Here are 12 tips on how to raise more money at your fundraising event. Many nonprofit groups only use six or seven of these fundraising ideas, but that just means they’ve overlooked some truly significant ways to raise funds.
Some of these tips require substantial lead time, such as applying for a grant to cover the costs of holding your fundraiser event. Just because there’s a little work involved and you have to start early doesn’t mean its not a good idea!
We’ll start with the list of event fundraising methods and then get into the tips on how to do them so you’ll raise the most money.
12 Event Tips Fundraising Ideas
- Ticket Sales
- Silent Auction
- Live Auction
- Vendor/Partner Booths
- Food Sales
- Drink Sales
- Merchandise Sales
Corporate sponsorships are huge for fundraising events, but you have to use a professional marketing approach because business decision makers always want to know what’s in it for them. When asking for their financial support, you have to use professional business proposals by showing what your group and your event can do to help promote their business.
You need to demonstrate an affinity and a synergy between your cause and their products. Show them your audience demographics, what the tie-ins are, and what their sponsorship dollars will buy. You need to be professional in both your approach and your pricing because you are essentially competing for a piece of their advertising budget.
There are grants available to nonprofit groups from a variety of sources to help defray the cost of staging a major fundraising event for your cause. The catch is that these grants have a long lead time, so you have to plan ahead.
Start with your local city government, the local Chamber of Commerce, your state, and then move on to federal grant sources. Different foundations will help sponsor nonprofit charity events that raise funds for causes they support. You can do a Google search for “nonprofit grant funding for events” and add your cause, i.e. breast cancer, homelessness, animal shelters, disease research, etc.
Fundraiser event tickets can do so much more than just generate revenue to help offset event costs. First, when someone buys a ticket to a fundraising event, it gets them psychologically committed to attending. And second, it makes them much more likely to spread the word about your event to their friends.
You can get creative and offer group discounts, table sponsorship packages, or VIP tickets. When you offer VIP packages, bundle them with exclusive event seating and a pre-event meet & greet with cocktails & appetizers. After all, the VIPs are likely among your best donors and also the best source of referrals to other potential major donors.
And, you can increase ticket prices – and raise more money – by including various other items and activities in the ticket price. For example, you can charge higher ticket prices by including a raffle prize entry, a complimentary cocktail upon arrival, coat check, appetizers, preferential seating, valet parking, or any other upgrade that fits your fundraiser event.
Raffles are a great way to fundraise at practically any event and there are four different types of raffles you can use. The simplest is a cash raffle where 50% of this raffle’s ticket sales gets awarded as the prize. That can be a great fit for the “free” raffle ticket that came with raising the admission ticket price by $10. With 500 guests, that extra $10 per ticket means that you could promote your event as having a $2,500 cash door prize for one lucky attendee and also raise $2,500 extra for your cause at the same time.
Other raffles can provide fun and entertainment throughout the night by giving your guests something to look forward to with each prize drawing. In fact, a reverse raffle can keep everyone excited as the prize goes to the last ticket drawn, not the first.
Other raffles can be conducted during various parts of the fundraising event, such as raffling chances during the silent auction time-frame to win a bundled prize such as a wine collection or a wheelbarrow full of liquor.
You can also do high- end raffle ticket sales before your event and do the drawing live at the event. High-end raffles usually have one large prize and several smaller prizes. Grand prizes can be a new car, a motorcycle, or even a new home (or just the cash for one).
The bottom line is that raffles are huge moneymakers and you should use all four types at your event. The more fun activities you have planned, the more thing you have to promote in your fundraising event press release.
Everyone is familiar with silent auctions, but they often overlook two things. One is that you can definitely have too many silent auction items and that can actually cost you money. So, get creative and bundle lots of related things together into big collections that will go for retail value or beyond.
The second thing that most nonprofits overlook is the fundraising power of silent auction consignment items. People want to bid on things that are unique or that they can show off, so use auction consignment companies to get hot air balloon rides, vacation rentals, music memorabilia, sports memorabilia, etc. Just don’t go overboard and have too much stuff, just enough to get people into bidding wars for the best items.
A good charity auctioneer will definitely take your event fundraising to the next level. Sure you have to pay them, but they will double or triple your results, plus make the whole event so mush more entertaining.
Just make sure you have some unique items and once-in-a-lifetime experiences to get the crowd excited about outbidding each other. That’s another area where auction consignment companies can help. And don’t forget to ask your corporate sponsors and prominent local businesses to get creative and come up with some unique and fun ideas.
Think of ways to include your corporate sponsors in the festivities, possibly by doing some “gametization” activities in their area. It can be as simple as doing a ring toss to win a bottle of wine or it could be a simulated lightsaber duel under black lights or it could be a game of Beat The Pool Shark.
Make things creative and fun. That way, you’ll get more corporate sponsors because they get to engage with your supporters and you’ll get happier guests because there’s more fun things to do.
One of the best fundraising event tips is to ask for donations and to do “the ask” from the stage in as public a way as possible. The best method for that is called a “paddle raise” or “impact auction.”
Basically, what you are doing is having your auctioneer do a public appeal for donations for some specific aspect of your cause that will make an immediate impact. Supporters are asked to raise their paddles and stand up when they commit to do their pledge amount.
The real drama comes from the ever increasing pledge amounts. Pledge amounts will spread out over a bell curve, but there are always big donors who enjoy being publicly recognized (and applauded) for pledging at the very highest donation level. Whether it’s $10,000 or $100,000, those impact auction pledges are money that you won’t get unless you ask for it.
Food sales can be included in the ticket price or offered separately or even ala carte. You can do a dessert raffle of some really special creations from local chefs. Or, you can have a high-end sushi bar offering some scrumptious morsels for those with truly adventurous palates.
You could have exclusive tables for VIPs that have dueling chefs creating masterpieces at tableside. Or, you could just offer a sampling section with small tastings of exotic foods from local chefs. And then, you could auction off an exclusive meal for eight people (a chef’s table experience) at those particular chef’s restaurants.
Cash bars never really raise much money after expenses, so look for other ways to raise money with drink sales. For the men, you could have craft beer tasting area or even a whiskey tasting area featuring some really high-end scotch.
You could have a best martini contest featuring local bartender’s best creations or a wine tasting featuring some quality French wines or Napa Valley favorites. The point is that there are many different ways to offer things that are exclusive or command a premium and charge accordingly. They won’t appeal to all your event attendees, hence the need to charge separately for the tasting experience.
There is nothing wrong with offering merchandise that promotes your cause. Just be creative about it. Don’t offer boring t-shirts. Have local artists create one-of-a-kind creations like hand-decorated jackets or painted umbrellas.
If you do want to offer a t-shirt, make it unique and event-related with lots of vivid color. List the event and date and make it legendary.
It may seem strange to include contest and activities as ways to raise funds at an event, but one of the things you want your event to do is to keep people engaged and having fun all night long. And contests and activities are a great way to do that.
Think scavenger hunts for hidden prizes, dancing competitions, strolling magic acts, funny photo booth props, “What’s In Your Bag?” prize drawings, and anything else that’s fun and fits your fundraising event theme.
Fundraising Event Tips Ideas Wrap-up
So, those are some of the best ways to raise more money at your next fundraising event. Make it fun and make it memorable. After all, you want them to come back next year, don’t you?