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How to recruit and inspire birthday fundraisers for your cause

Many people want to use their special day for good and do a fundraiser in lieu of gifts. Here’s how to set up your birthday fundraisers for a successful campaign.

Rachel Mills
March 18, 2021
Nerd Mr Butter

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When you work for a nonprofit organization, you know the importance of making the ask. You’ve got to come up with an interesting campaign, craft the perfect donation request, and then motivate your audience to take action. But with birthday fundraising, it’s your supporters who make the ask!

Birthday fundraisers turn their big day into big donations for causes that are close to their heart, while allowing the nonprofits they support to focus on other opportunities. It’s a win-win scenario, but first you’ll need to recruit supporters and train them to become tip-top temporary fundraisers.

Get ready to celebrate — this article is packed with best practices and resources that will help you do just that.

How to get your supporters to donate their birthdays

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The birthday fundraising trend really gained steam when Facebook unveiled its own fundraising tools (although Facebook fundraising comes with its own downsides). Some of your supporters might have social media newsfeeds and timelines bursting with birthday gift donation requests. Others may be unaware, unclear on how it works, or intimidated by the thought of asking for donations on very visible platforms.

Below, we’ve put together a list of ideas you can use to reach a variety of audiences and get people interested in participating on their special day.

1. Highlight your “donate a birthday” option ✅

Your first step is to let your supporters know that you offer a birthday fundraising option. One of the best places to start? Your organization’s website! Add a “Donate a birthday” to the list of giving methods to your homepage. That way, supporters can learn more and get to the sign-up process in a few clicks. Include simple instructions on how to launch, whether they’re using a peer-to-peer fundraising (P2P) platform or Facebook.

We also recommend providing a birthday fundraiser resource toolkit where your supporters can get fundraising tips and download materials to use on their personal fundraising page. This might include:

Email and social media announcements are another effective way to spread the word. It could be as simple as a “Donate your birthday!” post with a blurb about how to get started.

2. Target your most passionate supporters 💌

If you’re launching a birthday fundraising option for the first time, start with your loyal supporters.

These are the champions for your cause — the ones who donate or volunteer regularly, show up for events, and actively promote your cause.

Need a little help? Go mining in your donor management software or fundraising platform. You can pull a report with your top fundraisers and create a tailored marketing campaign just for this group (or start with a handful). Make your ask and provide them with any support or incentives they need. They’ll quickly get the ball rolling on your program.

3. Use social proof to attract fundraisers 👀

Birthday fundraising campaigns are particularly powerful because they take advantage of social proof.

Social proof is the idea that when people see others being generous and talking passionately about a cause, they’ll be inspired to donate too.

You can harness this “power” by featuring stories and testimonials from successful fundraisers on your registration page. For instance, you could talk about someone like JK Kim, a birthday month fundraiser who raised nearly $3,000 for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Another tip? Shout out numbers that show the size of your passionate community. charity:water did this on their registration page, where they keep a count of the birthday fundraisers they’ve had over the years.

4. Suggest realistic fundraising goals 💰

Fundraisers with unattainable goals will be stressed or discouraged before the campaign’s started. So, help them estimate a realistic dollar amount. One way to do this is to figure out how much your average donor gives and about how many contacts each supporter might have.

For instance, let’s say each of your fundraisers will get at least 5 donations, and your average first-time donation is $20. You could encourage them to raise $100, $150, or $200.

Here’s another pro tip: Explain the impact of each fundraising level. On your page, you might say, “$100 allows us to supply 50 books for young children.” That gives everyone a tangible outcome to work toward.

5. Make it a challenge ⏰

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While people may not be tuned in with your cause, they do hear about social media challenges. Who hasn’t seen at least one ALS Ice Bucket Challenge video or TikTok challenge? Create some friendly competition — and get more people participating — by adding a fun, challenging element to your birthday fundraiser.

Many nonprofits have donors compete for donation matches, extra funds, impressive titles, and merchandise. For instance, the most successful January birthday fundraiser gets a prize. Your P2P platform may also include tools to up the thrill factor, like fundraising leaderboards.

6. Get an influencer to lead the call 🙋

Would you be more likely to give to a cause if your favorite celebrity did? What about John Krasinski (Jim Halpert from “The Office”)? In 2019, John used his Twitter profile, with over 2.2 million followers, to “demand” birthday gifts on his 40th birthday. He asked fans to send their gifts to Family Reach, a nonprofit providing financial aid to families fighting cancer.

You don’t need to get a TV star on the phone (but if you can, that’s great)! Look around your community for influential or connected individuals. You could call on local personalities, experts, businesspeople, or singers — anyone who’s got an engaged digital audience. Have them donate their birthday to your cause and encourage their followers to give. On your end, come up with messages, images, facts, and links you want them to share all day long.

7. Recommend birthday fundraising ideas 🎉

There’s an important reason you encourage your fundraisers to jazz things up. Many people balk at the idea of directly asking their friends, co-workers, and relatives for money, even if it’s for a good cause.

But what doesn’t feel so strange is pledging to run one mile for every $10 donation, or bake one pie for every $35 donation. Help your birthday fundraisers feel comfortable — and get excited — by suggesting interesting fundraising events and activities. Here are some of our favorites:

For example, they could sell tickets to a movie night, or invite guests to a celebratory birthday party once they hit their goal.

At Givebutter, we see how successful over 15,000 organizations and individuals are raising money every day. Keep reading at the Butter Blog for more inspiration!

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