For some, it’s time to take a break from the monotonous and standard fundraising emails, phone calls, and letters to make room for a fundraising event or two. But what if you’ve never hosted a fundraising event?
Before you immerse yourself into the intricacies of event management software, logistics, ticketing, and everything else you’ll need, it’s best to look outside your circle for inspiration. There are auctions, 5k runs, skydiving, galas, and many other fundraiser events to pull ideas from.
In order to save you the time of searching, I’ve compiled a list of five fundraising events you ought to draw inspiration from. Each event was chosen based on their impact, notoriety, and uniqueness in their particular event field.
The American Cancer Society’s (ACS) Making Strides campaign is a fantastic example of walking fundraisers done right. As you’d expect, participants are expected to collect pledges from friends, family, and neighbors in support of their cause, in this case, breast cancer.
What sets Making Strides apart from many other biking and 5k events is the attention given to their participants as well as the incentives they offer them in order to increase their fundraising results. Aside from the standard formula of pledge, walk, benefit, ACS has created their very own “Pacesetters Club.” This club incentivizes walkers to surpass a $2,500 fundraising goal and in return offers them exclusive recognition, gifts, and invitations to special ACS fundraising events.
Athletic and active fundraising events are one of the most popular forms of fundraising in the United States and going that extra mile to encourage higher results from your participants really makes a difference.
The Polar Bear Plunge in Maryland offers the opportunity for masochists to embrace their inner penguin by leaping into the Atlantic Ocean in the middle of the winter in support of the Special Olympics.
Plungers are encouraged to go out and fundraise in order to sponsor their chill-inducing jump into the ocean, which also provides entertainment to anyone looking to laugh at the misery of others. Each year over ten thousand participants show up in support of thousands of Maryland athletes hoping to participate in the Special Olympics.
Of course, you don’t need an ocean to host a similar fundraising event. There are rivers, ponds, and lakes all over, and if all else fails, we have witnessed the success of stunts like the ALS ice bucket challenge. Encourage your attendees to freeze their butts off for a good cause! (At least until another fundraiser is needed to fight rampant hypothermia.)
3. Golden Gala
I have moments where I want to dress up. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I haven’t worn a tuxedo since my senior prom and as I write this I find myself looking for excuses to wear one. Fundraising events such as the Golden Gala give us these opportunities, while also providing us the chance to donate to those in need.
Golden Gala, in partnership with Florida Hospital, is the one of the most well-known gala fundraisers in Florida meant to benefit those with heart and lung conditions. Gala events such as these are perfect for auction events and “per-plate” fundraisers.
Give your attendees a reason to break out that cummerbund from 1972 and host your own black tie soiree.
Further reading: Tips for Organizing a Black Tie Event
You raise money, you jump out of a plane, and the charity of your choice reaps the benefits. Skydiving for charity has gained popularity in Europe, particularly Ireland and the UK, attracting thrill seekers from all over.
Not everyone is into getting dolled up and heading to a gala or running a 5k, so appealing to those crazy enough to jump out of a plane or jump off a bridge is a fantastic way to raise money for causes important to your organization or charity. Not only does your fundraiser benefit from this system, the participant leaves with a memorable experience that not all are able to experience.
On top sponsored jumping, additional revenue is available by selling pictures to participants of their jumps. If skydiving is not the schtick you are looking for, this framework is easily used in other high-adrenaline activities, such as ziplining, bungee jumping, or paintball games.
A celebrity waiter event doesn’t necessarily mean you have to book Robert Downey Jr. or George Clooney to serve cocktails to your attendees (although if that is a possibility, go for it). “Celebrity” in this context means anyone of importance to your organization, cause, or attendees. This includes politicians, relevant CEOs, community organizers, or popular local figures.
The Celebrity Waiter’s Luncheon in Seattle raises funds for local charitable organizations benefitting causes from education to health services. Local leaders are invited to serve guests and encourage them to bid on auction items. Using the clout of their popularity or importance, these celebrity waiters offer their time to collect donations for causes in need.
This method adds weight to your typical fundraising luncheon by putting those with influence into the action of the event, rather than sitting at the head table.
So you’ve chosen your fundraising event type, now what?
Settling on a particular fundraising event format is just the first step in the process. Luckily the Capterra blog is a fantastic source of information for event planners and fundraisers alike. Here are a few blog posts that will help you along the way in the event planning process:
- Great Fundraising Events… Powered by Software
- 6 Free and Open Source Fundraising Software Options to Kick Off Your Donation Campaign
- 3 Game-Changing Event-Based Fundraising Ideas
- Top 5 Free Tools to Live Stream Your Event Online
- 5 Ways to Market Your Event on a Shoestring Budget
Have you hosted a similar event to those listed above? What worked for you? What didn’t? Be sure to let me know in the comment section below!