4imprint, LLC

4 min read

Contests can be powerful. They capture attention and engage supporters and prospective donors. Even the simplest contest can bring in the support and data you need to achieve your goals.


Here are some competition ideas and nonprofit promotional items that will help you rack up a few wins of your own.


Run a referral contest

Asking donors to spread the word about your nonprofit is an easy way to increase awareness. You can ask donors to encourage others to follow your social channels, donate to your cause or both. Make it a contest to get people motivated. Here’s how to do a referral contest:

  1. Create a landing page on your website where supporters can enter their name and contact information, including an email address. Give them a small prize just for entering, like a tote bag.
  2. Send them a unique URL and ask that they share it via email or social media to refer friends and family. Tell them that sharing the URL gives them a chance to win a larger prize, like a beach chair.
  3. Tally the number of entrants for every personal URL you send out—the one with the most entrants wins. (You can even put up a scoreboard on your site to encourage friendly competition!)


Referral contests are great because they’re easy for people to enter and they help you find more supporters. Plus, they’re an excellent opportunity to share nonprofit promotional items that’ll keep you top of mind long after the contest is over.


Start a simple sweepstakes

Sweepstakes attract social media attention. They are a great tool for when you start using a new social platform or want to boost user engagement. Create a social post and offer one sweepstakes entry for every like, share or follow. You can even offer a variety of prizes to make it more interesting.


For example, offer a few items tied to your organization’s theme, like an animal-shaped sportpack if your nonprofit is a pet shelter or zoo. Then offer one grand prize that’s sure to appeal to anyone, like a cooler tote bag.


Turn the tables

Nonprofit staff are often spread thin—there is so much more to do than time allows. Sometimes it’s not easy to even keep up with social postings. That’s where user-generated content is valuable. Ask followers to post photos or stories that relate to your cause. This will boost engagement on your social media or website because personal posts get more attention.


By encouraging followers and supporters to vote on user-generated stories—and perhaps post a story of their own—you’re sure to see new engagement. Congratulate the winner with a picture frame.


Gamify a survey

When you need to make a decision as an organization, crowdsourcing opinions helps people feel more engaged with your organization. For example, have volunteers vote on a new logo or marketing campaign. Ask them what the organization needs to focus on and what areas need the most work. Put the name of everyone who offers input into a raffle for a nonprofit promotional item like a polo shirt.


Engage with a winner

Contests are a simple, effective way to increase engagement, whether you want to connect with new followers and supporters or collect opinions. And with the help of these contest ideas, you’ll soon have the data and support you need.