Fundraising events must be among the most difficult types of events out there. You are inviting people in a room to ask for their money. For a good cause, of course, but still you are asking for their money.
Coming up with cool fundraising ideas that make an impact is not always easy. Getting the audience to empathize with your cause can be a challenge.
No worries, we are here to help.
Let’s look first at some strategies to tackle the ever-changing world of fundraising events, then we will share some of the most effective event ideas out there.
Stories can truly connect your audience’s emotions to the cause you are fundraising for. Without a face or story to represent your fundraising need, your donors won’t be able to envision or feel exactly how worthy your cause is. People are inclined to give when they connect on an emotional level with a speaker or a personal journey. By sharing these types of heartfelt stories with your audience at an event, you are much more likely to increase your charitable contributions.
Tug the heartstrings:
- At the event, set aside a time to educate your audience about your cause and show them the impact they are making.
- Use storytelling through things like photographs, videos, quotations, and artwork.
- Providing your donors with actual examples of where the money raised is going and the impact it is having, will provide gratification to your donors and encourage them to continue giving during future campaigns. You should always be looking for the chance to show your donors what their gifts are accomplishing.
GET ALL THE TRENDS THAT MATTER TO YOUR INBOX.
Everyone loves to feel special at an event, especially a high-level donor or top-tier sponsor. You should try to make each one of your guests feel like the most important person in the room, in order to provide a great customer service experience and make them more inclined to open their pocketbooks for your charity. By making attendees feel special, they will be much more inclined to give to your cause or spend some extra money while attending your event. Everyone enjoys feeling like a VIP, so do your best to show all of the guests attending your event that their dollar truly matters.
Make them feel special:
- Calling your guests by name upon arrival and recognizing them for their generosity at every chance you get, will go a really long way in providing a positive and lasting impression.
- Place VIP board members’ names on the invitation. When people receive an invitation if they recognize a name they feel more obligated and motivated to attend.
- Place VIPs on your event board. People who give buy-in and advice on something feel an added incentive to see how it turns out, which means they’ll also attend. This also helps you build a closer relationship with them.
Being connected to your donors and supporters during the event is easier than ever with social media and digital devices. Being tapped into the vibe of your outing will give you a good perspective on the impact your event has had and perhaps the likelihood of your fundraising success.
Are people sharing information about your cause or event with their network? Fundraising is a very social project in this digitally connected world. Almost every day we see someone online who is raising money or awareness for a cause they care about. By making your events more socially connected you will increase your visibility and build upon your potential fundraising income.
- You can follow along with your group through event hashtags and apps during the event
- Don’t be afraid to ask attendees how they are doing with pre-and post-event surveys!
- Connect the digital and physical attendees with a live social wall during your event and flood with messages of donations and support for the cause.
20 Fundraising Event Ideas
Here are 20 event ideas to bolster fundraising revenue at your next event.
Whether it is experiences or donated products and items, silent auctions can be an interesting way to raise funds during the event without the hassle of organizing a real auction. Bidders simply fill out a form with their information and the highest amount they would pay for each item. Highest bid wins. Make it interesting by adding valuable items or experiences such as coaching or speaker sessions for the corporate crowd.
Find a sponsor or company to match the donation amount that you raise so that you can immediately double it. This incentivizes guests to donate more as they know it will be worth twice as much as they give. If you can’t find someone to do this for your event as a whole you could ask individual sponsors to double their bid if you reach a certain criterion, e.g. finish a sporting challenge or reach a milestone amount.
Don’t forget about your digital attendees who may want to help raise funds but are unable to attend. Making digital donations available by sharing links to a secure funding page on your event social media can help expand reach and makes fundraising more accessible. It also works well during a live stream or social media wall and makes fundraising accessible before, during and after your event.
The traditional donation box is getting a revamp with kiosks that take contactless or card payments, no more having to cash checks for your fundraiser.
Invite guests who are affected by the cause you are trying to raise to speak at the keynote on behalf of others. Motivational or inspiring stories, as well as seeing the affected can hit home for many and encourage more donations.
Highly popular, particularly with low budgets because you can have prizes donated and it’s simply the cost of the tickets that you have to pay for. Incentivize this further by introducing a 50:50 split where the tickets are placed into a bowl and the prize is half of the amount raised by the ticket sales. The other half goes to the designated charity.
Bring to Buy
From cakes and food to clothing or nearly new items, bring to buy are highly popular for fundraisers. It prompts others to have a declutter or get creative while working towards a good cause at the same time.
Rather than a free bar, the sponsor agrees to match whatever was made in drinks and donate to a charity. This is perfect, particularly if they are marketing with a custom cocktail so it is a win-win and also encourages drinking for a good cause!
A Red Carpet and Step & Repeat
Make your attendees feel like the VIPs they are by featuring a red carpet leading up to the entrance to your event. You can even kick it up a notch with a branded ‘step and repeat’ banner and “paparazzi” (professional photographer) behind a velvet rope taking photos of your guests. If your attendees feel like high rollers, they may even be more likely to be generous throughout your fundraiser!
Attendees are more likely to pay to play games or activities they are participating in which makes sports and gamification popular for fundraising. Organize a simple pay to play mini-game such as guess the sweets in the jar or go big and organize an entire sports tournament as part of your event. The winners can receive a product or service from sponsors and the money
Diverse Keynote Speakers
It’s increasingly critical for event planners to not only look at keynote speakers who will be relevant to their attendees, but also to seek out those who will provide a diverse perspective. We hear time and again that representation matters. As you plan the keynote speaker lineup for your next fundraiser, be intentional about securing a keynote speaker who appropriately reflects the diversity of your audience and community.
Full Valet Service
An excellent corporate fundraising idea is to have a valet and car wash available for attendees while they are in the event. The proceeds go to the designated charity, guests are more likely to pay a bit extra for the cause and they have the car cleaned while having fun!
A casino night event is a classic for a reason. Attendees have a ball as they sip cocktails, eat delicious hor d’oeuvres, play casino games, and win prizes. In addition to casino games, you can feature event enhancements like a charity poker tournament or live music. A casino night also offers several options for fundraising, including ticket sales, table sponsorships, or drink sales.
If the budget allows carnival rides like the one below, excellent but if it doesn’t there are still plenty of fundraising opportunities for your event within the carnival theme. You could opt for smaller, homemade stalls such as the coconut shy, plate smash, raffles and tombola stalls or alternatively for corporate carnivals you could play dunk the boss!
Get an influencer or celebrity guest involved in your fundraising for causes that they are passionate about. Even if you can’t get them to attend the event themselves they could still publicly donate to your cause, prompting others to do the same. Plus, it’s an excellent way to spread awareness.
For animal fundraising, work with local shelters or sanctuaries to bring animal guests to your event to pose for photos or be part of the keynote. Animals strike a chord with people and chances are you’ll have attendees with pets so they will be more likely to donate seeing the animals themselves. Everyone loves an underdog (or cat) story.
Charity Photo Booth
Capitalize on the selfie and photo booth popularity at your event by turning them into fundraising machines. You could have them branded with the charity or cause information to boost awareness or offer pay per print with the proceeds going to charity.
Ask attendees to take photographs and submit them before the event, have the best ones blown up onto canvas and create a “crowdsourced” art exhibition. Charge for tickets and auction the photos at the end (or have a silent auction!)
Host a Slumber Party
Have pyjamas as the fancy dress idea and play an old movie, cinema style. Charge for movie tickets at your event as well as for popcorn and drinks. Offer other areas, for example a pamper zone or lounge, custom cocktails and pillow fight entertainment as part of the party to raise funds.
Have local talent, boutiques or even attendees submit their fashion designs and charge for entry to the fashion show. You could offer this as part of the entertainment at your event or go all out and make it a feature itself.