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44 Ways to Turn Your Supporters Into Fundraisers


Turning your everyday supporters into fundraising superstars isn’t easy. It requires the right combination of fundraising expertise, engaged staff members, and savvy technology.

When done well, the results are impressive. Supporters raise significant amounts of money and bring new donors to your organization. For example, The Ride For Roswell event has seen an increase from $330,000 to $2.8 million raised annually since 2004 by helping participants become fundraisers.

As Steve MacLaughlin recently mentioned, health organizations that turn supporters into fundraisers continue to be leaders in online fundraising, and this growth is now an important contributor to their overall revenue.

So, how can you help supporters become fundraising superstars? Below are 44 tips I’ve learned, organized by topic and ordered from easiest to hardest to implement.

Teach Them to Fundraise and Provide Samples

  1. Encourage them to use their social network. As Anthony Sicola recently mentioned, fundraisers who use who use social networking tools like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube increase fundraising results by up to 40%.
  2. Offer rewards for fundraising levels achieved. At this year’s SXSW conference, keynote speaker Seth Priebatsch predicted a shift from the “social layer” to the “game layer” over the next decade. Make fundraising a game by offering rewards for levels achieved (E.g. $50 gift card for $5,000 raised).
  3. Encourage them to start a team of fundraisers. Not only do teams raise more money for your organization, they add camaraderie and competition to fundraising.
  4. Hold contests. After the initial excitement wears off, your fundraisers may need motivation. Create contests that reward fundraising activity. (E.g. Highest fundraiser in June receives 4 movie passes).
  5. Provide samples of everything. Don’t let your fundraisers get stuck on something you could have easily provided. Supply sample fundraising emails, Facebook posts, tweets, phone scripts, thank you notes, approved logos, etc.
  6. Provide fundraising success stories. Tell them how to raise money, challenges they’ll likely face and the impact their donations will have on your mission.
  7. Provide fundraising tips so they know how to get started. Not every method of fundraising will be for everyone. Provide numerous ideas, but do emphasize the most efficient methods such as sending email through a tool like Friend Asking Friends.
  8. Tell them how to approach their business contacts. Contacting a vendor or customer is different from asking their neighbor for support. Provide tips on fundraising with the corporate world.
  9. But…let them know your key corporate relationships. You probably already receive support from many local companies. Avoid embarrassment and disappointment for everyone involved by disclosing who already generously supports your cause.
  10. Offer tips for approaching the media. Your fundraisers may be fearless in promoting your cause. This is good. When approaching the media, though, they may need help. Offer tips and advice to receive coverage of their efforts.
  11. Explain which types of fundraising events are most efficient. Recommend focusing on events that raise the most money for the least amount of work. For example, happy hours generally outperform bake sales.
  12. Hold fundraising lunches/seminars/receptions to teach them how to fundraise. While success stories may have provided ideas, these sessions will let fundraisers “ask the experts” and get their questions answered.
  13. Create an online community for your fundraisers to interact and share their ideas. Other fundraisers may have great tips or advice. Provide a way to collaborate and share.

Connect Them to Your Cause

  1. Allow your fundraisers to raise restricted money. They may have been moved by one aspect of your cause and will want to fundraise for it.
  2. Invite your top fundraisers to join your volunteer committee. This will make fundraisers feel closer to your organization and responsible for its success. Doing this will also inject some new enthusiasm and ideas into your committees.
  3. Offer a tour of your hospital/school/office to further connect them to your cause. Meeting the people who will be helped and seeing the places that will be impacted by their efforts will give your fundraisers extra motivation.
  4. Keep them updated on how donations will be used. Let them know the outcome of their hard work. If it’s an annual event or program, you want these fundraisers back each year.
  5. Celebrate their accomplishments annually with a thank you party/dinner/reception/etc. It’s an extra opportunity to say thanks, connect them to your mission and encourage future participation.

Treat Fundraisers Like VIPs

  1. When someone creates a fundraising page, call to say thanks and answer questions. Let them know you’re there to help. Not sure you have time to offer this type of assistance? What if you knew they’d raise $20,000?
  2. Check-in occasionally. At some point, most fundraisers will feel discouraged, intimidated or confused about fundraising. Offer your expertise (and encouragement).
  3. Ask them what you can do better. Your fundraisers likely could have used additional support or resources at some point. Learn what else would’ve helped, and provide this for future fundraisers.
  4. Implement their good ideas. It will help them take ownership of the program and feel responsible for its success.  If you don’t implement an idea, tell them why not.
  5. Find out what motivates your fundraiser. They are likely fundraising because of your cause, to be part of a team or receive an incentive (it’s true). Find out what motivates them and tailor communications accordingly.
  6. Celebrate their milestones. Your fundraisers will likely be really excited when they reach their goal. Capitalize on this opportunity to thank them. Tools like Friends Asking Friends will even send automated messages when 50% or 100% of the goal is reached.
  7. Respond quickly to fundraiser questions and complaints. Problems + slow response times = frustrated fundraisers. They may stop fundraising altogether until they hear back from you. The longer that takes, the less fundraising momentum they’ll have.
  8. Offer your fundraisers any “extras” you have. Have extra tickets to the game? An extra seat at your gala? Call your top fundraisers first. Treat them like VIPs.
  9. Arrange meet-and-greets with celebrities at events. Regardless of whether it’s meeting a professional athlete or a radio station DJ, give your fundraiser the VIP treatment whenever possible. It may keep them motivated.

Highlight Fundraisers Online and Create User-Friendly Forms

  1. Make it easy to find a fundraiser’s page on your website. The more website visitors have to search for pages, the less likely they’ll donate. The Ride For Roswell does a nice job placing “Donate to a Rider” above the fold on their home page.
  2. Make donation forms concise and compelling. Help your fundraisers by creating donation forms that are concise, compelling, and easy to complete. Family Legacy has one of the simplest forms I’ve seen.
  3. Spotlight a new fundraiser on your website each month. It provides recognition and encourages others to start fundraising.
  4. Ensure the registration form is concise and easy to complete. This makes it simple for anyone to get started and prevents frustration during the initial steps.
  5. List top fundraisers on your website. Recognition and competition are two powerful motivators that may inspire some fundraisers to send out another batch of emails. Check out how YWCA Calgary does it in their Walk A Mile event.

Help Them Follow Personal Fundraising Page Best Practices

  1. Allow supporters to create a fundraising page whenever they want to.
  2. Give supporters the ability to set up a fundraising page for any occasion. Maybe they want people to donate on their behalf instead of having them buy presents for their birthday. Or maybe they’d like to help you get that new facility quicker. Whatever the cause, make it simple for them to get started and flexible enough to support their efforts. Here’s a cool example by Lustgarten.
  3. Add a great default photo to fundraising pages. According to the Blackbaud and the Run Walk Ride Fundraising Council Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Consumer Survey, only 45% of fundraisers personalize their fundraising page. Your photo may inspire others to donate.
  4. Make your default “My Story” compelling on fundraising pages. Not all fundraisers will change the “My Story” area. Your default story may inspire others to donate.
  5. Add page sharing tools to the fundraising page. Free tools like Add This allow the page to easily be shared via email and social media.
  6. Let them create a Friendly URL for their page. It’s much easier for fundraisers to tell potential supporters to visit a specific page, instead of your home page.
  7. List the names and amounts of each donor on fundraising pages. Peer pressure has a funny way of inspiring larger gifts. Show gift names and amounts on a donor wall, like North Shore Medical Center’s Cancer Walk/Run.
  8. Allow them to change their goal at any time. Once they reach their goal, it’s less compelling for friends to support them. Let them up their goal at any time, with tools like Friends Asking Friends. {insert link}
  9. Allow them to import email contacts into their fundraising dashboard. Once imported, fundraisers can keep track of which contacts who have donated, not opened the email , forwarded the email, etc.
  10. Allow fundraising pages to be shared on Facebook and Twitter from their fundraising dashboard. Every extra click you eliminate saves your fundraisers time. Remember, social media can have an incredible impact on peer-to-peer fundraising effectiveness.
  11. Allow fundraisers to upload either photos or videos to their page. A video can tell a more powerful story than a photo. Give fundraisers the option to upload a video, like Diabetes Research Institute does.
  12. Create short education videos for every step of the way. Show them how to register, setup a page, import contacts, email family and friends, and other important fundraising activities.

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