The following is a guest post by Joe Garecht, founder of The Fundraising Authority.
Holding a fundraising event takes a lot of time and resources from your nonprofit. So many resources, in fact, that there’s no excuse for not doing everything you can to maximize the revenue your raise at each and every fundraising event you hold. Here are four great ways to supercharge your next fundraising event:
1. Put Together a Real Host Committee
If you’re like most nonprofits, you put together host committees for your events. These host committees come up with lots of ideas, attend some meetings, and come to the event… and your staff does all of the hard work of selling sponsorships and tickets, with little if any help from the committee.
This, my friends, is not a real host committee. A real host committee, the type that transforms mediocre events into stellar wins for your organization, fundraises. Your staff can worry about the flowers and the menu. What you need is people who are willing to go out, open up their rolodexes, and fundraise for the event by selling sponsorships and tickets. For your next event, throw out the old playbook, and put together a host committee that fundraises, period.
2. Focus on What Really Works
I like silent auctions, live auctions, raffles, and other “add-ons” to fundraising events. I really do. Heck, I even wrote a book about how to hold amazing silent auctions. But I don’t like auctions, or any other add-on, when it takes too much time for too little return.
If you’re holding an auction or raffle for your event, ask yourself: how much time is my staff spending to put this auction or raffle on? What amount of resources does it take to find the items, print the bidsheets and tickets, and deal with payments? If you’re spending 40 man hours per year on your auction and raising $50,000, it might be worth it. If you’re spending that same amount of time to raise $2,500, chances are that your auction should go.
The real question is: if your staff spent the same amount of time selling sponsorships or tickets, would you raise more money than you currently do on the auction or raffle? If so, focus on selling the sponsorships and tickets instead.
3. Start Early
One of the best ways to really pump up your fundraising revenue for a large annual fundraising event is to start early – really early – like, the day after this year’s event. Starting early allows you to have the time you need to do personal calls and meetings, which will in turn convert more prospects for the event.
What types of activities can you start early for your next event? Write the event plan right away. Then, spend the time it takes to put together a stellar host committee, sell larger sponsorships, and find amazing ticket selling captains that will move as many tickets as possible.
If you only start these activities 10 weeks out from your event, you won’t have enough time to really focus on these revenue-enhancing tasks.
4. Make Your Event an Experience
Nothing builds buzz for an event like having people walk away saying, “Wow! I wonder what they have planned for next year!”
What can you do to ensure that your event is an amazing experience for guests? You can hold the event at a breathtaking location. You can surprise your guests with celebrity appearances or exceptional entertainment (I once saw a nonprofit surprise event guests at an outdoor family picnic style fundraising event by having a travelling circus, that happened to be in town that week, come parading through with elephants and a band).
Get your guests talking… make your event an experience… build buzz, and they’ll want to come back year after year.
Joe Garecht is a fundraising consultant, author, and speaker based in Philadelphia. He is the founder of The Fundraising Authority, which offers hundreds of articles and tips on how to raise more money at nonprofit organizations.