Creative Fundraising Campaigns in Tough Times

This recession has clearly had ravaging effects, but fortunately, it has also sparked a lot of creativity. As nonprofit organizations attempt to carry out their work despite considerably reduced budgets, some are coming up with innovative takes on traditional fundraising and advertising campaigns. Here are two recent examples that we heard about:

The Salvation Army of Northern New England slashed its advertising budget to zero and nonetheless succeeded in rolling out a large, attention-grabbing advertising campaign to raise funds in Portland, Maine. Springwise reports that a local ad agency donated its time to design the ads and coordinate the campaign, and more than 50 local businesses donated various forms of ad space to the nonprofit. As a result, Salvation Army advertisements appeared on everything from store windows to pizza boxes to bathroom mirrors to tennis courts, all around town. Some individuals even scribbled on the dusty back windshields of their cars in order to display the ad.

In New York City, the Queens Museum of Art decided to transform its annual fundraising gala into what they called a NON-GALA in June. Rather than waste any precious donations on a fancy event, the QMA skipped the drinks and dancing in order to put more towards its actual exhibits and programs. The NON-GALA took place online, and it still managed to have most of the other highlights of an annual fundraiser: a welcome from the director, speeches by honorees, a chance to chat, and, of course, an opportunity to donate. There was even an auction conducted via a live streaming video, where participants could obtain the auctioned items for free by making creative, non-monetary bids via phone, email, and Twitter.

If you know of any other recession-friendly fundraising campaigns that nonprofits have tried, please share them in the comments below.

[This blog entry appeared on an older version of Idealist; any broken links are a result of having re-launched our site in Fall 2010.]

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Comments (1)


  1. Volbere writes:
    November 13, 2012 at 5:58 am

    Having lived in Canada and the US, I have to say that finding opiuttonirpes in Canada was so ridiculously easy for me, but next to impossible here in the states. I saw one flyer from a program called CUSO that did IT recruiting for projects abroad. I applied, recieved a quick response, and went through a couple of phone interviews that would have led to a trip to Ghana, had I not chose to take another opportunity. Considering how many skilled IT employees there are in the US, can anyone name one organization that could help us find placements abroad? other than the army? I am sure there are some on idealist, but doing a quick survey just now, the opiuttonirpes seem light. I applaud any outreach google is involved in, but I am a little surprised that there is not already a volunteer network in place. If anyone has additional insight I would love to find some pointers.


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