Hosting a fundraising event can be one of most lucrative activities your charity executes when looking to raise more for your cause. With Christmas just around the corner, capitalising on the season of increased generosity can go a long way when looking to hit your fundraising goals.
As it’s the season of giving, we would like to give you the gift of 12 tips to ensure your next fundraising event is a success!
1) Communication is key
It’s easy to let the planning of your fundraising event consume you and it’s likely you’ll be pulled in many directions on the night of the event! We would recommend you allow time (max 15 minutes) to run a volunteer/team briefing prior to guests arriving, as a great way to get the team together and as an opportunity to lay out key roles and responsibilities for them on the night. This way, you can be confident that everyone involved is on the same page and focused on making the event a huge success!
2) Create a pre-event online auction
The lead up to your event is the perfect opportunity for you to launch a custom online auction. Not only can you use this as a great event marketing tool, with the ability to share event, charity and sponsor information but you can also showcase your silent and live auction items and engage your guests in the auction by encouraging them to pre-bid on items that they may be interested in! Even those who are not able to attend the event can get involved, making use of our ‘Maximum Bid’ bid mode. Other features such as pre-event ticketing and Prize Draws are also something to consider in order to maximise your fundraising potential through the online auctions.
3) Choose the best venue for your concept and demographic
Choosing the right venue is key. Try and source a venue that matches your guest demographic, the theme and concept of your event. If you are inviting London based guests, a central location is ideal (such as The Brewery, The Savoy, The Dorchester, Grosvenor House). If considering a slightly more ‘off the beaten track’ venue, make sure to think about transport links/detailing instructions on how your guests can find you! Consider the event format and space that you will need to accommodate your guest numbers without leaving them shouting across the floor or gasping for air! Most venues are more than happy to show you around, so you’re best to book in a few site visits to get a good feel of the space/facilities and get the important information needed from the venue team themselves.
4) Bring your event to life
It’s important to make sure that your guests don’t experience fundraising fatigue! Creating an immersive event where the guests feel part of the experience is a great way to reinvigorate your guests interest, enabling you to bring your cause to life, thus raising you more! An effective and simple way to bring your event to life is to develop a theme that runs through the event from start to finish, whether that be masquerade, casino or circus, it’s a sure-fire way to ensure your guests have fun whilst fundraising!
5) Create the perfect balance of auction items and experiences
Having a good selection of auction items is key to the success of your auction. Whether sourcing items through dedicated suppliers or reaching out to generous donors and supporters, be sure to have in mind how many items you want to have overall. We would recommend to source roughly 10% of the number of guests in the room. This will mean there is a good selection for everyone to get involved in, but not too many that you end up with too much choice and some items going without bids. Be sure to source a variety of prizes, both in content and value to ensure that you engage all guests in the room.
6) Enable donors to bid via their smart phone
Smart phone bidding can be utilised in almost every fundraising situation! Smart phone bidding technology is a cost-effective way to create greater engagement at your event and can also be used to engage your database of supporters not able to attend the event, giving them the chance to participate in real time, alongside guests in the room. Ensure your venue has phone reception and/or Wi-Fi and watch the bidding commence!
7) Use an MC/Auctioneer to encourage bidding
Raise more by using an MC who can create hype, excitement, and competitiveness around your fundraising efforts. It's important to brief your MC in advance of the event to ensure they understand your fundraising goals and most importantly, they understand the cause that you are raising funds for. Vocal announcements and updates throughout the event can have a huge impact on the success of an auction so be prepared to gather info and stats throughout the event to feed to your MC for those pinnacle update moments and watch the bids roll in!
8) Consider a pledge moment to increase donations
‘Pledge Moments’ are becoming more prevalent at events in the UK, following on from success that charities are seeing in the US. Although having a silent auction is a fantastic way to engage your guests in fundraising, having a dedicated pledge moment is a quick way to see your profits increase in a short amount of time if executed well. Generally, it’s best to keep pledge moments short (around 10 minutes) and much like a live auction, have an auctioneer or MC on stage, really pushing the guests to participate. It is also worth considering when to execute the pledge moment in your evening, as you need to find the perfect moment where guests are settled in and enjoying themselves, but not too close to the end that they are itching to get off their seats. Having an emotive moment prior to your pledge moment, whether that be a video or speech about the cause is a must! This is your opportunity to really pull on your guest’s heart-strings and bring the room together. Set yourself a target and sweep the room for donations large and small! Check out our tips on how to create a record breaking fund-a-need moment!
9) 'Tweet' and share to your hearts content
Social media can attract a younger audience that might be different to your usual demographic. Known as the ‘giving generation’, the millennial audience is twice as likely to be influenced by social media than any other age group. Use Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to interact and educate your followers directly, promote your online auction website, and bring your charity to life. Create video content to portray an emotional message to pull at the heart strings and drive up additional bidding, pledging, and engagement with your event.
10) Streamline your payment collection service
Offering a simple and streamlined payment process is almost as important as getting your pre-event and event content right. The easier guests find it to pay for their winning bids and donations, the happier they feel for doing so and the more likely they are to participate again in the future. One option is to offer pre-authorisation of credit cards to streamline the payment collection process. If payment is taken immediately from winning bidders when the auction closes, you no longer need to chase guests for payment, which not only means you immediately benefit from the money raised, but also eliminates any fraudulent bids.
Alternatively, make sure you have a follow up structure in place, using a dedicated payments service to take the pressure off you post-event which will allow for you to follow up on the most important thing – the 'thank you' messages!
11) Post-event communication
You’ve put blood, sweat, and tears into the planning of your fundraising event and have successfully executed everything on the night! Now it’s time to start thanking your guests and further nurturing relationships, old and new. A personal follow up to each guest is the best way to re-engage with your guests and you may find that this also opens you up to new potential supporters. Use your social media channels to broadcast how fantastic the event was, perhaps share a few memorable pictures from the event and of course, be sure to express your gratitude as to how the money raised will make a substantial difference. This will leave them with a smile on their face, knowing they’ve helped a fantastic cause.
12) Learn, evaluate, and reflect
If your fundraiser is an annual affair or you are considering planning another event of a similar nature, make sure you take the time to reflect and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the event. Look at data and see what you can do to improve next time. Ask for feedback from your guests to find out what they liked and didn’t like as this is invaluable for the planning of the next event! You can also look back at which prizes sold well and which items had little interest in order to influence your decisions for the next one and likewise, take a look at your guest participation as an indication of who to definitely add to the future invite list!
If you’d like to like to discuss any of the tips above please get in touch, we'd love to hear from you!