Fundraising is the lifeblood of any nonprofit organization. Yet, it is time consuming and the constant “more money” drumbeat can be wearisome for employees, volunteers and benefactors alike.
Thus, it’s smart to make your fundraising events as effective as possible. A variety of tried-and-true methods can help you to squeeze more funds out of donors when they’re in a generous mood while making the experience of giving enjoyable and rewarding.
Doing so won’t require you to rethink your fundraising strategy or make a bunch of additions to your events calendar. Instead, these cash-boosting techniques consist mainly of add-ons to existing projects or events that require little additional time or effort.
Plan events within events
People who attend a gala, a silent auction or any other fundraiser are a captive audience of your supporters. Try these ideas for raising extra money at your next event.
- Stage fee-based competitions like a costume contest at a masquerade ball.
- Auctions off goods and services.
- Rent a photo booth for attendees.
- Sell “memory” books.
- Sell gifts and merchandise with your organization’s name and logo.
Many nonprofits hold raffles at fundraisers; be sure to heed special IRS rules that apply to nonprofits. Big-ticket raffle gifts, such as a week at a resort, are especially popular. Still, be sure to ask the donor to provide a second-place prize, such as a weekend at the same location.
Make it active and healthy
People today are generally more health conscious and active than adults were in previous generations. Events such as 5K runs and bike-a-thons are a way to combine their generosity and health consciousness.
Marathons and extreme-sporting events such as the Tough Mudder provide a potentially fun and lucrative way for your group to raise money and generate positive publicity.
Make it easier to give
Your organization’s website and social media pages help you reach a wider audience. Go farther by selling tickets and donations online, including at the event itself.
If membership fees are an important source of funds for your organization, be sure to have your membership team on hand to staff a booth right at your fundraiser. People in a festive mood will be inclined to pay their next-year membership fee, renew a lapsed membership or sign up as a new member.
Don’t neglect one key strategy: sponsorships. These give businesses and professionals a way to highlight the services they provide while showing their support for your organization. This is especially important if they are unable to attend the event itself.
Offer different levels of sponsorship and emblazon your best sponsors’ names everywhere: on your programs, on banners at the event, on your group’s website and in the publicity and press releases for the event. What’s more, the companies where committee members work can be an additional source of sponsorships.
Accept designated gifts
Just as people emerged from the recession feeling more frugal about personal finance and spending, a newfound frugality has altered how people donate money to organizations.
Today’s donors are less apt to give “blanket” donations or give in response to a quarterly or annual fundraising appeal. What matters more to today’s donors are particular works or projects, especially those linked to tangible results. Tying your fundraising event to a specific outcome can attract these donors.
Always follow up
Fundraising doesn’t end after an event is finished. Promptly thanking attendees and donors is key to building lasting relationships, both cementing their support for your organization and ensuring their continued support over the years.
Profiling donors in your newsletter and on your website is one great way to make them feel appreciated. Plenty of groups have also created a “wall of fame” to give valued benefactors even more well-deserved recognition.
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- Ilona Bray, "Ten Ways to Raise Extra Money During Your Special Event," Nolo.com
- Gail Perry, "Top 10 Things to Understand About How Fundraising Really Works," GailPerry.com
- Caryn Stein, "How to Inspire More Donations at Your Next Fundraising Event," Network for Good