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Raising Money with Special Events

Updated on October 18, 2015

10 Ways to Raise Money with Special Events

Special events have a special place in the nonprofit realm. In many nonprofit organizations and charities, a signature special event serves as the primary fundraising vehicle. In some cases, an annual special event is the mainstay for the organization to champion its cause and rally its volunteers and donors for support.

Special events have a lot to offer the organizations that both host and sponsor them. However, here is a short list of the multiple ways special events can help in the fundraising efforts of nonprofit organizations and similar charitable causes.

The list provided does not serve as the only way by which a special event can benefit an organization or its cause. Additionally, the best options for event organizers might require a tweak or added twist to individualize and customize some of the ideas presented here in order to come up with a tailored special event.

3 Must-Have Special Event Items

Here are three must-haves for almost any special event that will serve as a fundraiser:

  1. Ticket Sales: With the help of online registration sites such as Eventbrite, even a small nonprofit can have a professional event registration page with all of the bells and whistles imaginable.
  2. Sponsorships: Part of the fundraising process for special events includes attracting sponsors. Sponsorships help with everything from event facility and arrangements to advertising and marketing materials. With golf tournaments, for example, top sponsors are paying for signage at key hole locations such as the first tee or the turn at the 10th hole. After all, somebody has to put up the prize money or the brand new car for that hole-in-one challenge.
  3. Donations: Aside from sponsorships, donations are a great way to supplement ticket sales. Donors might be the people who want to support your organization or your cause but do not plan on attending the special event. Donors come in all sizes and from all sorts of places. Some people might just write a check for the tax deduction to a worthy cause, while others might seek public recognition on the event's program materials. Seek donations early and broadly, diversifying your list of potential donors across a wide spectrum of people from different walks of life.

Consider utilizing a combination of these three special event must-haves to raise funds for a worthy cause. Sponsorships and donations can be sought long before you ever start sending out save the date announcements for your event. Putting these three together provides a solid foundation for setting up a successful special event.

Fundraiser Experience

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2 Ways to Use Advertising and Marketing to Your Advantage

Here are two ways to use advertising and marketing to your advantage when it comes to planning a fundraiser or special event:

  1. Memory Book Ads: Some special events lend themselves to large audiences of people from a local area. That speaks volumes to local companies who want to attract your audience as potential customers and clients. Develop advertising rates and send a rate sheet with order form and cover letter to local businesses. Follow up with phone calls and/ or emails after 10 to 15 days. Make sure that the inside cover page and back page are sold as full page ads for top dollar due to their high visibility.
  2. Vendor Tables/ Booths: Other businesses might want to be a part of your event by interacting with your audience. Depending on the type of event and the venue, vendors can pay a nominal fee for a booth or table to share their wares. Provide vendors with a form that outlines the logistics such as setup and breakdown periods as well as limitations and accommodations. Secure vendors early on with fees beforehand as security for their space.

5 Other Ways to Capitalize on Special Events

Among the numerous other ways to capitalize on special events, you can definitely take advantage of these add-ons. By no means is this the end all of special events and fundraising ideas available to you. Nonetheless, it is a starting point.

  1. Silent Auction: Get silent auction items from local stores, including gift certificates and special packages, go auction. Hire an emcee or get a volunteer from your planning committee or board of directors to conduct the bidding process. Try to get items that your audience will be interested in getting for themselves.
  2. Raffle/ Opportunity Drawing: Attendees might very well pay $5 for a raffle ticket that could garner them a chance at a trip for two to Hawaii donated by the Hilton or a giant flat screen TV donated from Wal-Mart or Best Buy.
  3. Merchandise Sales: Amid all of the fanfare and frenzy that your event might create, attendees might also want to purchase special merchandise to cherish the memory. Work with a graphic designer or simply add the organization's logo to coffee mugs, t-shirts and other novelty items on Zazzle.
  4. Red Carpet Photos: Let guests and attendees feel extra special with professional red carpet photos. Use a portable or wireless printer and digital camera to offer stylish photos for guests to purchase and order.
  5. Public Appeal: Make an appeal for free will offerings or donations at the event with a special focus on your cause and an explanation of how funds raised help address issues through your organization's work.

Your Next Move. . .

What type of fundraiser might you try out next?

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