The key to sustaining excellent fundraising events is to keep it interesting. You know your crowd and what they like, but if your event becomes identical year after year, your guests will slow down on their interest and excitement. In addition to changing the theme, decor, and guest speakers… consider adding unique fundraising opportunities to your events. The live and silent auctions will bring in the bulk of your funds for the evening but there are some special items that will add some spark and excitement to your event.
It’s a surprise where everyone wins! Set a price point based on the average price of the wine you have, cover the bottles/labels, and have your guest choose random numbers or bottles. For example, if your price point is $25, choose a selection of wines that range from $10 to $50. You may be able to get bulk wine discounts at various stores, making the profit margin even higher. You can mix all the wines together, or if desired, divide into red and white categories.
Don’t have wine drinkers? Host a fork pull instead. Instead of winning wine, guests win gift cards from local restaurants. Again, the card value and locations can vary–and you may be able to get gift cards donated!
It’s the same model as the wine pull and companies like Kendra Scott are pros at choosing and setting up for fundraising events. It’s a win-win for everyone and the jewelry almost always sells out.
Depending on your event and your guests, a raffle could be a great option for you. Raffles work exceedingly well at golf tournaments and school functions. You can choose to do a cash 50/50 raffle, raffle one big item, or have several smaller items with designated drawing buckets (ie “I want to be in the drawing for the watch but not in the drawing for the necklace”). But, have dedicated raffle ticket sellers scouting the crowd through the event. Nothing spoils a raffle faster than guests who want to buy tickets but can’t find the raffle ticket person.
Heads or Tails
A crowd favorite! So much so that we start almost every event with this activity. The rules are simple–buy your way in with cash or on mobile bidding and stand up. The auctioneer flips a coin and the players “choose” heads or tails by placing their hands on their heads… or tail. Those who choose correctly keep playing and those who choose incorrectly sit down. The coin flips continue until only one player remains. This is a great crowd engagement activity and signals the guests that the live auction is about to begin.
Auctioning off kids’ art projects or classroom projects is a no-brainer for schools. If a parent sees their child’s artwork, of course, they want to buy it! We’ve seen some really creative ways to do this, from class projects to individual pieces, to Christmas ornaments. These are usually (but not always) a low price point so that everyone can walk away from the event having made a contribution to the school.
Sometimes, guests want to make a flat donation and having time during an event to make a donation or pledge can be a meaningful way to do that. This section of the event is usually the most serious and may include a video, guest speaker, or handwritten letters from people who have benefitted from the organization. Your guests are here for a reason. You want your event to be fun and exciting, but don’t forget to focus on your mission. Allow the event to take time to focus on the big picture and then give people an opportunity to make a donation. This is also a good option for all price points. Regardless of how much money one has, they can always make a meaningful difference.