Many of our peers in the fundraising industry often ask how they can optimize their fundraising events in order to raise more money year after year. Over the course of the past few years, we’ve helped fundraising events of all kinds, giving us a good grasp of consistent strategies to help your team raise more money at your fundraising event.
To bring this a level further, we’ve even used most of these strategies at our own annual fundraising event, which hosts over 1,000 people and has raised more than $250,000 for Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.
In order to help you with your next event, we’ve put together our recipe on how to raise more money at your fundraising event. Enjoy!
Tip #1: Start Early
Our first tip on how to raise more money at your fundraising event is to start planning early! As event hosts ourselves, we know how much work and preparation goes into a successful fundraising event. For that reason, we start planning our own event about 6 – 8 months before our event date.
Starting early allows you to make sure you are fully prepared for your big day or night, and hopefully prevents any last-minute panic.
As you schedule your planning and committee meetings, it’s totally fine to begin with a few quick meetings just to get your team into the right mindset to fundraise. As your meetings progress, they will increase in duration and will cover more significant topics (sponsorship, ticket sales, logistics, etc.).
Tip #2: Build the Right Team
One of your best bets to raise more money at your fundraising event is to build an all-star fundraising team.
Your committee members will be the driving force behind a successful event, and in most cases, will be responsible for all aspects of your event, including venue selection, promotion, logistics, ticket sales, sponsorship, and setup.
As a general strategy, we recommend building your team with one or more members, focusing on the areas below:
Fundraising – The fundraisers will be the largest part of your committee. Their sole purpose is to make sure the event brings in as much money as possible. To that end, this team will focus heavily on:
Creating and sharing your event’s story and why you are supporting your cause
Leading the committee’s efforts to target and close sponsorships and event partners
Soliciting donations for your silent auction or raffle
Acknowledging gifts made by donors, and maintaining the relationship with your best donors and sponsors for years to come
Logistics – The logistics team will run the nuts and bolts of the event. This means selecting and negotiating with vendors, creating schedules, and ensuring that the event runs as smoothly as possible. As the event date nears, the logistics team will become increasingly busy. Some tasks focused on by this team include:
Managing and preparing checkpoints and timelines
Contacting vendors for your event (food, beverage, supplies, decorations, etc.)
Coordinating all volunteers on the night of the event
Setting up the event venue
Marketing – The marketers will spearhead your event promotion tactics, and are responsible for making your event’s presence as big as possible. The marketing team will be the voice of your event, and will be incredibly important in drawing a big crowd, while also getting local buzz going. Specifically, your marketers will focus on:
Promoting the event on social media and to local publications
Developing marketing materials (social media posts, event pages, signage, etc.)
Managing public relations in order to gain more exposure for your event
Finance – Finally, your finance team will be responsible for making sure that your event manages costs and brings in enough revenue to donate a substantial amount to the cause you are supporting. Standard items to focus on include:
Managing your fundraising budget
Monitoring and managing vendor costs
Securing gifts and donations and tracking sponsorship dollars
Submitting final paperwork and tax information for your fundraiser
Tip #3: Create a Robust Sponsorship Plan
Arguably the most important aspect of increasing proceeds and raising more money for your fundraising event will be your ability to craft and execute a robust sponsorship plan. Attracting sponsors to your event not only will add credibility and exposure for your event, but will drastically increase your proceeds, as most sponsorships involve monetary donations. Creating long-lasting relationships with your sponsors over the years will also provide a sustainable and growing revenue stream that your event can plan on as it grows year after year.
Because fundraiser sponsorship is so important, we’ve written an entire guide, which you can download below:
Some of the most important aspects of a great fundraiser sponsorship plan include:
Opportunity Identification – This is the first step in your sponsorship plan, and consists of you and your team identifying potential targets to become sponsors for your event. Factors that may determine which sponsors are right for you include:
Size – How big is your event? Larger attendance typically means larger corporations for sponsors, while smaller events typically attract a higher number of local sponsors.
Audience – Who is attending your event? Baby boomers, millennials, both? Based on your demographics, different companies may be interested in participating as sponsors. The better you know your audience, the more efficient you can be in your sponsorship outreach.
Event Location and Online Presence – Will your venue include a lot of signage? Do you have an extensive social presence and website for your event? If so, this makes your event extremely valuable to sponsors. Identifying this opportunity for your event will help you understand your potential for sponsorship.
Building a Sponsorship Package – Once you’ve identified the best targets for fundraiser sponsorship, it’s time to build your sponsorship package. This will be one of your most valuable tools to help you raise more money at your next fundraising event. Once your package is complete, you can send it to prospective sponsors in order to educate them on your event and show the different sponsorship tiers available. Important elements to include in your sponsorship package include:
Event Description – Date, time, location, supporting cause
Your Story – Your connection to the cause that is being supported and any related history for the event
Event Statistics – These can include anything from expected attendance to the total funds you’ve donated over the years (or expect to donate). Anything that you think will entice your sponsors should go in this section!
Sponsorship Tiers – These are the different levels at which your sponsors can participate. These usually include a monetary value (donated by the sponsor) that is exchanged for exposure surrounding your fundraising event.
Contact Info – Don’t forget your contact info! How else will you receive generous sponsorship donations?
Soliciting Sponsors – OK, so now that you’ve built an amazing sponsorship package, it’s finally time to get out there and attract sponsorship for your fundraising event! Some of the best ways to get started with your sponsorship outreach consist of:
Identifying the best channels of communication – Our favorite methods of sponsorship outreach include phone calls, in-person meetings, emails, and social media outreach (Twitter, Facebook Messenger, LinkedIn).
Create a prospecting & outreach plan – A prospecting plan will give you measurable goals in terms of how many people you have reached out to, how often you will conduct outreach, and if you are tracking on your goals in order to raise enough sponsorship dollars to meet your overall fundraising event goal.
Use templated outreach messages – In order to reach many sponsors, we recommend using an outreach email template that you can create as you begin messaging sponsors. Be sure to add a personal touch to each email, but your general messaging can be similar in order to save some time.
Acknowledgement and Follow-Up – Finally, once you’ve attracted and secured amazing sponsors, be sure to thank them! While sponsors should be acknowledged in your online, social, email, and in-event signage, it’s also a nice touch if you give them a shout-out during an announcement at your event. Additionally, make sure you thank all of your sponsors after your event has concluded – hand-written notes can go a long way!
Tip #4: Promote Your Event
As you prepare for your event and try to attract sponsorship, another effective tip to raise more money at your next event is to promote your fundraising event. While this may seem like a no-brainer, there are definitely methods that work better than others in promoting your event.
One of the first places you should start is social media. Creating a Facebook page and using your committee to strategically roll out event invites to your closest friends and family will ensure that you have some early commitment to the event. From there, it will be easy to play on people’s desire to not miss out (FOMO)!
As you continue to promote your event, a multi-channel approach is often the most effective. By multi-channel, we mean marketing your event across social media, through word of mouth, and through any PR channels you may reach (newspapers, local news, etc.). The more places your event is mentioned, the quicker it will sell out.
And finally, don’t forget to tell your story and the story of your cause when promoting your event! By getting personal and connecting with your audience, you will develop a strong relationship with your attendees, resulting in higher attendance and donations for this year and for future fundraising events.
Tip #5: Go Mobile
People are naturally becoming more and more connected through technology. It’s no surprise, then, that our next tip is to follow this trend and go mobile in order to raise more money at your next fundraising event!
“Going mobile” consists of two major strategies as they relate to your fundraising event:
Sell Tickets Online – Selling online tickets is an easy way to sell more ticketing, raise awareness for your event, and raise more money. Using event ticketing platforms, you can quickly and easily set up your own event page and begin selling tickets to your audience. In addition to helping you raise more money, selling tickets online will allow you to more easily check in and register your guests, making the event experience smoother and more enjoyable.
Mobile Fundraising – Luckily for you, there is a plethora of amazing mobile fundraising tools is available for event organizers. Some of these are meant to support your fundraising campaign on a more general basis (online fundraising pages), while others can be used directly at your event (mobile silent auctions and raffles). Regardless of the tool you choose to use, online and mobile fundraising tools can be amazingly effective at increasing your fundraiser proceeds. The major benefits of mobile fundraising include increased reach to a larger potential donor base, flexibility in terms of when, where, and how you fundraise, and ease of use for both your committee and your guests.
Tip#6 - Day / Night of Event
Finally, it’s the big day (or night) of your fundraising event! Take a deep breath and reflect on all the great work you have done to support an amazing cause. As you prepare for the day or night of your event, a few quick tips can really help boost your fundraiser proceeds, even at your event:
Mobile silent auction or raffle – As mentioned previously, banishing paper bid sheets and raffle tickets to move to a mobile fundraising platform will lead to a significant increase in proceeds. Now, your guests will be able to bid seamlessly from their mobile devices, while still able to enjoy the focus of your event.
Engaging visuals – Using strong visuals around your venue can go a long way in enticing your audience and encouraging them to make one more donation. Our favorite visual is a fundraising thermometer (preferably digital and updating in real time). Fundraising thermometers give your audience a visual idea of where you are in tracking toward your goal, and can encourage increased donations as you approach your goal.
Call to Action – We also strongly encourage taking a few minutes to speak at your event, talk about your cause, thank your donors, and have a strong call to action. This can be as simple as asking your guests to donate just one more time to your cause. These live announcements often create a sense of excitement and teamwork and can really help push your proceeds over the edge!
After reading this post, we hope you have more confidence you can increase your fundraiser proceeds for this year and years to come. While all fundraising events are different, we’ve found that many of these tips apply to most fundraisers. So try them out and report back on your success!