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Keys to Success in Mental Health Fundraising: 10 Event Ideas


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Published January 10, 2023 Reading Time: 6 minutes

The world is talking about mental health more and more each passing year. We’re here today to discuss how to keep this conversation going through meaningful fundraising events.

Consider this your all-encompassing guide to building donor engagement through impactful fundraising initiatives and advocacy for mental health awareness.

Today’s Mental Health Crisis

Mental health is for everyone. It encompasses our emotional, psychological, and social well-being, influencing our thoughts, feelings, and actions.

Various factors can compromise your mental health, resulting in symptoms such as anxiety, depression, fatigue, stress, addiction, and disassociation. In fact, the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) found that 1 in 5 US adults experience mental illness each year, and 75% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 24.

These mental and behavioral health challenges impact people profoundly, changing how many live their everyday lives. For example, regardless of industry or seniority level, 59% of employees’ mental health problems affect them at work. Not to mention, the national rate of adults experiencing suicidal ideation has also increased yearly since 2011.

Many mental health resources, suicide prevention education, and mental health charities exist today to embrace people who need peer support as they experience the stigma, insecurity, and confusion that come with mental health issues. Yet, over 27 million individuals experiencing mental illness go untreated.

The world needs your mental health services and support. It’s just a matter of establishing that critical awareness and changing lives.

How to Stand Apart in Mental Health Fundraising

The number of mental health screening, mental health care, and mental health awareness nonprofits across the globe is incredibly encouraging for society—and a consideration about how to stand apart. We want to help you make your nonprofit’s name known and offer creative ways to make your work more accessible and engaging to the masses.

How Do You Engage Donors Thoughtfully to Spread Awareness?

Show authenticity: Those facing mental health challenges or who want to support those who do are actively looking for organizations they can connect with and trust. Donors feel the difference between a fundraising pitch and an authentic mission they want to support.

Make fundraising goals highly relevant: After a tragedy, difficult time, or sudden change that impacts a broad group of people, communities are often quick to respond. Think about timely fundraising opportunities in these moments or within mental health awareness month.

Educate supporters: Just as the statistics at the top of this article might have caught your attention, learning about the true impact of mental health challenges on the lives of people they know and love keeps them motivated.

Model inclusivity: Knowing that mental health impacts everyone in different ways, sparked by various situations, it’s essential to showcase how your organization supports anyone who needs it by demonstrating diversity.

Provide resources: When there’s a clear pathway for supporters to continue spreading awareness, they learn about your organization and how they can recruit their family members and communities to act. One great way to do this is through fact sheets or quotes on social media posts that people can save and reshare right from the platforms they use most.

Why Are Events Effective for Mental Health Awareness?

Mental wellness is all about connections. Events are proven to be highly-effective avenues for fostering meaningful relationships and boosting cause awareness, donor acquisition, conversion, and retention, as revealed in Classy’s The State of Modern Philanthropy. Our report found tremendous year-over-year donation volume growth for events and the highest conversion rate of all campaign types.

Today’s donors want to feel connected to the nonprofits they support. Hosting mental health events are an avenue to build that initial connection and awareness with new donors and remind existing supporters why their contributions matter.

How Do You Host a Mental Health Event?

Your mental health events can be as simple or sophisticated as your organization or audience prefers. Here’s a basic four-step formula you can start with and add new steps based on your chosen idea.

  • Make a plan to determine a date, theme, goals, and audience value.
  • Organize a list of tasks, essential milestones to reach, and a timeline.
  • Recruit support from internal teammates and volunteers to help you.
  • Be intentional about how each moving piece showcases your values.

10 Mental Health Event Ideas

1. Storytelling Livestream Series

An incredible way to validate individuals’ experiences is to share real stories about others who have gone through it. Host a storytelling series and livestream it to an audience of registered attendees. Then, gather stories from community members, your staff, or those impacted by your organization’s work to share tips for coping with various situations in a judgment-free environment to further foster peer support.

2. Mindfulness Meetups

Get people together for a live-ticketed mindfulness event. Bring in a mental health professional to talk on a specific topic, and consider auctioning off a few helpful mental health resources that the professional recommends. Attract people looking to connect over similar situations and gain access to a resource they might not otherwise find. Then, choose an exciting location nearby to make the event comfortable and inviting for anyone looking to learn more.

3. Burnout Prevention Sessions

Work-life balance and boundary setting are prominent challenges across organizations. These topics that ultimately impact behavioral health are often even harder to discuss with leadership. Help corporations or large businesses further advocate for workplace mental health by opening this line of communication and hosting a joint burnout prevention session.

Share stress reduction tips, screening tools, and helpful apps to empower workers to check in with themselves. After the session, offer an easy way for anyone particularly moved to set up a personalized peer-to-peer fundraising page and raise money on your behalf.

4. Get-outside Challenges

Getting outside is one way to support anyone’s mental health and a nice sentiment to share with your supporters. Host a virtual challenge to walk, bike, swim, run, or hike a mile in a beautiful setting and invite participants from everywhere to join. Then, encourage supporters to raise funds through a peer-to-peer campaign leading up to it.

Consider ways to incorporate symbolism into your event, like walking 2,000 steps to represent the number of young adults and adolescents provided free therapy services by your organization. Lastly, make it easy and exciting to share online by using various natural settings in people’s feeds and showcasing that no one is alone.

5. Breathwork Workshops

Many people are intimidated by the idea of breathwork, so help them test the waters in an educational workshop. You can offer free registration for your event, with the ask to contribute what they can.

Consider including a QR code on the event’s donation page, at a water bottle station near the event’s entrance, or in other places that prompt people to give as they enjoy the experience.

6. Pop-up Snack Bars

Head to a populated area in your community and grab some volunteer staff, exciting recipes, and a blender to demonstrate the power of tasty, balanced nutrition on mental well-being.

Sell homemade muffins, hot coffee, and delicious smoothies you can place your logo on to gain even more awareness as people share the pleasant surprise online. This is another opportunity to pop a QR code on napkins or cups to raise more.

7. Random Acts of Kindness Challenges

There’s no denying the feeling you get when someone does something nice for you without any expectations. Equally as fulfilling is doing something to make someone’s day they didn’t expect.

Start random acts of kindness challenges with your supporters and communities to build awareness around your work. Take to social media and call on people to film their kind acts in real-time or their reaction to surprising someone else and challenge others to do the same.

Just remember to create a memorable hashtag for your challenge associated with your organization’s name to draw traffic back to your social media accounts, where a donation page link awaits.

8. Mirror Reminders

It’s become popular to stick a quote or personal intention on a mirror or somewhere you see yourself daily. For instance, in Kendall Jenner’s viral interview with Jay Shetty for his podcast, On Purpose, she shared her method of placing a younger picture of herself on her mirror to remember the importance of talking to herself and her inner child with care.

You can help others take the same self-care approach by creating a sticker or reminder for them to place in a special location. Then, sell the stickers for a low cost or as an add-on to any donations made with a thoughtful note to explain the significance.

9. Mental Health Advocates

Become affiliated with mental advocates and influencers across TikTok or Instagram, where you can reach more people daily. After all, people are more open to following voices in the mental health arena when they share experiences with those individuals.

Have them speak to the work your organization does or help promote one of their virtual fundraising events. That way, you broaden your reach globally through a relatable lens.

Here are a few mental health micro-influencers to consider for a creative partnership on TikTok:

10. Gratitude Letter Writing Events

They say feeling gratitude can outweigh the feeling of anxiety. Why not take that theory and spread good energy among your community? Wondering how to practice gratitude fundraising? With every donation over a specific period, send supporters a gratitude letter writing kit with stickers, pens, branded stationery, and envelopes.

Encourage writing gratitude down and showcasing the feeling to someone to improve the mental health of a donor and the recipient of their letter. This is a great incentive to donate and build awareness for those needing it most.

Bring Your Mental Health Event to Life

Customize any of these mental health event ideas to align with your foundation’s mission. Just be sure to focus on what matters, using technology that works seamlessly in the background and provides donors with the most straightforward experience.

Nonprofits of all sizes can deploy customized fundraising strategies on Classy. We have the fundraising event platform to support you as you craft your virtual and hybrid event experiences or add that modern flair to your in-person event.

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Don't just host an event, host an experience

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