Fall is the perfect time to host community-centric events. The weather turns colder, the leaves change colors from the bright greens of summer to the deeper reds and yellows of autumn, and your supporters bust out their coziest sweaters.
So many delightful fundraising ideas are possible with the arrival of fall—harvest festivals, pumpkin carving, fall-themed events—and your nonprofit probably already has some picked out for your autumn calendar.
But what if you used donor data already stored in your CRM to make your events more successful and help your nonprofit achieve its fundraising goals faster?
So what kind of donor data can you use to make your fall fundraising more effective? We recommend using data such as:
- Local business connections.
- Hobbies and passions.
- Age range and marital status.
- Familial connections.
- Corporate philanthropy eligibility.
Read on to learn more about how to use the data in your donor management software for more successful fundraising efforts, as well as our favorite fall fundraising ideas. Let’s get started!
1. Local business connections.
When getting to know your community supporters, knowing where they work or if they own a business is an important piece of information to obtain.
Where someone works can say a lot about them! It could indicate where their passions lie, or what their skills are. Either way, it’s a connection to the community that you can use as a way to strengthen your fall fundraising events!
If any of your donors work for the municipal government, or any local business including retail shops, restaurants, coffee houses, or bookshops, you can ask them to support your next fundraising effort.
Fall Fundraising Ideas:
If a lot of your supporters own businesses in the community, talk with them about becoming a corporate sponsor for a harvest dinner, festival, or other similar event! Get these local businesses involved as a sponsor for your fall fundraising by trying any of these easy strategies:
- Ask local restaurants to donate some favorite dishes in a big potluck-style dinner, and charge attendees for a donation.
- Ask a community center or parks department to donate open space or a big hall to host an event in. Outside fall events are wonderful!
- Hold a fall festival in a park, and ask coffee shops to donate some jugs of hot apple cider, hot chocolate, or other thematically appropriate drinks or snacks.
For ease of donating, especially at outdoor events, set up your nonprofit for success by using an online giving platform to collect donations easily from smartphones, or allow people to donate at home before the event starts.
2. Hobbies and passions.
The key to building a relationship between your donors and your nonprofit is to emphasize that they’re not just a business transaction to your organization—they’re a valued part of your nonprofit’s family.
That’s why you should be tracking your donors’ hobbies, passions, and personal projects in your CRM. Knowing these things about someone will help you understand why they donate when they donate, as well as give you a more well-rounded understanding of them.
How many of your donors are avid walkers, runners, or bikers? Are any of them involved in community theatre, or their amateur artists amongst your ranks?
If you know your supporters’ passions, you can better hold events that will inspire them to both attend and give.
Fall Fundraising Ideas:
If you have enough data on your supporters’ hobbies to host a widely popular event, consider some of these fun ideas:
- Run a Turkey Trot the morning of Thanksgiving, if your supporters are active. Brush up on your peer-to-peer fundraising skills beforehand with this guide from DonorSearch if you want to help build anticipation and maximize the fundraising impact of your fun run.
- Ask your local or regional theatre to donate the profits from one of their performances during the fall to your nonprofit, or ask if your organization could sponsor a performance ask audience members to give.
People love to be recognized for their hobbies or talents, so make sure to specifically target your runners, bikers, or actors with information or requests about the fundraising event when you start to plan.
3. Age range and marital status.
Do you know how old your donors are? Or if they’re married? These two donor facts are important to know not only because they’re parts of your donors’ identities, but because they may allow you to make important inferences about their preferences and habits.
- For example, an educated assumption that you could make about your older donors is that they would prefer a phone call over an email. They will also not likely be the primary target audience for your social media marketing campaigns.
- Married supporters are more likely to come to events when they can purchase tickets together, rather than two individual tickets. Your ‘single mingle for a good cause’ event won’t pick up steam if most of your donors are married or in serious relationships either!
- If your donor population is primarily younger, unmarried folks, you might want to consider adding some events to your calendar that reflect that: physically engaging and socially focused fundraising ideas are popular with the younger generations.
If you know these two demographic indicators, then you can use them to segment your donor list and more effectively target your marketing and fundraising campaigns.
Fall Fundraising Ideas:
Use these demographics to segment your donors into groups for a little friendly competition!
Host a bake- or cook-off in your area and have people pay a donation as an entry fee. Ask some prominent community members to judge based on taste, consistency, or creativity. Popular foods for competitions can include:
- Pies or cakes.
- Chili or stews.
- Ciders, hot chocolates, or other warm drinks.
Any type of comfort food will be immensely satisfying on a cool fall afternoon.
Have people compete against others in their age range, or pit married couples against each other for a doubles match.
For even more food-related fun, host a silent auction and auction away the winners and runners-up for more donations for your cause.
Don’t forget to ask your supporters connected to local businesses to donate goods or services to the winners, so they get something out of the competition too.
4. Familial connections.
While you’re learning about your supporters, make sure you find out and mark down if they have or care for children! Having children can be a powerful motivation for adults to give philanthropically—they want to help create a better world for the future.
Fall is known for more than just its pretty colors and shifting letters. It’s also when all those little kiddos go back to school and continue their personal growth and education!
Ask your donors to celebrate their children’s learning experiences by donating or participating in fundraising events in honor of their little ones.
Fall Fundraising Ideas:
Consider making your fall fundraising campaign a “Back to School” event. There are many different ways that you could take this idea, including:
- Asking for donations in accordance with their children’s ages, or grade.
- Hosting “Grown-Ups Back to School” events where adults can learn about a topic from an expert in the area as a fun engagement activity.
- Make your fundraising campaign go to a children-centric aspect of your mission, if applicable.
- Host kid-friendly events in the first few weeks of school, where children can decorate their backpacks or school supplies while their parents enjoy snacks and beverages.
If you’re in a region where school goes year-round, consider getting the kids involved in other ways!
There are a thousand different ways to spin this theme for your nonprofit, so don’t forget about the parents in your donor database while planning your fall fundraising events.
5. Corporate philanthropy eligibility.
You might know where your supporters work—but how much do you know about their employers?
Many companies have programs called corporate philanthropy programs, where they give back to the communities in which they operate through either time or money.
The two most common types of corporate philanthropy policies are matching gift programs and volunteer grant programs.
Matching gifts policies are where an employee donates money to a nonprofit after an employee donates to the nonprofit and submits a match request to their employer. Companies might donate half of the original donation, or even quadruple the amount!
Volunteer grant programs are where a company will give a grant to a nonprofit after their employee volunteers for that nonprofit for a certain amount of hours.
In your CRM, you should annotate whether your supporters work for companies with corporate philanthropy programs, and then educate them on how they can take advantage of these programs!
Fall Fundraising Idea:
There are so many fun ways that you can incorporate corporate philanthropy programs into your fall fundraising ideas. One of the major reasons more people don’t take advantage of this opportunity is because they don’t know about their employers’ programs! Inform your supporters about these opportunities by:
- Hosting a matching gift drive. Go through your records and reach out to people who have donated, and ask them to research their eligibility and submit a matching gift request if they can. Your supporters can donate more without having to dig deeper in their own pockets!
- Hosting an outdoors volunteer day. Reach out to supporters who work for companies with volunteer grant companies and ask them to come work with your organization, so they can give time while still donating to your nonprofit.
- Reaching out to your dedicated volunteers and determining if any work for companies with volunteer grant programs. Odds are that some of your volunteers do, and may have already reached the amount of hours necessary and just don’t know! Ask them to submit a volunteer grant request, then hold an event to celebrate their efforts.
- Research those in your community to determine capacity, affinity for giving, and corporate giving eligibility. Then, reach out to those that might be willing to donate to your nonprofit and make the ask! If you’ve never conducted prospect though, head over to this guide from Donorly to get started.
Corporate philanthropy is a tragically underutilized resource for nonprofits, so make sure that this fall, you’re taking advantage of all of the programs that you can, so you can best serve your mission.
Thanks to your supporters’ dedication and some inventive fundraising ideas, your nonprofit will continue to thrive long after the season is over. Take advantage of the cool weather with these fun ideas, and your supporters will appreciate how well you know them!