10 Brainstorming Rules For Fundraising

U.S. Olympic swimmer Katie Ledecky was celebrating smashing her own world record for Women’s 400-meter freestyle a full four seconds before the silver medal finisher touched the wall. Other swimmers in the same events are often thrilled when they can even see Ledecky’s feet when competing against her. You want your organization’s campaigns to perform similarly.

In her presentation “Best in Show! Counting Down the Best Online Fundraising, Engagement, and List-Building Campaigns of the Year,” Madeline Stanionis, principal and creative director at M+R, highlighted some of her favorite nonprofit ad campaigns that had solid results.

One unusual yet simple campaign highlighted by Stanionis was the New York Public Library’s bookplate campaign. This campaign allowed donors to buy a bookplate for $50 to dedicate a book of their choice with a small, decorative label in the front of the book. This campaign brought in 57 percent new donors and had an average gift of $57. The campaign, premiered in December, provided a seasonally appropriate and unique chance to not only give a gift to their recipient, but to the thousands who enjoy New York Public Library each year.

Stanionis also discussed the “bold as hell” ALS Association Ice Bucket Challenge that swept social media in 2014 and 2015. While no one can guarantee a charitable campaign “going viral,” the ones that do definitely reap the benefit: over $100 million for the ALS Association.

After reviewing the “Best in Show” winners, Stanionis addressed the importance of brainstorming in creating creative campaigns with . Her 10 brainstorming rules were:

  • There are no rules.
  • Show up, every time.
  • You don’t have to have the best idea.
  • “Yes, and…”
  • Saying an idea is bad doesn’t’ help.
  • Saying an idea is good doesn’t really help either.
  • Make jokes, be silly, and be loud.
  • State the obvious.
  • Resurrect the failed.
  • Shut up and start saying things.