I bet you have attended some sort of fundraising event at some point in your life—maybe several events. I have. After more than 25 years in the nonprofit sector and working with more than 20 organizations, I’ve been involved in many fundraising events.
Here’s some events I’ve been involved with:
Cake walks (elementary school carnivals, usually, love these!)
Car washes (worked well for high school sports teams)
Cow drop being (yes, buy a square and hope the cow drops a pie on it!)
Used book sales (highly successful for libraries everywhere)
Golf tournaments (there are many fun and different possibilities here)
Concerts (ticket revenue or pass the hat)
Murder mystery parties (fun stuff!)
Fancy balls (including an awesome masquerade ball for the arts)
Raffles (I’ve won a computer, an Amazon Echo and a few other goodies)
Live and silent auctions (usually as an add-on at another event)
Here’s a few other event ideas that I’ve seen successful:
Raise the Paddle as an add-on to other events
I’ve found that the number of staff and volunteers you need will depend upon the type and size of the fundraiser. The Fundraising Coach offers these 10 steps for successful fundraising events:
Step 1: Decide the type of event that’s right for your nonprofit.
Step 2: Gather together committees, staff, and volunteers.
Step 3: Choose a date, time, and venue for the fundraising event.
Step 4: Secure a sponsor or sponsors for your event.
Step 5: Promote your fundraiser online and offline.
Step 6: Send out formal and informal invitations.
Step 7: Perform prospect research on event attendees.
Step 8: Do a practice run-through on the day of the event.
Step 9: Enjoy the fruits of your hard work!
Step 10: Follow up with and thank your attendees.
A few important pieces of advice when planning a fundraising event….
If you are planning a new event, find out when and where all the other fundraising events in your community are happening. Pay particular attention to prominent community events that have been happening for many years and are well-known throughout your community. You don’t want to compete!
Do not expect great amounts of money with a new event. Plan to invest a few years before you realize a lot of revenue.
Develop logical partnerships, such as working with a fancy dress shop to offer discounts for people attending a black tie event. Try to find local celebrities to attend your event. Try to get restaurants to offer dinner deals for people who attend if your event will not offer food.
When you’re looking for venues, think of places that may attract guests who may not be familiar with your organization and its mission. Do you know someone who has a special house and would be willing to host an event? Is there a horse farm, museum or other place that could be a draw for guests?
Find partners and sponsors to help cover the costs of your event. Sell tables at a discount offering incentives for a full table purchase (free bottle of wine, perhaps).