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Fundraising comes in a wide variety of options. The fundraising that is accomplished by major institutions, such as national nonprofits, universities and museums, has strict parameters that leave little room for creative fundraising. Schools, churches, student groups and volunteer associations, conversely, fundraise on a smaller scale and have more leeway to employ creative fundraiser ideas. In this smaller context, the different types of creative fundraiser ideas tend to involve special events, volunteer engagement and product sales.
Larger nonprofits rely on donations to support their operating budgets and fundraise to establish long-lasting relationships that will generate steady and increasing support from donors, year after year. Creative fundraiser ideas that may raise money from a single event or activity are less valuable in this context. These ideas expend resources on activities that are time intensive but limited, as the activities will only seem creative the first time they are done. Creativity is more important in situations where money needs to be raised for a specific purpose, such as to support a class trip or put a new roof on a church, or where the fundraising goal is relatively modest.
There are typically three categories of creative fundraiser ideas for nonprofit projects with a limited scope. The first category involves special events. Events can be designed and re-visioned according to a variety of themes and can use new technology to increase participation. The theme of the event can pull experiences from any of the event organizers or from popular culture. Events can also emphasize a particular mission.
For example, a special event fundraiser could build on a person's recent vacation, use the cultural popularity of zombies or ask attendees to bring canned goods to emphasize a mission to eliminate hunger. The Internet can enable virtual participation or stream the event live. Web-based event management software can help manage invites and responses, and allow organizers to spread the word through social networking.
Another category of creative fundraiser ideas involve volunteer engagement. The Internet has made it easier to introduce relative strangers to a worthy cause. Through concepts such as crowd-sourcing, a need for funds can be introduced to an exponentially expanding network of people from all over the world. These people can give small sums, but the number of donors reacting at the same time makes even small donations impactful. Each person who is engaged in this way can contribute his own creativity to the presentation of the cause by posting pictures, testimonials or even making videos.
The final major category for creative fundraiser ideas is in the area of product sales. Many organizations sell items, such as candy and cookies, to raise money. This is a type of social entrepreneurship, and there is a lot of room for creativity in the types of items sold and the market engaged. With the accessibility of electronic commerce options over the Internet, there are innovative ways to sell products to a wide market and even hold auctions and yard sales online.
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