The leading human rights organization for all individuals with Down syndrome.

National Down Syndrome Society
8 E 41st Street, 8th Floor
New York New York 10017
[email protected] 

NDSS Your Way Ideas & Tips

NDSS Your Way Ideas & Tips

NDSS has seen hundreds of unique approaches to raising money, and has learned that some are more successful than others. Here we have gathered together some of the best practices we have picked up along the way as well as some of our own ideas.

Step 1: Personalize your campaign.

The best start is a personal email to your friends and family explaining why you elected to participate in NDSS Your Way. Your story does not need to be long, but it should include information about who/what inspires you and why you have chosen to make people with Down syndrome a priority. Share your fundraising goal and ask that they help you reach (or surpass) it. Your fundraiser headquarters has a 'Support Me' template that you may choose to use as a part of your outreach.

Always share the link to your personal fundraising page in your outreach emails. And, include a photo if it helps tell your story.


Step 2: How to raise $500 in one week.

Day 1

Sponsor yourself for $25

Day 2

Ask three family members for $25

Day 3

Ask five friends to donate $15

Day 4

Ask five co-workers to sponsor you for $10 (don't forget to ask your company about a matching gifts program!)

Day 5

E-Mail 15 contacts and ask for a $10 donation

Day 6

Ask 15 people in your social network for a $5 donation

Day 7

Ask two businesses you frequent for $25

Step 3: Use social media.

As referenced above in Step 2 (Day 6), asking for support from your social network is a great way to raise awareness and additional funds. Share the link to your campaign page on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or anywhere else you have a profile. Share updates about your progress and any other stories that are relevant to your fundraising campaign.  Examples that inspire people include: a contribution that came in from a surprise donor, a large gift that moved your campaign forward or a newsworthy story about Down syndrome.  Consider finding a video on the NDSS YouTube Channel that inspires you and share it with your network.  If you are on Pinterest, we would love your permission to create a pin about your campaign for the NDSS Your Way Pinterest Board.

The good folks at Blackbaud have coded the backend of NDSS Your Way to integrate their software with Facebook.  Your custom fundraising page will automatically show the Facebook integration at the bottom and comments from your network will show up on the front end of your page. You are not required to create a Facebook account in connection with NDSS Your Way.

Step 4: Follow-up.

Every fundraising campaign hits a plateau at some point. It often happens within a week of the initial launch because those who tabled it for a later date may have then forgotten about it all together. Don't be shy about following up with people who did not respond to your first call to action. People are often most responsive when you let them know how far you are from reaching your fundraising goal. Ideally, your follow-up outreach seeking donations should no longer include the names of the folks who already contributed.

Step 5: Do your research and learn from industry experts.

While NDSS is always available to you for guidance and fundraising support (email[email protected]), we also rely on industry experts to teach us new ideas and approaches. One of our favorite fundraising blogs is written by experts at Blackbaud, the company that powers NDSS Your Way. Learn more from them here.

By simply typing “online fundraising tips” into your search engine, you will find dozens and dozens of people offering their opinions and giving their own ideas about fundraising. We do this all of the time – not every concept makes sense for us, but it is well worth the research to see what we might be missing.

Step 6: Say thank you.

Say thanks openly and often. Even though each donor will get an automatic thank you note in their inbox after their donation has been processed, it is most meaningful when they also hear from you. Set a personal reminder to send a quick note to new donors each week. If you see one of your donors in person, be sure to go out of your way to thank him or her for responding. Your fundraiser headquarters has a 'Thank You' template that you may choose to use as a part of your acknowledgment process.

And, once your campaign is complete, consider doing something special to let your friends and fans know how much you appreciate their support. Great examples include creating a YouTube video, designing a one-page letter with photos, having a person with Down syndrome who inspires you draw or write something that can be copied or scanned, or writing plain old thank you notes on stationary.

Other: Host an (additional) event.

If your entire campaign is online, it may be worth hosting a small party, a race or some other kind of fundraising activity that brings out donors who would otherwise not contribute. If your campaign includes or is based around a specific event, it is often worth adding an additional fundraising activity to generate more donations, participants, and buzz.

An example of a general event is a block party – whether you live in a complex or a friendly neighborhood – see about getting your neighbors to come out for a day of fun. A suggested donation could be $5 per person or $20 per family.

An example of an additional fundraising activity would be a shopping night or an awareness night at a restaurant. Often, a local store or restaurant would be willing to donate a portion of proceeds from their sales if you are willing to play a role in driving traffic to their location, especially on a night in which their business is slow. Some past fundraisers have taken this concept to the next level and created a “downtown stroll” where many stores got involved in raising awareness and funds to support a specific fundraising campaign.

If you have a great idea that you would like to share with others, please email us at[email protected] and we will add it to our tips and ideas.

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  • NDSS Yourway
  • NDSS DS-Ambassadors