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  • Writer's pictureCAFE

7 creative fundraising ideas in a world of social distancing

If you’ve seen it once, you’ve seen it a thousand times: we’re facing a new norm and everyone: businesses, individuals and organizations need to adapt. For some, it’s easy to pivot and shift revenue streams, but for others, not so much.

Most non-profits have careful financial policies in place that help them weather the rainy day, thankfully. However, as the pandemic continues and with an uncertain future (fingers crossed we can have programming this year!), more non-profits are looking to creative fundraising ideas. Here are seven that we’ve seen across North America that have been implemented successfully:

1. Online Auction

Reach out to local businesses, friends and colleagues to see if they’d be willing to donate an item for an online auction that can be hosted on a specific auction site or simply Facebook. Anything from a dozen cookies to a load of gravel can be donated and adds to the fun. A few key things to consider are: clarify pick-up/shipping at the top of the page so people aren’t wondering and so you don’t get stuck shipping a load of gravel to Germany and make sure to promote the auction as much as possible (email, social media, signs in town, local paper, etc.)

2. Online Gaming

Online gaming fundraisers have really taken off in the past year and are easy to set up as long as you make sure you have the right licenses. It could be a 50/50 raffle or Catch the Ace. All these games are fun and rewarding for participants.

3. Drive-thru programs

It could be a drive-thru educational display, drive-in movie, drive-thru Christmas light show (look at Red River Ex’s light show or the PNE’s drive-thru fair). Anything you might have done in the past, can it be converted? Make sure to consult with local health authorities to make sure you can get the green light in running it.

4. Golden ticket fundraiser

How many people say they’ve gone to the fair every single year since they were born? That’s expensive! Entice them to buy a golden lifetime ticket to the fair (non-transferrable) like the Big E in the States did. Consider adding value that you will be able to manage such as VIP experiences, skip the line, or a free food item every year. Your price point should be in line with your admission and the cost of the “added value” components. If you’re worried about losing money down the road, think of it this way: yes, they get free admission, but when they come in they’re still going to spend money at games, activities and for food and beverages. You’re guaranteeing customers through the door, so it’s an investment.

5. Sell merchandise

We know people are proud and passionate of their local fair or agricultural society. Have them show their pride by offering t-shirts, sweaters, hats, gloves, you name it! You can order limited quantities (and support a local business) or develop a partnership to secure a preferred rate on-demand. Get creative: rather than just putting your logo on the gear, how about a common truth related to the fair like, “You can find me in the refreshment tent.” Or develop a limited edition logo or hashtag.

6. Local gift boxes

Before Christmas, Expo Bedford in Quebec launched a fundraiser by collecting entirely local products and creating customized boxes that could be gifted or as a special treat for yourself. Not only were they supporting and promoting local businesses, but they were making it easier to buy local and were able to raise some money. What’s the next big holiday that you could do this for?

7. Car rally

The adult version of a scavenger hunt is a car rally. Get people in the same bubble to hop in a car and drive around town searching for clues to a list of pre-populated items, like the Pontiac Agricultural Society did. Take a picture in front of the town sign, find the dancing bear, etc. Admission price is on a per car basis and the car that completes the most tasks on the list within a given time gets a prize. People want to get out and do something, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who has just “gone for a drive” in this world of lockdowns, make the drive a bit more fun! (Make sure to keep it safe, too!)

8. BONUS: Donation page

This one is an easy one to set up. Do you have a donation page on your website? If not, put one up today and make sure it’s easy to use with online payments. More people are looking to give and support local organizations and they want to do it with the click of a button. You can use sites like CanadaHelps or set up payment with Stripe or PayPal. Even one $10 donation is more than what you had before.

Do you have any great fundraising ideas you’d like to share? Post them here!

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