3 Ways to Engage Your Local Community in Fundraising

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3 Ways to Engage Your Local Community in Fundraising

For nonprofit organizations, fundraising is one of the most critical parts of their operations. Because of their fundraising efforts, nonprofits can fund the programs that help them achieve their mission, improve how they serve beneficiaries, and keep daily operations up and running. Nonprofits typically use fundraising strategies like building an impactful fundraising website, conducting personalized outreach, and showing the tangible impact of donations to engage their supporters. As a business owner working to collect donations for your corporate social responsibility (CSR) program, you can apply some of those strategies to your program. These three tips can help you engage your local community in your fundraising program:

  • Choose an idea anyone can engage in doing.
  • Spread the word about your program.
  • Offer other ways to get involved.

Avoid the mistake of launching a program that’s too niche or involves a lot of time, effort, and resources to participate. Instead, choose an idea accessible to a wide range of people in your community.

Choose an idea anyone can engage in doing.

As a running store or gym owner, you likely have customers and employees from various backgrounds, ages, and life experiences. Prioritize CSR initiatives that virtually anyone can participate in so anyone passionate about the cause can contribute. 

For example, a running shoe recycling program is an easy, inclusive idea. To contribute to this initiative, your customers only need to bring in pairs of new, used and gently worn athletic shoes. And chances are, almost all of them have a couple of unused pairs sitting in the back of their closet. Sneakers4Funds’ guide to running shoe recycling programs explains how you can start one of these programs to support philanthropic causes in your community:

  1. Partner with a social enterprise facilitator to help you set up the program.
  2. Set out free collection materials in your store, gym, and community.
  3. Encourage employees, customers, and other community members to donate their new, used and gently worn running shoes.
  4. Send the sneakers you collect to your social enterprise facilitator.
  5. Once the shoes are processed, the facilitator will mail your business a check.

Facilitating in-kind donations like this makes it easy for anyone to get involved, but it’s not the only option for your CSR program. You can also collect monetary contributions on behalf of local causes, organize volunteer days, and more.

Keep in mind that if your initiative requires or accepts monetary gifts, you should ensure that making those gifts is convenient and accessible, too. Set up ways to accept contributions via cash, checks, and online giving.

Spread the word about your program.

There are probably plenty of people in your community who would love to support your CSR initiative—but they need to know about your program to give that support. To spread awareness about your CSR efforts, you’ll need to advertise your campaign to your customers and community.

As you market your program, consider the following strategies:

  • Identify your target audience. Find the people who care about the cause your business is supporting. If your business partners with a specific nonprofit, ask for resources about their audience so you can more accurately target them along with your existing customers. You can also request that they reference your program on their promotional materials to help you reach their audience of supporters.
  • Use the appropriate communication channels. Once you determine your audience, use their preferred communication channels for marketing your CSR program. When you meet your audience where they already are, you increase the chance they will see and engage with your message. For example, if you know that your audience is made up of younger people, try reaching them by participating in viral social media trends.
  • Use storytelling. Use compelling storytelling in ads for your CSR program to capture your audience’s attention. Explain how or why you started your business, the path it took to get where it is today, and why you are passionate about the cause you support. 

As a small or local business, you may not have the resources or budget for an extravagant advertising campaign. However, there’s no need to allocate a large budget to spreading awareness about your CSR program. Stick to free or low-cost means of advertising, like posting flyers around your community or simply posting on social media.

Offer other ways to get involved.

When nonprofits launch fundraisers, they often need help outside of what their staff can offer. In this case, nonprofits typically recruit volunteers to help manage all of the moving aspects of a fundraiser. Depending on the size of your business, you might need to encourage employees and other supporters to volunteer to run your CSR program successfully.

If you launch a sneaker recycling program, for instance, one way to encourage people to get involved would be to ask them to contribute running shoes to the cause. However, you can also ask supporters to volunteer to encourage people to donate at collection sites, bringing shoes and collection materials back to your business, and packaging the shoes up before sending them.

To find volunteers, make sure to include the opportunity in any promotional materials about your CSR program. You can also partner with local nonprofits, running clubs, or charity races to leverage their members, staff, and existing volunteer pool. Once your CSR program concludes, show your appreciation by sending out thank-you letters, emails, or even making phone calls to each volunteer.

When it comes to organizing a CSR program, there are so many options from which your business can choose. Whether you’re helping your customers part with their old running shoes responsibly or hosting fun philanthropic events at your business, you can help bring your community together for a good cause. This community connection not only supports those in need but also introduces new audiences to your business and strengthens relationships with existing customers.

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