If you’ve checked out the About the Blogger section on this site, you know that I got my start in event planning with my sorority. I planned the preference round of recruitment for Chi Omega. If you’re Greek, you are well aware of the amount of planning and effort that goes into recruitment, but our event planning doesn’t end there. Greeks are also highly skilled in planning philanthropic fundraising events. These events aren’t just for Greeks either. Anyone can plan an event to benefit their favorite organization or cause and having these tips can help you focus on making the most money possible while still having an enjoyable event.
When you begin planning for a fundraiser event, you need to consider a few things right from the start:
1.) Choose an organization or cause—This will be your central theme
2.) What is your budget?
3.) How are you going to make money? – Raffle baskets, silent auction, t-shirt sales, etc.
4.) Who is going to help you?
5.) What is your goal?
These are important questions to ask yourself because without the answers to these questions, you can’t get started on the right foot. Choosing your organization or cause is simple; it’s usually something you’re dedicated to. My sorority, for example, has a national philanthropy, and all of our fundraising events benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation®. Other events may be pink ribbon-themed for breast cancer awareness or puzzle piece-themed for autism awareness. Each organization has its own theme and brand; this helps tie in decorations, color schemes and atmosphere for your fundraiser. Depending on the event you choose to execute, though, it may not need to be included in every aspect of the event.
This leads to the next question. What is your budget? How much money can you spend on putting this event together? This question determines a great deal. If you have a tight budget, renting out a large fancy venue and hosting an elegant gala are out of the question. Remember, you’re trying to raise money here, not spend it. A smaller budget can still produce big results, though. Small budget events may include sporting events, dinners, date auction and much more! These are the types of events where you can really play up the theme of your cause. Adding touches of your organization will add that special something to your event, and oftentimes contacting someone from the organization can help you get things like banners, bracelets, stickers, pins and information sent for you to use!
A larger budget clearly leaves the option open to host a more elegant event. I attended a gala last year that benefitted the American Cancer Society, and it was beautiful. A silent auction, paper-bidding auction and treasure box keys were the main sources of income. The event raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in one night, and I was blown away at the results an elegant but simple event could produce.
The key to any successful event, though, is how you’re going to raise money. Entry fees and minimum donations for sports teams are great, but the donations stop there. First, you need to get your guests excited about the cause. Give them some information, make them feel the way you do about it and they will be more inclined to donate; also consider who you are inviting and what they would be interested in. The fundraiser my sorority is hosting this weekend definitely appeals to the college student. We are hosting a Sloppy Joes dinner. For $7 it’s all you can eat sloppy joes, and you can also purchase raffle tickets for some great, student-themed baskets. I’m personally a big fan of raffle baskets and auctions. I think that if you are able to get big enough prizes that appeal to your guests, you will be able to make a great deal of money from these.
To get the most from your raffle baskets or auction items, use connections and a well-written business letter. Get the people who will be helping you (a fundraiser is not a one-person show) and get them out to businesses with a letter explaining what organization your event benefits, a little about what they do, and then about your event. The letter should ask for any kind of donation. From personal experience, I can tell you that businesses are seldom willing to donate cash, but many are willing to donate items from their stores or gift cards. These donated items will help boost interest in both your baskets and their business.
Finally, be sure to set a goal. Having a realistic goal in mind at the start of your planning will help you figure out how much you need to make from the events you’ve set up and where you can make improvements. It also gives you a number to work towards throughout the planning and execution of your event.
Check out these useful links on everything from buying supplies to budgeting your fundraiser event:
Also check out these links to some of my personal favorite causes.
As an intern for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals I have a special place in my heart for the work they do. I’ve already told you about my connection with the Make-A-Wish foundation and as a proud mom to both a rescue kitten and adopted Bagel Hound, Best Friends Animal Society is a place where I can meet fellow animal adoption enthusiasts.
What are some of your favorite charities and what kind of fundraisers have you participated in or hosted? Let me know!