Unique Nonprofit Fundraising Ideas using Competitions

Updated: Jun 3


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Over 50% of charitable organizations in the United States were expecting to raise less money in 2020 than they did in 2019. The same percentage believed this will continue in 2021, according to the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ (AFP) Coronavirus Response Survey.


Meanwhile charities and and Not for Profits were expected to see a fall in total giving in Australia of around 7.1% in 2020 and a further 11.9% in 2021. This is according to a study by JBWere.

Fundraising is the very life blood of the charity and not for profit sector. With less disposable income to go around it is vital that the sector looks at new and engaging solutions to help supplement fundraising activities.

With so many fundraising events and activities cancelled, there has been a massive uptake in the digital engagement space. In particular the use of video is a key engagement medium. In fact, over 50% of 16-23 year old and over 44% of 24-37 year old users are consuming more online video since the COVID-19 breakout.

Many charitable and not for profit organizations are looking to see how they can leverage these booming mediums.


One extremely successful and engaging approach is to use video and other content such as photos and sound in combination with online competitive events.


Online competitive events have been used by all types of not for profit organisations such as charities, sporting clubs, educational foundations and many more. Our experience is that these types of competitions typically solicit fantastic engagement. Participants and voters are also more likely to be emotionally invested in the organisation.


So if you are thinking about using competitions to assist with your fundraising here are a few brilliant ideas leveraged by other organisations.


ContestPad Fundraising brochure
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Talent competition fundraising:

These type of competitions can take many forms however they all aim to collect proceeds and amplify members and supporters creative talents.


One example is a talent competition we supported for the Autism Society San Diego. They ran their first online talent competition and fundraiser to showcase the talents of those diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder living in San Diego County. Participants submitted videos of their talent. These could be anything from singing to comedy. They then conducted multiple rounds of public voting and judging to award winners with cash prizes. They collected proceeds through payments to enter the competition and also from voters who could purchase one or many votes for their preferred entrant. The proceeds approached close to $40,000 and greatly exceeded expectations. Most importantly by doing the competition online the running costs were kept to a minimum so as much of the proceeds as possible went to the society. The competition also created huge community engagement and awareness about autism.


Autisms Got Talent Case Study
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Another example is a singing competition we ran for VIBHA to support under-served children in India and the US. The online singing contest received an overwhelming response and immense love from across the globe. There were close to 400 entries that came in across all continents. They collected proceeds from votes and also had famous Indian artists contribute to the judging. The India winners were awarded with opportunities like singing for a VIBHA ad. The US winners shared the stage with a celebrity in a Bollywood Concert which was organized by Anand Entertainment. VIBHA raised a whopping amount of $31,000 dollars through this contest.


VIBHA Case Study
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Online festivals fundraising

Many festival type events are critical for fundraising to many institutes and foundations. With recent events many of these have had to be cancelled.


However there is nothing stopping you from taking your festival online.

One example of an ongoing festival we are supporting is for the Grove City Area Chamber of Commerce's Art's in the Alley festival. The festival is a critical fund raising and awareness event for GCACC and supports many local businesses.


We helped transform the entire festival to an online experience which includes community creative arts based competitions and virtual showcases. Proceeds are being collected through online submission fees.


Not only did GCACC raise funds from competition entries but the online event is also supported and funds collected from sponsors whose branding will appear on the virtual event.


Visitors to the virtual show also have the opportunity to contribute to local community businesses by being able to purchasing showcased products. They can also browse local businesses stalls through the virtual vendor plaza.



Virtual sporting events fundraising

Sporting organisations have been one of the hardest hit industries by Covid. From Local sporting and fitness clubs to international corporations have been impacted.

Most sporting organisations rely heavily on their competitive events as the major vehicle for funding and also continual engagement by their members.


Sporting clubs are now looking to augment and replace these live events with virtual sporting events.


One example is the Mt Isa Rodeo which is the largest rodeo event in the southern Hemisphere. With the recent cancellation of the physical event they were looking to take it online.


So we helped create the first ever virtual rodeo event, the Mt Isa Virtual Rodeo. It wasn't practical to conduct this as a live stream event. So we helped create a pre-recorded event that still enforced participation within a short 15 minute time period. This gave participants the flexibility to enter whenever they wanted however still mandating completion of the ride within 15 minutes of commencing.


The event was a huge success with participants paying to enter the competition across many categories and also generating online sponsorships. The virtual event also enabled them to scale across borders and accept entries globally.


Another example is the British Weightlifting Association. The British Weightlifting Association had to cancel all physical events during covid. Physical competitions are critical to keeping participants engaged. This includes both contestants and technical officials.


Challenged by COVID-19 restrictions, British Weightlifting moved all events online to keep participation up and skilled technical officials engaged.


The online events generated an overwhelmingly positive response from professional and amateur competitors. So far British Weightlifting have received over 1000 entries and that number continues to grow with each