6 Group Fundraising Ideas to Really Engage Your Donors

Fundraising August 26, 2019

Artie Shlykov

By Artie Shlykov

This is a guest post from Kelly Velasquez-Hague, Director of Content Marketing for OneCause.


As a nonprofit, it can be challenging to find ways to engage your donors. 

Whether you attempt this through an online donation form, events, or even social media, maintaining your donors’ interest can feel like a full-time job in addition to actual fundraising.

But in order to give donors what they want, you need to appeal to them in ways that they’ll find relatable, enjoyable, and meaningful. 

And one of the best ways to do that? 

Bring together a group of people who are equally passionate about your cause! 

Some of the most effective fundraising ideas I’ve seen are those that allow donors to meet up during the event. 

That’s because they have the chance to connect on a personal level and discuss why they love your mission — and before you know it, your nonprofit has created fans for life (with the donations to match!). 

That’s why I’ve compiled a list of awesome group fundraising ideas that will not only bring together your donors, but also bring in the revenue you need to drive your mission forward.

In this article, I’ll discuss how you can use the following fundraising ideas to bring together old supporters and new friends:

  1. Silent Auctions

  2. Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

  3. Golf Tournaments

  4. Walkathons

  5. Car Washes

  6. Cook-Offs

fundraising ebook

1. Use Silent Auctions to Engage Directly With Donors

Silent auctions make effective group fundraisers for several reasons, but having face time with your donors is one of the top ways to make the most of these events. 

Silent auctions involve guests walking around to observe auction items displayed on tables and placing bids either on paper or through their mobile devices. As your guests browse the items up for auction, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to mingle and get to know them a little more.

In order to have a successful silent auction and engage your guests, you can:

  • Incorporate mobile bidding software to streamline the bidding process for your silent auction and make registration and checking out even easier. Your guests will appreciate the convenience and experience, and you’ll be able to bring in more bids and raise more revenue.

  • Procure items that will appeal to your donors and drive in more bids as a result.

  • Pair it with a larger event, like a charity golf tournament (discussed later!).

Silent auctions are versatile and can be adapted to fit any audience or venue. Give your guests a great experience while getting to know them better, and you’ll be on your way to securing more donation revenue.

2. Use Peer-To-Peer Fundraising to Boost Your Revenue

One of the most impactful fundraising ideas to engage your donors is planning a peer-to-peer fundraiser. Peer-to-peer fundraising is a surprisingly simple strategy that brings about results and involves nonprofits calling on their supporters to fundraise on their behalf.

Here’s how it works:

  • You set a campaign goal and chooses a peer-to-peer fundraising platform.

  • You set up your main campaign page.

  • You recruit your nonprofit’s supporters to create their own individual participant pages.

  • The participants share their campaign pages with their own online networks of friends and family.

  • You track the campaign’s progress and provide continued support, motivation, and resources.

When you call on your supporters to reach out to their networks on your behalf, you’re paving the way toward not only a wider outreach for donations, but also for more awareness around your cause and mission. 

For example, if your organization wants to put on a 5K race to benefit breast cancer research, you could use peer-to-peer fundraising as a lead-up to your actual event, raising money and awareness of your cause and creating urgency to reach your goal before the event itself. Your participants in the peer-to-peer fundraiser will serve as the “familiar face” for their friends and family as they promote your organization, give them a compelling reason to donate to your cause, and then come support their friends on the day of the race.

Peer-to-peer fundraisers can be impactful and expand your reach beyond your typical donor circle. For more information on this idea, check out the OneCause ultimate guide to peer-to-peer fundraising.

3. Plan a Golf Tournament to Cultivate Major Gifts

Charity golf tournaments are a great way to engage donors because they can have fun on a team with their friends and have the potential to take home a big prize! 

But these types of fundraisers are also useful in another way: they give you the chance to identify and steward potential major donors.

Here are ways to make your charity golf tournament successful:

  • Have your board members or fundraisers connect with supporters in person and encourage day-of donations.

  • Seek out local companies to sponsor your tournament. Sponsors can help take some of the stress of planning and logistics off your shoulders.

  • Recruit corporate sponsors and donors with major gift potential to play. This can help you court prospects who have a high giving potential or businesses with corporate philanthropy programs, to connect with your team, volunteers, and those passionate about your cause.

Your golf tournament will have a lot of moving parts, but it can be worth the effort you put into planning it if you successfully engage donors and bring home major gifts in return. 

4. Host a Walkathon to Reach More Networks

Walkathons are excellent fundraising ideas because they are built on group participation (read: more donor engagement!). 

When supporters engage their communities in your cause, your fundraising results can soar.

Here are some tips to help get your walkathon started:

  • Plan early. If you’re running a peer-to-peer fundraising event prior to the walkathon, launch it at least a few months beforehand.

  • Set your goals and budget. Be aware of your fundraising goal and include some wiggle room. The event will cost your team money, such as for paying for staff, marketing materials, and other event expenses.

  • Get creative. Come up with a creative concept to structure your event around, like a clear brand and message. 

  • Use an online fundraising leaderboard. This is so participants can see how others compare to the amount they’ve raised. On the day of your event, recognize the leaders with badges, t-shirts, and more.

Walkathons are one of many effective fundraising ideas that help raise money and awareness of your cause, regardless of the size of your nonprofit. With more awareness comes more engagement, so be sure to incorporate this event into your next fundraising strategy.

5. Try a Car Wash for Some Team Effort

A car wash is easy to plan and very profitable for nonprofits. It’s simple, outdoors, and only requires an investment in soap, sponges, and promotion. Call on your staff and your most loyal volunteers to help the day of the event.

Here’s what makes a car wash successful:

  • It’s inexpensive for the drivers who come in to get their car washed.

  • It’s a classic fundraiser that is popular and supports your cause.

  • It encourages teamwork to get the job done.

Have a few volunteers stand by a busy road to advertise and encourage some drivers with dirty cars to stop by!

6. Host a Cook-Off for Some Friendly Competition

A cook-off is a great way to engage your supporters, raise money for your cause, and also eat a lot of good food! 

In order to plan this event, you’ll need plenty of willing participants and a theme. Charge an entrance fee for the chefs and sell tickets to the main event.

Cook-offs are great group fundraising ideas because:

  • They are low cost (really, all you need to provide is the venue) and offer a high return on investment.

  • You can encourage all your local foodies to enter a dish, and you can also reach out to local restaurateurs and culinary experts.

  • If you work with a local business or well-known individual, this will help you promote your event to their customers and fans and could also lead to sponsorships.

Cook-offs are an excellent way to encourage engagement from your supporter base and stir up some friendly competition, which will boost your donor retention rate as well.

Not all fundraising ideas are created equal. 

That’s why deciding your campaign goals ahead of time and determining exactly what your nonprofit needs are essential steps to take first. Take a look at your budget, the size of your organization, and what exact goal you’re working towards. 

And if that goal is really engaging your donors... give one of these group fundraising ideas a shot. 

Have any other great ideas you’d like us to add to this list? Or any advice for other organizations who are planning a group fundraiser? Comment below and let us know.

Kelly Velasquez-HagueKelly Velasquez-Hague brings over 20 years of fundraising, nonprofit management, and sales/marketing experience to her role as the Director of Content Marketing for OneCause. As a member of the OneCause sales and marketing team, Kelly manages all of the company’s content strategy and execution. She is passionate about empowering great missions and loves that her current role allows her to continue to help nonprofits reach new donors raise more funds for their cause.

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