This article covers the basics of creating a successful fundraising day event. It doesn’t go into specifics about the different types of fundraisers but does talk about creating an environment that will help a fundraising event be successful. I will first outline the steps and then end by giving an example event.
A successful fundraiser isn’t just about the fundraiser itself, it’s about the whole day. You might have a great fundraising idea but if the whole event isn’t fun the chances of success are diminished. The goal is to make the day as attractive to as many people as possible to help maximize attendance. It’s often not enough to just have a fundraiser; you need to help it along with a great event.
What’s It For
Before you begin to plan your event it’s important to know what you are raising money for. You can say you are raising funds for X group or maybe for an event but it’s best to have a more specific funding goal in mind. For example you might want to raise holding funds, but you should ask yourself what for? Maybe the holding would like to provide loaner equipment but there just isn’t enough money available. In that instance your goal would be to raise money to afford loaner equipment. By creating a specific goal it will help people feel more involved and feel that their money is making a difference.
Now that you know what you want to raise money for, it’s time to decide when. In many instances this will already be decided by whoever is making the reign’s schedule, but if it’s not then you should keep a few things in mind. You want to try making sure that whenever you are holding the event that it overlaps a normal practice. This will help ensure a guaranteed attendance. Always make sure you talk to the local monarchy in charge before you plan your event. Make sure that your event doesn’t come right before or right after any other major events, it’s best if it’s somewhere in the middle. People will be more willing to travel if they haven’t done so recently.
It’s also important to give yourself enough time to advertise your event. I recommend at least a month. If you don’t give yourself enough time to advertise the event you might not get as many people as you would otherwise get.
Now that you have figured out what you are raising money for and when, you need to decide how you’ll be doing it. You have a lot of options, pie in the face, penny drives, selling food, auctioning off items, raffles or any other activity you can think of; the key is to keep it simple. No matter which method you choose most will fall within two basic types, Macro Transitions and Micro Transactions. Macro Transactions are larger donations with fewer transactions and Micro Transactions are smaller donations with frequent transactions. There are benefits and draw backs to each.
Macro Transactions have the chance for larger pay offs but have greater risks. You might not have people willing to donate large sums of money. You also run the risk of not offering enough items. If you don’t offer enough items or services then you might lose some funding you might have otherwise received. An example of a Macro Transaction would be auctions where you auction off a few items.
Micro Transactions allow you to more easily gather money from a variety of people. More people are willing to donate smaller amounts, which can add up. An example of Micro Transactions would be a raffle where everyone can buy a ticket for a dollar.
Both types of fundraisers can be done at single day events. Which you should do depends on the types of people who will show up; it will be different for every region and can be different for every event. There is no right answer but I’ve found that Micro Transaction type fundraisers are best for well planned day events while Macro Transaction type fundraisers are best for non-event focused fundraisers (For example, online auctions).
You have the funding goal, the day and the fundraiser all planned, you’re almost there. Now you just have to plan the event. It’s important to have a fun, structured activity to go along with the fundraiser. It might be a tournament that’s a little bit different, a big quest, or a series of unique battle games, exactly what doesn’t really matter. What matters is that it is something more unique than the normal practice people go to every weekend. Not only will it be more fun, people are more likely to remember the date of the event and to be more interested in going.
Once you’ve decided what fun activities you are going to have it’s important to plan the flow of the event. You shouldn’t just tack your fundraiser onto the end of a great day. No matter how much fun people are having, by the end they are probably going to be tired and ready to go home. It’s best if you have the actual fundraiser in the middle of the day, but don’t just slam it into a time slot, find some way to make it feel like part of the fun. For example, if you are doing a pie in the face fundraiser don’t just stop all the fun and do a series of pie auctions, spread them out a little. If you’re doing a tournament, do a few auctions in between the brackets. This lets people rest and gear up while watching something fun at the same time.
I first decided we needed to raise money for a new venue. We’ve been trying to save up extra money to move to a new spot so I figured we would take to opportunity to add to the funds. If I were to do this over again I would have set a smaller more immediate goal for this event such as raising money to purchase monster garb.
Next I looked for a good day. As luck would have it we were having a visitor from Canada flying down to our area and the monarch wanted to do an impromptu event to welcome him. I immediately jumped at the chance and asked if I could plan the day. On top of the added exposure, I still had over a month to advertise the event.
I knew the date of the event, now I needed to decide what kind of fundraiser I was going to run. I wanted to do something that would enhance the day and get as many people out as possible. I also wanted to make sure it was something I could easily do. I decided to do homemade grilled hamburgers. As well as the burger I would make homemade salsa and would buy corn chips. I wanted to have everyone have a good time so I made a decision to allow everyone to eat for free with a suggested donated price of $5 per plate. Those who donated money would get their food first.
Next I needed to create a fun event to host my fundraiser. I decided on a tournament. We would do a seeded tournament with two brackets, single sword and sword and board. We would have a bear pit for each bracket and then a standard tournament for the top 8 people in each bracket. Along with the more standard tournament we also had a 5 vs 5 class battle tournament.
The unique aspect of the tournament was the finals, the segment of the tournament where the top eight for each bracket would fight as well as the class battle segment of the tournament. Rather than starting with one bracket and continuing through the bracket to the next we would alternate between the brackets. We would do a short sword fight, then a sword and board fight then a 5 v 5 class battle.
To integrate the fundraiser into the day’s activities I decided to start cooking as the bear pits ended and to serve food as the finals began. Since at this point in the day not everyone would be participating in the finals this would give them a chance to eat and be spectators. It turned it into a more spectator friendly event at the point when it was necessary.
The day went off pretty much as planned. The only hiccup was the weather (It was in February), it rained constantly and turned the event into a mud pit. Despite the weather attendance was still high, we had 41 attendees, about double the attendance we normally had at that time of year. We took in approximately $110 before expenses. Everyone also had fun and we got to try a new tournament format that was enhanced by a fundraiser.
If you have any questions please feel free to post them below and I’ll try and answer them as best as I can.