Fundraising Ideas That Work

How to raise $500 to $5000 quickly for your school, church, sports, or public service charity.


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The psychology of fundraising

What makes someone give to a good cause?

Philip Copitch, Ph.D.


People give for two main reasons, clear impact towards solving a problem, and personal connection.

1. Impact

People want to see results. They want their donation to count.

2. Personal connection

People donate when they feel personally connected to the issue. Can they see their child, their dog, their community in your charity’s scope? If so, they are much more likely to donate.

Another aspect is their personal connection to the person who is asking them to donate. People do not feel personally connected to a phone solicitor, but if your beloved aunt is putting together a team for the cancer walk-for-a-cure… now you have a personal connection.

What this means to fundraisers is we have to ask for the donation. Fundraising is a relationship.


Nowadays, donors want more evidence that their money is making the change they are hoping for. When conducting a big or small fundraising campaign, it is important that you can show the impact that the individual donation has on the cause.

Fiona Halton, chief executive of Pilotlight, talking about research on donors told  The Guardian,

“Clearly donors now want more evidence of the impact a charity is having on the communities they serve. It's also important that they are told how their donation contributes to the charity. With donations falling, charities need to be actively measuring their impact and talking about it if they want to attract donations of both time and money.”

Please help volunter at bake sale


Give to get in fundraising

This comment came in from the FundraisingIdeasThatWork blog:

Dr. Phil,

Why does my church have to “sell” a product to get a donation? It seems to me that people should donate because it is the right thing to do.

Walter, Bell Buckle, TN

Hi Walter,

You are completely correct. Many people do give because it feels right to do so, but others need a little something back. A little added incentive to help.

The number one way to get a donation for a worthy cause is to ask for it.

The number two way is to ask, and sweeten the asking.

The science of sweetening the donation

Social scientists published a paper in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology in 2002 that illustrates this situation well. (Read the paper, PDF download)

The researchers set up a situation where randomized groups of diners did or did not get a chocolate along with their meal check. The researchers found that, “...customers who received a small piece of chocolate along with the check tipped more than did customers who received no candy.”

The researchers concluded that the act of tipping was both a psychological decision as well as an economic one. They stated, “By making personalized gestures such as providing small pieces of candy with the guest check, a server can have a positive influence on the size of gratuity left by the dining party that is independent of the actual quality of the service provided during the party’s dining experience.”





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