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7 Community Outreach Ideas for Nonprofits in 2021

Author: Sayana Izmailova
October 26, 2021
🕑 4 min read

This is a guest post from Kristina Brunnler, Marketing Manager at MobileCause

Amid the continued COVID-19 crisis, many nonprofits are struggling to raise critical funds for beneficiaries impacted by the pandemic.

With in-person fundraising events on hold for the unforeseeable future, nonprofits need new, creative ways to fundraise and engage supporters.

Better yet, they need actionable, flexible fundraising event ideas for a fundraising landscape that is uncertain for the time being.

That’s why we’re sharing some community outreach ideas that are possible even with 2021’s prescribed social distancing. Continue reading for ideas to raise more for your cause and engage supporters this year.

1. Create Your Own Day or Week of Giving

Many nonprofits complain of the competition they experience on #GivingTuesday to stand out amongst the thousands of other organizations fundraising on social media.

So, instead of competing in a single day each year, why not create your own?

In 2020, many organizations, such as Southern Wesleyan University (SWU), made their day or week of giving’s theme centered around the COVID-19 crisis.

SWU’s week of giving or SWU Cares was created to provide ongoing financial and spiritual support for students in April of 2020. Even with an entirely virtual week of giving, the SWU team surpassed their fundraising goals and raised the same amount as they did in 2019.

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2. Host a Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Campaign

Peer-to-peer fundraising is a multi-tiered fundraising approach to crowdfunding that allows individuals to create personal fundraising pages on your cause’s behalf. Fundraisers are encouraged to share their peer-to-peer fundraising campaign page with family and friends or on social media. Peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns can also happen entirely online, making it a perfect stand alone event or additional component to a virtual fundraising event. Another great thing about peer-to-peer fundraising is that it allows your organization to capture new donors through your existing supporters social networks. In fact, the average amount raised by an individual peer-to-peer fundraising page is $538, while the average donation amount is $95 dollars and the average number of donors to each is 5.2.

For example, the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation raised over $37,777 dollars for their first ever fully virtual peer-to-peer fundraising Turkey Trot, 5K run/walk and received participants from 40 different states.

3. Promote Local Volunteer Opportunities

These days we’re living through a public health crisis, modern civil rights day movement, and ongoing climate change all at the same time…

And although it might feel overwhelming, it’s also making more people eager to find ways they can help besides donating.

There are many volunteer opportunities that are socially distanced by nature, including beach or park cleanups, drive-through grocery distribution or calling seniors. Other opportunities related specifically to COVID-19 include volunteering at a COVID-19 testing site or grocery shopping for seniors and high-risk groups. Be sure to promote these volunteer opportunities virtually, through email marketing, social media, or mobile messaging, like the example below.
Salvation Army - Text to Volunteer

Read More: 15 Ways to Volunteer from Home and Give Back During COVID-19

4. Host a Socially Distanced Fundraising Event

Many organizations are pivoting their in-person fundraising events into socially distanced versions. Some ideas for social distanced fundraising events include golf tournaments, concerts, or drive-in movies, such as this example from the Santa Monica Mountains Fund.

Your supporters may be more eager to get out of the house than you think! Even without all the bells and whistles of your traditional in-person events, socially distanced fundraisers are a great way to get supporters engaged and out of the house during a time when many are “zoomed out.”

5. Engage Supporters with a Mobile Messaging Campaign

During continued prescripted social distancing, more individuals are spending time online and on their mobile devices.

Consider this: 98% of all text messages sent are read and 90% of all text messages sent are read within the first 90 minutes of being sent, making mobile messaging the most direct channel to reach supporters during a time when face-to-face interaction is limited.

Mobile messaging can also be an extra component to a day of giving, volunteering opportunities or fundraising events. For example, Advocates for Children, a nonprofit dedicated to providing services to children and families who have been the victims of abuse and neglect offered, regularly updates supporters via mobile messaging with meeting invites and reminders.


6. Partner with Local Businesses

Many nonprofits choose to partner with other local nonprofit and businesses to raise funds for community members. Partnering with local businesses is a win win for both you and the company as it gets your cause out there and the business boosts sales and exposure in your community, like this example from Feeding America.


The partnership can be in the form of cause marketing (think of donation drop boxes in grocery stores or when a certain percentage of a restaurants’ proceeds go to a cause) or corporate sponsorships for your virtual or in-person fundraiser.

7. Host a Virtual Fundraising Event

Speaking of virtual fundraisers, virtual events are here to stay in 2021 as most organizations opt out of in-person gatherings for the time being. Virtual fundraising events can take the form of virtual galas, concerts, performances, Q&A sessions, dinners, or even conferences like the one below.
We hope these ideas left you with inspiration to create your own socially distanced and responsible fundraising events this year! For more virtual fundraising event ideas, check out our infographic.

Kristina BrunnlerKristina Brunnler is a Marketing Manager at MobileCause, an online fundraising platform designed specifically to help nonprofits create more meaningful connections with their donors. For more fundraising ideas, check out MobileCause’s fundraising blog

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