3 Fundraising Tips to Empower Your Youth Organization

Youth-centered organizations, whether they’re sports teams, afterschool programs, or scouts clubs, offer many important benefits to young people. These organizations provide safe, positive environments for children to learn new skills and focus on academic success. This helps more young people to achieve their full potential.

While these programs are critically important, as a staff member, coach, or club leader, you know that they often go underfunded. To fill in the gaps, you need to organize successful fundraisers that don’t take your time, resources, and attention away from those who need it most.

In this guide, we’ll explore the strategies your organization can use to host engaging fundraisers:

  • Get young people involved.
  • Leverage online methods.
  • Practice donor stewardship.

It’s likely that a big part of your organization’s mission involves teaching kids about responsibility, independence, and working within a team. Getting them involved in the fundraising process gives them firsthand experience with these valuable skills. Let’s get started by exploring how you can motivate them to fundraise.

1. Get young people involved.

To teach your students or participants how to advocate for themselves and the causes they care about, make sure to choose a fundraising idea that excites them. Here are a few tips for motivating kids to help you fundraise:

This graphic shows the four ways nonprofits can get young people involved in fundraising.

  • Align with their interests. Are the kids in your program into a certain movie or TV series? Or are they dedicated to hobbies like gardening or baking? Consider choosing a fundraising idea that appeals to those special interests to help motivate them to contribute. For example, you could hold a fun run themed around their favorite movie or a bake sale in which they contribute the baked goods.
  • Create youth leadership boards. Many of your students or participants may be natural-born leaders who get excited about the prospect of organizing. Give them the chance to collaborate with the adults to shape the fundraiser, learn about the logistical side of organizing a campaign, and sharpen their communication skills. When they feel like their voices are heard, they’ll be more likely to take an active role in the campaign.
  • Hold a special event. A fundraising event can drum up more excitement around the campaign, especially among young people. For example, you might hold a back-to-school event like a raffle or book fair to raise money for new school supplies, new equipment, or whatever else your organization may need.
  • Offer awards and recognition. Put together a few incentives to motivate your kids to fundraise on behalf of your organization. For example, you may offer small prizes to the top fundraisers or those who raise above a certain threshold. Additionally, you could hold a ceremony after the campaign. Recognize those who displayed excellent leadership skills, helped make new connections, or had innovative ideas.

While you teach the kids valuable skills and lessons, you’ll be able to reach more potential supporters to boost your fundraising results. Challenge them to reach out to their friends and family to spread the word about your campaign and help you reach ambitious fundraising goals.

2. Leverage online methods.

In addition to appealing to their interests and listening to their input, you can get more young people (and donors) involved in the campaign by using online fundraising methods. Since young people often prefer to engage online, you can increase fundraising participation with a digital approach.

You can take your next campaign online using:

  • Marketing: Go beyond using posters and flyers to promote your fundraiser. Share about it on social media, send email and text communications, and add a page about the fundraiser to your website. On social media, create posts that are short and engaging to capture readers’ attention while they are scrolling. Additionally, ensure your website includes key logistical details and links to your donation page.
  • Specialized fundraising tools: The right fundraising software can make the transition to digital fundraising smoother for you and your supporters. As 99Pledges’ guide to school fundraising explains, these tools will help you organize pledge fundraisers by setting up fundraising pages for each participant. These tools also help you track your progress, accept a variety of payment types, and send automated pledge reminders and donation receipts to donors.
  • Giving methods: If you’ll be fundraising online, make donating convenient for supporters by accepting a variety of online payment methods. Choosing fundraising software that accepts popular methods like credit and debit cards, GooglePay and ApplePay, and PayPal.

Remember that you can host fundraisers exclusively online, even if they have an event component. Virtual events are a great way to enable supporters from all over the country to join in, and they can be more cost-effective for your organization. Plus, you can promote them on social media the same way you would for a traditional, in-person event.

3. Practice donor stewardship.

To keep your youth program running on a sustainable source of revenue, you’ll need donors to continue contributing to your campaigns year after year. Donor stewardship, which refers to the efforts you make to build a relationship with a donor after they make a gift, is intended to boost retention by inspiring those donors to give again.

One of the simplest, most effective ways to steward your donors is to thank them for their support. ECardWidget’s guide to thanking donors recommends the following:

  • Send customized eCards with your organization’s logo or relevant illustrations. You might use illustrations created by the kids or have them add short, personalized messages to the eCard.
  • Share donor appreciation emails that reference the donor’s gift and its impact. Attach a file with all of the kids’ signatures or include a short testimonial about how the donors’ support impacted them.
  • Highlight major donors’ contributions on your website. For instance, if their support allowed you to purchase new sports equipment, include photos and videos of the kids playing with it.
  • Send branded gifts like t-shirts or hats. Enclose a handwritten thank-you note from one of the kids to make the gift even more special.

Don’t forget to show your gratitude to the other people who made the fundraiser possible, such as members of your PTO, volunteers, or friends and family of your participants. Putting on a successful fundraiser is hard work, and you’ll need their help for your next campaign.

With the right fundraising ideas and strategies, your organization can solicit gifts that provide much-needed funding while teaching students and participants how to lead and advocate for important causes. With a sustainable flow of fundraising revenue, you can provide them with enriching experiences that put them on the path to successful, prosperous careers and lives.

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