Pledge fundraising campaigns are an excellent way to encourage your donors to make gifts by engaging their competitive spirit. During a pledge fundraiser, a donor promises to contribute a specific amount in the future or over a certain time frame. Typically, they pledge to fulfill their donation when a certain action is completed, such as running a specific number of miles in a fun run.

Pledge fundraisers are effective for multiple types of organizations, such as schools, nonprofits, sports teams, community clubs, and more. Because donations can be made at a later date, they offer more flexibility for donors. By making giving more convenient, you make it possible for more people to donate, and you can begin cultivating stronger supporter relationships with them.

Here are five popular pledge fundraising ideas for you to try in 2023:

  1. Walk-a-thon or fun run
  2. Social media challenge
  3. Matching gift drive
  4. Dance-a-thon
  5. Give up pledge

Keep in mind that you’ll need an effective fundraising platform to host a pledge fundraiser. Ideally, your fundraising platform will have key features like easy-to-create, personal donation pages and tools that help track fundraising progress. Let’s start by discussing how your organization can use a walk-a-thon to raise money for your cause.

1. Walk-a-thon or fun run

Walk-a-thons and fun runs are extremely popular school fundraisers. According to 99Pledges, these fundraisers are also a great way to support a sports team, such as a local youth basketball or baseball team.

In a walk-a-thon, participants create individual online fundraising pages to gather pledges from their family members and friends. These pledges represent promises to donate a certain amount of money based on each unit of distance the participant walks during the event. For example, supporters may pledge to contribute $10 for each mile the participant walks during the event. Fun runs follow the same concept, but participants run instead of walk.

Follow these tips to plan a successful walk-a-thon or fun run:

  • Clearly define the event’s logistics. Make sure to announce the date and time of the fundraiser at least a month in advance. This ensures your supporters will be able to fit the event into their busy schedules.
  • Encourage supporters to attend. Appeal to all your supporters, such as students, teachers, athletes, or community members.
  • Promote the event. Advertising your event is crucial to its success. Try an email blast or promoting on social media if you want to reach a larger amount of potential participants.
  • Thank donors after the event.  Kwala suggests writing a heartfelt thank you letter. You can personalize the letter by addressing the donor by their first and last name and referring to their specific donation amount. 

To make sure your fundraising team is on the same page, assign specific roles and responsibilities to staff members and volunteers like checking participants in or sending thank-you notes to donors after the event concludes. A well-planned event will make all the difference when it comes to engaging potential participants and donors.

2. Social Media Challenge

Everyone is familiar with the 2014 ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and how effective it was in both boosting awareness about amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and fundraising for the ALS Association. Your organization could do something similar by creating a viral social media challenge encouraging supporters to participate and contribute donations.

Your organization doesn’t need to have a presence on social media to get started. You can use your existing social media accounts, such as Twitter or Instagram, or set up new ones if your organization hasn’t used social media before. To make sure that the challenge is a success, you should keep the following tips in mind:

  • Think of a creative challenge idea, such as a photo contest or dance challenge!
  • Be authentic when sharing your organization’s story online by giving updates about your fundraising progress or sharing behind-the-scenes videos of your organization.
  • Interact with participants’ posts—cheering on and thanking your participants encourages more people to join in your challenge.

To garner support for your challenge, you’ll need to effectively promote your social media challenge. Post it to all your social media platforms, link it to your website and be sure to mention it in your email marketing campaigns. The more people that see it, the better!

3. Matching gift drive

Matching gift drives are a great way to raise more funds without asking individual donors to make bigger gifts. They are similar to matching gift programs, where businesses match donations that their employees make to nonprofits, schools, and other mission-driven organizations. In a matching gift drive, nonprofits partner with local companies that will pledge to match all donations their employees make in a certain time frame, such as 24 hours.

The steps to holding a matching gift drive will look something like this:

  1. Find a corporate partner that already offers a program for gift matching. It will be easier to convince them to participate in your matching gift drive.
  2. Promote the gift drive several weeks ahead of time so donors know when to submit their gifts.
  3. Show appreciation to donors and your corporate partner!

Remember that this type of pledge fundraiser relies on the generosity of both donors and the matching organization. To ensure participants have a smooth gift-giving experience, double-check that your gift submission process is easy. 

4. Dance-a-thon

Similar to the walk-a-thon and fun run, a dance-a-thon is a fundraiser where participants spend their time dancing to earn donations for your cause. A dance-a-thon is a creative way to fundraise for schools or youth organizations. Here are some things to keep in mind for an effective dance-a-thon:

  • Choose upbeat music that people will want to dance to.
  • Select a theme, like 80s night or pop legends, to encourage participation. You can even host a costume contest to encourage participants to dress according to the theme. 
  • Include additional activities throughout the event, such as live performances or games.
  • Make sure you thank all donors and volunteers after the dance-a-thon ends.

With proper planning, dance-a-thons can allow you to generate a substantial amount of funds in a short amount of time. By creating a fun, engaging fundraising event, you can attract new supporters and cultivate deeper relationships with existing donors.

5. Give up pledge

Don’t worry—this challenge is not as dire as it sounds. The give up pledge is a fundraiser where participants “give up” a bad habit or an indulgence, such as chocolate or cigarettes. Participants use the money they save from not buying these items and donate it to the organization. 

Keep these factors in mind if you want to organize a give up fundraiser:

  • Motivate your participants to stick to their pledges—give up pledges usually take place over a month.
  • Use social media to raise awareness and get more participants involved.
  • Make it a competition—keep a running tally of how much each participant has donated so far to see who can give up the most.

Consider making this fundraiser virtual! You can easily turn this fundraiser into a social media challenge where participants track their progress online. Add links to the challenge to your website and all your social media platforms so supporters can find it easily.

Wrapping Up

Pledge fundraisers are a great way to raise a significant amount of money over a short period of time, and they can also leave a lasting positive impression on participants. These fundraisers are fun and creative, and they leave participants feeling appreciated for their work, regardless of if they donated in a matching gift drive or danced in a dance-a-thon. With the fundraising ideas and tips above, you’re well on your way to hosting a successful pledge fundraiser campaign!