Guestblog written by Jeremy S, Vice President of Operations and Vehicle Dispatching, Goodwill Car Donations.


Charitable donations topped $358 billion in 2014, reports Giving USA. Don’t you want a little bit of that money going to your nonprofit or cause?

Let your supporters join the fun; let them host a fundraiser. While the process can be intimidating and overwhelming, give them these five tips to help make their first independent fundraising event a success:

  1. Go Physical- You can hold a marathon or dance-a-thon to raise money or go on a hike, roller skate or hula hoop, if you like the physical workouts. Increase participation and donations when you pick something unusual. Challenge participants to draw without using their hands, jump on a trampoline or crochet. Donors can sponsor participants per the second or minute, as well as sponsor a prize. Invite community involvement, too when asking businesses and groups to sponsor a team, snacks, drinks and awards.
  1. Be Goofy- One of the best ways to raise curiosity, participation and donations is to be goofy. What humorous activities can you plan? A silly photo contest can be fun. Participants pay to submit their silly picture and the public pays a small donation to cast their ballot for the winner. Or challenge guests to wear a costume to the event. The best-dressed person wins a small prize. You can also plan goofy events when partial or full fundraising goals are met. Advertise that the board chairman will dye his hair pink when you reach the first breast cancer awareness fund goal, or allow kids who sell 20 subs to dunk their teachers in a dunk tank.
  1. Twist Traditions- Leveraging a traditional bake sale or yard sale is sometimes effective, especially when you add a modern twist. For example, instead of offering store-bought brownies or cookies, raise money for your animal rescue with cupcakes that are decorated with cats and dogs. You can also choose a signature product to sell like homemade ice cream, crepes or dog biscuits. Yard sales are another classic fundraiser option. Consider holding it alongside a bigger event like a concert or sports game that will draw a larger crowd. You could also limit the items that are sold. Raise money for a pregnancy center when you sell only baby and maternity items, or sell gaming equipment to raise money for a youth center.
  1. Invite Everyone- The most successful fundraisers need participants and donors. That means you need to pull out all the stops and invite everyone you know. Challenge your fundraising committee to list and invite 100 guests, this can include:
  • Co-workers
  • Friends
  • Neighbors
  • Members of your social clubs
  • Professional associates
  • High school friends

Once you have a list, send a personal invitation face to face or via snail mail, email, text or phone. Be sure to include specifics about the fundraisers such as what the money will be used for, and when and where the event is being held. To motivate everyone in your organization to invite guests, offer a reward to the person with the most invites. Rewarding the department with the most invites can also effectively boost participation.

  1. Show the Numbers- Everyone from the organizers to the smallest donor wants to know their fundraising efforts are successful. They also deserve to know where their hard-earned money is going. That is why you need to show the numbers. Start with a clear goal. Share that you need $5000 to pay for the anesthesia for a kidney transplant or $100 to send two kids to summer camp. Then break down your needs. A huge goal can intimidate donors, but they might be more willing to give $20 toward transportation to doctor appointments or $25 for craft supplies. Use a visual aid to show progress, to keep momentum going. A thermometer is one effective visual you can easily update every day as you show how much money has been raised. Your first fundraiser can be a success when you use these five tips. Remember, you’ll also want to have fun. When you’re enthusiastic and passionate, others will want to get on board, too!