketing wave of American Express’ Shop Small campaign and host a block party event. Ask local businesses to stay open after hours and place tables outside with their goods. Patrons can shop, support thriving local businesses, and give to your cause in a relaxed environment.
8. Create a monthly collection drive calendar.
Work with your agency partners to develop a list of items needed to serve their constituents – gently used clothing or shoes, personal hygiene products, or kitchen and household supplies. Each month can fulfill a particular need or support a separate agency. Post your monthly calendar on your social media accounts and share with your followers.
9. Host a paint party event.
A paint party event is a fun way to tap into the creativity of your donors. Allow your participants to paint a local scene, symbol, or even a representation of your organization’s mission. Offer drinks and food to accompany the painting session. A portion of the proceeds from the event should benefit your organization.
10. Host an outdoor concert.
Ask a local band to play, host a vendor showcase, and offer food and games for an event that has something for everyone. Ask that the band donate their time and ticket sales. Vendors can also consider donating a portion of their sales to your cause.
Remember that fundraising should be fun! Your donors and supporters will appreciate your willingness to experiment with new ideas and celebrate the uniqueness of your community and organization. By engaging individual donors with these campaign ideas, you will deepen their enthusiasm and support of your cause.