6 Fun Spotlight Fundraising Projects for Schools

Finding new ways to get donors excited about fundraising is tricky even during peak giving cycles. That’s why it has become increasingly important for nonprofits, schools, and charitable organizations to find new ways to inspire giving and make donors feel invested in your projects. The good news is that schools, which usually have a variety of year-round events and ideas to tap into, are in a great position to capitalize on fundraising that feels fresh and exciting. One of the best ways to do this is through named giving opportunities, which shine a spotlight on the donor’s generosity, and on the person the project is named for.

Named gifts feel more personal, because they’re linked to subjects or pursuits that the recipient finds meaningful, and show the world the donor or gift recipient’s commitment to an area of interest. Unlike named giving opportunities of the past, today’s spotlight gifts aren’t limited to large venues or multimillion-dollar donations, such as a new performing arts center. Instead they can focus on parts of a larger project or on recurring events, both of which make it easy for multiple donors to get in on the excitement over time.

Here are six fun named giving opportunities—or spotlight gifting projects—that you can try at your school to energize donors and raise funds for different parts of your academic or social program.

1. Library book collections. Name book collections—for example, the science textbook section, classic fiction, plays, biographies, or even periodicals—after donors who have a special interest in those topics. Show them your commitment with professionally printed shelf cards or plaques that designate the collection with their name.

2. Art supplies and exhibition spaces. Art lovers are especially passionate about enabling future generations to learn about the form and to grow as artists. Offer named giving opportunities for exhibit rooms, walls, or other spaces. Or allow them to name collections of supplies—such as easels, canvases, painting supplies, ceramics equipment, and more—after a loved one. Providing a small plaque in display spaces or on easels and large equipment not only honors the donor, but also helps the students and faculty feel connected to the people behind the gifts.

3. Clubs and special-interest groups. Instead of simply calling a club after its subject matter, try naming it after a donor—the Sue Smith Photography Club, the Larry James Memorial Travel Club, or the Sharon Stevens Yearbook Crew. This forges an immediate connection between the generosity of a donor and the students who benefit from the gift. Living donors who have expertise in the subject matter can also be brought in as speakers or to help judge competitions, which will make them feel even more valued and rewarded.

4. Scholarships and special study programs. Scholarships can take forms both large and small, from a $50,000 tuition stipend to an honorarium for a 3-month study-abroad program, or even a gift that covers a particular portion of a student’s expenses, such as textbooks, field trips, an off-campus workshop, or an SAT tutoring course and testing fees.

5. Special events. Nonacademic events can also be made into named giving opportunities, for donors who want to help promote the social-enrichment aspect of the school experience. Try adding wording such as “sponsored by Bill Owens” to your Winter Carnival or Homecoming program, or banners for your holiday party, dance-a-thon, multicultural fair, or science fair. Naming annual events for a new donor each year can drum up extra anticipation and excitement, as donors look forward to being this year’s honoree, or purchasing the spotlight gift for a friend or family member.

6. Sporting event sponsorships. Donors can either support an event at your school—the Wendy Wilson District Swim Tournament, for example—or cover a student athlete’s expenses so they can travel to and compete at another school. They can also cover the funds needed for equipment or supplies for the event, such as soccer balls, uniforms, and gymnastics apparatus, or for referees and judges.

Creating a rich variety of named giving opportunities at your school—at a range of price points to appeal to people of different backgrounds and budgets—will not only help existing donors feel excited about all the great things your school does, but will also attract new donors with projects that feel personal to and rewarding for them.

pungl can help you set up and market your spotlight gift projects in just a few simple steps. Join our mailing list below and get premier access to a variety of spotlight gifting opportunities that not only pay tribute to the recipient by naming the gift in his or her honor, but that also provide much-needed support to nonprofits like yours.