Crowdfunding for humanitarian causes exists, first and foremost, to help relieve the suffering of those going through hardship. Whether it’s for a friend who was recently diagnosed with a life-changing illness or a nonprofit looking to combat climate change, the possibilities for uplifting your community are endless. And while you undoubtedly started your fundraiser with selfless intentions, sometimes communicating the potential rewards of giving will encourage sympathizers to donate.
- Charitable giving is associated with “lower blood pressure, increased self-esteem, less depression, lower stress levels and a longer life,” according to the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Team. That’s a hefty reward for a simple act of compassion.
- Not only does giving make you healthier, but it also makes you happier! Steven Taylor, Ph.D, wrote an article for Psychology Today that outlines the neurological effects of giving back, which include higher rates of long-term happiness as well as the immediate release of endorphins known as a “helper’s high.”
- But tangible awards also incentivize donors. In May 2011, KQED—San Francisco’s public radio station—offered a special perk to donors who gave $55 dollars or more: access to a live, private online radio stream that cut out all breaks for promotions or pledge drives. Their reward paid off; total online donations rose 10 percent, and they’ve raised $270,000 per year since the program began.
These statistics demonstrate both the material and emotional benefits of giving. While some supporters might be motivated by concrete perks, others simply love the way compassionate acts feel (or would like both). In these contexts, you, the organizer can take things into your own hands. Effectively communicating the benefits of giving to your audience may lead to an increase in donations, as well as encourage supporters to embrace giving in general.
Five Emotionally Rewarding Fundraising Ideas
All humanitarian fundraisers provide the organizer with the inherent emotional reward of giving back to a community and helping someone in need. However, sometimes you can maximize that feeling of contentedness through specific measures.
- Focus on the health benefits of donating
The study cited above from the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Team is but one in a sea of academic findings that underscores the positive effect of practiced generosity on one’s overall well-being. Sharing specific facts and statistics via social media may encourage potential donors to take the plunge, so cite a source you trust and consider including an informative link such as this one from Berkeley, Calif.’s Greater Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life. In addition to helping your campaign, advocating for compassionate behavior in general can only end up doing good.
- Hold a community event that welcomes all age groups
A capture the flag, a cook-off, a barbecue or team games like flag football could provide an opportunity for you to grow closer to your community throughout the fundraising process and encourage people to donate to your cause. Active, outdoor events allow people to connect with other families as a group and potentially make life-long friends. Activities that engage people socially provide an active, outdoor experience that provides a holistic emotional reward. They improve one’s welfare overall.
- Hold a fundraiser centering on recycling
Consider going door-to-door offering to recycle e-waste (electronics) in exchange for online donations. Or pick up some used items or packaging, refashion it, and sell it online via donations to your campaign. Perhaps hold a contest in which people try to make art out of their own recycling and auction it off to benefit your campaign. Not only are you reducing waste, but it also provides an opportunity for you and your supporters to get creative. These fundraising ideas are especially suited for campaigns that benefit an environmental group.
- Stand up for friends and loved ones
When people witness first-hand a person struggling through a dark time, their first priority is often to offer help or comfort. But when that requires money the organizer doesn’t have, launching a fundraiser can give them a chance to help out. Crowdfunding allows you to uplift loved ones not only by meeting their financial needs, but also by providing a platform through which the recipient can see how many people care for and were moved to action on their behalf.
- Respect people’s boundaries
It’s important to acknowledge that many people have certain practices and traditions in place that dictate how and when they give. For example, some people prefer to give anonymously, whether to avoid solicitations from other organizations, to protect their privacy, or out of a deeply felt religious or moral conviction. While others view attention and recognition as the reward for doing something good, one must respect donors who do not share that attitude. If you receive a large contribution anonymously, develop a plan to thank your supporter and honor their commitment to privacy, while also drawing attention to the gift itself in an effort to inspire other supporters.
Five Concrete Ways to Make Donors Feel Rewarded
While giving itself is richly rewarding, in addition to the opportunities to make friends, strengthen a community, or help a loved one, these emotional benefits are generally felt on a more personal level and are recognized after the fact. Sometimes you may want to encourage your supporters to donate by offering more concrete perks. Here are a few ideas for possible incentives.
- Enlist the help of local businesses
Ask if they are willing to donate small prizes to your fundraising effort, such as gift cards, free services or products for a raffle. You might consider continuing this on a monthly or weekly basis during the duration of your campaign. People donate, ask for a raffle number, and if they win, put a spotlight on the business that subsidized their prize. You receive donations for your cause, the donor gets a prize, and the business gets publicity! All parties are rewarded.
- Hold a fashion show
If you have any creative, sartorial-minded friends, ask if they’d be willing to create an outfit of their own design. Or ask local businesses to provide clothes for your shows. They get publicity, your friends or volunteers get to feel like models, and you put on a fun event to raise awareness for your campaign. You can consider asking shop owners to contribute to your campaign in exchange for the advertising opportunity.
- Socialize via a fun offline event
Hold an open mic night, a karaoke event or a dance with a theme that complements your crowdfunding campaign. Or consider hosting a dance class where guests can learn a more obscure form, such as line dancing. Gaining a skill and getting the chance to run into friends and acquaintances is a reward for which many people would be willing to contribute. Bring people together for a fun time, and get to know the people who care about your cause.
- Leverage locally famous people
Find an influential member of your community to act as a mouthpiece on your behalf and offer to contribute their time to a winning donor as an incentive. People with influential social media accounts can multiply your funds just by getting the word out. Seek out a local celebrity who may be willing to advocate for your campaign. You can hold a promotion in which donors’ names are submitted into a lottery, and the winner gets to have lunch or dinner with your VIP.
- Make small gifts or personal notes of gratitude
With hundreds or even thousands of people contributing to your crowdfunding campaign, it’s impossible to thank every supporter individually. That being said, demonstrating your gratitude overall by acknowledging a few individuals can send a message to those who view your site that you appreciate the generosity of your supporters. Perhaps make some candles or treats and give them to those who live nearby. Write thank you notes to supporters who were active in sharing your campaign on social media, especially if they didn’t even know you personally. Acknowledge all of your contributors publicly and sincerely for their gift. One of the simplest rewards for giving is knowing that the recipient appreciated your kindness. Make sure your supporters and potential supporters know that you are a grateful recipient!
Online fundraising is an amazing resource for those looking to do good on a grand scale. It allows you to engage with generous people all over the world and create meaningful change for those in need. Ultimately, crowdfunding for humanitarian causes is all about improving people’s lives. The various “rewards” we profiled above just demonstrate how many more people benefit from a campaign than the recipient alone.