Marketing for Fundraisers

  • Posted on: 10 July 2018
  • By: Chad Glamann

Some of the best marketing campaigns I have been involved with revolve around solving a problem, either stated or implicit. A common mistake is to focus inward and spend all of our resources and time espousing the reasons people should be paying attention to our project. Instead, turn that spotlight outwards and send a message conveying how our project will benefit those whose attention we need.

Step into the shoes of patrons and community members and think about how this project benefits them. Connect with the audience through your marketing outreach that gives them something they care about whether its making a difference in the community or having their voice heard in a decision making process.

In the following sections I have listed different marketing tactics and ideas that could be utilized in any fundraising efforts. This is not an exhaustive list, but will hopefully provide some inspiration for any current or upcoming projects. If you would like to explore any of these ideas and tactics further please contact me at your convenience, I would love to help!

Marketing Tactics

  • Gamify the fundraiser by posing it as a challenge. For example you could hold a “50 Donations in 50 Days” challenge and track the results live using clever signage or on your website and social media channels.
  • Appeal to special interest groups in the area with targeted messaging that describe how the fundraising effort will positively affect their standing in the community.
  • Identify potential high level donors in the community and match the right staff member or volunteer to reach out to them. Tap into the library board and/or friends groups to help make these connections.
  • Answer the question of how the fundraiser helps to support the library’s strategic mission through your marketing communications.
  • Secure local sponsors for the fundraiser. Their sponsorship serves as additional advertising for their business or foundation. Make sure to lay out their commitment beforehand and keep them up-to-date with consistent progress reports.
  • Create a video that focuses on the fundraiser and feature it on your website and social media channels.
  • Have printed fundraiser brochures, bookmarks and posters readily available and visible to patrons and community members.
  • Use email marketing to reach potential donors or to send out an e-newsletter with fundraiser progress updates. MailChimp has a free option for email lists under 1000 recipients.
  • Share, share and share some more. Make sure all of the great things you are currently doing are shared on social media and how the additional funding would help to expand those services.
  • If you have a friends group or foundation they may qualify for up to $10,000 in free Google AdWords though Google’s Ad Grants for non-profits.
  • Create a press release and reach out to local media like newspapers and radio prior to any fundraising events.
  • Highlight fundraising events through your local community calendar, newspaper or chamber of commerce.
  • Every donor should feel like a hero after they give, make sure to thank them and they may even become your best advocates.
  • Try using different verbiage in your marketing communications to replace the word donate, which can be an immediate negative to some people.
    • “Show your support”
    • “Make a difference”
    • “Help now through your gift”

Funding Tactics

  • Use available online services to give donors an electronic option such as PayPal.
  • Try an SMS service such as Snowball which will allow donors to use a text message to donate.
  • Crowdfunding is huge right now. Indiegogo has been a mainstay for a large number of library fundraisers for some time and is probably the most relevant crowdfunding platform.
  • Include a “Donate Now” button on your social media channels and website.

Fundraiser Event Ideas

  • Have an after-hours theme party at the library. For example the Friends of the Ramsey County Libraries held a Great Gatsby themed gala.
  • Food and wine tastings may bring out the foodies in the community. Partner with local restaurants to have a “Taste of the Library”.
  • Hold a fundraiser walkathon or run.
  • Have a concert and get “Loud at the Library” with some live music.
  • Hold a board game or card game tournament.
  • Set up a library mini golf course and sell tickets.
  • Give local businesses and sponsors an option for naming opportunities through their donations.
  • Have a sponsor night at a local restaurant where a percentage of sales from the evening go towards the fundraiser. This is quite common with high school teams and clubs and I have been to a few at Buffalo Wild Wings, Chili's and Culvers.
  • Ask patrons if they wish to round up overdue fines to the nearest dollar and the excess would go towards the fundraiser.
  • Have a silent raffle with donated items from local businesses featured around the library with bidding sheets nearby.
  • People look forward to yearly events. Learn and adapt from current and past events and find ways to improve for the future.