Generating funds is a constant concern for all businesses and for many non-profits this means holding fundraisers. Fundraising comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, from large-scale gala events to small ventures like a bake sale. Each type comes with different costs and benefits and it is sometime hard to truly understand the ROI for a fundraiser. How do you know if an event is worth it?
Let’s start with the basics; we need to generate money, so our out of pocket expenses must be less than the funds coming in. We need to turn a profit, in other words. Two of my favorite ways to keep costs low are to use volunteers and donated resources wisely. One of the largest hidden costs of fundraising is staff time invested in an event. It is definitely cheaper to use as much volunteer labor as possible.
And this includes planning, organizing, and running an event. You need a team to have a successful event; see if you can get part of your team to be free! Passionate volunteers can be your staunchest advocates to bring in potential donors to events as well. If they are invested in the event, they will want their friends to come and see it (and spend money!). Some of these volunteers will even want to help up until party time and then come and spend money too! This is clearly a win-win for everyone.
The second cost saving tip, using donated resources wisely, is much more subjective. Is there a supporter that can provide any of the needed services at low or no cost? Maybe a vendor will not donate to your silent auction, but will offer 50% off services for your event. Some of our events are strategically located because of our relationships and partnerships with local area businesses. This enables us to use our fundraising dollars more effectively. Being creative with the use of these resources can go a long way towards decreasing out of pocket expenses.
But the best qualitative way to reduce costs: make it fun! I know it may sound trite, but it truly is a valuable rule of thumb. If you are not holding a fundraiser that you would want to attend, why are you doing it? If you like to dance, throw a dance party or dance-a-thon or ‘dancing with the stars’ type event rather than a formal gala. If you are a bit of a gambler, have a charity poker or bingo night. In addition to making the event more enjoyable for you, chances are, your potential attendees will enjoy the change from the same old gala event. But the biggest return will be in the fun you and your team can have, planning a fun event.
It doesn’t make all the hard work go away; big fundraisers take a lot of work. But it will be more enjoyable to work towards a fun goal. Just as passion for your cause is important, passion for your event makes it much easier, in a way, to take care of the details. You will benefit! You will work more effectively and efficiently and thereby increase the ROI for your organization.
What are some of the fun and interesting ways your organization uses to raise funds? Try something new and plan an event that you will have fun attending!