September 30, 2019

Getting everyone on-board: community fundraising

What is community fundraising?

Community fundraising is when a large audience (a.k.a the community) make multiple small donations towards a good cause, often organised and carried out by volunteers within the local area. When most people fundraise, whether that’s as an individual, group, at the office or at a school, they are often taking part in local community fundraising, even if they don’t know it.

From a strategic point of view, community fundraising is one of the least cost-effective ways to raise funds for a charitable cause as a charity. This is because the donors often get something in return, such as a ticket to an event, a chocolate cupcake from a bake sale, or a raffle prize. The money needed to set up the bake sale, raffle or event is taken away from the overall money raised. It comes of no surprise that community fundraising only makes up 1% of all charity income. But there is more to fundraising than simply gathering donations.

The Opportunity

Fundraising for community development is a great opportunity to generate funds for vulnerable or disadvantaged groups who need local support. But it also puts your cause in front of a large audience of locals who might be interested in your cause, therefore increasing your chance of finding recurring donors and volunteers who are inspired by your message.

Small, local groups often have a strong relationship with the local community already, so community fundraising is a viable option for combining fundraising with touching base with their supporter and donor base. It also allows them to engage with their volunteers in a meaningful way and strengthen their relationship with the local people even more.  If you are a local community group, community fundraising events can also help to raise the profile of your organisation and build up your credibility. If you are wanting to plan your own community fundraiser, make sure to check out our easy, step-by-step guide on How To Plan A Fundraising Event.

What are good fundraising ideas for community groups?

When it comes to choosing memorable and innovative community fundraising ideas, you need to think out of the box. The good news is, you’ve come to the right place. Here at GoodBox, we are in favour of innovative fundraising ideas. Fundraising should be fun, creative and inspiring, as this is the best way to engage your audience in an interesting way. To get you started, we’ve put together some wacky and inventive community fundraising event ideas.

Community fundraising ideas for charity:

Downright bizarre sport events

We’ve all known celebrities, professional athletes and even friends who have completed impressive feats of human accomplishment in the name of charity. Whether it’s physical (and rather messy) challenges like Tough Mudder or sponsored extreme sports like skydiving, there are plenty of ways that brave individuals have tested their courage and endurance for a good cause. While these challenges are great ways to raise money, you don’t necessarily have to take part in an extreme sport to raise substantial funds. Why not create your own test of stamina a little closer to home that the whole community can become involved in?

Take the Great Knaresborough Bed Race as an example. This annual event begins with a parade of vibrantly decorated beds around the medieval town of Knaresborough, followed by a gruelling 2.4 mile course that’s finished off with a swim across the River Nidd by both beds and their racers. This bizarre pageant raises significant funds for local charities and the community each year, as well as bringing out the local residents for a day of goodwill and fun.

Or create an event with more of a local touch. For example, in 2018 a trio of runners raised £1,000 for the Greggs Foundation’s Hardship Fund by running their own Greggs marathon. Being the home of the Greggs sausage roll, it should come of no surprise that Newcastle Upon Tyne is home to a total of 29 Gregg outlets. The fundraisers decided to use Newcastle’s love affair with shortcrust pastry to create their own marathon course, running a total of 26 miles by stopping off at every brand of Greggs in the Toon. As each local community has its own peculiarities, community fundraising ideas of this kind are a great way to celebrate these quirks as well as raising donations for local causes at the same time.

A community carnival

Historically, carnivals were times to indulge, let go and be carefree. They were short periods in which everyday rules, both social and religious, were relaxed and the locals could get together to eat, dance and celebrate. Today, carnivals have developed to become city-wide festivals that celebrate the local culture and heritage. From Venice’s Gran Ballo delle Maschere to New Orleans’ Mardi Gras, the largest carnivals attract both local and international visitors who come to enjoy the vibrancy and electric atmosphere each year.

Carnivals are extravagant, lively affairs made up of parades, public street parties, contests, music concerts and much more. They give a sense of social unity as the whole community comes together in the planning, organising and celebrating of the event. These make them a great community fundraising idea as it brings in various types of local organisations. From performers, musicians and theatre groups to local restaurants and bars, your carnival can incorporate lots of different businesses to raise support for local groups and charities. By selling tickets to this event, as well as providing plenty of donation points within the carnival, you can raise funds for local causes and bring the local community together at the same time.

Scavenger hunt

Remember the anticipation and excitement you felt as a child when you hunted for Easter eggs? Relive that excitement on a much larger scale with a charity scavenger hunt. Participants can discover hidden spots in their local town while racing against the clock (and their competitors) to find all the items on their list.

Allow small teams to enter and charge a certain amount per group, then give them a map and send them hunting! Add a competitive edge to the hunt by adding a time period that the list has to be completed in. Reward points per item found, as well as additional points for the teams who complete the list first, second and third. You could even add in bonus activities for extra points by asking teams to take photos in front of local landmarks or give them photo challenges. For example, you could challenge each team to find a statue and make it more ‘modest’, or perform the actions to ‘I’m a Little Teapot’ while taking a picture of their efforts.

You’ll find plenty more unique community fundraising ideas for charities in our blog post The Weird And Wonderful of Fundraising. If you are wanting to find community fundraising ideas for schools, then have a look at our blog post How To Help Struggling Schools for more ideas on school fundraising ideas.

Tips for community fundraising:

The right volunteers for the job

As community fundraisers struggle to generate substantial funds in comparison to other types of charity events, it’s essential to get fundraisers on board who can encourage the general public to donate. This can be hard if you are only recruiting volunteers, so it might be worth considering bringing in fundraising consultants.

If you do want to rely solely on volunteer fundraisers, ensure that they are clear on what your goal is, the expected time commitment and what the donations will be used for before the event gets underway. Sharing your end goal with them helps them to engage with your story, which they will then be able to convey to the attendees face-to-face. If your volunteers understand why you are raising funds and what those funds will be used for, they will be more confident and informed when asked these questions by your audience.

All hands on deck

Regardless of the type of community fundraising event you go for, all local fundraisers are resource intensive so it is important to have the funds, support and a core team ready to execute your project. Like any fundraising initiative, as part of your fundraising strategy you need to ensure you can support the event and that it makes sense for your ultimate goal. Otherwise, you will be using up valuable resources which could be used for other activities which are part of your overall strategy. If you want to start a fundraising strategy but don’t know where to start, check out our simple guide on How To Plan A Killer Fundraising Strategy.

Don’t be a technophobe

Integrating technology into how you operate is one of the biggest challenges in fundraising for both charities and community groups. It’s also the biggest area where community organisations can see real success. Think about it. How many times have you been approached by volunteers asking for you to donate your spare change, at which point you have to tell them you haven’t got any cash? You’re not alone. In fact, only 34% of payments are made using cash today, with this figure quickly decreasing with the rise of contactless payment systems.

By using contactless charity donation boxes like our mobile giving devices, we have seen charities like the National History Museum increase their donation income by 64%. From portable contactless collection boxes to raise funds on the move, to compact giving points that can be used on information desks, bars and tables, there are various ways our cashless giving technology can improve the donation income of your community fundraiser.

But using technology goes beyond integrating contactless donations boxes into your on-the-ground fundraising. Knowing who are your most generous givers is essential, especially when it comes to briefing your volunteers about who to approach during your event. One study found that when it comes to giving, it’s the youngest donors (we’re talking Millennials and Generation Z) who are the most generous, which might be surprising if you’ve traditionally prioritised targeting Generation X (born 1965-1979). Our digital fundraising platform, the GoodBox portal, uses fundraising data analysis from your donations to offer insights into donor behaviours. This allows you to work out the type of supporter you should be targeting to optimise your fundraising.

At GoodBox, we are highly experienced in creating bespoke solutions for charities, nonprofits and community groups. From creating the technology powering TAP London to building custom-made contactless donation devices designed for the third sector, we are dedicated to helping connect organisations with their donors. To find out how we can help get your community fundraising idea off the ground, get in touch with our team.

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