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5 Ways Your Team Can Get Creative (Even If They’re Not)

Logical ways to spark great ideas for your next campaign or fundraiser

With over 1.5 million nonprofits in the United States alone, innovative thinking is essential when it comes to cultivation and fundraising for your cause. But creative ideas don’t just happen. In the Sanky Creative Department, solving creative challenges in marketing and fundraising is a way of life. We have to be inventive, and we have to do so fast. So we understand how difficult it can be to begin the creative process at the start of a new campaign.

These simple, concrete tips can help you get past those mental blocks and reach maximum creative output:

1. Organize your chaos

If you’re struggling with how to even begin, it’s actually much more rational than you’d think. Your first step is simple: identify the problem you want to solve. Is the goal to engage prospective donors with new content? Is it to raise an amount of money around a specific date? Figure it out. Write it down. Circle it. That will be your focus in all upcoming creative thought. Should you be thinking of a million possible ways to reach that goal as you brainstorm later? Yes. But first, you have to set the boundaries of the game.

2. Steal (sort of)

Coming up with creative ideas is a more arduous process than the proverbial light bulb appearing above your head. So when the ideas just aren’t there, try to think of analogies from creative solutions you’ve seen in the past or talk through others’ ideas and build on them. In a study from the University of Pittsburgh, researchers discovered that new ideas were formed in incremental steps, not massive cognitive leaps. Using parallels from other experiences and building on pre-existing ideas is where great ideas are cultivated.

3. Walk it off

If the creative juices aren’t flowing, take a 15 or 30-minute break outside. Studies have shown that walking — or some form of exercise — can stimulate more creative thinking. Not to mention a change of scenery from your desk will put distance from the problem and help you clear your headspace.

4. Treat yourself

Research suggests that a positive mood can impact both creativity and problem-solving ability. Simply put, when you’re trying to tackle a creative problem surround yourself with items that make you feel good. A cup of coffee, your favorite music playlist — whatever makes you happy — incorporate it into your creative brainstorming sessions and enjoy.

5. Do your creative homework

It is a phrase that can sometimes strike fear into even the most confident of professionals… “Let’s brainstorm on this one, guys.” If you’re not a fan of the group brainstorm session, try to set time on your calendar beforehand to think by yourself. Then actually do it. Think of this time as creative prep work. Research any background information you’ll be working with, look up different creative sources for inspiration, and write down your thoughts on the problem alone. This simple step is invaluable to the process, despite often losing priority to most other items in our daily schedules.

Even if you’re not the most creative person in the world, having a few strategies at the ready will help you stop stressing and start cultivating great ideas.

What are some techniques you’ve found useful in getting the creative juices flowing? Share them with us on our Facebook and Twitter!

Amy Adsley

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Amy Adsley

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