Ambassador Fundraising™: 3 Simple Steps to Campaign Success

Do you want a creative way to engage supporters, generate excitement for your event and capture net new donations? Well, we’ve got the perfect strategy for your nonprofit: Ambassador Fundraising.

Ambassador Fundraising leverages Peer-to-Peer in conjunction with galas, auctions, golf outings, or any type of event. This new trend harnesses “Ambassadors”, or your most loyal supporters to social fundraise, before, during and sometimes even after your signature fundraiser.

Think of it as creating a fundraising army, whose built-in social and professional networks allow you to engage and funnel new volunteers, donors and activists to your cause. Because Ambassador Fundraising uses competition to reach fundraising goals, it brings added energy, enthusiasm and motivated giving to your events.

Let’s face it, every event needs new ideas, strategies and energy to help avoid donor fatigue and keep your event growing year over year.

So how do you get started? We’ve outlined three simple steps to put the right pieces in place and begin fundraising with Ambassadors today!

  1. Select the right Ambassadors
  2. Put the FUN in Ambassador Fundraising
  3. Motivate everyone for success

Step 1: Select the Right Ambassadors

A key step to success is the Ambassadors themselves. It’s like building a high-performance race car – you need a powerful engine to drive across the finish line.

Selecting Ambassadors need not be daunting. You likely have them throughout your giving and supporter networks already. Just look around, think about those that are committed, passionate, and connected (directly or indirectly) to your mission.

The best Ambassadors are people of influence, who have strong networks and social clout in your community. They are outgoing, engaged, and well connected. Grab your team (our yourself) and hit the whiteboard; think about where your future Ambassadors might be engaging with your fundraising now.

Good places to look for Ambassadors include:

  • Your board members: Board members are natural Ambassadors. They are already committed and dedicated to the success of your nonprofit. They often have large professional and networks, making them perfect social fundraisers. Engage them at a new level and watch turn their contacts into participants for your event.
  • Your volunteers: Volunteers are another reliable source for Ambassadors, since they are deeply involved with your cause. They are used to giving their time and talent to your efforts. Target your most active and generous volunteers and ask them to join your Ambassador campaign.
  • People with serious clout on social media. This is a great place to look if you’re just starting your Ambassador program. Look for local personalities with a lot of friends, tons of social interactions (likes, comments, etc.) and an active social presence.
  • Sponsors connections and networks: Ask your sponsors and long-times community partners if they know of potential Ambassadors. Call in those favors you have stored up to get great Ambassadors working for your team.
  • The event committee. The people working on the event itself are passionate about the outcome! Tap the most dedicated to become your Ambassadors.
  • Honorees at your signature event. Honorees are well-respected members of the community, which makes them the perfect supporters to raise donations before the gala.

Don’t be shy or bashful about your Ambassador asks. Think of the Ambassador program as an honor – a new way to give visibility and elevated supporter status your most loyal participants. Many nonprofits use Ambassador programs to create rich traditions and build donor cache. Carry this “badge of honor” with you into every Ambassador invitation.

Step 2: Put the Fun in Ambassador Fundraising

At the same time, you are targeting Ambassadors, begin building your fundraising campaign. The core components to a successful campaign launch include setting program parameters, goals, and onboarding plan.

Define Program: Start by designing your program strategies. Decide exactly how you will you leverage your Ambassadors and engage their networks to raise funds. Be sure to do this before you get started.

Ambassador Fundraising tactics you can use include:

  • Start a before event Awareness campaign and social promotion
  • Launch a competition for who can drive the most donations
  • Create a contest to see which Ambassadors can secure the most event ticket sales or sponsorships

Set program goals: Next up, outline your Ambassador Fundraising goals. Like any campaign or event, take the time to define what you want to achieve, how you expect Ambassadors to contribute and what your success metrics are. Ask yourself:

  • How much do you want the program to raise?
  • How will they raise funds or promote the event?
  • How will we choose Ambassador winners?
  • How will we use technology to recognize, motivate and thank Ambassadors throughout the campaign?
  • How will we incorporate the Ambassador fundraiser into the overall event?
  • How long will Ambassadors to campaign?
  • What will we use to measure success?

Onboard Ambassadors: Successful onboarding is must for any successful Ambassador Fundraising campaign. Bring your Ambassadors onboard with a kick-off meeting, where you outline expectations, guidelines and the overall program. Make it a celebration, hosting it at a major donor’s house, sponsor business or somewhere fun, where you can launch with pizazz.

  • Be concrete and review Ambassador guidelines (aka, how much money do you expect them to raise and any rules of engagement).
  • Share history, past trends and fundraising successes.
  • Explain how they can achieve their goals and best practices from past Ambassadors.
  • Introduce technology and tools available to help them reach fundraising success.
  • Talk about the competition length, rules and how the winner is selected.
  • Finally, share levels, accolades and those motivational rewards that will get everyone excited!

After your launch event, take time to sit down with each Ambassador one-on-one, to answer questions, review individual goals and walk them through the technology they will use to fundraise.

Step 3: Motivating Everyone for Success

Ensure your Ambassadors and their friends are engaged up until the moment your gala starts (and beyond!). Add an extra layer of social engagement and competition to your planning.

  • Make a donation on behalf of the nonprofit to each Ambassador. Do this right after launch, so they see immediate progress, feel supported by the cause and go in to use the peer-to-peer technology out of the gate.
  • Include a real-time leaderboard on your website and individual Ambassador pages to keep people in the loop.
  • Build in social timelines so people can see what others are saying about specific Ambassadors.
  • Link real-time social feeds on the Ambassador pages and your gala website.
  • Add milestone tracking and badges so the audience feels as though they’re working towards something big.
  • If you’ve chosen an Ambassador winner before your gala, still include a leaderboard with donation totals for extra engagement.
  • Send communications through the technology, write personal notes and make periodic calls to say “great job and thank you!”
  • Do a countdown to your “Winner Announcement” – use social media to help promote and round up last call donations.
  • If you announce your winner beforehand, still have a moment of public recognition for all your Ambassadors at the gala.

These simple three steps you are ready to start Ambassador Fundraising! With a clear program, energized Ambassadors and easy-to-use peer-to-peer fundraising tools on your side, it’s time to let your fundraisers loose. Watch their networks take off and the fun, plus donations flow in, as they compete for fundraising glory and increase your fundraising along the way.

Wrapping Up!

You’ve taken the first steps in Ambassador Fundraising, but the learning process never ends. Get inspired by these additional Peer-to-Peer resources: