Good news for fundraisers — charitable giving has been on the rise in recent years. It grew by more than four percent from 2018 to 2019, according to Double the Donation. Online charitable donations also grew by more than 12 percent in the same time frame.
When you’re planning a fundraiser, it’s important to ask for donations and let everyone know how they can give, whether you’re selling tickets, holding a raffle or asking for cash donations. It also helps to give people a variety of ways that they can contribute. For example, in addition to buying tickets to a gala, you might give them an opportunity to buy a stone for a community garden or contribute a set dollar amount toward a scholarship fund.
Planning a fundraiser takes careful thought and preparation if you’re trying to stick to a budget, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. With these six tips, you can easily execute a fantastic, budget-minded fundraiser to maximize charitable profits while keeping everyone safer.
Whether you’re organizing a school fundraiser or a non-profit gala, setting your budget should be one of your first steps before brainstorming fundraising ideas. Consider the goals of your fundraiser and prioritize spending accordingly. Hors d’oeuvres and drinks with a silent auction might work for one event, while a plated dinner or brunch with fun headlining entertainment might be best for another.
Stay Open to Different Dates and Venues
The more flexible you are on the details of your event, the more likely you are to get the best possible prices. To get the most affordable rates, find dates and venues with low demand. After you settle on a date and venue, leverage the power of flexible rental options from CORT Events to transform the venue into a beautiful event space that fits your specific needs.
For example, for an upscale evening event, you can mix and match plush lounge furnishings and low tables from CORT to create a cocktail area. For a buffet or banquet event, use family-style dining and serving tables and chairs to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere. No matter the size of your venue, you can use partitions and draping to personalize the space.
Depending on your state and local guidelines, you might have to scrap your original plan and switch to Plan B. You might have to postpone, move an indoor event outside, or reduce your guest list. Staying open to the possibilities can help you pivot quickly and get the most out of your fundraising efforts.
Don’t Be Afraid to Get Creative
There’s no one-size-fits-all blueprint for fundraisers. Thinking outside of the box could help you stay at or under budget while still maximizing donations. Need to lower catering costs? Check with local food trucks or partner with a local restaurant, deli or pizzeria for beverage and/or food donations.
Another smart strategy to navigate these uncharted waters? Giving invitees different ways to participate. If they’re not comfortable showing up in person, how can they still participate? Consider adding contests or social media hashtags to expand the options. Allow online bidding for auctions. Think about ways to encourage participation from home for those who feel more comfortable staying away from in-person events. Additionally, if you’re considering a hybrid event with an in-person and virtual option, make sure you have plenty of online content to hype it and keep virtual attendees engaged throughout the event.
Negotiate, Negotiate, Negotiate
Your goal is to raise money. In order to maximize your profits, you need to minimize costs. Getting pricing from multiple venues for multiple dates is a start. Additionally, make sure you carefully look at contracts, compare package and à la carte pricing, and try your hand at negotiating a great deal.
Carefully Examine Contracts
Once you’ve found options that work, go over the contracts carefully, keeping an eye out for any hidden extras. Are there additional charges for using audiovisual equipment? Cake cutting charges? Also, note whether taxes and service charges are included in the price you’re quoted. If not, make sure you budget for the extra costs.
Is a Package Right for Your Event?
Although packages are sometimes a great deal, that’s not always the case. Pick apart any package you’re considering and figure out if you need all the included parts. If not, price out the costs of only the elements you know you want.
Negotiate Your Way to a Good Deal
Whether you’re booking a great hall or hiring a caterer, you might be able to get a better deal than the initial quote. Many vendors and venues have room to negotiate. To put your best foot forward while negotiating, consider these tips:
- Be Prepared: Figure out what you really need and the things you can do without. Determine the most you’re able to pay and the figures that work best with your budget.
- Initiate Negotiations: If you don’t ask, you never know what the answer might be. Stay polite, stay cool, and remain positive.
- Bring Something to the Negotiation Table: What does your event or organization have to offer the venue? Maybe it provides good publicity for a startup or maybe you could offer a contract for multiple events.
Deliver a Unique Experience
Providing an amazing experience for donors is a great way to entice them to give more. Part of brainstorming fundraising ideas is figuring out how your event can stand out. Many people give for the joy of supporting a cause or organization. Others appreciate the exchange of giving money in exchange for a memorable and fun experience.
Perhaps you could book a high-profile guest to speak or a great group of musicians to provide entertainment or make an appearance if you’re hosting a virtual event. But those aren’t the only ways to make your event special. If you’re fundraising for the arts or for a school, you can prominently display students’ best pieces to highlight how important the program or establishment is. Invite clients to come to speak on behalf of your organization to highlight the value donor contributions add to your cause.
The key to being able to raise money and cultivate a healthy donor list is to provide an experience your guests won’t get anywhere else. Make sure the experience is aligned with the values and purpose of your organization.
With many states restricting the size and type of gatherings that are allowed, hosting a completely virtual fundraiser could be the best way to raise funds for your organization. While it’s a great budget-friendly alternative to meeting in-person, there are still a number of things to consider.
Make sure your technology is capable of hosting for your intended audience size and one that’s larger than you’ve anticipated. Choose a format that makes sense for your target audience, whether that’s streamed live performances, video conferencing or online auctions that can be accessed for their convenience of tuning in from anywhere.
Think Cinematic Event
Whether this is your first or hundredth event to plan, remember that the way your audience will experience the event virtually. It helps to think of it less like a theatrical performance and more like a cinematic event. Build engaging segments of activity into the event with multiple angles and an up-close-and-personal view to keep your audience enthused and entertained.
Consider Furniture Rental
It’s easy to transform any space into a custom-made venue tailored perfectly to your event’s needs with furniture rental. This strategy provides the ultimate flexibility, giving you an easy way to outfit indoor and outdoor spaces for any kind of event. Holding a Bingo night? No problem. Gorgeous gala? You’re ready to rock it.
Furniture rental is one of the best-kept secrets of many event planners. When you work with a company like CORT, you’ll be able to quickly and easily choose everything from luxe lounge pieces and upscale lighting options to comfortable dining sets and dazzling decor to customize the look and feel of your event space beyond what the venue can provide. And in these tumultuous times, it’s also safer.
You don’t have to focus on cleaning and sanitizing the furniture you’re using because it’s all done for you. Before delivery, CORT cleans and sanitizes all of the furniture you’ll be using, with careful attention to areas frequently touched such as handles and chairs. Upholstery and linens are cleaned, disinfected, and placed in bags for transport, adding extra precautions to our already exacting CORT Clean Certified™ process.
Furniture rental also lets you choose exactly what you want and need. You can mix dining pieces with lounge space to equip any venue for your fundraising event — indoors, outdoors, and socially distanced alike. With less to worry about regarding furnishings, you can focus more on meeting and exceeding your organization’s fundraising goals.
You don’t have to go it alone. Strategic partnerships can extend your reach, open your guest list to a wider group, and help offset costs. Your partners might underwrite specific expenses like centerpieces, food, or event spaces. Or, they might donate services or cash to contribute to your fundraising event.
Start by considering organizations that share a similar passion for the cause or organization you’re raising money for. Other ways to find partners include:
- Exploring personal relationships to get contacts at businesses and corporations that are a good fit with your organization’s goals
- Creating sponsorship levels that provide benefits to businesses and individuals who sponsor your events
- Pitching potential partners by detailing the great benefits they’ll get by joining you. Ideas include branding opportunities, chances to speak during fundraisers, or recognition on your website and social channels
- Getting champions on your side to help spread the word about the event and get more people to participate or attend
These strategies can help you throw an amazing event while sticking to a budget. Whether you’re coming up with fundraising ideas for a school, program, or non-profit organization, one thing remains the same: Getting the best return on your investment is essential to maximizing profit. And to do that, you need to keep costs down while staying flexible and agile.
Ready to explore the wide array of furniture rental options available to outfit your event space in style? Indoors, outdoors, casual, or upscale — CORT Events has everything you need for a fantastic fundraiser customized perfectly for your needs.