Motivate Your People: Fundraiser Incentive Ideas

team fundraising motivation

Let’s face it: out of all the pieces to a good fundraising campaign—group communication, the duration of the fundraiser, setting milestone goals—nothing can wear you out faster than trying to keep your participants engaged in the campaign. Despite your fundraising team’s best intentions, many participants can quickly hit a slump in their campaign involvement.

You might call it the “what’s in it for me” stage of the campaign.

How can you keep your fundraising participants motivated? Give them a little personal push! Remember, while there may be no “I” in “Team,” there’s double the “I” in “Motivation.”

Fundraiser organizers call these pushes “fundraising incentives,” and they can make or break a good fundraising experience, especially for kids.

Here are some ideas for fundraising incentives that work for schools, non-profits, and community programs:

Physical Fundraising Incentives

Our first incentive category involves actual, physical rewards for meeting or exceeding individual or group fundraising goals. For example, many fundraisers reward participants with a small gift for signing up for or sharing the online fundraiser, making their first sale, or simply for attending the first fundraiser kick-off party (but maybe save more of your incentive budget for later, when the final big push is needed).

Physical incentives can help keep interest high over the course of your fundraising campaign by offering tiers of rewards based on making individual sales, reaching group milestones, or exceeding fundraising goals.

school fundraiser participants

Let’s take a look at a few examples:

For Kids

If you’ve participated in school fundraisers before, you’ll recognize the motivating power of toy or merch incentives to keep kids engaged. Some of the most commonly used physical incentives for a younger age group include:

  • Small Toys or Trinkets like fidget toys, figurines, plushies, or anything that lights up or glows in the dark (parents, you know this is true)
  • Collectible Sets: such as keychains, toys, and cards. Some kids are super motivated to collect them all!
  • Small Branded Wearables or Merchandise: such as bracelets, lanyards, badges, t-shirts, drawstring bags, hats, water bottles, and so on
  • Large Candy Bars: for this fundraising incentive, we’d say go big or go home

For Teens and Adults

While some branded merch options are still attractive to older fundraising participants—branded tumblers, water coolers, and tote bags do well, to name a few—physical fundraising incentives for teen or adult fundraiser participants may be more effective if they can cater to individual interests.

For example, gift cards are typically appreciated in all amounts (even small ones). Be sure to know your group’s preferences: older participants may be more likely to participate if the gift card is from a type of business or event that they already enjoy.

Some gift card incentive examples include:

  • Movie theaters
  • Local entertainment or attractions
  • Restaurants
  • Online retailers (Amazon, Target, Walmart)

soccer team huddle motivation

Challenge-Based Fundraiser Incentives

If you’ve ever heard someone say “if that happens, I’ll eat my hat” and really wanted them to prove it, planning a challenge-based fundraiser incentive may be right up your alley! As a bonus, we’d like to point out that some of these challenge-based incentive ideas are very budget-friendly.

For Kids (and Anyone With a Mischievous Inner Child)

These incentives may work best as a goal for groups of participants (either the entire student body or as a class competition). Most of these challenges involve a willing principal or administrator as their target and employ a child-like sense of humor. Here are a few challenge-based fundraising incentives for elementary students that encourage participation in a big way:

  • Pie in the face: give your target some sweet revenge
  • Dressed in silly clothes by participants: have a say in what the target wears during a school day
  • Kiss an animal: get your target to pucker up! Frogs, pigs, hamsters, and lizards are popular animal choices
  • Silly string: festoon the target in colorful string
  • Slime: decorate your target in uncomfortable goo
  • Duct tape to the wall: use one strip of duct tape to stick your target to the wall per item sold
  • Dunk tank: play a game to soak the target

Privilege-Based Fundraiser Incentives

For these rewards, your participants gain a privilege as individuals or as a group when they meet your fundraising goal. Privilege-based incentives work very well as rewards for class or group competitions. Like challenge-based incentives, many of these ideas are low cost (and some are free!).

For Kids

  • Have a Bingo Party With Prizes: these can include some of the physical incentives we mentioned earlier
  • Bring an Item From Home: this can be a toy, stuffed animal, a hat, pajamas, etc
  • Get Extra Recess Time: for example, 15-30 extra minutes on one day or for an entire week
  • Have a Dress-Up Day: some common themes include superheroes, western style, nerd style, and book characters
  • Throw a Pizza or Ice Cream Party: buy pizza or ice cream for an entire class or an entire grade
  • Host a Game: some examples are kickball, four square, and basketball
  • Get a Homework Pass: lets them skip an assignment (within reason)
  • Make Morning Announcements: read out scripted announcements over the school PA
  • Get Open Gym Time: get out the equipment and let the kids loose
  • Have Food With a Staff Member/Coach: some examples include picnic with the principal, pizza with the coach, or popsicles with the music director
  • Be First In Line: get to go first at lunch, at recess, or at the end of the school day
  • Go for a Limo Ride: either to a school sports event, a local restaurant, the movies, etc
  • Host a Human Hamster Ball Night: run around in a human-sized hamster ball
  • Host a Color Run: run a race to get blasted with colored powders

Additionally, tying the privilege to the theme of your fundraiser’s goal can help your participants keep the end goal in mind. For example, if you are fundraising for new playground equipment, you can reward participants with extra playground time.

For Teens and Adults

Some of the privilege-based incentives for younger kids will also apply to teens (a limo ride, color run, or human hamster ball night, for instance). Additionally, color runs seem to appeal equally whether you’re 5 or 50.

For an older community group, one privilege-based incentive that works well is the behind-the-scenes tour. If a business has partnered with you as a sponsor, ask if they would be willing to offer a tour of their facility as a reward for your participants meeting their goals. Some business examples are a media company, restaurant, or manufacturing plant.

A few other privilege-based incentive ideas for adults:

  • Swap Your Desk With the Boss For a Day
  • Breakfast or Donut Party

high school volleyball team fundraiser

Recognition-Based Incentives

For Kids

Recognition is a big deal for most people, and it can be especially rewarding for kids. Some examples of recognition-based incentives include:

  • Receiving Trophies or Ribbons
  • Having Your Name Called in Morning Announcements
  • Getting to Wear a Crown or a Special Outfit

For Teens and Adults

Trophies certainly have their place for recognition in the office or at school. You can also recognize participants through social media channels, in newsletters, or via company email (all with appropriate permissions, of course).

Here are a few more ideas for recognition incentives:

  • Parking in a Named, Reserved Spot
  • Placing A Plaque of Achievement for the Wall, Desk, Etc
  • Announcing Their Name in a Meeting

Keep Track of Incentives with Driven Coffee Fundraising

Ready to start motivating with fundraiser incentives? Your Driven Coffee fundraising specialist is here to help.

We’ve made it easy to help your group incentivize by designing our platform to track your sales. With our virtual fundraising platform, your supporters can access a participant dropdown at checkout to tag a participant of their choice for the sale.

virtual fundraising student selection
Easily track individual participant sales with our online fundraising platform.

Your online fundraiser includes website access to Driven’s in-house fundraising dashboard, where you can see your group totals at any time during the campaign. Additionally, your fundraising specialist will keep you updated on your fundraiser’s individual sales by sending you a report with individual totals twice during your campaign; one at about halfway through (just in time to update that cafeteria or break room leaderboard!) and another when your campaign is all wrapped up.

Prefer a Traditional Fundraising approach? With Driven’s brochure-based fundraising program, your participants will track their sales right on their personal order form. Traditional program leaders can check in with participants and offer group and individual incentives at regular intervals during the campaign. We may have said it several times already, but motivation is key to keeping your fundraiser on track!

traditional brochure fundraising
Participants track their sales right on their personal order form with our traditional brochure-based fundraising program.

Remember, our Driven Fundraising Specialists are there every step of the way to answer your questions. Always feel free to reach out!

Still looking for an energizing (and delicious) fundraiser for your group? Let us help you reach your fundraising goals: request more information here!

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