Maximizing Fundraising for Your Association

Maximizing Fundraising for Your Association

Maximizing Fundraising for Your Association

Has your membership organization hit a wall when it comes to raising money? If so, you’re not alone. But how do you compete with an ever-growing number of charities and other associations for dollars? What options are out there?

Conduct Annual Campaigns Carefully

While annual fundraising campaigns above and beyond membership dues can work, they need to be approached with care. Some members may resent being hit up for donations when they’ve already paid dues.

Let new members know when you have scheduled campaigns, so they’re not taken by surprise, and remind existing members why the annual drive is so important (e.g., what their contributions paid for last year).

Always make it clear to members that donations are optional, and never use guilt to press members into contributing. In fact, you may want to keep donations anonymous. You may get more small donations that add up when people aren’t embarrassed about how much they gave.

Get Creative with Incentives

The other end of the anonymous stick is to think creatively when it comes to donor incentives. Are you simply sending a thank-you note or mentioning contributors in a newsletter? What could you give in return for donations at various tiers?

  • A private consultation with a pundit in your association
  • Swag (clothing, tech goodies, etc.)
  • E-books or webinars
  • Speaking opportunities at your next conference
  • Free advertising


Hire a Development Director

Organizing fundraising events takes time and energy, which busy board members may not have to spare. Is it perhaps time to hire a development director to manage your campaigns?

While there are obviously many considerations with the creation of a fundraising staff position, it does open your association up for other fundraising methods. With a director of development on board, you may be able to pursue grants, bequests, crowdfunding campaigns and other donations that would be out of reach otherwise. You may be surprised at what funding is available to you once someone has time to research it.

Put Your Live Events to Use

Don’t pass up opportunities to fundraise during live events when you have a captive audience. Rather than passing the hat at meetings, try fun methods, like silent auctions, raffles or pay-to-play events (golf tournaments, dinner with a guru, etc.). Everyone in your association likely knows someone who will donate a prize, whether it’s a hotel stay or gourmet food basket.

Publish an Anthology

Sure, writing a book takes time, but what if numerous members of your association each write a chapter? With today’s self-publishing technology and easy download methods, you can have a book ready in a few months’ time. Sell it on Amazon, on your association website and/or in print when you have live events.

You can do the same with a DVD series if you tape your speakers and presentations. Don’t be afraid to charge for value; people will pay for information that would be too challenging for them to find and assemble on their own or that fill knowledge gaps in your industry. Just make sure to get appropriate releases.

Go for Targeted and Aggressive Membership Drives

Although most associations don’t want to depend on membership dues for the entirety of their funding, they can be a significant source of revenue. The key is to take your membership off autopilot and put it into high gear:

  • Explore different membership levels and pricing.
  • Think about membership rewards as you would donation incentives.
  • Make membership attractive to new people, especially Millennials.
  • Go more specific, not broader, with your association’s mission, a counterintuitive move that may bring in more members or members with greater clout.


If any of these tips sound overwhelming, we’re here to help. Contact Jaffe Management today to learn how we can assist you with membership administration, financial services, and more. We offer comprehensive management solutions for associations and nonprofits.