Spark Summer Giving: Unique Summer Fundraising Ideas

Kevin D. Hendricks
Spark Summer Giving: Unique Summer Fundraising Ideas

Is your nonprofit capitalizing on summer's unique energy?

Summer offers a fresh canvas for vibrant, interactive campaigns that leverage mobile technology to enhance donor engagement and simplify giving.

Innovative mobile solutions, such as text-to-give platforms, are indispensable for summer fundraising—transforming any event into an opportunity for supporters to contribute instantly with their smartphones.

Embrace mobile's potential and explore our 25 summer fundraising ideas.

Leverage Text-to-Give Campaigns

Text-to-give campaigns harness the ubiquity of mobile devices to elevate your summer fundraising. By providing a quick, straightforward process donors can access with the mere send of a text, you heighten convenience and encourage spur-of-the-moment contributions. Guarantee success by integrating text-to-give with your summer events, whether a sun-soaked outdoor concert or a community picnic.

Adopting text-to-give tactics showcases your organization's technological forward-thinking and offers a seamless donor experience. Employ creative storytelling within your texts to captivate and motivate donors, ensuring each message carries the emotional resonance to inspire instant action.

Engage Younger Donors on Their Turf

The younger demographic lives through mobile interaction, trending social media platforms, and rapid information exchange. To attract this audience, embrace text message philanthropy. They're already on mobile devices, so meet them where they are.

  • Mobile engagement challenges captivate this cohort's competitive spirit and social nature. Incorporate gamification strategies to fuel their enthusiasm for your cause.
  • Frequent, meaningful mobile interactions can solidify their commitment to your cause, building a long-term relationship that starts with a simple text.
  • Exclusivity is a win, so share pics for volunteers only or invite them to exclusive fundraising events, such as a beach volleyball tournament or swim-a-thon. Young donors want to be active and engaged, so think beyond the stuffy charity auction or black tie fundraiser.

Real-Time Updates and Donor Acknowledgment

Real-time updates via text messaging foster a sense of immediacy and connection. Upon every donation, automated responses can thank donors and impart the impact of their generosity. This real-time acknowledgment can be particularly motivating during a summer fundraising campaign when engaging donors is crucial.

A well-crafted message carries significant weight in donor relations. Instant acknowledgment of contributions reinforces your appreciation and confirms the transaction's success, enhancing the donor's experience.

Further, personalized updates can keep donors abreast of fundraising milestones. This can create a continuous narrative, allowing contributors to feel part of an evolving, successful story they are helping to write.

Active engagement through text messaging increases transparency. Donors receive prompt notifications about how their funds are being used, maintaining a bond of trust and accountability between them and your nonprofit.

These rapid communications can also spur additional giving. Informed by a successful impact story, donors might be prompted to contribute again, becoming recurring benefactors.

Ultimately, these strategies cultivate a culture of gratitude and responsiveness. Satisfied donors are more likely to champion your cause, spreading word-of-mouth endorsements and amplifying your fundraising efforts.

Surpass Goals With Mobile Challenges

Harness the power of competition through mobile engagement challenges. You can leverage peer influence and gamification techniques to drive donations.

By setting up creative, mobile-friendly challenges, your nonprofit can encourage supporters to participate in activities that are shareable on social media, thus expanding your reach and enhancing donation potential through user-generated content and digital word-of-mouth.

Craft challenges that resonate with mobile users, entice participation, and funnel the energy of summer into your fundraising campaign’s success.

Create a Viral Summer Challenge

Engaging supporters with a mobile-centric viral challenge can skyrocket your summer fundraising efforts.

  • Design a unique, themed challenge that resonates with your audience and fits the summer vibe.
  • Incorporate shareability; ensure it’s easy for participants to spread the word via social media.
  • Encourage peer-to-peer interaction to leverage networks and foster a sense of community.
  • Utilize text-to-give options to simplify donations directly from mobile devices during the challenge.
  • Monitor real-time progress and maintain momentum through regular updates and encouragement. Use a fundraising thermometer to gauge progress and encourage competition.
  • Cultivate a sense of urgency and excitement by implementing countdowns and live leaderboards to stimulate engagement.

Foster Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

Harness the persuasive power of personal networks to fuel your cause. Peer-to-peer fundraising is highly effective, leveraging the connections and influence of your supporters.

By mobilizing your base through personalized text messaging campaigns, each participant can reach out to their individual circles. Authentic, peer-driven appeals often result in increased engagement and contributions, broadening your nonprofit's reach.

  • Summer events are ideal for peer-to-peer fundraising, whether it's outdoor competitions or vacation-themed photo challenges.
  • Consider deploying custom challenge prompts via SMS, igniting friendly competition that drives participation and amplifies fundraising.
  • Strategically schedule follow-up messages to maintain momentum and celebrate milestones. Timely updates through text keep participants informed and motivated throughout your summer campaign.

Craft a Summer Social Media Blitz

Harness the power of social media platforms with a series of coordinated social media posts that echo the messaging of your other efforts. Craft compelling content that encapsulates the urgency and relevance of your cause, prompting audiences to take action. This method builds a synchronous flow of communication, rallying supporters around a singular narrative that can substantially amplify your fundraising reach.

  1. Develop a unique and memorable hashtag: Create a catchy hashtag that encapsulates your mission and is easy to remember.
  2. Launch with influencers: Partner with key influencers to push your social media campaign to a broader audience.
  3. Encourage user-generated content: Invite your community to share their own stories and reasons for supporting your cause.
  4. Promote across channels: Utilize multiple platforms to share your message so it's seen in multiple places by the broadest audience possible.
  5. Incorporate multimedia: Use multiple mediums—written text, photos and short video clips—to enrich the storytelling and foster a stronger donor connection.
  6. Engage in real time: Encourage participation in live events or Q&As via text messaging to drive real-time engagement.
  7. Monitor and engage: Actively monitor the hashtag and engage with users to foster a sense of community and keep the momentum alive.
  8. Keep it going: Talk about the impact of contributions as they come in by sharing emotional stories that show the difference your charity makes.

Organize Mobile-Friendly Events

To engage a digital-savvy audience and capitalize on the ubiquity of smartphones, consider crafting events that attendees can participate in through their mobile devices.

  • Host a virtual race where participants can sign up, receive updates, and track their progress via text messaging.
  • Implement a scavenger hunt with clues and challenges sent out through SMS, encouraging community interaction and fostering a fun, competitive atmosphere.
  • Embrace mobile polling during events to gather instant feedback or simply to show immediate engagement.

Host Virtual Auctions or Raffles

Virtual auctions or raffles are a dynamic way to engage donors and elevate fundraising using mobile technology.

  1. Announce the event: Utilize mass text messaging to inform supporters about the virtual auction or raffle.
  2. Catalogue preview: Send a mobile-optimized catalogue of items or experiences ahead of the event to build anticipation.
  3. Bidding process: Enable SMS bidding to allow participants to place their bids conveniently via text message.
  4. Winner notifications: Automate winner announcements and instructions for claiming prizes through a streamlined text message system.
  5. Payment collection: Integrate text-to-give features for easy payment of items won, enhancing the donor's convenience.

Text-to-give platforms can simplify the collection of payments post-auction, ensuring a smooth transaction experience.

Clear communication and real-time engagement are essential, with text messaging serving as the backbone of your virtual event's success.

Facilitate Outdoor Mobile Scavenger Hunts

Engage participants actively through a mobile-enabled scavenger hunt, fusing fun with fundraising objectives. Scavenger hunts can become dynamic fundraising events with the clever integration of mobile technology. When crafted correctly, they incite excitement and generate valuable outreach.

Utilize text message prompts to guide participants to various checkpoints, ensuring interactivity and seamless event progression. These messages can provide clues, test trivia knowledge, or share information about your cause. Integrating such engagement tactics deepens the connection between your supporters and the mission, making fundraising more meaningful and effective. Through real-time updates and geo-targeted messaging, you can keep participants on track while fostering a competitive spirit.

Incentivize with prize-driven challenges, marrying entertainment with your fundraising goals. Reward participants for milestone achievements with text-delivered vouchers or discounts, which can be redeemed at local supporting businesses. This not only motivates players to complete the hunt but can further stimulate local commerce and community partnership, which is central to sustained nonprofit success.

Finally, encourage social sharing and further boost your fundraising reach. Participants can share pictures of their scavenger hunt journey, use unique hashtags, and challenge friends directly via SMS. This social proof can resonate with a wider audience, turning participation into advocacy. By creating an enjoyable and shareable experience, your nonprofit can harness the power of community and create long-lasting relationships with both participants and patrons alike.

Promote Event-Based Giving With Text Alerts

Harness the immediacy of text messaging to ignite interest in your fundraising event. With personalized alerts and event reminders sent directly to supporters' phones, your nonprofit can create a direct line of communication that is hard to ignore, increasing the likelihood of engagement and donations.

Strategically timed text messages can motivate spontaneous giving. They act as instant nudges that remind supporters to take action, whether that's to donate or volunteer with your nonprofit organization.

As events unfold, live text updates can share progress, celebrate milestones, and prompt immediate action, offering an engaging way for donors to feel connected and part of a collective endeavor. You can even engage donors who aren't able to attend your fundraiser.

25 More Summer Fundraising Ideas

Now that we've explored how to use the latest technology to engage people, let's talk summer fundraisers. Here are some additional summer fundraising ideas that can help your nonprofit organization boost donations:

Summer fundraising ideas: Icons showing 12 ideas.
  1. Virtual fun run: Organize a virtual fun run where participants can run or walk a certain distance at their own pace and location. Participants can register and collect donations online, and you can encourage them to share their progress on social media.
  2. Outdoor movie night: Host an outdoor movie night in a park or community space. Charge a small admission fee and offer concessions like popcorn and drinks. You can also partner with local businesses to sponsor the event and provide additional fundraising opportunities.
  3. Summer sports tournament: Organize a summer sports tournament, such as a soccer, basketball, or volleyball tournament. Participants can form teams and compete for a prize. Charge an entry fee for teams and spectators, and offer food and drinks for sale during the event.
  4. Lemonade stand challenge: Encourage supporters, especially children, to set up lemonade stands in their neighborhoods. Provide them with fundraising materials and resources, and ask them to donate a portion of their earnings to your cause. You can also create a friendly competition by offering prizes for the most creative lemonade stand or highest amount raised.
  5. Outdoor yoga or fitness class: Partner with local fitness instructors or yoga studios to host outdoor fitness or yoga classes. Participants can pay a fee to attend the class, and you can provide information about your organization and collect additional donations during the event.
  6. Summer picnic or BBQ: Organize a summer picnic or BBQ in a park or outdoor venue. Sell tickets for the event and offer food, drinks, and entertainment. You can also include activities like raffles or silent auctions to raise additional funds.
  7. Gardening or plant sale: Host a gardening or plant sale where you can sell potted plants, flowers, herbs, or even gardening supplies. Encourage supporters to donate plants or gardening items, and promote the sale through social media and local community groups.
  8. Beach, river, or park cleanup: Organize a cleanup event where volunteers can help clean up the environment while raising funds for your cause. You can partner with local environmental organizations or businesses to sponsor the event and provide supplies.
  9. Outdoor concert or music festival: Organize an outdoor concert or music festival featuring local bands or musicians. Sell tickets to the event and offer food, drinks, and merchandise for sale. You can also partner with local businesses to sponsor the event and provide additional fundraising opportunities.
  10. Community garage sale: Coordinate a community-wide garage sale where individuals and families can sell their unwanted items. Charge a small fee for participants to set up a booth or table, and promote the event to attract shoppers. You can also offer a donation option for those who want to support your cause without selling items.
  11. Water balloon fight: Host a water balloon fight event in a park or outdoor space. Participants can pay an entry fee to join the fun and cool off during the summer heat. Provide water balloons and a designated area for the fight, and consider offering prizes for the last person standing or the most balloons popped. You could also help cleanup afterward by offering prizes for whoever picks up the most balloon pieces.
  12. Ice cream social: Arrange an ice cream social event where attendees can enjoy a variety of ice cream flavors and toppings. Charge an admission fee or sell tickets for a certain number of scoops. You can also offer additional fundraising opportunities by selling homemade baked goods or organizing raffles.
  13. Outdoor art exhibition: Showcase local artists' work in an outdoor art exhibition. Sell the artwork to benefit your organization. You can also collaborate with artists to donate a portion of their sales to your organization.
  14. Pool party or water park day: Partner with a local pool or water park to host a fundraising pool party or water park day. Sell tickets for entry and provide exclusive access to the facilities—or make it free to everyone as a community day. You can also offer additional activities like water games or contests to engage attendees and raise more funds.
  15. Summer camp or workshop: Organize a summer camp or workshop related to your cause or mission. Participants can pay a fee to attend and learn new skills or engage in activities. Offer different sessions or themes to cater to various interests and age groups.
  16. Outdoor adventure challenge: Create an outdoor adventure challenge event where participants compete in various physical or mental challenges. Charge an entry fee and offer prizes for the winners. You can also encourage participants to fundraise individually or as teams to support your cause.
  17. Sidewalk chalk party: Create an accessible art experience with a sidewalk chalk party. Tape off sections of sidewalk with geometric patterns to encourage people to fill in the shapes and create colorful works of art. You could also bring in an experienced chalk artist to kick things off and inspire more chalk art.
  18. Summer cookbook: Compile a summer-themed cookbook featuring recipes from your organization's supporters, volunteers, or local chefs. Sell the cookbook online or at community events, with proceeds going toward your fundraising goals.
  19. Summer carnival: Organize a summer carnival with games, rides, and food stalls. Sell tickets for entry and offer a variety of activities for all ages. You can also include a raffle or silent auction to raise additional funds.
  20. Pet parade: Arrange a pet parade event where participants showcase their pets in creative costumes or themed outfits. Charge a registration fee for participants and/or invite spectators to donate. Offer prizes for the best-dressed pets or most unique pet talents.
  21. Car wash: Organize a car wash event where volunteers can wash cars for a donation. Choose a high-traffic location and promote the event in advance to attract customers. Offer additional services like interior cleaning or detailing for an extra fee. Or go a different direction and make it a bike wash or a pet wash so you stand out from every high school team that offers a charity car wash.
  22. Fairy doors: Start a fairy door movement in your community. Partner with your city to install simple fairy doors in public places where kids can discover them. It's a way to ignite wonder and imagination for people of all ages. Create a map so people can find all the doors, encourage people to take photos and share, and help people make and install their own fairy door.
  23. Summer photo contest: Launch a summer-themed photo contest where participants can submit their best summer snapshots. Encourage participants to share their photos on social media. Select winners based on creativity or adherence to a specific theme, and offer prizes or recognition. Auction off the best photos to raise money for your cause.
  24. Summer fashion show: Organize a summer fashion show featuring local designers or boutiques. Sell tickets for attendees to enjoy the runway show and showcase the latest summer trends or make it free for everyone with donations accepted. You can also offer a pop-up shop where guests can purchase clothing and accessories, with a percentage of sales benefiting your organization.
  25. Outdoor DIY workshop: Host an outdoor do-it-yourself (DIY) workshop where participants can learn a new skill or create a summer-themed craft. Take donations, auction off the finished products, or sell DIY kits to bring in funds.

Whatever summer fundraising idea you employ, remember to promote your summer fundraisers through all your channels—especially text messaging to maximize participation. Remember to tailor these ideas to fit your organization's mission and target audience.

Rally Can Help With Summer Fundraising

At Rally, our mission is to mobilize people. Summer is a great time to get outside and connect with people. We can help you figure out to build relationships and turn that into support for your nonprofit organization:

  • Text-to-give platform: Mobile fundraising is easy with our fundraising tools. People can text a custom keyword to a short code and get a quick link to your donation form. It uses your existing donation platform, so it’s streamlined and user-friendly. They can use a credit card right on their mobile device through your online donation page.
  • Giving tools: We offer integration with multiple fundraising platforms and customer relationship management (CRM) systems, plus other integrations, and fundraising tools including ringless voicemail, a fundraising thermometer, and Rally Insights to supercharge your donor data.
  • Solid support: Our functionality is simple and easy to use, but if you ever need help we’re here. We’ve got FAQs, pre-written text message templates, webinars, office hours, and more. Plus, we’re happy to get on the phone. Just check out our case studies and see how our nonprofit customers rave about our customer service.

Book a demo today and let’s talk about getting results from summer fundraising.

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