Start motivating your team by establishing a level of communication and trust between members. People are motivated if they feel the cause is important and others whom they care about are relying on their efforts. Enhance your abilities to motivate by first introducing the project team to one another.

Next, make sure everyone understands the goals and objectives of the project and each person is clear about the tasks that need to be done and how they are integral to the overall fundraising objective. You'd be surprised how setting the wheels in motion properly from the very beginning will help you motivate people later.

Numerous books have been written on motivational techniques. Some emphasize rah-rah team spirit and others have more detailed theoretical insights into what motivates an individual. While such books may come in handy over the long haul, the simple approach is to look at who is working on your fundraiser and what piques their interest and enthusiasm.

Children may be motivated by an incentive or prize at the end of the road — so might many adults. However, adults may also be reaping cognitive benefits such as advancing their education, learning new skills, or making new contacts that may come in handy in their professional lives.

The Truth about Motivation

Motivation is usually not rah-rah speeches from a podium, but pats on the back, thank yous, certificates, and, most importantly, a feeling of accomplishment after raising funds for your cause.

If you can research and find results in the field in which you are doing work, such as a decrease in student dropout rates, then you may hit the motivational nail on the head. For instance, consider volunteers of the Kenya Fund, sponsored by the Ethical Humanist Society of Long Island, a New York 501(c)3 charitable organization. These volunteers help raise funds for Sema Academy, a school that once hosted only 20 children and now educates 400 in Kenya.

Professional motivators have been proven successful in nonprofit situations only if they are active in the cause the group is working toward. For that reason, a nonprofessional speaker who has a good story to tell involving the cause at hand will usually be far more effective than a professional motivator.

In a land plagued by droughts, heavy rains, malaria, and war, Sema Academy is making strides, and students are performing above the national average. Whenever morale among fundraising volunteers is low, the leader points to 60-plus students, receiving free tuition, who can help lead Kenya in the future. People are excited when they learn small efforts can bring big results.

Motivating from Year to Year

If you've had a relatively successful fundraiser in the past, you can motivate both your membership and outside attendees to come back next year by building on your theme. If one year you hold a dinner with entertainment, the next year you might add an auction as well. Then toss in a raffle the following year and add a dance contest. Once you have an audience that enjoyed a fundraiser one year, you can motivate them to return the next by building on, or leveraging, your fundraising event.

If you can become known as the organization that holds the best annual golf tournament, you can distinguish yourself in a hurry. Think outside the box and come up with twists on tried-and-true events. For example, one nonprofit that supports area charities hosts an annual masquerade with a new theme (Arabian Nights, The Great Gatsby) and different honoree each year. The new themes keep the event fresh, making them a night that attendees and volunteers look forward to every year.

If a fundraiser was only marginally successful, invite members to build a think tank and find new ways to build on a theme. People love being asked for input and having a say in the building process of any project or fundraiser. Taking something and making it better is the perfect way to pull people together. Building on a theme is an effective way to motivate people to step up for an annual activity.

Motivating others is an important leadership role, and the best way to do that is to stay motivated yourself. Keep one eye firmly on the project goals and the other on everyone involved.

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