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The Value Of Activity-Driven Fundraisers



Fundraising is vital to the survival of many nonprofit organizations. Charity watchdog groups like Charity Navigator suggest nonprofits should aspire to spend less than 10 percent of their budgets on fundraising. That can be a tall task and underscores the need for charities to find creative, cost-effective ways to raise funds.

Nonprofit organizations raise funds in various ways. Some organizations partner with local businesses and receive a portion of the proceeds participating establishments earn on certain days, while other organizations may cold call prospective donors during times of the year when giving to charity tends to increase, such as the holiday season. Activity-driven fundraisers are another popular way for nonprofit organizations to raise funds, and these endeavors can be highly effective.

What are activity-driven fundraisers?

Activity-driven fundraisers focus on an engaging activity that encourages supporters to actively participate in an effort to raise funds. The Ice Bucket Challenge is one of the more notable activity-driven fundraisers in recent years. Participants in the challenge would pour a bucket of ice water over their heads or the head of another person, and then challenge or nominate another person to follow suit. Participants also would urge donations to support research into amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, an incurable motor neuron disease also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Additional examples of activity-driven fundraisers are runs and walks in which participants solicit donations from supporters that increase with each mile they walk or run. The American Cancer Society’s Breast Cancer Awareness 5K walk and fun run is one popular activity-driven fundraiser that annually attracts sizable numbers of participants and donors.

Are activity-driven fundraisers effective?

The sheer volume of activity-driven fundraisers makes it more difficult to gauge the success of these events. However, a recent study from researchers at Carnegie Mellon University found that people are inclined to contribute more when the experience is painful and labor-intensive. That suggests that activity-driven fundraisers like charity runs can be highly effective and lucrative ways to raise money. Indeed, various estimates suggest the Ice Bucket Challenge raised more than $220 million worldwide.

Nonprofit organizations raise funds in myriad ways. Activity-driven fundraisers are among the more engaging, and often successful, ways to raise money for a good cause.

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