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Top 10 Tips to Make More Money, Have More Fun at Your Fundraising Event

May is Party Month at Fired-Up Fundraising! 

Today we’ll give you tips to make more money and have more fun at YOUR own fundraising event!

We all have events, so let’s make them fun and also highly profitable!

First: what’s the difference between an “event” and a “party?”

An “event” is when you throw a bunch of people in the room, give them something to eat or drink, and hope they survive. Yikes!

“May I have this dance?”

A “party” is when you actually CARE about the experience your guests are having.  You try to make it fun for everyone.

Maybe we as fundraisers, just might want to pay more attention to the quality of the party experience for our guests.  Just like we’d do at home, right?

BEFORE THE PARTY

Here is where your plan can make or break you. Be sure you follow these tips:

1.    Put together a fun, diverse committee.

Your committee is your “social branding” for the party.  People will attend because they are close to your organization OR they know someone on the committee. Plaster your invitation with committee members’ names.

Be sure you have committee members from a wide-ranging demographic.

Enlist a terrific committee!

Get different professions, ages and types on your committee. Pull from different communities around your town, different religions and social networks.

And be sure committee meetings are FUN! Have parties for your committee and they will make sure your event is fun.

2.    Get your sponsorships.

Your #1 factor in making more money is your sponsorships.  That’s where the real profit will be for your event.

And it takes plenty of lead time to properly approach the right sponsors, and close the deal.  If you are not allowing enough lead time, then you won’t have time to close the sponsorships you need.

Organize a sponsorship committee, set a sponsorship goal, allocate out your sponsorship prospects and get those calls made. AND then followup those calls so you can close the sponsorships.

Start with former years’ sponsors first.  Then solicit the people and companies who are close to your organization.  These should be the easy calls. Only then should you branch out to new sponsor prospects.

3. Give VIP’s special encouragement to come.

You probably want certain VIP’s to attend your event, but they may be reluctant to attend.  Why? Maybe they don’t have have a date or escort.  Or maybe they don’t like driving at night. Or they are shy.

But you need to make sure they come!  How? Call them up and say:

  • “I have someone special I want you to meet at our party.
  • “I have a terrific table for you.
  • “Our “party van” will come pick you up.

I love the idea of a party van picking up important guests. The Museum of Art in North Carolina once used a corporate jet to travel around the state and pick up key guests.

You make not have access to a corporate jet but I bet you could get hold of a van, or even your own car.  Make it extra fun for your VIP’s and make them feel special!

AT THE EVENT

1.    Right sized venue.

Too big or too small?

Be sure your room is not too big!  Nothing is worse than a huge room that swallows your crowd.  All the energy in the room will go “poof!”

I’d rather have a room that’s too small than have one that’s too big.

When the room is crowded with people, it feels like something is really happening!

2.    Turn down the lights.

Nothing is worse that bright lights glaring above.  You can ruin the atmosphere of a party quickly with bright lighting.

Turn the darn lights down and create a sense of mood and atmosphere.  At our age we all look better in lower light anyway. : )

3.    Abundant food and drink.

Never, never, never be the event that ran out of food or booze.  Have the food tables look abundant. Your fare doesn’t have to be fancy at all, but it needs to be ample, and look attractive.

I always have terrific food at my parties, and lots of it!  At my annual Christmas party in Raleigh, we are frying oysters out on the back deck and bringing them into the house. People love it!

4.    Cute young people.

mix old and young together!

Don’t forget that the older folks love to be able to meet and chat with young folks. Its fun to have the young folks who can give the party extra glamour!

And the young people enjoy meeting older dignitaries a lot too.  Every guest has a lot to offer – bring it out of them!

5.    Welcoming attitude.

This might be the most important thing of all: how people are welcomed and treated when they are at the party.

Give your BOARD MEMBERS the job of being hosts. They are supposed to welcome people and talk to wallflowers. 

When people come in the door, greet them like you haven’t seen them in years and you are SO GLAD they are here.

6. Try a Raffle.

You can add significant money to the bottom line with a raffle. I am always surprised at how much cash turns up from a simple raffle – and it adds to the fun of the evening.

One year I was co-chair of an auction and we decided to have a raffle about a week before the event. Two volunteers took it on, got some David Yurman jewelry donated, and went off selling raffle tickets.

Boy was I surprised when that last-minute idea brought in $7k in cash without a whole lot of work!

7.    Next Year’s Chair.

A terrific committee makes a terrific event!

Enlist next year’s chair at this year’s event.

They will be feeling happy and will be in the middle of success and glitz.  It’s the best possible time to get a “yes!”  Give it a try!

AFTER THE EVENT

Call your sponsors, top purchasers of auction items, lead volunteers and major donors and THANK THEM.

Read what happened when someone from the Rape Crisis Center called my boyfriend after he bought lots of stuff at their auction.

He was so pleased with the call that now they have him for life. :)

Be sure to line up your thank you phone callers BEFORE the event, of course.

Want to make more money out of your next event?

Then come on and join my May webinar series: Creating Highly Profitable Fundraising Events.

We have 4 webinars all focusing on different ways to MAX OUT your fundraising bottom line:

  • how to nail big money sponsorships,
  • how to sell out the room and all your tickets,
  • how to stage a high profit auction and
  • how to max out your ROI.

If you are having an event any time in 2014 or 15 – bring your volunteers and listen in. Even if you can’t attend live, you will get all the recordings plus a written transcript of each class.

If you think this can help you raise TONS more money with your event, then click here now to find out more and register!

WHAT ARE YOUR TIPS FOR A FAB HIGH DOLLAR EVENT?

Share them with us here!

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  • mmp

    A question for all – in our organization there seems to be a need to plaster the event with a ton of marketing materials. My team (communications) is trying to change course and make the materials less about how great we are and more about what our needs are and how the attendees can help. We have learned our donors want to know how they can help and if we brag how great we are they why would we need their help. Unfortunately, we’re getting a lot of push back from our events team. Any ideas? Is my team working on the right goal – less fluff and more need language?

  • sb

    In some states it is impossible to put together a raffle one week prior to an event because of charity gaming laws and licensing requirements. Be sure you know the laws in your state.

  • bhk

    bhk
    I am both marketing and communications and I agree with you. However, I have found that events should showcase the needs you have but in order to get the money you also need to show that you are the best to put those dollars to work. There is a fine line there and I see both sides. What is important is that both sides work to produce the most output of your fundraising goals. Show the need but also show that you are the right organization to fill that need – show them why they should put their dollars with you!

  • Kathleen Gardner

    How do we register for those 4 webinars? When I click on the links, there is no place to register. I really want to hear all 4. Thanks!

  • http://www.writingVA.com/blog.php maryhruth

    Hi Kathleen – Just hit the link and scroll way down – You can’t miss the big green button!

  • Richard Freedlund

    When it comes to auction items, I have found that travel, unique experiences, and rubbing elbows with celebrities (or at least autographed memorabilia) drive the highest bids. If you are a chapter organization, partner with another chapter in a desirable place that people will want to visit. Offer a casual meal or hike in the woods with a professional athlete, former politician or celebrity. The activity can be something that the celebrity likes to do in their free time, and you’d be surprised how that “six degrees of separation” can be true. I have been blessed with a number of famous people in my network. Ask a corporate sponsor to cover the cost of transportation and have them order plane tickets through their company’s travel department. I could go on and on about this subject.