4 Unique Fundraising Ideas for Your Orphanage

By Cameron Talbot

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I think we can all agree—raising funds is one of the more challenging parts of the job. When it comes to fundraising for an orphanage, it never ends! We know that finding, pursuing and connecting with donors is a full-time job. And if you are an orphanage director tasked with raising funds, you need easy strategies that are both cost and time-effective.

So, here’s a brief list of innovative ideas that you can try to create awareness and fundraise for your orphanage. Each has Pros and Cons to help you decide if it’s the right method for your next campaign.

Of course, once you have a donor connection, the real task is keeping that donor engaged. If you are losing donors or have a difficult time making strong connections, you can read our article on donor retention.

But for now, on to some fun ideas that might make your year a bit more financially secure!

1. Zoom Games

First on our list is a completely virtual option. Never have video conferences been more widely used and accepted across industry, nation, and demographic, than in the continuing aftermath of COVID-19 and international lockdowns. An increasing number of companies have released free video conferencing options, including the popular platform “Zoom,” and Google’s version, “Google Meet.”

With this addition to accessible communication comes a variety of new, creative ways to fundraise! Our favorite, though, is to invite potential donors to play fun games and win prizes (who doesn’t want to win a prize?!). In our most recent fundraising campaign, we played a version of Loteria, or Mexican Bingo. We met new people, everyone had fun, and we brought in a decent amount of donations in the process. Here’s how we did it:

Step 1: Choose a game

We chose bingo, because the required materials are limited. Every participant was emailed different bingo cards to print off, and the hosts called the bingo numbers (or in the case of loteria, pictures). For your game night, you might also choose trivia, pictionary or charades!

Step 2: Choose prizes

If you use prizes, just know that you have an upfront cost. And, if you open your game night up to donors living far away, you might have some shipping costs as well. Keep those things in mind as you decide on your ticket price.

Step 3: Choose a host

You can host the evening yourself, or ask one of your close donors to be the host and invite their family and friends. We chose to ask donors to be the hosts, giving us the opportunity to meet new people and share our vision with a broader, new group.

Step 4: Set up ticket sales

The initial profit with this method comes from charging a ticket price for access to the event. You can charge for tickets in several ways. The first is via your website if you have one. We had donors comment ‘bingo night’ on the donation form, so we knew what the gift was for. You could also choose to use a ticketing website, such as Eventbrite. Just be aware that these companies will take a percentage of your profit.

Step 5: Create a meeting and play!

Once you’ve chosen the conferencing platform to use, set up the meeting in advance to generate an access code. Send this access code along with a “ticket confirmation” email, and printable resources the players will need when they purchase their tickets. Then, all that’s left to do is to play the game!

During the evening, take a break between rounds and talk for a few minutes about your children’s home, and the needs you are currently facing. Be sure to provide a link or the information needed for them to donate more.

Cost: Prizes and shipping (optional); online ticketing service (optional)

Pros: Meet new, potential donors; create a fun donor experience; donation goal can be project-based, or unspecified, daily operations; an event that requires no cleanup!

Cons: Some work is required to set this up; physical prizes aren’t really an option if guests are international; free versions of video conferencing services usually limit your call time to 45-60 mins.

2. Donorbox Crowdfunding

Donorbox makes it easy for nonprofits to build personalized fundraising tools online. We use their donation form on our own website, which you can take a peek at here.

One of the best features Donorbox offers, though, is the ability to create your own crowdfunding landing page. This means you can set up a fundraising goal with a visual theme that mirrors your branding, without having to actually change or create your own website. The landing page comes with a goal meter, allowing donors to instantly see how their donation impacts your progress.

This method of fundraising works really well when used for a specific project (eg. new vehicle, construction costs, school supplies, etc.). If you are trying to raise funds for your daily operation, we do not recommend this method. Why? Because having an immediate, achievable goal with a finish line is what drives donors to give here. The landing page will indicate how much money a certain project costs, and donors will feel encouraged to help you complete a project that is both quantifiable and limited in scope.

How does it work? Visit Donorbox.org to set up your free account. Next, you’ll need to link a Stripe or Paypal account. If you don’t have a Stripe or Paypal account connected to your organization’s bank, that will have to be done. Once you open a Donorbox account, you’ll set the goal amount for your project, add a description, and set a few design elements. The landing page will include a payment portal for donors to give easily. It’s quick, it’s versatile, and it’s attractive.

Share this landing page across all your platforms (Email, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) and encourage your donors to share it, as well.

Cost to you:

Donorbox: 1.5%

Stripe or Paypal: 2.9% + $.30/trans. (Will vary by country)

Total: 4.4% + $.30/trans.

Pros: Easy to use; relatively quick set-up; customizable; share your fundraising goals online and across social media; donors are given the option to pay the 4.4% fees (and in our experience, they usually will).

Cons: Does not usually create strong donor connections; requires extensive social media engagement.

3. Bigger, Better

This one might seem crazy, but it’s innovative and fun!

Find a small item of little value lying around your home. It could be a pen, a coin, a paperclip, etc. Then, take this item around town, and ask your neighbors to trade with you, and give you something either “bigger” or “better.” Continue making these upward exchanges until you have something of considerable monetary value to sell. You can find many stories online of participants trading up to very large items, such as a car or even a house.

Sound ridiculous? Here’s why this works—most people who trade with you will give an item they no longer need or want, despite the fact it is technically “bigger” or “better.” Perhaps they want the item you have more. And some people will want to be generous and exchange something that clearly benefits the orphanage. Either way, you are giving them an opportunity to invest in a local children’s home. You will reach donors who might not be able to give financially, but still want to contribute. It’s a win-win for everyone.

In addition, this unusual experience is an opportunity for your orphanage to reach out and connect further with the community. In your “exchange pitch,” you will tell them why you are exchanging items. It’s for a local cause that impacts everyone! For those neighbors who haven’t contributed or connected with your work, this is an easy way for them to begin.

Cost to you: One paperclip

Pros: Community connection; opportunities to share about your home; enjoyable for the donor.

Cons: Requires patience, time, and a substantial, local community.

4. “Sponsor a Mom”

We’ll say it again, innovation is key. But innovation doesn’t necessarily mean you have to reinvent the wheel.

One of the most successful orphanage campaigns ever implemented is the “sponsor a child” method. For a small, monthly donation, donors are connected with an individual child in your home. They know their money is being used for daily operations, such as food, shelter and education. Even though “daily operations” isn’t an exciting goal, donors are encouraged to subscribe monthly, because they have one, beautiful face they know they are directly impacting. Many orphanages even go a step further by helping the donor and the child write letters to one another, increasing the positive connection.

We need to consider the same method, but on behalf of our caregivers. “Sponsor a mom” or “sponsor a dad” could become a very popular fundraising slogan, encouraging donors to supplement caregiver salaries and take some financial burden off of orphanages. Similar to “sponsor a child,” donors could be given a caregiver’s bio and photo, and be prompted to write letters of encouragement.

With Mother’s Day on the horizon in countries around the world, this is an option worth your consideration. The campaign could be marketed as a gift for Mother’s Day, as donors are looking for ways to honor their own mothers. The message, “You’re a great mother, so I want to honor you by sponsoring a ‘mother’ to orphaned children,” is a powerful one.

Facilitating a relationship between the donor and the caregiver, relating to one another as “parents,” could be valuable even beyond the donations. Caregivers could have the opportunity to share their experiences via letter, ask for prayer or encouragement, etc. from another parent (provided that a director is monitoring communications). The connections built could become very dependable, and lasting.

Cost to you: As much or as little as you wish, depending on your marketing strategy.

Pros: Donations toward daily operations; develops strong donor connections; encouragement to caregivers.

Cons: Requires ongoing supervision; works best with easy, online giving forms that can automatically charge donors monthly.

We hope these ideas bring your children’s home greater funding! Be sure to let us know if you give one a try.

Cameron Talbot

Founder of Oak Life, he has been working alongside children's homes since 2015. His passion is to learn and share the tools to help heal children of abandonment. Sustainable alternative-care. Proud husband and father.

Cameron Talbot

Cameron Talbot

Founder of Oak Life, he has been working alongside children's homes since 2015. His passion is to learn and share the tools to help heal children of abandonment. Sustainable alternative-care. Proud husband and father.

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