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Fundraising Articles

Among the questions that I constantly hear are:
"What fundraising events don't cost a lot?"
"What fundraisers are easy to do?"
"Which events make the most money?"
And what's the answer to those three questions?  It depends!
That's right.  There is no one answer, no "one size fits all"
solution.  Fundraising events will vary in cost, complexity,
and results based on a host of factors that are not often easy
to control.
Events that don't cost a lot will often require more volunteer
time to put them together.  Ones that are easy to do are often
not the biggest money makers.  And, sometimes you need a crystal
ball to figure out which event would produce the biggest net
So, where does that leave us in our search for answers to our
three questions?  It leaves us with a set of options or choices
for event-based fundraisers.

What fundraising events don't cost a lot?
Generally, the fundraisers with the lowest cost are those that
involve direct labor in exchange for a donation or contribution.
Examples include the volunteer car wash or the charity bike
Here, you want to use the "sweat equity" approach - volunteers
sweat in return for equity for your nonprofit organization.  The
key is to get a large number of volunteers who, in turn, bring
along multiple donations.
Revenue is generated in proportion to the publicity effort for
the event, done either in advance as in the case of the bike-a-
thon or done at the same time (streetside signs, etc.) for the
car wash.

What fundraisers are easy to do?
The events that are easiest to conduct are the ones that are fun
and of short duration.  Examples include a group dinner, a "make
believe" beauty pageant, or a mystery dinner theater.
Often, the largest part of the job is generating a good turnout.
Communicating your need is central to all fundraising efforts,
but for an event, it's critical.
By making your event fun to attend and short in duration, you
make it more attractive to potential supporters.  The three
types of events mentioned above are easy to put together.
A group dinner involves organizing a group meal, usually at a
restaurant although it can be potluck/buffet style as well. 
Many restaurants are glad to host your get together and provide
standard meal service while "rebating" back to your nonprofit
organization roughly 15% of the total tab for your group's
A "make believe" beauty pageant, such as that offered in the
"Queen Almost for a Day" package, is another way to have fun and
raise funds.  Your group needs only a location, some volunteer
contestants (including men), and a paying crowd to cheer on
their laughable favorites.
Inviting everyone to a Mystery Dinner Theater creates another
fun evening that produces a nice amount of revenue for your
group.  Line up a large meeting room at a local restaurant and
recruit your thespians from among the gregarious types in your
community and you're ready to go.  Pre-packaged scripts are
available from several suppliers.

Which events make the most money? 
Your fundraising events will be are at their most profitable
when you generate a massive turnout combined with a willingness
of your patrons to open their pocketbook.  Examples include
school-based Athlet-a-thons and black tie charity auctions.
These events require a lot of effort to promote, coordinate,
and conduct.  Many layers of volunteers are needed to staff
all the positions for these two types of fundraisers.
A key aspect to the revenue generating power of both auctions
and Athlet-a-thons is a strong personal tie-in.  With an
auction, people will spend money (or more than they ordinarily
would) because there are both bargains and tax deductions
involved.  With a school-based Athlet-a-thon, the personal
tie-in is a direct sponsorship of a child's achievements. 
The personal connection is the strongest motivator for opening
the pocketbook to its fullest extent.  Always make sure to
include that aspect when putting your event plan in place.
In the next artcle in the fundraising event ideas series, I'll
offer some specific advice on suppliers that have pre-packaged
offerings for event-style fundraising. 
Copyright 2004 - Kimberly Reynolds

About The Author: Kimberly Reynolds is the author of Fundraising Success, a best selling ebook on fundraising. You can read more of her fundraising ideas for fundraisers on her website, FundraiserHelp.com.

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