Fundraising Events – Engage, Thank and Raise More Money

Your big fundraising event is just around the corner. Up to this point you’ve done everything right: Sponsorship sales, ticket sales, décor, catering, logistics and so much more. Now what? Here are 3 things to do during your event to connect with your guests and set the stage for success, now and in the future.

Showcase your organization's programs and mission

Your event is a golden opportunity to educate your guests about the wonderful work your organization is doing in the community. But don’t just share your work via a talking head at the podium! Find ways to engage your guests by showing your work to them directly. If your organization is a school, consider bringing students to the event to meet and mingle with guests. If your organization provides art therapy, maybe set up an art “exhibit” at the event. A display of photos can work well, especially if staff or clients are on hand to talk with guests.

Consider demonstration tables, videos, slide shows, client testimonials, and other ideas specific to your mission. Next time you attend an event, notice how other organizations showcase their mission.

Provide opportunities for giving

Your guests understand that this is a fundraising event. They expect opportunities for giving to be part of the festivities. If you’re doing a good job showcasing your organization’s work and mission, your guests will feel connected and they will want to give.

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The classic onsite giving opportunity is the silent auction. (Personally, I think silent auctions are over done but they may still be effective for certain organizations. Just be sure to have a range of price points so all of your guests can participate.)

Other ideas include a Specialty Drink (themed to match your event); Wine Wall (guests buy a chance to win a high-priced bottle of wine, most win a lesser priced bottle); Wishing Wall (pictured here – guests “buy” an item to support your mission); Games of Skill (guests pay to play) and many others. The best ideas are fun and engaging for your guests!

Recognize sponsors and thank attendees

Sponsorship dollars drive event revenue so recognizing your generous sponsors is key. Use signs, banners, PowerPoint slide shows, videos and other visual media to list names and logos of your lead sponsors, table buyers and top donors. Be sure remarks from the podium include sponsor recognition and appreciation – it means a great deal to sponsors, and it doesn’t cost you a thing!

While you’re at it, your remarks should include a shout-out to everyone who made the time to attend your event and contribute to its success.

What suggestions do you have to engage your guests at events? What opportunities for giving do you think work best?

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