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?


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!


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!


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!


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