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How To Create a Successful Fundraising Event

Fundraising for nonprofits and other businesses can be tricky. Because these organizations are about giving back, people tend to mistakenly believe that they’re made of money. Of course, that’s not the case- nonprofits have to pay employees, rent, and generate revenue to keep giving. One way to fundraise for your nonprofit business to host events. This kind of event is ideal for nonprofits, startups, and other companies who want to raise money without accruing debt.


Plan Around Your Goals


Determining the type of event that would help your achieve your fundraising goals is key. Image by www.salsalabs.com.


The first thing to ask yourself is: What kind of event would help achieve my business objectives? Fundraising events should be planned around goals. For example, if you’re looking to introduce a new product and your goal is to make or increase sales, you might want to host a product launch. Pop-up stores are also trending right now. If you’re not familiar with the term, pop-ups are temporary stores or restaurants that offer trending or popular items for a limited time only. These stores are ultimately immersive brand experiences in which customers can see, feel, and interact with your brand. Ideal for today's experiential market, they represented a limited time offer. Customers tend to jump on experiences they know won't be available for long.


Spreading awareness of a new business or startup? A grand opening can also be a great way to let customers experience with and interact with your brand. Publicity stunts, vintage themes, and charitable causes are all ways to create a splash people will remember. Of course, your grand opening strategy should be aligned with the culture and focus of your brand. For example, publicity stunts for a sporting good store would likely involve athletic activities.


What is your specific fundraising goal? For nonprofit organizations, fundraising goals are often based on supporting a cause aligned with their business. An acting school might host a talent show that benefits low-income youth or raises funds for arts scholarships. Some fun food-related fundraising ideas include an Alice in Wonderland-themed tea party, a food truck rodeo, or a classic bake sale.


As we all know by now, virtual events are a thing. 50/50 raffles, photo contests, and themed T-shirts that support your cause are all ways to fundraise in a virtual setting. In this digital market, it's also important to include donation buttons on your website and event page. This way, giving to your cause is a click away. In order to motivate contributions from those who can't attend your event, consider throwing in tiered perks for anyone who gives online. Maybe a donation of two hundred dollars earns a contributor a VIP experience at your next event. Complementary products and social media shout-outs are also potential perk ideas.


Do you have a floor space, models, and some couture or a creative, fashionable theme? Hosting a fundraising fashion show is a fun, community-building way to bring locals together- and support your business and its cause. Silent auctions can be a hit, too. Think items and experiences. Let's say yours is a photography business- perhaps you or one of your employees has a vacation home in a picturesque location where a lucky contributor could spend a weekend.


Factor In Your Budget and Fundraising Method


Spending money to raise it may seem counterproductive- but when you prioritize what's most important to your event, a little bit can go a long way. Image by www.indeed.com.


Budgeting for fundraising events is important. (Sigh). When it comes to events, you've got to spend money to earn it. But the good news is that there is often room to get creative with even small budgets. What is absolutely essential to pull off your event as you see it unfolding? Make a list of priorities and estimate how much they will cost. After determining your goals and what kind of event you will be hosting, budgeting should be the next step.


Start by deciding what you're budgeting for. Venue, decorations, marketing, staffing, and technology (especially for hybrid experiences) are some common examples of costs associated with events. After you've determined these, you'll want to get more specific. To do this, walk yourself mentally through the life cycle of your event. For example, how much will it cost to rent your desired space? What kind of staff do you need to hire, and how much will they be paid? If there will be catering at your event, what are the costs associated with that? (If your staff will be waiting tables and/or serving food and drinks, consider what you will be paying them as well).


Only you can decide what costs you should splurge on and which you can be more conservative with. For just a few factors, budgeting decisions depend on your theme, goals, and audience. For example, a fundraising event for a restaurant obviously won't want to cut costs on the culinary experience, including high-quality dining and an atmospheric venue. But a product launch might be able to source donated or discounted food that allows them to spend more on product demos and experiential value. Always remember to budget enough to market your event thoroughly. Luckily, marketing through social media is free to relatively inexpensive with the costs of strategically placed ads.


Of course, you'll want to choose the method to your madness early on. That is, you need to decide on one or more revenue stream. Some examples:


  • Sell food and merchandise at your event

  • Charge admission and raise funds through ticket sales

  • Host an auction of donated items or services

  • Ask for donations at and leading up to your event

  • Seek sponsorships and partners


Host a Workshop In Person or Online


Hosting a workshop raises funds, brand awareness, and reaches niche audiences. Image by www.eventleaf.com.


Yet another great fundraising option involves hosting a workshop. Workshops offer more than just entertainment value- they also hold educational value within your niche and/or community and position you as an authority on the subject.


When encouraging sign-ups for your workshop, it pays to be at the top of search results relating to your subject matter. The algorithms of most popular search engines, including Google, includes a proximity factor. This means that the search engine takes location into account when a user enters a query with local intent. For example, when you type in "pizza delivery", Google suggests local businesses- even if you don't type "near me".


The same goes for events. To make sure you show up in searches with local intent associated with your event, be sure to have a landing page for your event or business. This is especially important if your company has more than one location. Listing your business in Google My Business is also helpful. Review signals also generate visibility, so encourage customers to leave them.


We recommend using Google Analytics to learn which SEO words or phrases are popular for your subject matter. Depending on your brand type of subject matter, you may want to prioritize moderately popular words in your event description so that your event doesn't get lost in the mix. If possible, use both the most popular and moderately popular words/phrases associated with your event in the description, on your website, and landing pages. Consistency is key when aiming for the top of search results- especially if your industry is a popular one.


Hosting a workshop can generate revenue and sales leads as well as build brand awareness. They can be hosted in person, online, or as a hybrid experience. If you market it well, you might also attract sponsors in your industry, which is an added bonus.


Seek Out Complementary Sponsorships and Partnerships


Sometimes scoring sponsorship involves thinking outside the box. Image by www.visme.co.


Speaking of sponsorships, ask yourself who might be interested in sponsoring your event or partnering with you to create a fundraiser. If you're just starting out or don't think you have the right connections, research local or complementary businesses online. One of the benefits of an increasingly hybrid world is that networking has gone global- you no longer have to leave your home to connected with like-minded organizations in other regions. Virtual or hybrid fundraisers can be just as successful as in-person events when you have the right technology, a standout event design, and deliver an experience that caters to your target audience's preferences.


Sponsorship also boosts your business by connecting you with an audience that you would not have otherwise had a direct line to. If you have a great product, pop-up, or event idea, advertise it well. Create unique, eye-catching graphics, videos, or ads, and share them across social media to stir up enthusiasm. Be sure to target niche audiences with advertisements, social media mentions, and email lists. Mention your fundraiser-in-the-making consistently on social media and by word of mouth.


Once you have a captive audience, shoot for the stars- or moderately popular influencers. Often, social media influencers with a moderate following are more likely to be available or respond directly to sponsorship or partnership proposals. Just be sure you know exactly what your event has to offer them before pitching the idea. And if you do have a social media star with a massive audience in mind and you think that person would be perfect for your event- go for it! But we recommend having one or more backup plans.


Also, don't be afraid to think outside the box. For example, if your brand or event is a hit, a local restaurant or chain might donate some food or drinks. If local brands love your brand or the products you sell, they're likely to want in on your event- and attract their audience to you as they share and promote it.


Hosting a charity fundraiser? Ask complementary local businesses to donate items or gift cards to your cause. If it's a cause you both care about, you're more likely to attract their attention and gain their support. Hosting an auction with a local business is another great partnership idea- you both benefit from the brand awareness and you get to raise funds for your charitable organization.



In Conclusion


Fundraising can seem like a daunting task- especially at a competitive time in most industries when in-person events are finally getting back into full swing. But if you decide what kind of fundraiser best supports your individual goals, you'll be able to attract the right audience. From there, the simple steps and ideas above will help you see it through to success. Happy fundraising!



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