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The Art of Fundraising: Top Tips & 7 Creative Ideas

The Art of Fundraising: Top Tips & 7 Creative Ideas

As an individual fundraising on behalf of a school, you know what students are capable of achieving with the support of monetary donations. However, you also know the challenges associated with setting up and running a successful school fundraiser, such as acquiring enough donors to help push you past your goals. 

To engage both students and the wider community in your fundraising efforts, we recommend trying out art-based fundraisers. 

Art-based fundraising ideas engage students in creative pursuits and give them greater agency in raising money to support their school. Plus, it’s easier to engage your community at large in fundraising efforts that serve the dual purpose of fostering student creativity. After all, every parent ends up with a macaroni masterpiece on their fridge at some point!

Creative fundraisers are especially effective for raising money for school art programs since they tie directly into the mission of these programs. If this is relevant to your organization, then you’re in the right place!

In this article, we’ll review best practices for launching an art-based fundraiser, as well as seven creative fundraising ideas that span multiple platforms. Let’s dive in! 

Tips for a Successful Fundraising Campaign

Before launching your next art-based fundraiser, sit down with your fellow volunteers to make a game plan. Your team may need to adopt new online fundraising tools or take a more strategic approach to your current software stack. Get everyone on the same page by following these best practices: 

Challenge students to get involved.

You’re fundraising to give students greater access to educational or creative resources and opportunities. So, why not let the students themselves take charge? Engaging students in your school’s fundraising efforts gives them a sense of belonging and pride in their school. Plus, students are often eager to get involved in art fundraisers because they love to flex their creativity and support their school’s art programs. 

When you involve your students in fundraising, you can also capture the attention of their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and other family members. All of these individuals are willing to support the students in their creative endeavors and support the school that cares for their students week after week.

Communicate effectively about your campaign.

All fundraising endeavors require the engagement of many donors to be successful. Your marketing and communications strategy is what introduces your audience to your campaign and persuades them to give to your cause. Therefore, you need to have a dedicated communication strategy in place to effectively earn the support of donors. 

As you craft your strategy, you should:

    • Use a multichannel marketing approach. When your digital communication approach spans multiple platforms, you can reinforce your message through repeated, varied exposure. Market your school fundraisers using social media, your school’s website, and your email newsletter. 
    • Market the campaign ahead of time. When it comes to marketing your art fundraiser, early is on time! Starting your campaign marketing early is the best strategy because it gives your audience time to prepare and think about how they will support you. 
    • Let supporters know what their donations will go toward. Prospective donors want to know that their contributions will be put to good use. Let supporters know that their gifts will support purchasing supplies for your school’s art classes, or sending students to creative writing workshops. 

Also, use your communication platforms to inform audience members about additional ways to support your school, such as through matching gifts. In matching gift programs, companies match donations that their employees make to charitable organizations. Encourage donors to research their companies’ matching gift policies and fill out the necessary forms to get their gifts matched, giving your fundraising efforts an exponential boost.

A well-rounded communication strategy ensures that both your fundraising team and your audience of prospective donors are on the same page and prepared to support your fundraising efforts. 

Optimize your virtual elements.

If you’re hosting virtual events or fundraisers, give them the same care and consideration you give your in-person opportunities. This might require you to invest in new online fundraising tools or use the platforms you have more effectively. 

To determine whether you need to add new tools to your virtual toolbox, consider if your fundraising team has access to the following platforms: 

  • Virtual event software: These systems provide a framework for raising funds before and during your event, selling tickets for virtual events, and keeping track of event details and data. 
  • Livestreaming platform: If you’re hosting a live virtual event, you’ll need a way to deliver your content directly to attendees’ devices, such as their laptops or phones. A livestreaming platform such as Facebook Live or Zoom can fulfill this requirement. 
  • Virtual fundraising platform: To collect donations all year round, you’ll require a dedicated fundraising system. Review Charity’s virtual fundraising software guide to explore the different fundraising solutions available. These include tools for managing donor information, researching matching gift eligibility, marketing, and other essential fundraising activities. 

If your organization is lacking any of these platforms, you may want to dedicate a portion of your budget to invest in these tools. On the other hand, if you already have one or more of these tools, review your use of the platforms to ensure you’re using them to the fullest. 

For example, is your donor database updated regularly? Are you consistently reviewing your matching gift database to determine which donors are match-eligible? Are your livestreamed virtual events easy for audience members to watch from any device? Ensure you’re covering all of your bases and using your fundraising tools to support your strategy. 

7 Creative Art-Based Fundraising Ideas

Now it’s time for the fun part — determining what kind of nonprofit event you’d like to host. Review these seven ideas to spark creativity and earn more for your school. We’ve also included ideas for transforming your opportunities into socially distanced/virtual school fundraisers if pandemic restrictions in your community make in-person events not feasible. 

1. Dance-a-thon

In a dance-a-thon, participants gather pledges based on how long they’re able to continue dancing. For example, supporters may pledge to contribute $1 for every minute participants spend dancing, or a larger donation such as $500 if a participant completes a major goal, like dancing for six hours or more. 

Your students will get to share in the art of dance, while your school’s fundraising efforts benefit from the engagement of students’ families. 

Make it virtual by hosting a livestreamed DJ for kids to dance along at home. 

2. Craft/art sale

Have your school’s art classes or clubs create crafts, such as:

  • Paintings
  • Drawings
  • Sculptures
  • Pottery
  • Jewelry

Then, invite community members to a craft fair where they can browse the items and purchase their favorite artwork. You can also schedule your art fair around a holiday and have students create Halloween, Christmas, or Valentine’s-themed crafts. 

Make it virtual by conducting an online auction on Facebook or your school’s website. Post photos of the artwork for sale and encourage audience members to claim their favorite pieces.

3. Photography contest

Encourage students to take an artistic eye to the world around them with a photography contest. The contest can have a theme, such as nature or family, or it can be wide-reaching and accept all manner of photographs.

Print the photos and host a gallery night where community members can view the pictures hanging in the halls of your school. Then, leave a jar or box in front of each photo so attendees can “vote” on their favorite by leaving a donation. The student whose photo receives the most donations wins the competition! 

Make it virtual by featuring student photographs on your social media pages and asking donors to contribute a donation along with a note of their favorite photographer’s name. 

4. Art class

Host a special art class for students, their families, and the community at large with the help of a locally renowned artist or your school’s art teacher. The class can be focused on a special skill, such as painting or drawing, or a particular project, such as crafting holiday wreaths. 

Then, ask participants to contribute a donation to access the class.

Make it virtual by hosting a Zoom art class. 

5. Talent show

Encourage students to show off their special skills in a school-wide talent show! Host an audition to review each students’ talent, then plan a performance for all of the students to perform their talents in front of family and friends. 

You may have students in your school community who are incredible dancers, singers, musicians, comedians, or jugglers. A talent show provides the platform for letting these students shine while gathering donations for your fundraising efforts. 

Make it virtual by compiling videos that students filmed at home into a YouTube video that can be accessed for a fee. Or, encourage viewers to contribute to your online donation page before watching your virtual talent show. 

6. T-shirt design contest and sale

As 99Pledges’ says in their article about fundraising ideas for kids, T-shirt fundraisers allow students “to express their personal style while also spreading the word about your organization and its fundraising with each purchase.” 

Challenge students to come up with a design for your T-shirt fundraiser. Allow all students to vote on their favorite T-shirt design, then put the shirts up for sale. You can sell the shirts during school events, on your school’s website, or via your social media pages. 

You’ll not only be able to raise funds for your school, but also gain access to an effective marketing opportunity when supporters wear your T-shirts while out and about. This helps raise awareness of your school’s fundraising campaign among the general public, which may lead to more people getting involved. 

Make it virtual by accepting drawings online and conducting the sale with the help of an online fundraising provider. 

7. Ornament auction

An ornament auction is an effective fundraising idea for the holiday season. During art class, students can design ornaments that you can offer for sale at a holiday market. 

Or, similar to a T-shirt contest, you can host a competition for students to submit an ornament design. Then, choose the best design and create a single ornament for sale. You can brand the ornament with your school’s logo to make it a valuable item that families can keep on their Christmas trees for years to come. 

Make it virtual by posting each ornament on social media and encouraging families to purchase their favorites, or offering branded ornaments for sale in your school’s online store.

These ideas combine all types of art forms, from dance to crafts to design. Choose the idea that you think your school community will be most receptive to that aligns with your students’ interests. 

Art-based fundraisers can be a fun, engaging way to raise lots of money for your school in general, or your school’s art programs specifically. No matter what fundraising idea you choose, be sure to adapt it to your school’s needs and your students’ preferences to achieve success. Happy fundraising!