22/09/2021 | Article | Gabrielle Gean

Fundraising Lessons from Our Favourite Disney Movies

We’re spending way more time at home than before and reacquainting ourselves with our favourite Disney movies has become a highlight for many. Beyond transporting us into a realm where dreams do come true, there are many demonstrations of good values in Disney movies.

How Belle befriends the beast by showing compassion and kindness, how Mulan rises to defeat the Huns, to Simba forging lifelong friendships in the most unexpected places…We internalise valuable lessons from these movies and bring them into our day-to-day experiences, including fundraising planning.

Here’s our take on the top 6 fundraising lessons from Disney movies:


1. Sometimes change can open up new possibilities

Source: here

One of the most dangerous ideas is, “But we’ve always done it this way!” That mindset stifles and discourages innovation; it inhibits new ideas.

Remember in Lion King (1994), when Rafiki tells Simba, “Change is hard, but it is good”? This is true for Simba and for us too. Many people dislike changes in their plan, because it means more work and isn’t always pleasant.

Instead of asking, “Do we cancel our annual fundraising gala in light of the pandemic?”, change your questions to “How can we evolve our fundraising into something bold and new during this pandemic? Are there more effective ways to raise funds, that we’ve always been afraid to try?”.

Hakuna Matata means ‘no worries’ – so keep going and experimenting. You’ll never know – shaking up the status quo might just be the crucial element to your fundraising growth.

2. Everyone has their own unique strength that makes them powerful

Zootopia, anyone can be anything!
Source: here

Who doesn’t love Judy’s determination in fulfilling her childhood dream of becoming a police officer in Zootopia (2016)? Nobody, that’s who. And for good reasons – she understands that every animal has his or her own strength, and how to play to it.

Despite having to compete with other police animals in the academy who are physically more intimidating than Judy, she manages to defeat and take down the villains using teamwork and her own intelligence.

Now, when it comes to non-profit fundraising, what works for one organisation does not necessarily mean that it’ll work for your organisation. For instance, the social media campaign that was a huge success for an environmental non-profit might not work for a food kitchen simply because each organisation has its own unique mission statement, different donor base, and appeal.

So how can you play to your strengths and differentiation?

Revisit what your organisation has initially set out to do, and why people choose to support you. Then experiment, outsource, delegate, and learn what works (or doesn’t) for you.

3. …but don’t forget to ask for a hand when you need it

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Just like in the real world, in fundraising, asking for help with things we aren’t good at is a strength. It can save us so much time and headaches that allow us to move toward our goals faster. For instance, if your existing volunteers are burnt out or short-staffed, it’s time to ask and recruit more volunteers.

Don’t forget to look inwards within your organisation as well when you’re looking for help. Surround yourself with people who are invested in your idea and the impact your organisation is attempting to create – a strong Board of Directors, enthusiastic volunteers, and hardworking employees. You can travel this path alone, but it will take longer and be more difficult than if you have assistance.

As Buzz Lightyear reminds Woody in Toy Story (1995), “You’ve got a friend in me”. Because isn’t that what friends are for – to help and support you when the road gets rough.

By asking for help, you are also enabling people who are invested in your cause an opportunity to share your enthusiasm and make an impact. There are many out there who are looking for ways to engage deeper with you.

4. Stand out!

scene from a very goofy movie
Source: here

What is the one thing that makes us unique? Why should people donate to your organisation and not others?

Before answering these questions, let us rewind to how Max stands out from the crowd in A Goofy Movie (1995). To get the attention from his crush, Max decides to hijack the school assembly. With the help from his friends, they successfully turn the assembly into a small concert where Max performs. Max becomes a school star and impresses his crush because he stands out from the entire school with an amazing performance.

Likewise, if you want people to notice your non-profit, you need to stand out. Get skilled at telling your story and keep sharing it. Be it through speaking gigs, news stories, social media livestreaming, and everywhere else that you can think of.

Awareness is especially crucial for new, young, and small non-profits. Before others donate and support you, they need to know that you exist and the cause that you are standing for. And advertising works by repetition. Once you’ve identified your unique offerings, communicate it in every way you can, and people who identify with you will naturally be attracted to your cause.

5. Be patient and give yourself time. Growth happens gradually.   

Source: here

What Flick in A Bug’s Life (1998) reminds us, is that sometimes we might feel like we aren’t doing enough, and growth doesn’t seem to be happening.

Comparing oneself to similar causes and their fundraising achievements can be demotivating, as the saying goes, “comparison is the thief of joy”. 100% true – especially, if you are struggling where others are succeeding.

In this case, always remember that people hardly share their failures, and everyone grows at their own pace. It doesn’t matter if the grass is greener on the other side, just focus on watering your own grass. As long as we try our best, focus on our goals, learn from our failures, and never give up, we’re winning. The grass grows where your attention lies.

6. Lastly, always add a little magic to fundraising  

scene from fanstasia
Source: here

Like what Mickey Mouse says in Fantasia (1940), “there’s magic all around.” When it comes to non-profit fundraising, passion and mission are the fuel in the furnace of achievement.
In this case, the magic of fundraising is how it enables your passion and mission to have a positive impact in the communities or areas that you’re helping.

Always remind yourself why you have started your work and fan the flames regularly.

When you’re deeply connected to the magic of your work, it’s infectious and others will find it hard to resist supporting you. Always look for creative storytelling techniques – make it visual, make it personal, and eliminate irrelevant details.

In conclusion 

Remember, there is never a one-size-fits-all approach. How we see these learnings are based on our perspectives while watching the movies. Similarly, non-profit fundraising requires learning from different perspectives too. Don’t be afraid to try new things and learn from mistakes because that’s how you grow. And when the going gets tough, (as Dory would say) just keep swimming!

What other lessons, messages or inspiring themes have you learnt from Disney movies? Let us know in our LinkedIn comment section!


About SG Support

Managing over 3 million donor records, SG Support exists to make fundraising easy for charities. We work with them to acquire new donors, retain existing ones and win back those who have left. We do this through our complete suite of services that range from data-driven strategy and consultancy, all the way down to the operational aspects of payment processing, contact centre and financial reporting.

Contact us at [email protected] or drop us a message at here.

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