3 Unique and Creative Ways Nonprofits Reached Donors and Raised Funds

By eleventy marketing group

5908265_sCreativity can pay for nonprofit organizations. That was one of the lessons learned in 2012. Throughout the year, a handful of nonprofits tested unique and innovative ways to reach out to donors – most of them harnessing the power of social media and online interaction. In many cases, these inventive fundraisers paid off with some nice tallies and increased donor engagement.

Three Creative Online Fundraising Campaigns

Here are some examples of interesting and original nonprofit fundraising efforts that clicked with donors last year:

Personal Messages from Morgan Freeman

In December 2012, nonprofit organization Autism Speaks offered individuals the opportunity to make a donation of $299 and receive a custom-recorded message from celebrities such as Will Ferrell, Tom Hanks, William Shatner and Morgan Freeman (among others). When a person bought a message online, they could tailor the script – which would then be recorded by the celebrity. The limited-time campaign ended up raising $103,000, exceeding the nonprofit’s $50,000 expectations. The campaign was promoted via email, social media and online advertising.

Ugly Sweaters Support Cancer Research

Stand Up To Cancer injected some fun into their fundraising for the holiday season. The nonprofit launched a campaign encouraging its supporters to see how many days they could wear “ugly sweaters” to earn donations from friends and family. Supporters could set up online fundraising pages where they could post pictures of themselves in their hideous holiday sweaters and friends could make donations. The nonprofit also encouraged participants to hold ugly sweater parties and share their pics on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #uglysweater. All told, The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported the campaign raised $64,000.

Virtual Horses Helping Kids in Need

Nonprofit Toys for Tots partnered with online gaming company Zynga to raise funds for the charity in a truly innovative way. Through the campaign, players of the popular Facebook game Farmville could purchase Cheer-Ewe-Up – a horseback-riding sheep – for $1 and send it to friends. Over 100,000 people purchased the digital horse and all of the donations went to Toys for Tots. Meanwhile, in the online game Cityville, players could craft their own toys and make donations of $1 to $10 to Toys for Tots. Digital fundraising efforts for the nonprofit were also included in five other Zynga games. As of December 18, The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported the campaign raised $360,000.

Jumping Online to Create New Connections

Over the past few years, more and more nonprofits have made an effort to engage and interact with donors online. Using social media and other innovative online tools (including eleventy’s own ONCORE online interaction systems), nonprofit organizations tested many new methods of online fundraising and reaching new audiences in 2012. That trend should continue this year, especially with the success of campaigns like the ones listed above. To keep fundraising results rising, nonprofits need to continually search for unique and creative ways to reach donors on the Web. That should be a key initiative for every nonprofit organization in 2013.