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Acts 1:8 Ministry Talks Non-Profit Fundraising

Updated: Aug 7, 2019

Originally published on

Acts 1:8 Ministry, a non-profit organization that equips Christians to connect people to Christ through Christian kindness, understands the critical role fundraising plays in the success of the company. Throughout the years, the diverse team of creative individuals at Acts 1:8 Ministry has driven a variety of fundraising campaigns, giving them a unique understanding of the non-profit landscape and path to success.

Non-profit organizations are no different from any other business - or any suburban family, in some instances - in that they often hit a rut. The fundraisers in charge do the same things over and over. Everyone knows it's February because the annual gift campaign letter arrives from Charity X and the big fundraiser event is scheduled for March for Charity Y.

If something is an annual tradition in a community and is a huge hit, it should absolutely be continued. But sometimes a non-profit organization needs to shake things up a bit to generate a little interest. Sometimes, what an organization needs to promote itself and to bring in some funds is an old-fashioned gimmick.

Consider the Ice Bucket Challenge for the ALS Association. What began as a viral sensation ended up raising more than $115 million for the organization that assists individuals with ALS or Lou Gehrig's Disease.

One person completed the challenge and then challenged friends and family to do the same. Those who weren't up to the challenge were then asked (expected?) to donate to the ALS Association. Many who completed the challenge also gave. One after another donated and shared videos of their cringe-inducing ice bath on various social media platforms, and soon, a sensation was born.

A gimmick doesn't have to be quite so dramatic to be effective. Each November, men across the country quit shaving. And they and their friends donate funds toward the Movember efforts to raise money toward programs dealing with prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health diseases. It's an easily identifiable gimmick but not a dramatic one.

Each of these examples highlights something important for non-profit fundraisers to remember when thinking of ideas for a gimmick. For a fundraiser to be very effective, it must closely relate to the organization itself.

The ALS Association chose the Ice Bucket Challenge because the sensation of the coldness mimics the sensations of the disease on patients who have it. The Movember challenge of growing a beard or mustache is uniquely masculine and relates to those individuals for whom prostate cancer is most important.

There are also events that relate not just the non-profit organization but the public mindset. The Make A Wish Foundation is well known for making outstanding things happen for children who are dealing with life-threatening illnesses. In 2013, the San Francisco Greater Bay Area chapter responded to a wish from a young boy who wanted to be Batkid.

An email request from the organization hoping for a few hundred volunteers ended up being circulated far beyond their expectations and the organization ended up with nearly 12,000 volunteers that day. Both traditional and new media covered the events of that day, and people around the country followed the adventures of Batkid as he lived his dream. The public was involved in the Make a Wish vision that day, and no doubt, new donors were recruited as they witnessed the work that the organization does.

Obviously, not all non-profit organizations can plan and schedule events of this scope or size. But a grand gesture isn't necessarily the point. The point is to find something that will grab the attention of a donor base and a public that might not already be aware of an organization. The point is to draw people into an organization that probably weren't already giving.

When their attention is on the organization thanks to the gimmick, provide them with information about who the organization is and what the non-profit does. Tell them about the people groups served by the organization. Give them the incentive to share that information with their friends and family and business associates.

A gimmick can never replace a solid fundraising plan. And an organization should never attempt to use several gimmicks in a row. But now and then, a well-timed gimmick or innovative event can bring needed attention to a non-profit organization that it might not have received otherwise. And if fundraisers make the most of the event, it can bring in new donors who can begin a new relationship with the organization.

About Acts 1:8 Ministry:

Acts 1:8 Ministry is a non-profit organization that equips Christians to care, share and connect people to Christ through Christian kindness. The Planned Acts of Christian Kindness® Program has touched thousands of lives in the US and over 100 countries worldwide. Through the Water Project, over 130 water wells drilled, blessing hundreds of thousands of lives with clean water.

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