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Infusing new ideas into your fundraising event

March 17, 2015

One of the most common things we hear from our clients is “we want to do something different”. If you are bored by your event then surely your guests are too? Have you seen a drop off in sponsor and participant interest? Is your ROI flat lining? If so then it may be time to shake things up a bit.
The first step is to evaluate your event – what is working and where are the opportunities for improvement. What comments have you heard from your committee, board, sponsors and participants? Have you remembered to ask? These comments will often lead you to one of three key areas: Format, Fundraising and Wow Factor / Value Add.
Take a look at the flow of your event. Do the guests do the same thing at the same time every time they come to your event? This is an easy way to shake things up. From changing floor plan layout, food service style, timing of entertainment, cutting down on speeches (ha ha I know, I know), and introducing new elements like a VIP pre-reception or after party there are many ways to show guests this isn’t the same old event.
Fundraising activities
Be creative with your fundraising and remind people why they are there. There are so many different ways to raise money at an event and charities need to be cognizant of having too many activities at various price points – it can be confusing and leave people feeling as though they were constantly asked for money. First figure out how much you need to raise the day of the event and choose 3 – 4 activities to achieve that – including your auctions and fund-a-need. If you have a silent and live auction with a fund-a-need that is already 3 activities…. 1 more would be enough.
If you don’t have auctions, consider an all in passport package for guests to pay once to enter all contests and this can even be purchased before the event! Try some new games and focus committee efforts on bigger prizes (quality versus quantity).
Ensure your committee is focused on the right type of auction items – do a full evaluation on your auction – what is your auction yield and what are your top selling items – what made them stand out? Don’t forget to cause connect – include artwork created by service users, include smaller pieces of equipment for guests to contribute directly to (pledge-a-need) and so on. And of course with the live auction and fund-a-need – hire a professional who can assist you with the right items, the right line up and the right pitch!
Value Add
With charities every dollar counts. We fully understand that. However, you need to look at your price point and see if your guests feel they are getting great value for their ticket price. Too many charities skip on the wow and value add which actually is a great “Thank you for coming – we appreciate you” opportunity. They skip on this and feel it is ok because they are a charity. Even though participants know this is a charity event and come prepared to spend at the event you need to add some nice touches to show your appreciation for their generosity and have them continue to choose your organization over the thousands of others to support. This doesn’t have to cost a lot of money (or any if you find the right partner) it could be as simple as concierges taking guests to their tables, entry into a great door prize with your ticket purchase, one complimentary signature drink sponsored by a brewery or winery, the executive director visiting each table to say thank you instead of spending time on the stage doing it, dessert to go after a long day on the golf course, the list could go on and on. The key is finding the right wow factors and value adds that fit your demographic. These small changes (even one of them) can make huge impact on the event because it is a nice to have, because it isn’t expected. This tells your guests that you care about their experience at your event.
If you are a small shop with a limited budget have no fear as there are small changes and partners you can bring on board that will shift the event enough that your guests will notice, feel the difference and be impressed.
And of course bringing in subject matter experts to help facilitate these new ideas through committee strategy sessions, event evaluation packages and full service event management to ensure a seamless transition is always a brilliant idea!
Ashlee Sorochan
Co-Owner, Our Forté – Inspired Events by Jennifer & Ashlee


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