10 Reasons Why People Send You Money…


(and other insights to boost year-end fundraising)

It’s that time of year again. And I don’t mean snowflakes and jingle bells—it’s time to make donor appeals for year-end giving. Even if your organization isn’t a nonprofit, you can be a part of the extraordinary generosity that continues to rise for heartfelt causes, as evidenced by last week’s Giving Tuesday, which raised $168 million through 1.56 million online gifts.

Why do people send you money, anyway?1

  1. Because you ask them to. (Obvious, but true. Asking is imperative!)
  2. Because they have money to give away. (Interesting fact: The overwhelming majority of individual donations are small gifts made from discretionary income.)
  3. Because you validate their values and beliefs. (But you must constantly remind them!)
  4. Because they believe their gifts will make a difference.
  5. Because you recognize them for their gifts.
  6. Because you enable them to “do something” about a critical problem.
  7. Because you help them learn about an interesting or complex issue.
  8. Because you connect them to others who are passionate about something meaningful.
  9. Because you give them tax benefits.*
  10. Because they believe it’s a blessing to give.

Now, move deeper into the psyche of your particular audience…

A fundraising theme can be a fun way to generate interest in your cause. To determine your theme, answer these questions2:

  • Who is your target market?
  • What are the interests of those involved?
  • What are the emotional benefits of your fundraising activity?

Here are some examples of fun themes from Causevox.3 If one of these seems like a good fit with your audience, you can use it as a springboard for a year-end fundraising theme:

  • Launch a fun video

The power of video in today’s communication culture is undeniable.4 Make an interactive video asking supporters to share videos of themselves doing something outrageous OR something that represents your organization. Ask those who participate to also donate and nominate others to do the same. (Remember the ALS Bucket Challenge5? A viral hit in 2014, this video fundraiser raised an estimated $115 million.)

  • Hock your merchandise

Everybody love cool merchandise! Host an online sale, or offer stocking stuffers at various giving levels. To add incentive through Dec. 31, you can offer an “after-Christmas sale.” By including merchandise in your year-end giving campaign, you’ll raise funds while also building brand recognition. (Like the MidAtlantic Pug Rescue.6)

  • Try a Facebook fundraiser

Donors can spread the love by giving in honor of someone on your Facebook page. First, add a “Donate Now” button on your Facebook page if you haven’t already.7

Then encourage donors to give in honor of their child, a beloved staff member, or another person they wish to publicly honor. Donors can write a short, personal tribute on your Facebook page, which can then be “shared” with friends, extending your reach even more!

Get your ducks in a row

  • Do your housekeeping

Set a financial goal and the dates for your campaign. Make sure your online payment process is seamless, and your mailing list is updated (e-mails, phone numbers, and physical addresses).

  • Promote! Promote! Promote!
  1. Add your campaign announcement and donor link to all of your information sources – your website and social media pages.
  2. Incorporate your giving campaign in your camp/class registration process.
  3. Schedule follow-up reminders for social media and e-mail.
  4. Encourage your support network to “share” your campaign on social media, and spread the news by word of mouth.

Finish strong

  • Acknowledge your donors

In addition to any specific recognition that accompanies the gift, write an official thank you note. Include the donor in a publicized list, unless they want to remain anonymous.

  • Evaluate your campaign

Camp and class management software with reporting features can help you track your progress, understand your donors, and e-mail tax statements.

*Tax deductions for non-nonprofit giving

Tax deductions drive the majority of charitable giving, especially in December. But there’s a way for you to be a part of that next year. Watch for our blogpost in 2017 on creating a scholarship or campership fund, which takes some planning, but will allow you to accept tax-deductible donations.


1 Excerpted from How to Write Successful Fundraising Letters (Jossey-Bass, 2001)

2 WePay: Why Finding a Good Theme Makes Fundraising a Lot Easier/

3 Causevox: Online Fundraising Ideas Nonprofits and Charities

4The Guardian: Content Marketing Media Online

5 ALSassociation: Ice Bucket Challenge

6Booster Fundraising


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About Gina Calvert

Gina Calvert is the Senior Marketing Writer for ACTIVE Network, providing marketing and business resources for active lifestyle organizations across a range of markets, including government, nonprofits, camps, schools and endurance events, for more than six years.