We’ve been talking a lot about mission lately on the PCNRC blog. In the latest issue of Grassroots Fundraising Journal Lindsey Harris and Karla Vazquez have some great tips for planning an event that’s fun for attendees, raises money, and aligns with the mission of your organization.
- Focus on your mission: One difficulty of fundraising is motivating your entire staff to participate. When fundraising does not seem directly related to your mission even if you know the money will be going toward that mission, staff members may have trouble being as enthusiastic about a fundraising event compared with a service-minded event. Harris and Vazquez suggest organizing a fundraising event that also includes service to the community. For example, the Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) organizes an InterNASHional food crawl with local restaurants that are run or employed by immigrants and refugees. Attendees buy tickets that raise money for the TIRRC and they also get to interact with and support local communities while enjoying some delicious food. The TIRRC found it was much easier to get their staff involved with the event because it was much more entertaining and meaningful than a simple banquet for networking with donors and funders.
- Reach out to a different audience: Another issue with fundraising is getting stuck asking the some people or groups for donations every year. By making a fundraising event open to the community where participation is necessary and exciting people who have never heard of your organization are more likely to attend and become interested in your work. TIRRC’s food crawl helped attract college students in the area and created a new demographic to support their organization.
- Find in-kind donations: During the planning stages of the event create a list of all the separate expenses. Then brainstorm your organization’s connection with local businesses or individuals with specific skill sets. By contacting people to donate things like water bottles, office supplies, or ad space in a publication many of the costs of making the event happen can be covered and it is sometimes easier to have someone commit to a certain item or service instead of a writing a check for an unknown reason.
- Take risks: It can be hard to determine when an extra cost will pay off and add to the success of your event in a big way. The TIRRC wanted to try to meet their goal by trying a new idea when the organized the food crawl and they decided to hire a professional festival manager. This cost the TIRRC a lot of money but it increased the quality of the event and set them up to contact higher-level sponsors for the next year. The success of this decision reminded the organizers that it is important to push themselves so their event continues to grow each year and they gain momentum.