How to Host a Successful Donation-Based Yoga Class

Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

Over the past few years, my nonprofit Yoga Foster has worked with hundreds of yoga and fitness studios to host donation-based yoga classes for local programming, and we’ve learned a ton of tips along the way! Whether you’ve been hosting cause-based events and looking for new ideas, or brand new to making an impact through a donation-based class, here are some pointers and tips to make the most of the event.

One Month Before Fundraiser

Get intentional about your goals before the fundraiser begins. There’s a big difference between hosting a donation-based class and holding a free class where people can donate to a nonprofit. Set your class up for financial success by setting a ticket price, or strongly suggested donation, instead of just hoping for the best. In fact, a class with a mandatory donation is likely to raise 4x the funds than a free, donation-based yoga class. Although brand awareness and engagement is greatly appreciated, funds raised can truly help power the organization forward.*

If fundraising seems inaccessible for your studio and your students at the moment, there are still many ways you can support! Consider making a conscious decision to do something else, like help drive brand awareness, donate space for community events, or rally your community to provide hands-on support. That way, both your efforts and resources from the non-profit can go further, together.

Before you get comfortable on that tangible goal, be sure that it aligns with the needs of the organization you’ve chosen to support. Treat the cause you choose in this as a partner, and learn what will make the biggest impact for them in the short and long term. If your studio’s capacity matches their needs, great! If not, you can always find another cause that can use what your community can give, and sync back with this cause another time. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Take this opportunity to let your audience know the importance of the charity you’re supporting. Do more than just add the cause’s logo on the bottom of the flyer! Educate your staff to share more about their work and impact before class, during registration, and as students are leaving. Don’t be afraid to ask the organization you’re supporting for help on this; they usually have a handy one-sheeter or quick video you can distribute, and assets to share on social media.

Oftentimes, studios launch a fundraiser without considering how the cause is related to the values and needs of their community. Your students are key to your fundraiser’s success. Before you dive into planning, ensure that the cause you’re elevating in your space will resonate with your audience. You can hold informal conversations with dedicated studio members, send out a form asking for their feedback, or host a community impact conversation at the studio between classes. Not only will this ensure an impactful fundraiser, it fosters a more just, equitable approach to making a community impact.

One Week before Fundraiser

Did you know it’s easier to collect donations online than offline? Use the week leading up to your fundraiser to start reaching your goal! Set up an online fundraising platform with your non-profit. I recommend Facebook, which has a free donation collection tool that’s super-sharable, easy to manage, and doesn’t take any fees (so 100% of your students’ donations go straight to the cause). This way, you can share it through your studio, and your staff, instructors, and students can spread the word, too! People are 3x more likely to give to something their friends have shared, so this is such a powerful way to make an impact before your class starts.

Your students can be the biggest advocates for community participation in your upcoming fundraiser. Encourage them to share by providing a photo they can download and share, creating a hashtag for your studio to rally behind, and ask them to post on social media. Send them stories about the organization’s impact. Have a representative from the organization share more about their work occasionally after class — or better yet, get your team informed so they can do so on their own! Consider adding perks for extra participation, like a discount to future classes or free swag for each person that brings a friend.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Day of Fundraiser

On the day of your big event, maximize the opportunities to give! Ask for a donation at check-in. Set up signs with a suggested donation or other action in the locker rooms. And introduce the organization and your mission before and after the class. If you can, invite someone that represents the organization to speak on their work and encourage people to support on your behalf! If they have the capacity, I’m sure they’d love to attend or send a supporter that’s local.

Capture this moment in time! Take a photo of the teachers and students together after class as a way to celebrate their participation, and give them something to share on social media afterward.

Be sure to note who attended this class, and get their approval to send a follow-up after class to celebrate their impact. This is extremely helpful for a cause-based organization who wants to continue the conversation with their new supporters and helps them grow their user base and reach new people.

Post-Fundraiser

A successful class will end with lots of buzz! Ideally, your students and staff will be so inspired they’ll tell their friends about the event, share photos on social media, and spark conversations in studio classes for days to come. Continue to collect donations for the next 5–7 days at the register and online.

This might seem surprising, but saying thank you to your students for their participation will go a long way for the success of your future fundraisers! Your non-profit partner should help you say thank you on their behalf — be sure to sync with them on how they can best thank these donors. However, that only goes so far. Your students know you, and the cause your studio chooses may be unfamiliar to them. Be sure to celebrate them by writing a thank you card and slipping it to them the next time they pop in or sending a follow-up email.

*This isn’t designed to exclude anyone who can’t participate financially, and we definitely encourage you to consider financial accessibility for fundraisers and any other class.

Interested in hosting a donation-based class for Yoga Foster? Contact us and we’ll send you a kit on getting started (although if you read this, you’re already a pro!)

Executive Director of Yoga Foster, founder of Reclamation Ventures. Passionate about making wellness accessible for all. Follow me on IG @nicoleacardoza.

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