Empowering Your Nonprofit’s Pledge Fundraisers: 6 Strategies

Whether you’re fundraising for a basketball team or an environmental nonprofit, pledge fundraisers are an effective way to raise money for a variety of organizations. However, these campaigns rely on participants to acquire pledges and donations on an organization’s behalf. That’s why it’s up to nonprofit leaders to give the participants helping the organization fundraise, otherwise known as your pledge fundraisers, the tools they need to succeed.

In this article, we’ll cover the following strategies to help empower your nonprofit’s pledge fundraisers:

Classic pledge fundraisers include walk-a-thons or fun runs, but many organizations see a lot of success with unique and off-beat fundraisers, such as cookie-a-thons. Consider what your supporters would enjoy and use that to guide your brainstorming.

1. Lay a strong foundation.

To empower your pledge fundraisers, you’ll want to lay a strong foundation that gives them both the confidence and knowledge to maximize pledges and deal with any obstacles. This means providing them with background information about your cause, giving them the appropriate context about your nonprofit’s financial goals, and helping them develop the skills they need to aid your nonprofit.

You can lay a strong foundation for your pledge fundraisers and support them by:

  • Offering training. When a participant first signs up as a fundraiser for your organization’s pledge event, offer training as part of the onboarding process. For example, you can create video training tutorials to help participants get acquainted with your pledge fundraising software
  • Creating templates for them to use. Since your fundraisers will need to ask their networks for pledges, you can create request templates that they can alter to fit their needs. For example, you could write an email script for fundraisers who want to reach out to peers via email for pledges.
  • Supporting them throughout the campaign. Check in with participants throughout your pledge fundraising campaign and ask them how things are going. If they need assistance, provide your advice and ensure that they know they can come to you for help whenever necessary.

Part of laying a strong foundation for your participants is choosing the appropriate digital tools to streamline your fundraising process. For example, a school should choose a fundraising platform dedicated to raising money for classroom supplies. Your fundraising individuals should find it easy to create their pledge pages on your fundraising platform, and potential donors should have no trouble making their pledges.

2. Encourage them to use social media.

With the rise of technology, social media platforms have become excellent tools to reach out to a larger audience. It’s an integral part of any nonprofit’s digital storytelling strategy. To make the most of your fundraisers’ outreach and connections, encourage them to create and post fun content about your pledge fundraising campaign on social media platforms such as:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • TikTok

Keep in mind that different social media platforms will appeal to and target different demographics, so you’ll want to encourage fundraisers to promote on specific platforms. For example, if your school is hosting a fundraiser, ask your participants to use platforms that target younger demographics, such as TikTok.

3. Use eCards for extra engagement.

eCards are essentially digital versions of greeting cards, typically sent via email or text message. They are highly customizable, allowing nonprofits to add their brand elements, create original designs, or use templates and assets provided by the eCard platform. 

As part of your pledge drive, your nonprofit has two main ways to get your fundraisers to leverage eCards:

  • Create pre-designed eCards for fundraisers to use. Ahead of your pledge drive, design a set of eCards that fundraisers can easily access and send to their networks. This approach gives your nonprofit control over how your organization is represented at the cost of personalization for fundraisers. 
  • Allow fundraisers to design their own eCards. Give fundraisers access to eCard design templates and a set of pre-created assets. Then, let them create unique eCards to help earn pledges. This approach gives fundraisers the freedom to express themselves and show off their personal connection to your cause at the cost of some control over your nonprofit’s brand and image. 

With either approach, once the eCards are created, ask your fundraisers to share these unique appeals with their friends and family via email. Additionally, you can integrate your eCards with social media, so your fundraisers can directly post them to their pages and generate interest from a larger audience.

4. Motivate them with incentives.

Pledge fundraisers’ volunteerism typically comes with no compensation, but providing an incentive can increase their motivation and perhaps even push them to go above and beyond. Some incentives you can offer include:

  • Awards. Encourage healthy competition with awards like trophies, plaques, or certificates to reward the fundraiser who raised the most funds or secured the most pledges. 
  • Gifts. Offer gifts to your most successful pledge fundraisers, such as gift cards or merchandise branded to your organization.
  • Public recognition. In your fundraising campaign communications, acknowledge the work that your top fundraisers are doing. This could mean a social media shoutout or an acknowledgment section at the bottom of an email. Make sure that you have your fundraiser’s consent before you do this, as some of them may prefer to stay out of the limelight.

The incentives you offer don’t have to be expensive. Find an option that fits into your organization’s budget—ideally, it’ll be related to your campaign in some way. For example, if you’re hosting a fun run, you could offer water bottles as gifts.

5. Celebrate successes.

Another way to empower your pledge fundraisers is to celebrate their successes with them. Celebrate when your fundraisers:

  • Receive pledges. Whether it’s their first pledge or their tenth, commend your fundraisers on the good job they’re doing.
  • Meet goals. Encourage your fundraisers to set goals for themselves. When they reach those goals, celebrate with them. Additionally, when the entire team reaches a larger campaign goal, celebrate that too!
  • Finish the campaign. At the end of the campaign, congratulate your fundraisers on a job well done and thank them for their efforts.

When you celebrate your fundraisers’ successes, they’ll see that you value the effort they’re making for your organization. In return, they’ll be more motivated to continue their good work. Show your appreciation through volunteer thank-you letters or other forms of heartfelt communication.

Additionally, eCardWidget recommends that you foster a culture of peer-to-peer recognition between all of the fundraisers. Remind participants that they are all working towards a shared goal, and encourage them to celebrate each others’ successes.

6. Tap into corporate giving. 

Quick wins motivate your fundraisers, and what’s more motivating than seeing some of the pledges they’ve already collected instantly double? Encourage your fundraisers to check whether their employer offers these two corporate giving programs to help them earn even more for your cause:

  • Matching gifts. Matching gifts are a type of corporate giving program where employers match the donations their employees make to nonprofit organizations at a dollar-per-dollar rate. When your fundraisers or the people they collect pledges from donate to your nonprofit, they may be eligible to increase their impact with a matching gift. Some donors may even be eligible for matching gift auto-submission, which means their employer’s CSR platform integrates with tools that automatically complete matching gift forms on their behalf.
  • Fundraising matches. Rather than matching individual donations, some companies will match all the funding their employees raise for events like 5K charity runs. Encourage your fundraisers to keep careful track of the pledges they’ve received so they can make accurate reports to their employers and help your nonprofit bring in twice as much funding.

Additionally, events are a great opportunity to tap into volunteer grants. Volunteer grants are donations businesses make based on the number of hours their employees volunteer, either based on a per-hour rate or after a certain number of hours has been met. 

While fundraisers likely won’t qualify for a volunteer grant since they’re participating in the event rather than volunteering, the people who lend their time setting up your event, managing drink stations, and recording participants’ times likely are eligible.

Your pledge fundraisers are dedicated to your nonprofit and eager to help further your cause. To assist them with that, you’ll want to support them in any way you can to ensure both their success and the overall success of your pledge campaign. With these five strategies, you’re well on your way to creating a positive experience for your fundraisers and strengthening their ability to raise funds for your organization!