As a nonprofit, you have the advantage of attracting individuals who have a heart for serving mission-minded organizations. But do they struggle to stay motivated and engaged with the challenge of fundraising? Do they love your cause but not your culture?

Competition could solve both of these concerns.

2 Benefits of Competition

  • Raise more funds: Naturally, your goal for any strategy is to raise more money and build better relationships with donors. Carefully structured competition contains key elements that do both.
  • Employee morale and retention: Your staff’s job satisfaction directly impacts fundraising, but happy employees do more for your organization’s health than simply bring in dollars. With turnover rampant in the nonprofit world, is the cost of employee churn eating into your bottom line? Competition could play a role in:
    • Keeping your fundraisers
    • Keeping them excited, enthusiastic and challenged to stay connected with donors


Some people are driven to win. Make any chore into a race or game and they’ll get energized. What makes competition so beneficial to fundraising?


Athletic competitions are always heightened when the clock is ticking. The last few minutes of a close game can reach a fever pitch that has fans gnawing at their nails and players drawing on reserves of energy they didn’t know they had. Coaches’ usual levels of animation reach new heights (or depths) that bring them varying levels of internet fame (or infamy).

This is different than a deadline. Just look at the word. DEAD LINE: The point at which we die. If your campaigns have started to take on that kind of atmosphere, competition can give the tension an entirely different feel…and result.


Competition is the perfect way to make fundraisers’ jobs fun, while at the same time recognizing their accomplishments (a key aspect of job satisfaction.) For many, fun is all they need for motivation. Others are charged up by prizes or personal recognition.

That doesn’t mean your inducements have to be expensive or overly formal. In fact, Jay Boyd, Development Director of Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes (ABCH), who has a proven track record of motivating his teams successfully around Giving Tuesday competitions, cautions that, “Especially with monetary rewards, it’s really critical to continually stress that the true value of the competition is furthering your cause and helping your recipients.”

In his friendly competitions, Boyd leverages big bragging rights for individual fundraisers and instills an overall celebratory vibe (with donuts, of course) to keep spirits high. Financial rewards, if any, are small, such as a $25 Amazon card for big campaigns, and used rarely.


While it’s important to recognize individuals, it may be even more critical to build a sense of “team.” Group competitions can help grow internal relationships (another key factor in employee retention) and camaraderie. Boyd leverages the fact that offices or departments love to compete against each other. He’s currently building a new tradition of providing a corny, annual trophy that different campuses compete for, in the spirit of the goofy sideline swag coaches use to reward their players for a good play. He’s hoping it becomes a much-sought after prize.

Group competitions can boost enthusiasm when built around naturally competitive segments, such as generations, gender, or favorite sports teams. Use your imagination!.


Just ask any marathon runner or triathlete: When the race is long, your why matters. Those encouragers on the sidelines with signs and cups of water cheering you on matter.

In Entrepreneur’s article, 3 Keys to a Vision Others Can Own, the author Zech Newman states that “trying to get others to buy into a vision that’s all about you getting more money is not going to excite people.” That advice may seem counterintuitive for roles that are literally about getting more money, but he makes a key point: Growing people is the business no matter what business we are in.

You’re a fundraiser but you’re also a grower of people and a manager of teams. And motivating them is your job. Just as today’s donors want to know the impact they’re making, so do fundraisers.


Some of your fundraisers aren’t employees, especially if you’re using a peer-to-peer strategy. A platform that “gamifies” with a Leaderboard, Goal Meter or personal fundraising pages that allow them to see their own fundraising progress against others or against their own goals in real-time has the same effect as the countdown on the basketball court clock. For the super competitive, promoting these “scores” is very important to closing the loop on a competition.

Boyd says that because they use iDonate Goal Meters, his fundraisers, supporters and staff are constantly refreshing their screens as the end of Giving Tuesday approaches to see how the competition between front runners is going. “I’m not even eligible to win one of our prize gift cards,” Boyd says, “but last year, one of our fundraisers was determined to beat me. We stayed neck and neck all day.”

Everybody likes to beat the boss, so be sure and participate in the competition!


In the end, your job is to make much ado about the home stretch! Just like athletes, your fundraisers could pull an unexpected burst of effectiveness out of thin air when the adrenalin rush kicks in.

Learn more about iDonate’s fundraising tools.