Serious fun: Creating positive content for important causes

Nonprofits often raise money for serious causes; they may help victims of natural disasters or those affected by life-threatening illnesses.

But due to the importance of their missions, organizations may be hesitant to associate content with jokes, games or other materials that may seem frivolous.

All issues, no matter how serious, can benefit from some positivity. Humorous content can capture attention without mocking issues, while fun or engaging challenges gamify fundraising. This positive content should be a reflection of the hope a nonprofit organization is trying to encourage.

Here are a few tips for adding some humor and excitement to your fundraising campaign.

Creative fundraising marketing
Fundraising campaigns are becoming more common. The Nonprofit Research Collaborative reported the number of fundraising campaigns quadrupled between 2011 and 2015.

This means that organizations have to try even harder to stand out from the crowd.

Luckily, there are more communication platforms than ever, so nonprofits have plenty of opportunities to use diverse content. When thinking of successful social media fundraising campaigns, many people recall the "Ice Bucket Challenge." AdWeek detailed how the ALS Association raised $115 million in a month and a half by asking people to film themselves dumping cold water on their heads. This created a series of very funny videos that raised awareness and funds for a very serious illness.

The idea took off and has now become an annual challenge to raise money. Plus, it's hilarious to see friends and family members get doused with freezing cold water!

Rewarding events
One of the main benefits of a viral campaign like the Ice Bucket Challenge is that it allows donor contributions to go beyond the monetary. Modern audiences use platforms that allow their voices to be heard by the public on a daily basis. This is a common tactic for live events where people can donate money by bidding for auction prizes or talk directly to those helped by contributions.

John Haydon advises organizations to add social media features to live events. Twitter hashtags and other networking strategies allow audiences to help market an upcoming project or benefit using a platform that they're already using on an almost-daily basis.

It's also wise to encourage participants to take pictures to share with friends and family who aren't there. This turns donors into online ambassadors and makes them feel like they are really aiding a cause. And who doesn't like to brag on their philanthropic activities every once in a while?

Entertaining storytelling
It's important audiences completely understand a nonprofit's cause. Misconceptions can spread quickly online, and bad data may create unfavorable impressions that are hard to shake.

Narrative tactics are often used to show how a project functions from beginning to end and how people's lives change with nonprofit involvement.

Storytelling not only creates consistent narratives, but it also engages audiences. The Beth Kantor blog described how nonprofits can make their stories even more immersive through modern technology and games. Online challenges and video game platforms allow donors to walk in the shoes of people who need help or volunteers who make a difference.

Volunteers enjoy participating
Social media videos, online games, and other modern fundraising strategies require a good deal of creativity. This call for ideas provides opportunities for volunteers to contribute their thoughts and input.

Volunteer advocacy is important as it shows what people who work for a cause see and do in their daily activities. Asking volunteers to share their own thoughts and opinions, instead of boilerplate content, allows donors to experience actual enthusiasm for projects and fundraising campaigns. 

A current volunteer might even inspire a donor or prospect to start donating their time to your nonprofit!

Creating a platform for positive reactions
Whether at a live event or asking for online donations, it's imperative the fun isn't halted by frustration stemming from payment processing procedures. Portable scanners or donation kiosks that can process credit cards allow event participants to donate with their preferred method.

Also, online fundraising pages should communicate payment security so donors don't have to worry about data risks. Anything a nonprofit can do to eliminate obstacles should help donors focus on contributing to a positive change.

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