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Unlock Year-Round Donations: YMCA Fundraising Strategies

YMCA Fundraising Strategies
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Is your YMCA only asking for gifts during your annual fund campaign?

If so, you’re missing out on what the rest of the nonprofit fundraising world already does: invite donors to give year-round.

Worried that might be too many appeals? Scared your donors might get tired of being asked multiple times and develop donor fatigue? Here’s the good news: as long as you properly thank your donors and report back to them on how their gift made a difference, your donors are ready to be asked again.

How can you start?

Look at your 12-month calendar. Block off whatever month is the peak of your annual fund campaign. Dedicate that month to your annual fund and make it your only ask. Likewise, if you hold a big in-person fundraiser or gala, dedicate that month to just that event rather than other asks.

Depending on when you hold your annual fund or gala, consider running any of the 29 fundraising and stewardship campaigns below in the other months.

January: New Year Resolutions

  1. Resolve to give back in the new year by making charitable giving a habit
  • Harness the energy of the New Year by inspiring your donors and potential donors to make a resolution that’s easy to keep: committing to give back—or give even more! Invite them to consider a monthly recurring donation as their New Year’s Resolution.
  • Recruit a donor (or group of donors) to create a match of gifts up to a certain amount.
  • Kick off the campaign with posts from your staff and board spotlighting their resolution to give back.
  1. Take the plunge

Every winter, countless brave souls dive into icy waters for the thrill of the Polar Plunge. Why not rally your most adventurous supporters to turn this chilly challenge into a fundraiser for your YMCA? It’s a fantastic peer-to-peer event where participants enlist their social networks to sponsor their frosty dip, all in the name of a great cause. So, get your heartiest supporters ready to take the plunge and raise some funds!

February: Valentine’s Day Appreciation

Valentine’s Day is the perfect unexpected holiday to show your donors the love. How?

  1. Send Valentine’s or thank-you notes to donors.
  2. Share impact stories or testimonials with donors to let them feel the difference they made—whether it’s a story about how an economically disadvantaged child or family was served through learning how to swim, going to summer camp, securing child care for working parents, health programs, and more.
  3. Promote monthly giving to “share the love” all year long with prospects.

March: Spring Fitness Peer-to-Peer Challenge

  1. Organize a fitness challenge to promote healthy living and recruit participants to fundraise through a peer-to-peer campaign. Online peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns use individuals as ‘team captains’ to fundraise for you. These individuals create their own fundraising web pages where they can share stories about their experience with your organization and then ask friends and family to donate.

    Pro tip: Kick off with your board giving to make sure leadership volunteers are invested in the event’s success.

  2. Highlight the YMCA’s health and wellness programs.
  3. Do a campaign for YMCA’s Day of Giving.

Woman working out at spring fitness challenge

April: Volunteer Recognition Month

  1. Highlight the contributions of volunteers and their impact.
  2. Encourage donations in honor of volunteers.
  3. Host a volunteer appreciation event.

May: Mother’s Day Campaign

  1. Share stories of mothers and families impacted by the YMCA.
  2. Offer donors an option to give in honor of their mothers; your YMCA will send them each a Mother’s Day card, letting them know their son or daughter made a gift in tribute.
  3. Host a special Mother’s Day event or class.

June: Summer Camp Appeal

  1. Craft an appeal for summer camp scholarships for children in need.
  2. Share stories from past campers and the benefits of the camp experience.
  3. Host a donor committee to read scholarship applications, award them, and invite the donors to give so all applicants can attend camp.

July: Independence Day Celebration

  1. Promote a “Freedom to Play” campaign to support youth programs.

August: Back-to-School Campaign

  1. Fundraise for after-school programs and educational support, sharing testimonials from kids in need.
  2. Host a back-to-school fair or supply drive.
  3. Launch a monthly giving back-to-school campaign soliciting a monthly gift to help kids year-round.

Back to school fundraising

September: Healthy Aging Month

  1. Secure a match and fundraise for seniors’ programs spotlighting the importance of healthy aging with testimonials from program participants.

October: Fall Festival Fundraiser

  1. Organize a fall festival with activities, food, candy, fun games, and sponsorship opportunities.
  2. Share stories of how the YMCA brings the community together.

November: Giving Tuesday and Thanks for Giving

  1. Send a gratitude-themed letter, postcard, or email.
  2. Share stories of families and individuals who are thankful for the YMCA.
  3. Launch a Giving Tuesday campaign.

December: Year-End Giving Campaign

  1. Launch a multichannel year-end giving campaign.
  2. Send personalized donor thank-you notes and share stories of how their donations have made a difference.

Parting thoughts

Incorporating year-round fundraising into your YMCA’s strategy isn’t just a way to increase donations—it’s a way to build and deepen relationships with your donors.

Creating meaningful and varied campaigns throughout the year keeps your supporters engaged and invested in your mission. Every campaign is an opportunity to connect, to thank, and to inspire them with the lives they are changing through their generosity.

So, dive in and embrace a year-round approach. Your donors are ready, and with thoughtful planning, your YMCA will thrive all year long!

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