In this post, the Director of Marketing at Booster provides a wealth of ideas for innovating your product fundraising approach.
Product fundraising is more than a method to raise funds for your cause. It’s a means of connecting with your donors and promoting your nonprofit to a wider audience.
But with a plethora of products that are “been-there-done-that,” you’ll want to be innovative to advance your product fundraising efforts and stand out from the philanthropic crowd.
Innovation goes beyond the products themselves; you’ll need to think holistically about your product fundraising approach and how best you can promote your product — and your nonprofit — to your donors.
Don’t host another bake sale! Don’t get caught in a fundraising rut!
Check out these product fundraising ideas to advance your efforts:
Whether you’re looking to host a seasonal fundraising campaign or pair products with a specific event, these ideas can help you craft an effective strategy and gain product fundraising momentum.
#1. Take your t-shirts to the next level
T-shirts are a product fundraising staple. You may be wondering why they’re included on this list — after all, how can something as universally popular as t-shirts be innovative?
First, let’s take a look at the benefits of t-shirts:
- T-shirts are walking promotions for your nonprofit.
- They’re popular and affordable.
- They foster team spirit, especially at active events.
T-shirts can be great fundraising products because they’re multi-functional marketing materials. Due to their popularity, however, you’ll want to ensure that your fundraising efforts rise above the t-shirt tide.
How can you innovate?
Pair your t-shirts with peer-to-peer fundraising (P2P). P2P fundraising enables donors to promote your nonprofit to their own networks. How?
P2P fundraising is just as the name suggests: supporters ask their peers to donate to your organization.
Peer-to-peer fundraising is usually integrated with an online platform, which allows supporters to share fundraising opportunities or create their own fundraising pages.
Peer-to-peer fundraising empowers your supports to promote your nonprofit’s t-shirts directly to an audience of friends and family members.
People are more likely to be receptive to someone they recognize. Your supporters can introduce their peers to your nonprofit, establishing an immediate personal connection between your cause and this potential support base.
Also, once their peers see how great your t-shirts look, they’ll not only give to your nonprofit if they decide to buy one, but they’ll gain a tie to your organization that they can pursue for future donations or volunteering.
The most effective strategy for creating powerful P2P t-shirts is to create a strong, impactful design.
Take a look at other nonprofit t-shirts to get a general idea of the best designs. To start out, click here to see examples of P2P fundraising t-shirts.
#2. Upcycle old objects into artwork
It’s official: going green is more than a trend. It’s an effective way to show that your nonprofit is philanthropic on multiple platforms, and it helps the environment!
Upcycle fundraisers use old, used, or broken objects to create new items.
They pose the double benefit of helping the environment while earning funds for your nonprofit.
They’re not only popular for their sustainability, but for their uniqueness as well.
Upcycled products tell a story; your nonprofit can use the trash-to-treasure narrative to promote products that are meaningful to your supporters.
How can you innovate?
Turn your upcycling into an event. Invite local artists to contribute upcycled artwork and host an art show.
Pair the show with a silent auction so that donors can contribute large funds for these one-of-a-kind products.
An art show / auction combo is bound to attract a large crowd.
You’ll want to prepare additional upcycled products that your event attendees can purchase, or offer opportunities for attendees to participate in fundraising.
After all, only a select few will win the auction items; don’t limit your fundraising to these lucky individuals.
For example, you can offer:
- Low-cost upcycled products. Smaller items, like bottle cap necklaces, can be sold at a merchandise table during the event.
- Ink cartridge or battery donation. Encourage guests to bring their old ink cartridges or batteries to your event. Certain companies will pay for these items, so do your research to find a receptacle near you.
- A children’s art show. Kids love crafts! Pairing your upcycling efforts with schools or clubs is a great way to involve kids in your event and encourage them to attend.
Ultimately, upcycled product fundraising can be transformed into a community event that promotes sustainability, local artists, and your nonprofit — all in one!
#3. Fundraise with food over social media
You’re probably familiar with food fundraising, even if the extent of your experience is munching on the girl scout cookies that you buy every year.
Whether you’re selling soft pretzels door-to-door or hosting a pizza buffet at a local elementary school, food fundraising can take a variety of forms.
Some popular choices include:
- Cookie dough
- Coffee / coffee beans
- Candy / chocolate
- Restaurant discounts
These mouth-watering suggestions can be procured online through various fundraising companies or donated by local businesses. Research the resources available to you for the products that work best for your nonprofit.
How can you innovate?
Food and social media go together like peanut butter and jelly. Social media is an important mainstay that should never be overlooked (for more information, check out Crowdster’s social media marketing tips).
Seeing images of delicious food that pop up on social media feeds is a tantalizing invitation to click, share, or — better yet — purchase.
Enticing images can both create awareness of your products and draw in new donors as your current supporters share your promotional posts.
That’s the social media advantage: shareability.
Capitalize on sharing and create catchy hashtags to promote your fundraiser. Fundraising for an animal shelter? Watch #pizzaforpuppies go viral in your community.
Further, showcase your food products over Instagram and Pinterest.
Remember, you don’t have to limit your promotions to pictures.
For example, if you’re selling fair-trade chocolate, create an infographic that explains how your product is both ethically sound and a means of supporting your charity! Of course, you’ll still want to include images or icons of chocolate to set your supporters’ taste buds abuzz.
#4. Gear up event attendees with customized event items
Your fundraising events wouldn’t be complete without merchandise. Providing an array of customized gear for your supporters and donors is a great way to generate awareness for your nonprofit beyond the event itself.
Your event attendees will remember your nonprofit every time they use your product.
You’ll want to ensure that your gear is something that people will actively want to use or wear.
Popular choices include:
- Water bottles
- Bracelets / armbands
- Reusable bags
Your nonprofit can sell these fundraising products at merchandise tables at your events and in online storefronts geared toward the event.
How can you innovate?
Displaying your nonprofit’s name and logo is just the beginning of customization.
Follow these tips to maximize your nonprofit’s funds from personalized items:
- Customize to the event itself. Your items should reflect the specific event that your nonprofit is hosting. Certain items will be more conducive to specific events as well. For example, water bottles and fun runs are natural partners!
- Provide a variety of items. Variety will appeal to more people. Having different items to choose from can encourage supporters to make more than one purchase, as well.
- Use brand ambassadors. Have your brand ambassadors sport your items during events. These supporters spread awareness of your nonprofit’s brand. The best ambassadors are those who full-heartedly support your cause and love to see your fundraising exceed expectations. Having them intentionally promote your products can help your event attendees see how these items directly support your nonprofit.
- Include information cards. Place a tag or card on each product with instructions for further donations. Keep the tags simple and informative, with the address for your online donation page or social media pages. You can also include a brief thanks to show your supporters how much you appreciate them.
Customizing your products will help donors remember your events, which may inspire them to further engage with your organization.
#5. Market holiday items across communications
When the holidays roll around, the giving spirit sets in — especially around the end of the year.
Take advantage of these charitable calendar days by promoting your holiday fundraising products in advance.
Examples of holiday products are:
- Wrapping paper
- Greeting cards
- Candy and chocolate
- Ice scrapers
Don’t feel limited by these popular products. Creativity can add sparks to your chosen holiday fundraiser.
For example, chocolate roses are the perfect Valentine’s Day fundraiser. Or, you can swap the flowers for festive icons like snowmen or reindeer when December arrives.
How can you innovate?
When it comes to communications between your nonprofit and your donors, you want to promote quality over quantity, reaching your donors at opportune giving times.
The holidays present the perfect opportunity to get in touch with your donors.
You can contact your donors by wishing them a happy holiday celebration, and then lead them into how they can participate even more in the holiday by purchasing your fundraising products.
Create holiday-themed email headlines or send seasonal greeting cards to promote your products.
Specifically, you’ll want to pay careful attention to your email headlines as you ask for donations in overcrowded inboxes.
You’ll also want to keep in mind that “more than half of all emails are opened on mobile devices,” according to this @Pay contribution. Be sure that your electronic communications are optimized for mobile, so that donors can easily purchase your products if they wish.
To further the reach of your holiday products, include the option to purchase products as gifts for others.
You may also want to provide an option for supporters to pay extra to cover processing and shipping fees — if they’re in the holiday spirit, they may just take you up on your offer!
Product fundraising is a landscape of near infinite possibilities. The products discussed in this article are by no means an exhaustive list. In fact, for more product fundraising ideas, check out Booster’s ultimate product fundraising guide to keep your creative juices flowing.
Remember that your approach to product fundraising is just as important as the items themselves. Innovate your fundraising efforts by trying out these five suggestions, or create your own product fundraising strategy that works best for your nonprofit.
Kerri Moore is the Director of Marketing at Booster, Created by CustomInk. She and her team help create content aimed at maximizing organizers’ fundraising potential and furthering their mission to raise awareness for the cause or passion that means the most to them.