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Spring Cleaning: 6 Nonprofit Fundraising Ideas to Start Fresh

Posted by Ashley Shaw on 3/21/17 11:03 AM

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Yesterday was the first day of spring. Spring represents starting a new. It’s the beginning again. Animals come out of hiding. You can put away all of your heavy, winter clothes. And get a fresh start to the year.

That is why spring cleaning is a thing: out with the old, and in with the new.

But sometimes, it isn’t just our homes that need a good cleaning.

Has your fundraising become stale and predictable?

If so, then spring clean it!

6 Nonprofit Fundraising Ideas to Get You Out of Your Rut

To help you get that fresh start, here are six ideas to give your fundraising the pick-up it needs.

1: Recognize a Rut When You See One


As with anything, the first step towards recovery is to admit you have a problem.

When you clean your house, you do it not because you want to clean (well, for most of us, anyway) but because you recognize that it needs to be done. Do the same evaluation on your fundraising.

Truthfully evaluate your fundraising efforts over the last few years:

  • Have they stayed the same? Or worse, shrunk?
  • When was the last time you tried something new?
  • When was the last time you even thought about trying something new?
  • Look at your donor base. How has it changed (or stayed the same)?

Answer these, and other questions. If the answers aren’t what they should be (significant growth, bigger and better things every year, increase in donor base, etc.), then know that you need to make some changes.

If that sounds like you, then keep reading. You know you need a good spring cleaning.  

2: Take a Short Break


Do you plan, plan, plan, execute, execute, execute, start all over and repeat year after year?

Man. That’s a tough sentence to read. It must be even tougher to do.

One of the reasons spring is such a great time to get a new start is because it followed a long hibernation. Your brain had some time off, and now it is ready to do great things.

If all you did was clean your house constantly, you'd likely burn out on cleaning...even if you like to clean. But you can do it because you know it is an annual thing, not a daily thing. The same is true with fundraising.

Every once in a while, you’ve got to have that break.

So take a vacation, even if it is just for the day. Don’t think about your fundraising at all. Relax. Enjoy [fill in the blank].

Then, when you get back to it, you’ll be ready to shake things up and create in a way that you never have before!

3: Talk to Your Base; Create a Sounding Board


Who want to clean a big house all by themselves? That’s a family activity. With dad doing the kitchen, mom in the attic, daughters vacuuming, and sons cleaning out the garage. Or however you want to break it up.

Your fundraising is the same:

You don’t want to have to do that all by yourself.

Instead, when you go to refresh your fundraising, make sure you first create a sounding board to run ideas past (and to receive ideas from).

Include people from all of these groups:

  • Your board.
  • Your staff.
  • Your volunteers.
  • Your donors.
  • Your guests.
  • Your bidders.
  • Your community.

All of these people will give you a well-rounded view into what your event should be and what they expect from it. Plus, the more people (within reason), the more ideas you will collect.

4: Find Your Inspiration


I have to confess: this idea isn’t actually my idea. I got it from Vanessa Chase Lockshin over at The Storytelling Nonprofit.

But that is okay:

Because the idea is to take inspiration from those around you, and to collect your inspirations in an “inspiration folder” all year long.

Think of it like looking at cute decorating items on pintrest that you want to try out in your new house - but you've got to declutter before you get to it. Having these inspirations makes the whole process a lot more fun. 

But even if you don’t have your folder this year, you can still use this tip.

Take a few hours, and do some research on other events.

  • What do you like?
  • What don’t you like?
  • How can you incorporate some of these ideas into your own event?

(Use this with number 3: get your sounding board to talk about their inspirations, as well.)     

5: Do Something New


Try out something you’ve never done before. Maybe it won’t work. That’s okay. You’ll know next year. But maybe it will…

Adding something new to your charity event - even if everything else is exactly the same - can make the whole thing seem more fresh.

To continue with the house cleaning theme, think about this:

You do the same thing every year - everybody has the same chores. You'll be scrubbing floors again, just like every year. But then, you decide to mix it up: you get to do something totally different. And suddenly it doesn't feel so daunting. 

Worried your guests won’t like the new you? You may be surprised at what they can handle.

6: Get Rid of the Old


This is not the same thing as doing something new:

You can add new ideas to your event while still holding on way too tightly to the old ideas.

As part of your evaluation efforts (see tip 1), make sure you realize when something you’ve always done is something you should maybe stop doing.

Think of this spring cleaning analogy: Just because food was good when you bought it, doesn't mean it's still great six months down the line. 

What you did six years ago may have been great. But it could have gotten stale since then. Throw it away so that you've got more room in your "fundraising fridge" for all your fresh ideas. 

“But we’ve always done it this way,” is only a viable excuse if you want to keep getting the same results year after year without seeing any growth.

If you want to see growth, though, you’ll stop doing the same old same old.

  • Embrace technology.
  • Open up your auction online.
  • Instead of an annual gala, have a carnival instead.

Who knows what you can do if you just open yourself up to change.

Spring Into Your Best Year Yet

You get embarrassed when people come to your house and find a huge mess. The same should be true of your fundraiser. Make sure your event is something you'd be proud to invite people to attend.

If you have any more non profit fundraising ideas for spring, let us know in the comments below (or on social media).

And to get more fundraising ideas all year long, sign up for our newsletter.

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Topics: Tips and How To's

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