If your organization is planning a fundraiser, such as a dinner, auction, tournament, festival, or garden/home tour, you’ve probably already figured out that ticket sales won’t likely cover your costs, much less turn the event into a true fundraiser. Corporate sponsorships may help, but they usually require a lot of advance planning, door knocking, emailing and stress – the last thing you need more off when planning an event. Think outside of the box for your next fundraiser and consider some of the unique fundraising options below.
One big prize or several prizes can create a lot of fun excitement and is a no-brainer. We suggest that tickets are sold throughout the event. Sometimes after a few trips to the bar, people feel much more generous. Raffle tickets can also be sold in advance for folks who cannot attend, but it is always more fun when the winner is in the house. Be sure to comply with your state’s law on raffles, and see the article, “Special IRS Gambling Rules for Nonprofits.”
A variation on the raffle idea, a balloon pop is an audible fun event that can add to the bottom line. You stuff blown up balloons with gift certificates to local stores and restaurants. Holding the balloons, your staff or volunteers circle the room during an appropriate part of the event, and sell them for around $5 to $15. The excitement builds as the balloons are popped and people see what they have won. Maybe have one or two awesome prizes inside lucky balloons.
Can you get two of the same high-value item? A donor who, for example, is willing to part with one week’s stay at a vacation cabin may be willing to give you a second one. Don’t publicize the existence of a duplicate in advance. Instead, when the bidding seems ready to peak, have the auctioneer announce that the donor has consented to providing another of the same item, with both offered at the second-highest price. You’ll probably make both bidders happy, with an instant boost to your proceeds.
For a home or garden tour you offer outside vendors the opportunity to sell home- or garden-themed items (in return for a set fee or a percentage of profits). Or, if your group has produced T-shirts, calendar, or other items else you’ve been trying to sell here’s the perfect opportunity to earn a little extra.
The event isn’t over when it’s over. You should have collected names of every person who attended, some of whom are probably friends of friends who have never really supported or even known much about your organization before. If you use an online registration tool like WhenNow the list of attendees will be at your fingertips. Now is your chance to engage with them. Give them a call or shoot them an email to find out what interests them and whether there’s a way they might become further involved with your organization.
Additional tips from the Fundraising Authority via Guidestar.com are available here.