Sometimes it takes more than a good cause.
If I can just finish the article I promised to write, I’ll reward myself with a coffee and a break. When I reach my target weight, I will allow myself hot chips for lunch one day.
Of course these are both worthwhile goals in and of themselves – one is my job for which I am paid, the other will have proven health and other personal benefits. Yet I need tangible short term incentives to help me achieve my long term goals.
This is the same issue faced by fundraisers. Nobody doubts the long-term value of the fundraising goals – new school facilities or an end of season sport trip – but keeping your volunteers motivated with long term aspirations can be tricky. That’s why many fundraisers use incentives.
There is some debate about the use of incentives. Some argue that certain types of incentives reflect poorly on the fundraising organisation, and that material or financial motivation can diminish the noble aspirations of the cause. Others say that substantial prizes – such as bicycles or computers – can create undue pressure on volunteers to compete, and to become ruthless in their pursuit of the prize.
While these thoughts are worth considering, there is little doubt that giving your volunteers a tangible, short term incentive will improve your bottom line, which is what we are primarily concerned with after all. Incentives can be categorised as either individual or group. We’ve put together some examples of each for you to consider when you are planning your next fundraiser.
Small prizes, such as a sticker or a pencil, can be awarded to all volunteers who achieve the minimal level of participation (eg. School students who take the information home and return signed paperwork from parents on time).
Tiered prize programs, where volunteers are entered into various draws based on their level of sales achievement. The greater the sales value, the higher the prize value.
Cumulative points programs, where volunteers accumulate points based on their sales performance, and are then able to redeem those points on some appropriate goods. For example, if yours is a school fundraiser you may have educational software or books that students can ‘purchase’ with their points. If yours is a sporting club, you may allow your volunteers to purchase drinks or food with their points at a post-fundraiser BBQ.
Creative prize choices can give your volunteers a shot in the arm. Have you ever considered raffling off a ‘principal for a day’ prize to your students, where students swap places with the principal for a day? Or maybe your winner gets to coach the team for a game? With a little thought and planning you’ll come up with some really rewarding incentives suited to your group.
Tiered programs for groups operate when a group of volunteers, such as a class of students and their families, work toward a sales goal. When that goal is achieved, the group chooses something from a list of items for the school or class. The value of the items on the list is determined by the sales level achieved by the class.
Parties or group outings are always popular rewards for children. Other class reward ideas might include celebrity visits, uniform free days and game days (such as putt-putt). Simple things such as an ice-block for each student/ team member can get the children motivated.
Rewarding families who provide outstanding support is also increasingly popular. Fundraisers can offer family dinners, shopping vouchers, or family-oriented prizes. Even a convenient carpark for a week with their name on it can be a creative reward!
These are a few ideas to help get your creative juices flowing. Appropriate and thoughtful incentives programs will help keep your volunteers interested and motivated, and will improve your bottom line and with a little thought and planning you’ll come up with some really rewarding incentives suited to your group. (Now I can have my coffee break!).