Every nonprofit has at least an extra $20,000 sitting in their board members’ phones that they aren’t accessing. We’ve talked in the past about how the most valuable thing your board members bring to the table is their connections. However, we haven’t yet discussed how you can use these connections to create unique fundraising opportunities through opportunistic fundraising.
What is Opportunistic Fundraising?
In the nonprofit world, developing tunnel vision around your fundraising gala is easy. Such a big event takes a lot of your resources to plan. However, your fundraising gala should not be the only time you raise money for your cause. Opportunistic fundraising means taking any fundraising opportunities that arise throughout the year.
For example, HGA once worked with a nonprofit organization that had a celebrity coming to town who wanted to do something with their nonprofit. However, their fundraising event wasn’t for another 6-7 months, and they were unsure how they could leverage this celebrity’s presence. They were talking about asking him to sign something to auction off at the event.
We recommended arranging a separate, intimate event with the celebrity as a separate fundraising event. The nonprofit reached out to the celebrity, and he signed off on a small event. So, they got one of their donors to donate their house for the evening, and the celebrity performed an intimate concert for 10 couples. The nonprofit called their list of top donors and sold tickets for $5,000 per head as an exclusive fundraising event.
Aside from raising extra money for their cause, the nonprofit also furthered the relationship with the donors they called. They showed that they valued them as a donor and that their support of the nonprofit would give them special access to unique experiences. Your donors are often high-net-worth individuals who can buy almost anything they want, so unique experiences do very well in the nonprofit space.
Examples of Opportunistic Fundraising Auction Items
Another example of opportunistic fundraising is using your connections to find unique experiences for your auction. We talk about special access and network being as valuable as giving capacity when it comes to donors and board members, and this is why. See who knows celebrities and public figures or who would be willing to allow you to use their private jet to make a holiday package more attractive.
Here are some examples of opportunistic fundraising auction items we have seen:
The items that perform best on Charity Buzz are unique experiences that people can’t find elsewhere. Those are the things that you should consider for opportunistic fundraisers. That may mean combining things together to create something unique. Talk to your board and see what they have access to, or check out our destinations and experiences.
The Benefits of Opportunistic Fundraising
It can be easy to balk at the thought of adding another fundraising event to your calendar, but these events are on a much smaller scale. They are much easier to assemble because you don’t need to spend time marketing. You can just pick up the phone and call your donors about this exclusive intimate event. Some opportunistic fundraising events can raise as much money as your fundraising gala.
Think about who you have access to that your donors would want to spend time with. For example, a charity we worked with made a very successful intimate dinner with a state politician. The state politician was happy to donate their time because they supported a charity and got access to high-net-worth voters.
If you have universities near you, you could hold an intimate event with some of their star football athletes. The athletes and coaches are required to go out and do things in their community, so your event is an attractive way for them to fulfill those requirements. Famous alums of a local university could also be great guests for an opportunistic fundraising event.
These opportunistic fundraising events sound simple, but it gives your donors unique access.
Foster the relationship with these special guests before, during, and after the opportunistic fundraising event. Call the special guests to express gratitude and share what your nonprofit was able to do with the money raised. For example, “Thank you for helping us raise money. Because of your contribution, we were able to send 50 kids to camp.” This will induct this special guest into your nonprofit’s network. You may be able to contact them in the future for another intimate event, or you may even be able to mine their connections for future opportunistic fundraising events.
Use your board’s connections to identify these opportunistic fundraising opportunities. Ask them to think about their connections and the connections of the people they know. For example, one of your board members may have a neighbor who knows an executive at UFC or a parent at their kids’ school who knows a Michelin-star chef.
Charity Buzz’s Kevin Spykerman joined HGA’s Jason Ledlow and Trevor Nelson on our free weekly webinar series for nonprofits to discuss how to use opportunistic fundraising to raise an extra $20k for your nonprofit. Listen to Episode #103 of the HGAFundraising webinar below to learn more about leveraging your connections to create unique fundraising opportunities.
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