Fundraising Ideas for Converting Members Into Donors

Smart Business November 20, 2019 By: Joshua Meyer

Asking members to donate in addition to paying dues can sometimes feel like a tough sell, but it doesn’t have to be. With these four strategies, members will feel more connected to an association and glad to donate again.

While associations are primarily focused is on their members and providing benefits and services they can benefit from, they may also have a foundation that raises funds for industry research, student scholarships, and other activities.

In order to raise money for those initiatives, it can be helpful to convert members into donors.

However, associations often are reluctant to ask members to donate because they don’t want them to feel like they’re constantly being asked for money.

To address this concern, fundraising efforts should be designed to make members feel more connected to an association and its foundation’s mission. Here is a look at four strategies that can be used to raise funds and build connections with members that will help convert them into long-term donors.

Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

Peer-to-peer fundraising gets members involved in the fundraising process by having them raise money on an association’s behalf. One way to do this is through ambassador fundraising. Here’s how it works:

  1. An association taps “ambassadors,” who might be highly visible members, to fundraise leading up to a larger event.
  2. The association gives these ambassadors the tools they need to help them become active fundraisers and grow their donor base. Such tools might include instructions on personalizing their fundraising pages and using social media hashtags.
  3. Ambassadors then create their own individual fundraising pages to share with their social networks and attract donors (and even new members).
  4. At the event following the fundraising campaign, the association should recognize the ambassador who raised the most. This will help ambassadors feel like they’re an essential part of the fundraising effort.
Fundraising efforts should be designed to make members feel more connected to an association and its foundation’s mission.


If an association is looking for a way to bring in donations and support members, an auction may be the way to go. When an association hosts an auction with appealing items, it will not only raise revenue but also build deeper member engagement.

For example, let’s say you’re a professional writers association. If you auction off educational courses, the member who placed the winning bid would benefit from the classes and the foundation would benefit from the money raised from the auction. Think about different experiences, items, and educational courses that could be auctioned off that would be highly valued by members.


Associations hold conferences on a regular basis, but hosting tournaments as part of these events can prove to be an additional source of donation revenue.

For example, hold a golf tournament and require an entry fee for those who wish to compete. Also consider accepting suggested donations from those who want to watch their colleagues play.

Other Best Practices

While the previous strategies can be great motivators for members to get more involved and donate, organizations can make them even more effective by implementing a few best practices into all fundraisers:

  • Differentiation. Differentiate between dues collections and donation appeals. This will help keep the ideas separate. For example, collect membership dues during the summer and solicit donations at other times of the year.
  • Easy giving. Have an easy-to-find website donation page and a simple donation process.

Keeping these best practices in mind will help boost an association’s fundraising potential, as well as member engagement.

Joshua Meyer

Joshua Meyer is the director of marketing for OneCause in Indiana. Contact: