Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Get Gutsy with Your Next Fundraising Theme

Fundraising event theme created by The Karma Group

We all know that creating a good fundraiser theme takes creativity, but don't leave your sense of humor out of the process. People like to laugh and often go online just to find a good chuckle (see Pinterest's Humor category for proof of concept). Plus, people love to share humorous content, so using your sense of humor to create a fundraiser theme increases your chance of the message going viral. The question is, why are so many nonprofits afraid to be gutsy with fundraiser themes?

The obvious answer is that they are afraid to lose donors to what some may see as offensive. Underlying this fear is the challenge of reaching a new generation of donors while maintaining quality relationships with existing long-time supporters. And, small nonprofits may have a single person charged with creating fundraiser themes. Siloing work in that way can cut creativity, or worse, the individual may have a sense of humor not shared by society at large. For example:

Not a fundraiser, but it fits the example. This photo was snapped by a Reddit user. The offending employee has since been fired, and the establishment has made formal apologies. 
You can imagine the backlash over that sign. The point is, you can be gutsy in your fundraiser theming without being offensive. Start by relying on mainstream jokes, like the first example. It works because really... who among us hasn't blamed it on the dog? Still at creative loss? Never forget that you have a built-in resource for ideas and feedback-- your supporters! Try asking your Facebook followers to come up with themes for your next fundraiser. You might be surprised at how appropriately creative people can be. Not sure if a concept goes too far? Why not ask that volunteer who is in the office every week for her opinion? She's likely to give you an honest answer because she's invested in the organization's success. Plus, she's exactly the audience you're aiming your campaign at so her perspective is particularly valuable.

Sure, being gutsy and staying on topic is challenging. Taking a little time to test a concept on existing supporters can save headaches down the road. But if you do it well, gutsy theming can make your message go viral in a good way, and be lots of fun in the process.

What's the gutsiest fundraiser you've created or seen? Share your gutsy ideas in the Comments!