The 365 Ways Blog

Michael Norton is author of "365 Ways to Change the World", which provides an issue for each day of the year, interesting facts, inspiring case studies of people doing things to address the issue and ideas for action. Originally published in the UK, versions with local content have been published in Australia, Canada, India, South Africa and the USA. To find out more visit our website:

30 May 2008

Get some great fundraising ideas

At the International Workshop on Resource Mobilisation held in Kuala Lumpur in 2008, one of the speakers asked the fundraisers in the audience whether they liked asking for money. Only one person put their hand up. Most people are good at writing fundraising proposals and organising events, but when it comes to asking for money they feel embarrassed.

They should not be. They are asking people to join with them in addressing an important and sometimes urgent social problem. They are giving people the opportunity to do something about it – which they may really want to do. And without their support, less can be done. So if you are involved in a campaign or a project which you feel passionate about, and if you need money, volunteers, gifts in kind or other support, then go out and ask people. Besides asking family, friends and colleagues at work, or organising receptions to tell people about what you are doing or speaking in public, there are lots of other opportunities for asking. Here are some whacky ideas for asking contributed by participants at another workshop:

1. Get talking to the person behind you in the supermarket queue. They will be just as bored as you, and will have to wait longer than you to pass through the checkout. Why not use the opportunity to tell them about the importance of your cause, and even ask them to support you.
2. Go and ask one person at random in the street if they can spare you a minute to hear about a really important issue. Do this once a day. Most people will not want to talk to you. A few will. Someone may decide to support you. You will get better and better at it with practice.
3. Go and speak at Speakers Corner in Hyde Park, London. Just take along a crate to stand on, dress colourfully and bring along some leaflets to hand out. Start talking. People passing by will stop to listen. Eventually you may attract a crowd. Participate in one of the iconic symbols of freedom of speech.
4. Develop a ten-second pitch to give to people in an elevator as you zoom up from street level to the 51st floor. See how many you can convince on the way up. Do it again on the way down.
5. If you happen to go sky diving, talk to your fellow divers on the way down. See if you can sign them up to make a legacy in your favour (which you will only benefit from when they die). Perhaps their ’chute will not open!
6. Organise a dress-in-green day at your workplace, and fine people as they come in if they are not dressed in green. As you fine them, tell them about how their fine is going to help change the world.

If you have any great ideas for how to ask for money, then submit them to

If you want to get some great fundraising ideas, then visit the Showcase of Fundraising Innovation and Inspiration:

Over 100 great examples of fundraising successes are showcased. Browse the website, or submit your own example of a creative idea that worked really well for you. Here are two of the case studies.

Jeans for Genes is a national appeal in the UK where everyone across the country is asked to throw out the usual dress rules, jump into their jeans and donate £1 at schools or £2 at work to help children with genetic disorders. In order to get people to know about Jeans for Genes Day and to sign up to organise something at their place of work, iconic statues all around the UK were dressed in jeans. Some statues wore denim jeans, others had cloaks, aprons or specially eye-catching denim clothing. It all cost about £100 – the denim was donated, the jeans were made by volunteers. The media picked up the story which helped promote Jeans for Genes Day.

Jeans or denim wear were put on:
The Bull in Birmingham, Dylan Thomas in Swansea, Captain Cat in Swansea, Gareth Edwards in Cardiff, Lady Godiva in Coventry, Sir Stanley Matthews in Stoke on Trent, Beau Brummell in Jermyn Street (London), The Cordwainer in Watling Street (London), The LIFFE Trader in Walbrook Street (London), The Shepherd and Sheep in Paternoster Square (London), and Eric Morecambe in Morecambe Bay.

Covenant House Candlelight Vigil. For over 16 years, Covenant House (USA) has used a candlelight vigil to draw attention to the needs of homeless and street youth. The main vigil is held in Times Square, New York with surrounding billboards lighting up with advertisements and information about Covenant House and the youth it serves. The 2006 vigil was held at 17 locations in North and Latin America with audiences of up to 750. The event itself is a simple half-hour programme: a proclamation and/or greetings from local government individuals, inspirational messages from street youth and a short address by a distinguished member of the community. All vigils include the lighting of candles as a symbol of caring.

Covenant House now wants to increase the number of vigil sites to more than 1,000, to create a ‘blaze’ of concern at the start of US National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week and to raise $10-12 million dollars in sponsorships to fund its programmes.


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