Whether you're an old hand at charity fundraising events or this is your first-ever nonprofit event, we've got some jack-out-of-the-box ideas to try at your next black-tie gala, nonprofit fun run, or lunar landing.
1. Be on time.
Seriously. Michael Scott taught us, "Only really good friends show up early. Ergo de facto, if you wanna become good friends with somebody, show up to the party really early." And yes, that's going to happen at your event, so you want to be there. Plus, you're gonna feel so much more in control if you're around when the wrong ice sculpture arrives.
2. Check in guests as they arrive.
We mean, obv. But do it with some panache! Funraise's nonprofit event management software allows you to snap a pic of a QR code on your mobile device, which means no more clipboards with stacks of "alphabetized" attendee names. It also means no more post-event data entry.
3. Don't put on music you love.
Here's the thing. We all love Sir Mix-a-Lot, but nobody wants to be the donor dropping it low in eveningwear. (Or do we?) Put on some fancy instrumental masterpieces and people will feel like it's time to dish the dollars. (At least play an orchestral version of Baby Got Back.)
4. Have your team wear a "uniform".
If your event is black tie, have your team wear red ties. Dress in your org's brand colors so you know who to look for in a crowd—that's what Queen Elizabeth does! The idea is to never have to stress over where your team is when you need them, so make it easy for them to stand out.
5. Wear a really tall hat or hairstyle to be seen amongst the crowd.
Speaking of standing out, as the event coordinator, you're gonna get pulled in a million directions during the event; make it easy for staff and very important attendees to spot you from a mile away. Marge Simpson had the right idea to get found anywhere in a crowd: have really tall, colorful hair. If you don't want to wear a wig, maybe take a page from the Cat in the Hat's book. (pun intended.)
6a. Accept donations at the event.
There's no better way to capitalize on the momentum your event's drumming up and no better time to make an ask than when you're face to face with your supporters. And listen, you don't need to carry a tote to hold all the cash, just use Funraise App and swipe donors' cards then and there. (Then make sure they know they can send themselves receipts and manage their donations with our other app, Giving by Funraise.)
Wear something with pockets. Just in case someone wants to give you a wad of cash! Just in case.
7. Make your food feed-worthy
Yes, we're making a play on words here. These days, people love showing their whole social network what they're eating. So if you bring in something unique and delicious-looking, your food may be the most photographed star of the event, meaning a whole new audience is gonna see that your nonprofit has great taste! (Yep, that's another play on words.)
Seriously... use that social capital to your advantage. Get Funraise's Facebook and Instagram integrations set up ahead of time, and encourage attendees to make linked fundraisers—since they're getting their social networks anyway.
8. Celebrate hitting your fundraising goal with a special surprise for your guests.
Did you know that you can stream your fundraising progress so your guests can see it live? Yeah, Funraise is behind that. When you hit your fundraising goal, it's time to celebrate! Pop champagne for a toast or let some doves fly or something. Hand out kazoos and have everyone tootle their congratulations.
9. Hire an impersonator to show up as a "special guest".
Who wouldn't want to support a cause that gets Elvis to show up from beyond the grave? Or donate to a cause that tamed King Kong? "Adele-o-grams" never fail to impress. (Maybe she can sing Baby Got Back?)
10. Arrange a rideshare pickup spot so people can get home easily and safely.
If people have fun at your event, they may need a ride home. Make it easy with a designated rideshare pickup location, complete with signs directing drivers as well as ushers to get tired guests into the correct cars.
There you have it: awesome event ideas! If we went to an event that used all these tips, we think it'd be the most successful event ever. And, more importantly, we'd want to come back.
Want even more fundraising event tips and tricks? Sign up for our Plan, Raise, Engage 10-Day Event Strategy Course and get valuable strategies and worksheets to help you plan your best event ever.