Millions of Americans will have a front row seat on Saturday to an “out of this world” experience – an annular solar eclipse (also known as a “ring of fire”). It will be 2046 before another one is visible in the contiguous United States. We hope everyone gets a chance to witness this major astronomical event.

To celebrate, we thought we’d share some of our favorite “out-of-this-world” fundraising ideas to spark your interest. We checked in with our friends at Wise Resource Development and crowdsourced some fun ideas to keep your efforts fresh and exciting:

Empowering Clients as Fundraisers

Many organizations exclude clients from the essential fundraising activities that make the work possible. However, this not only downplays the importance of fundraising, but also excludes the people who, arguably, care most about the impact of your organization. Instead of making assumptions about your clients, put together fun ways to empower their involvement. The organization My Possibilities does a great job of this in its annual North Texas Giving Day campaign. Their “HIPsters,” adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities whom they serve, along with staff, compete in teams to see who can raise the most for the organization’s continuing education and job placement programs. Teams have matching shirts, flags and loads of team spirit. This year, it looks like the Green Team was victorious!

Put a Spin on Monthly Giving

Monthly giving groups are a great source of reliable revenue, and according to Network for Good, donors will give an average of 42% more as a monthly donor than as a one-time donor. We know this revenue stream is important, but have you thought about putting an out-of-the-box spin on your monthly giving theme? One creative idea we heard was a monthly giving fundraiser at a brewery that included giving amounts that matched beer sizes. For example, the “Taster” level was $4 per month to represent 4 ounces of beer, the “Pint” level was $16 per month, and the “Growler” level was $32 per month. Not only does this theme have a fun hook, but it may also resonate with donors you may not typically reach.

Stunt Fundraising

If you are looking for something that will put your nonprofit on the map, we have found an increasing trend in what we are calling “stunt fundraising.” Our first-place campaign – which also had a serious message – is the “I Am Here” campaign by Mobile Loaves and Fishes in Austin, Texas. Along with the compelling message, they also placed one of their clients, Danny, and their CEO on a 50-foot billboard on a major freeway. Second place went to the Decibels Foundation with their signature Stink Week – a campaign for childhood hearing loss designed by a clever fourth grader surrounding the fact that “hearing loss stinks.” Participants signed up and then … wore the same shirt all week, which qualified them for Muenster Cheese status.

Family-Friendly Fundraising Events

As we anticipate a major transfer of wealth over the next several years, it’s more important than ever to engage Millennials in your fundraising. When evaluating your event strategy, consider family-friendly events or even provide childcare so parents of young children can bring their kids along. One of our all-time favorites in this category is Freestore Foodbank’s Rubber Duck Regatta, where participants buy ducks to race in the Ohio River. You cannot drive through Cincinnati without seeing a big duck somewhere!

For more ideas on taking your fundraising to new heights, we are excited to share that Wise Resource Development’s CEO Tawnia Wise has a new book, Become a Nonprofit Pro: Nine Common Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them. For a limited time, Amazon Is offering it at a discount.

We believe these “out-of-this-world” ideas are worth considering for your next fundraising campaign or event. We hope you had a little fun learning about them. As always, we invite you to share how your organization has put some spark into your fundraising efforts.

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