With back-to-school quickly approaching and many nonprofits gearing up for the holidays, you’re going to need some unique fall fundraising ideas to set you apart from the crowd. Get your creative juices flowing with 10 fall fundraising ideas you (probably) haven't thought of yet through our free Givebutter webinar.
This webinar recording includes:
🍂 Top tips for fall fundraising to help you start planning now
🎃 10 inspiring fall fundraising ideas from nonprofit fundraising success stories
👀 How you can use Givebutter to raise more this fall
📣 Common nonprofit questions answered
You'll walk away from this webinar recording READY to start your fall fundraising planning. Don't have time to watch the full recording? No problem! Keep reading to get an overview of everything we chatted about, including how to create your fall fundraising campaign game plan and 10 fall fundraising theme ideas from successful campaign examples.
Get ready for fall fundraising with this free Givebutter webinar
📝 Note: Givebutter hosted this webinar on August 18, 2021 before announcing the biggest update in Givebutter history. On September 1, 2021, Givebutter launched the world's first completely free, end-to-end fundraising platform. Custom branding on everything, our very own nonprofit CRM, the ability to send targeted messages to supporters, and a lot more—all free, forever. Sign up for your free account today to start exploring Givebutter ->
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How to create your fall fundraising game plan
Follow these 10 steps to create your ultimate fall fundraising game plan, including what you should do before, during, and after launching your fall fundraiser.
1. Evaluate last year’s fundraising ✅
Before you begin planning your fall fundraiser, reflect on how you raised funds last autumn. Ask yourself:
- What worked?
- What didn't?
Looking back at past years' successes (and mistakes) will inform the strategy you come up with for this year.
2. Establish your fundraising goals 🎯
Based on last year’s fall events, set a SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound) goal for this year. There are several different types of goals you can set for your fall fundraiser, including:
- Raise $$ in total
- Gain ## new supporters
- Recruit ## of team fundraisers
- Reach ##% of staff and Board participation
Choose a goal (or goals) that align with and help fulfill your nonprofit's mission.
3. Brainstorm creative ideas 🧠
Gather your team and get those creative juices flowing in a fall fundraising brainstorming session. Don't be afraid to think outside the box. Invite input from other key stakeholders like VIP volunteers, major donors, or board members. Look at what other nonprofit’s are doing for inspiration, but always consider themes and formats that best compliment your mission and target audience.
Not sure where to start? Check out 13 fall festival ideas all ages will love and 17 free fundraising ideas anyone can use. Keep reading for 10 more fall fundraising ideas and example of real nonprofits that nailed it.
4. Choose a fundraising platform 💻
The fundraising platform you choose can make or break your fall fundraiser. Here are some important things to consider when selecting a fundraising platform:
- Pricing and budget: Look at your fundraising budget for the year and how much you expect to raise from your fall fundraiser. Select a platform that suits your organization's needs without breaking the bank.
- Must-have features: Choose a fundraising platform that has all the features you'd expect (e.g., ability to accept multiple payment methods and customizable fundraising pages) and specific features you'll need to make your fall fundraiser a success (e.g., option to livestream your event or multi-team fundraising).
- Ease of use: Some fundraising platforms are more complicated to use or take longer to set up. Others charge extra for access to their customer support team. The level of support and resources you'll need when setting up your fall fundraiser could be the deciding factor between one fundraising platform over the other.
- Optimal donor experience: You'll want a fundraising platform that is not only easy to set up and manage, but one that donors will actually enjoy using. Especially if you are running a peer-to-peer or team fundraising campaign, make sure donors will be able to fundraise on behalf of your organization and easily share your campaign with their networks with little to no training.
Of course, we recommend Givebutter! With Givebutter, you can raise funds with modern donation forms and fundraising pages, host in-person, virtual, and hybrid events, track donor data, and engage supporters via text, email, and video—all in one place and all completely free. Sign up for your free account and see why millions of changemakers are using Givebutter's 160+ fundraising features to propel their missions forward.
5. Create your fundraising plan 📣
Write out your fall fundraising plan from start to finish. Make sure this plan covers all of the ways you hope to raise funds and engage supporters this fall, including:
- Complete fundraiser timeline
- Practical action items for each team member
- Scheduled team meetings
- Fundraiser themes and stories you want to highlight
- How you'll source and share visual storytelling elements like images and videos
- The final call-to-action for donors
6. Prepare for campaign launch 🍽
Decide whether you need to set up a new donation form, create a new fundraising page, or update an existing page from a previous fundraiser. Follow this campaign launch checklist to make sure every thing is ready to go before you kick off your fall fundraiser:
✔ Update website and fundraising page
✔ Spruce up your social media accounts
✔ Have a few emails written and ready
✔ Set up mobile donations and social sharing
7. Launch your campaign 🚀
You've set your goals, made a fundraising plan, and chosen how you're going to fundraise. Now, it's time to get the party started! Whether you're launching a month-long crowdfunding campaign or hosting a one-night-only virtual gala, make sure you are:
- Sharing one consistent message
- Keeping your ask simple and specific
- Engaging with donors consistently via email, text, social media, etc.
8. Build campaign momentum ⚡️
Now that you've launched your fall fundraiser, your main priority is to stay connected with your supporters to keep the generosity going. Here are some ways you can spark engagement throughout your fall fundraiser:
- Offer a matching gift: "Thanks to our generous sponsor, every donation made before [date] will be matched. Double your impact today!"
- Share campaign updates: "We're halfway to our goal! Keep it up!"
- Creative challenges: "Share this fundraiser with 10 friends to receive a swag pack!"
9. Follow-up with supporters and sponsors 💛
Your work isn't done once your fall fundraising event is over. Follow up with supporters, sponsors, volunteers, and anyone else who made your fundraiser possible to show your appreciation. There are several ways you can follow up with supporters, including:
- Automated, customizable receipts
- Personal, handwritten thank-you notes
- ThankView thank-you videos
- Social media and email shout outs
10. Review campaign success 👀
Export all of the donor data you gained from your fall fundraiser to see how you met campaign goals, and take note of what you might do differently next year. Don't forget to celebrate with your team and supporter base for the success of your fall fundraiser—you've earned it!
10 fall fundraising ideas and examples
Discover creative fall fundraising ideas and themes from real, successful nonprofits. We'll go over what each idea is, how they pulled it off, and how you can implement it for your fall fundraiser. All of these campaigns can be modified to fit your organization and supporter base. As you explore this list, think about what aligns most with your mission and would excite your unique donors.
1. Mobilize volunteers 💪
The problem: Sprout Social needed a way to seamlessly raise funds with 100+ team members for its annual fall volunteer week.
The solution: Create a campaign for each team that are all hosted on one page through Givebutter.
How you can make it your own: Take a look at your existing network of team members and volunteers. These are the people who are already the most engaged with your organization. What are some ways you can group them and get them excited to participate in your fall fundraiser, while fostering friendly competition along the way? Offer prizes, awards, or a matching gift opportunity for the teams that raise the most funds or put in the most volunteer hours.
“Whether you're volunteering as a team in the middle of the workday, or on your own with an organization that you care about, we wanted to make sure to make it easy to accomplish for our team.”
Read Sprout Social's full case study →
2. Host a fun run 👟
The problem: The STARability Foundation needed an easy-to-use tool to pull off its first fall fun run.
The solution: A team fundraising page with a simple layout and that was easy for team members and supporters to use.
How you can make it your own: Host a fall fun run, walk, or any other endurance event. You can host this event in person, remotely, or in a hybrid format. Extend your campaign end date, so there's more time for people to participate and share it with their networks. Regardless of how or where you're hosting it, we recommend setting up a fundraising page as the central hub for your fall fundraiser to highlight sponsors and share more about your mission.
“Just think like a donor. What do you want to know to be able to support the cause that's near and dear to you? Keep it simple; keep it as simple as you possibly can so that they can make their gift and feel good.”
Read STARability Foundation's full case study →
3. Invite supporters to a virtual gala 🎥
The problem: Goodwill Industries of the Valley’s needed to find a fundraising tool to livestream its annual fall gala.
The solution: A pre-recorded video was livestreamed to their Givebutter fundraising page.
How you can make it your own: Save money by taking your traditional fall fundraising event online. A virtual event can help you save money (you're not paying for things like a venue or meals) and raise more by broadening your reach. People can attend it live or check out the recording in their own time. If you're nervous about hosting a live virtual event, you can follow STARability Foundation's example instead. Create a pre-recorded event and stream it live. This way you can focus on engaging supporters in real time.
“This in-person event usually costs us around $8,000 and this year it was so minimal. It was also shocking to me that we only had 5 people who did not pay the fee. So 95% of our donors paid the processing fee!”
Read Goodwill Industries of the Valleys' full case study →
4. Launch a multi-week crowdfunding campaign 🗓
The problem: Mia’s Miracles Foundation needed a fundraising page that let their inspiring, personal story shine.
The solution: An image-rich fundraising page on Givebutter to easily collect donations.
How you can make it your own: Take your fall fundraiser beyond one day (or even one week) of fundraising. Instead, build campaign momentum by fundraising all fall long. A multi-week crowdfunding campaign will give you more time to share your story and supporters more time to share it with their networks. With this type of campaign, it's especially important to keep supporters engaged via emails, event reminders, campaign updates, and text messages.
“Crowdfunding was a really big part of this, obviously, which Givebutter does extremely well. On top of that, we were able to leverage the different platforms, so they could post to Facebook.”
Read Mia's Miracles Foundation's full case study →
5. Finish strong with a year-end fundraiser 🚀
The problem: The Peconic Community School needed to raise year-end funds in an unprecedented year.
The solution: A fundraising page on Givebutter to tell its heartfelt story and rally its community of support online.
How you can make it your own: Make the most of holiday giving by using your fall fundraiser to kick off your year-end campaign. Don't hold back on telling your organization's story and impact, including compelling copy, images, and videos. Use Giving Tuesday and the holidays as opportunities to share how close your are to reaching your fundraising goals and more ways for donors to get involved.
Check out Peconic Community School's campaign →
6. Foster friendly competition through peer-to-peer fundraising 👏
The problem: The GWC Brown Legacy Education Fund needed to quickly pivot its typical 300+ in-person, black-tie scholarship gala online.
The solution: Instead of a livestream or hybrid event, they quickly created a simple team fundraising page on Givebutter to cover student scholarships.
How you can make it your own: If you're excited to host a fall fundraiser, but don't have a lot of time to plan the logistics of an event, set up a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign instead. Peer-to-peer fundraisers can be rockstar individuals (like board members) or team fundraisers. The beauty of peer-to-peer fundraising is that supporters are reaching out to their networks and fundraising on behalf of your organization. Empower fundraisers with the tools they need to raise more for your mission, like one-click social sharing, the ability to create personalized pages, suggested copy or images, and a goal to encourage participation (e.g., reach out to 20 people or raise $1,000).
“Make sure you have a good message on the front of your page, and a nice, simple design so that when people look it's not confusing.”
Read GWC Brown Legacy Education Fund's full case study →
7. Broadcast your event 🎬
The problem: Children of Armenia Fund needed to turn its glamorous annual in-person holiday-themed gala into an emergency-relief telethon.
The solution: Partner with Givebutter to raise funds in real time while airing a televised telethon with pre-recorded segments from celebrities.
How you can make it your own: Broadcast your fall fundraiser. Even if it can't be televised, you can livestream it on a platform that's popular among your donors—YouTube, Zoom, Facebook, or right on your fundraising page. Have team members engage with attendees though a live chat or your supporter feed, highlight special guest and sponsors, call out donations in real time, invite people from your organization (or the community you support) to speak at your event. You can make production as complex or simple as you'd like. Consider outsourcing production or using free online tools to make it easier on your team.
“Choose your technology wisely...when it comes down to it, you need something that is reliable and something that is easy and as frictionless as possible.”
Read Children of Armenia Fund's full case study →
8. Put on a performance 🎭
The problem: Due to COVID restrictions, Studio Tenn Theater Company had to cancel all in-person shows.
The solution: Virtual variety shows, happy hours, summer scholarships, talk shows, and matching gift campaigns to make up for losses on Givebutter.
How you can make it your own: Raise money this fall by putting on a show, performance, or concert. This fundraising idea is especially great for arts organizations, but anyone can do it. You can also invite artists you know your supporters will love, or invite donors to sign up for a talent show. Offer different ticket packages (with different perks and price points) for attendees to choose from. Give additional opportunities to donate during checkout and throughout the performance.
“I look back at things that we did 20-or-so weeks ago and think, “That didn't look right,” or “That didn't come off real well.” Just be willing to jump out there and take the idea, run with it, and build excitement around it.”
Read Studio Tenn Theater Company's full case study →
9. Challenge supporters 📱
The problem: The 3 Dollar Challenge wanted to quickly raise funds for The Reflect Organization for the first time.
The solution: These two organizations partnered together to double their impact and challenged social media followers to give $3 on a Givebutter campaign page.
How you can make it your own: Make your fall fundraiser go viral by coming up with a social challenge for your supporters. Donors complete the challenge, donate to your fundraiser, and then challenge their networks to do the same. This fall fundraising idea is a triple win because it allows you to raise important funds, build social proof, and increase awareness of you organization. Keep the momentum going by liking, commenting, and sharing posts your tagged in.
“I really think that the driving force of the 3 Dollar Challenge is the belief that every single donation does make a difference.”
Read 3 Dollar Challenge and The Reflect Organization's full case study →
10. Make it a hybrid event 🍿
The problem: The PLACE needed to substitute its annual fall gala with a social-distanced outdoor event.
The solution: An experiential fundraiser where “sleepers” spent a night out on the street to raise awareness and funds on Givebutter.
How you can make it your own: Already planning an in-person event? Make it a hybrid event to take your fall fundraiser to new heights. There are a few different ways you can transform your fundraiser into a hybrid event. You can simply livestream your in-person event. Or, you can have multiple locations (including online) that you can broadcast from. You can also make it a primarily virtual event, but include in-person goodies that attendees can pick up or have shipped to them beforehand to enjoy during the broadcast. The key to a successful hybrid event is to give people a few different options, so they can participate in a way that works best for them.
“Our experience was engaging. That's really important when you work with donors. It was also really easy for the team to get it up and running. Givebutter a very friendly platform to use as an organization.”
Read The PLACE's full case study →
Maximize your fall fundraising efforts with Givebutter
With fall fundraising ideas like team fundraising, social challenges, and hybrid events, there's no limit to how many people you can reach this autumn. All it takes to make your fall fundraiser a huge success is a little planning, an understanding of what would excite your donors, and fundraising tools that make giving easy. Sign up for your free Givebutter account to get instant access to 160+ fundraising features that will help you raise crucial funds, meaningfully engage supporters, and keep track of important donor data.
Rachel is a fundraising and marketing consultant for nonprofits whose aspiration since she was 16-years-old is simply this: help others, help others.