Swimming Pool

11 Refreshing Summer Fundraising Ideas

Let’s be honest, asking people for money is difficult.  Really, really difficult.

What’s even worse?  Asking grumpy people for money.

Donors are much more receptive to asks when they are in good moods. Whodathunkit?

So take advantage of the happiest season of the year — summer!

Summer is a great time to engage with donors. The sun is shining, the weather is good, and daylight lasts forever.

It is a season that beckons people outside, so heed the call.

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Use these suggestions to capitalize on the summer season and get your community outside and donating!

#1 HOST A BLOCK PARTY

A block party is a one-stop shop for summer fun.  The endless summer nights provide the perfect backdrop for a community gathering that benefits your cause!

Block Parties are what you make them so the vibe and atmosphere will be up to you.

Consider organizing some extra fundraising events to incorporate into the block party and maximize your donations.

I would suggest getting some competition brewing with a watermelon eating contest and a cook-off.

Watermelon is the perfect summer fruit, refreshing and healthy.  Donors won’t feel guilty about stuffing their faces with watermelon.

Watermelons

Messy enough to provide a visual badge of honor for those who compete, your contest will be a highlight of the block party.

For those who find the competitive eating world unappealing give them the option of competitive cooking.  A cook-off is a great complement to any block party.

Pick a summer classic, like apple pies, burgers, or chili, and get people cooking!

You can have party guests vote using a secret ballot or appoint a judging panel.  Just have fun with it!

Look into getting a local chef or cooking supply shop to donate cooking lessons or a gift card to the winner.

Keep the party going late into the night and let your cause reap the financial rewards.

#2 HOST A POOL PARTY

Is a block party not cool enough for you in those hot summer months?  Make it a pool party instead.  Problem solved!

Pool parties are pretty straight forward.  Have pool?  Will party.

Just make sure you have your safety bases covered with licensed lifeguards.

Your pool party can be as extravagant as your heart desires.  Set up carnival like games near the pool.  Have a party-wide round of Marco Polo.  Sell snacks from a concessions stand.

#3 ORGANIZE A WATER BALLOON FIGHT

Kids will join in for the fun of it and adults will join in for the nostalgia-fun of it.  Establish a designated fight-zone, register competitors, and sell water balloons.

You could even make it a tournament with teams competing for a coveted prize…glory!

#4 COORDINATE A CAR WASH

Car washes are a fundraising standby for a reason.  They’re a great way to raise money with little event cost.

They are also an excellent opportunity to expand awareness of your organization.

Make sure your car wash has plenty of signage stating what the proceeds are going towards.  You might even want to print off some flyers or brochures to give those who participate additional info on your cause.

#5 HOST A FISH FRY OR BARBEQUE

BBQ Hamburgers

For this event you’ll have a crew of volunteers and staff manning the grill or fryers.  Set up a method of ordering (online, via the phone, in person) and provide made-to-order food.

Your establishment can be take-out style or you can set up some outdoor seating.

Get kitschy if you go the eat-in route, and don’t forget the quintessential summer items like picnic tablecloths and funky plates.

#6 RUN A WALK-A-THON, BIKE-A-THON, OR SWIM-A-THON

Pick whichever of the three you think your community will be most interested and you’ll be off to the races.

Charge a small registration fee and have your participants gather sponsorships for distance walked, biked, or swam.

#7 HOST A WINE TASTING

Find an outdoor venue, get wine donated from local shops, and invite your supporters who are 21+ to pay a minor fee to participate.

People will jump at the chance to sample wine while feeling charitable.

#8 CATER A DINER OR HOST A GALA OUTDOORS

Take advantage of the beautiful weather and bring your higher-end events outside.  For example, you could host a garden ball at your community’s botanical gardens.

#9 RUN A SUMMER GOLF TOURNAMENT

Golf Cart

Golf tournaments can be very lucrative.  Partner with a local golf course and solicit your corporate sponsors and donors to buy spots in the tournament.  Make a whole day of it!  Start with breakfast and finish with a dinner and silent auction.

#10 ORGANIZE AN OUTDOOR CONCERT

Outdoor concerts are summer staples.  It doesn’t matter who the main attraction is, whether its Beyoncé or your cousin Al’s neighborhood band.

A benefit concert is all about having fun and raising money.

#11 COORDINATE A SUMMER FILM SERIES

Reserve a venue, like a park space, for 4 or 5 separate nights.  Then pick out a movie for each reserved day that an entire family can enjoy.

Title your series, something like “June Movie Mondays,” and start rolling.

Make sure to advertise and let people know what the ticket sales are accomplishing.  You could even sell theater concessions to create an authentic movie-going experience.

For more great information, check out our list of summer camp fundraising ideas! 

Once you’ve executed a great summer fundraiser, make sure your organization is fully prepared to keep those hard earned donors.

Click here to learn more about donor retention.

And click here to learn more about donor segmentation.

Donors have more time and energy to get involved in their communities during their summers.  Cement your nonprofit’s community presence by making a big fundraising push this summer. Go forth and conquer the season!

Click here to download our free fundraising software checklist.

Photo of a famous museum with great fundraising

5 Tips to Help Museums Dominate Fundraising

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There are automobile museums, beer museums, farm museums, halls of fame, insectariums, lighthouse museums, planetariums, toy museums, and urban planning museums.

The abundance of museums proves that people care about preserving what they love. However, whether it’s artisanal beer or a trustworthy lighthouse, museums require money to preserve these adorations.

How do museums raise money?

That age-old nonprofit technique: fundraising.

As a specific breed of nonprofit, museums require unique fundraising approaches:

Tip #1: Visualize the impact of your fundraising campaign

Donors like to know that their money is helping to fulfill specific needs. “Your donation will aid the museum,” is not as effective as, “your donation will fund an after school program aimed at educating children about the history of French Renaissance art.” That sounds more valuable to donors, especially those who don’t want to think that their money is going towards your museum’s administrative expenses.

Many museum development teams talk about valuing ‘vision’ over ‘contacts’. By this they mean that the heart of any fundraising campaign is the reason why you’re raising money. What you want to achieve must come first, and any donors will come after.

A clear vision satisfies two needs:

  1. Asserts the objective that your museum wants to achieve
  2. Addresses a need of your donors

A vital component of a good fundraising pitch is the ability to convince donors how their money will do good not just for you, but for others, too.

Some donors will give because of ‘warm glow’ or for other self-focused reasons, but many donors want to know how your campaign will impact them. This means articulating how the campaign will aid both the museum and the surrounding community.

In our French Renaissance art example, the fundraising campaign would:

  1. Help the museum by bringing in more children, who have parents, and thus exposure is gained.
  2. Help the community by educating the youth and providing them with exposure to a type of culture that they otherwise might not get to experience.

The more you can tell donors about what their money is going towards, the better the chance you have of convincing them that a donation is worth their consideration.

Tip #2: Recognize your various donor sources

Those lighthouse museums pay homage to structures that signal ships coming from all over the world. Likewise, your donors come from several sources. If you don’t know what’s parked in your port then valuable goods could slip through your fingers.

Members

People who are particularly interested in the subject matter of your museum might purchase memberships. Not only is a membership a financial investment in your museum, but it demonstrates a strong level of commitment to your organization.

Single Ticket Purchasers

While less committed than members, single ticket purchasers still engage with your museum, which opens the door for future conversations.

Special Event Attendees

Galas, dinners, and similar events tend to attract wealthy audiences. These people tend to be approachable for major gifts.

Consistent Donors

People who already give to your organization may want to give again. Not only can these people be consistent sources of revenue, but many consistent donors increase their donation amounts over time, and some will turn into major or planned givers.

With donors coming from all over, there’s a wide audience for your fundraising team to tap into. It’s important to implement good strategies, such as prospect research, in order to formulate how to solicit prospects in a way that makes the best use of your time and resources.

Tip #3: Diversify how you acquire donors

Life is variation. It’s why people wear different outfits each day, deplore having the same dinner back-to-back nights, and get daring new haircuts.

Fundraising is as much about coming at prospects with the right strategies as it is about using a variety of good strategies. Not every donor will respond to a cold call, and consistent donors might not always go for the same old pitch centered around restoring your French Renaissance art collection.

People might want to vary what specific aspect of your museum they help or just be asked in fresh, exciting ways that remind them why they donated in the first place.

Here are a few ways to acquire donors, so you’re not always coming at them with the same routine:

  1. Exhibits –A new haircut grabs attention just like a new exhibit does. New exhibits help to encourage new people to attend your museum, and also increase the value of memberships. Since members are some of the most likely people to make donations, this is a way to keep them happy while welcoming fresh faces you can fundraise to.
  2. Events – While your museum is its own attraction, you need a way to reach donors who you might otherwise miss. Events can range from volunteer opportunities to educational experiences to community entertainment.
  3. Resources – Providing people with an education is a way to build trust. Create a free brochure or program or some type of informative resource that teaches people about your museum and its subject matter. People love to learn, and getting them interested in who you are and what you do is a way to begin the process of getting them to donate.

Creativity is a boon for fundraising. Not only are there more ways than these to acquire donors, but these are umbrella categories under which you could come up with a nearly endless supply of ways to encourage people to engage with and give to your museum. Focus on who your organization is and what makes you different in order to stand out to prospects.

Tip #4: Speak nice now

Ah, yes, I think that particular dinosaur skeleton speaks to the species’ proclivity for ingesting verdure as sustenance.

Um, what now?

There are two sides to articulating the mission of your fundraising in a way that will resonate with donors:

  1. Be precise in your language.
  2. Avoid vague words, ‘big’ words, and verbiage.

Language precision goes hand-in-hand with our first tip, which was to visualize the impact of your fundraising. Specificity is your friend, and the more specific you can speak about your fundraising campaign, the more it will make sense to donors.

Vagueness creates mystery while specificity manifests the type of concrete ideas that prospects need to understand about your campaign in order to give.

Vague words are jargon terms, such as ‘outreach’ and ‘massive’ that either mean nothing to donors or are too ambiguous to indicate anything specific.

Donors prefer easily digestible information and hard facts that prove that you know what you’re doing and that what you’re doing will lead to some defined effectiveness.

‘Big’ words include ‘verdure’ and ‘sustenance’. Why not just say ‘green vegetation’ and ‘food’? While you surely have many educated donors who can understand big words, a lot of people either won’t know what you’re saying or won’t care to try to remember that strange word from their seventh grade English class. Make things easy and use words like ‘big’ instead of ‘capacious’.

Verbiage refers to technical terms that are unique to your museum staff. Common museum verbiage includes words like ‘accessioning’, ‘fluid collection’, and ‘holotype’. Imagine telling donors that you’re raising money to add a new holotype to your esteemed fluid collection once you’ve completed the accessioning process. Yikes.

Remember to consider who your donors are and what they’ll think about the words you use to describe your campaigns. Donors want to give, but not to museums whose projects they don’t understand.

Tip #5: Leverage your trustees

Trustees are valuable museum members who can do two things for your organization:

  1. Give major donations
  2. Advocate on behalf of your museum

Trustees tend to be wealthy individuals. They’ve been around the block, paid their dues, and acquired the wealth to substantiate their lifetimes of hard work. Trustees are major gift prospects that are as close to home as major gift prospects can get.

The money obviously matters, but you also want trustees to donate in order for them to assert their support.

Trustees need to believe in your museum and the projects it pursues. If these important people fail to see why they should give to your campaign, then why would other people give? Fundraising begins with people believing in your cause, and that belief begins with the important people behind the scenes.

Trustees also bring a wealth of relationships to the table. They have connections to other wealthy, philanthropically inclined individuals who might give to your museum. You must implore trustees to reach out to their connections.

Don’t just accept a rolodex. Make the trustees personally reach out to friends, family, and other connections, and have your trustees invite them to lunch or some other type of meeting that can open a dialogue.

Museums are cultural staples of communities. They showcase art, history, the marvels of our planet, and lighthouses. In order to continue to preserve the various spectacles of our world, museums need money. Fortunately, there are a ton of people willing to give, and many ways to encourage donations from all of them.

For additional fundraising inspiration, check out more of Fundly’s helpful resources: 

  1. 33 Fundraising Ideas for Schools and Education
  2. 12 Fundraising Ideas for Clubs and Organizations
  3. How to Ask for Donations
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