Today’s post is written by Linda Olatunde.

Most nonprofits stick to some of the tried and true fundraising events to support their organization, raise money, build supporters, and gain wider recognition throughout the community. These events are the annual 5K run and the banquet dinner.

As PR professionals and marketers, we take our clients’ requests to get the word out and promote these standard fundraising events in all of the traditional ways.

We get them the local media coverage and we increase awareness for their organization with new audiences and past supporters.

For the most part, we honor the request of our nonprofit clients by effectively getting their message and event to the masses and surpassing last year’s outreach numbers.

We have done our jobs successfully, more money has been raised, see you next year!

Not quite.

The strategy behind putting together a 5K is effective. It requires a small time commitment from participants,with a potential high monetary yield. These are all great things, yet it no longer stands out. Almost every organization is doing a 5K run.

It is time for some new ideas!

If you currently work with a nonprofit and have already begun the task of getting the word out to targeted audiences regarding next year’s 5K, I ask you to take a step back and perhaps offer some suggestions to your client by first asking them these questions:

  1. Why should a company encourage their employees to participate in your organization’s 5K run?
  2. What are you doing differently to keep your volunteers engaged with this event each year?

I am sure they will defend, ever so eloquently, their reasoning for keeping the 5K run alive, but the real reason is, because it’s tradition.

Please don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with tradition. However, from a donor perspective, and as an individual who has a passion for youth issues, women’s health, animal rights, and feeding the continent of Africa, I can only choose a few organizations to financially support each year.

The question your clients’ organization will have to answer is, “How can we entice this advocate to support our cause this year?”

This is where you come in for your client, PR person, marketing master.

Suggest new and fresh and fundraising events that work in accordance with the organization’s personality.

Three Ways to Avoid the 5K Fundraising Event

  1. Host a Zumbathon Party. The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Organization beat all nonprofits to the punch by officially partnering with the national Zumba Fitness organization – Party in Pink. But that’s nationally. Locally, any nonprofit can hold a Zumba party with proceeds benefiting an organization’s cause. Partnering with a local gym provides volunteer instructors, as well as participating gym members, which all goes back to the nonprofit cause.
  2. Amateur Talent Show. This is a great way to let your client get their employees, board members, junior board members, and volunteers involved in something fun, interactive, and requires about the same amount of planning time as organizing a 5K does.
  3. Bowling Party. Let your client know team-oriented activities build camaraderie while raising money and awareness for their organization. It is a great way to get local businesses as well as corporations involved.

Do you have suggestions for your nonprofit client? How would you suggest they stray off the beaten path and raise funds?

Linda Olatunde is the principal of Yellow Duck PR. You can find her blog here and like them on Facebook. Originally from New York City, she has lived and worked in Boston, Washington, DC, Atlanta, and almost London. She is planting roots in Chicago and loves what she does.