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This 3-pronged event fundraising strategy saves time and raises more money

Posted by Summy Lau
3 prong strategy saves time and money

Organizing a profitable fundraising event is all about best use of time. To take your event to the next level, focus your time and energy on the most time-efficient money-makers:

  1. Sponsorships - These are secured before your event to cover costs.
  2. Promotion - This is all about getting the right people in the room.
  3. Live Auction - In conjunction with the Fund-a-Need, the live auction is the entertainment and fundraising highlight of the night.

There's no resource more valuable to your cause than time. Concentrate on these three aspects, and you will always get a bigger return on your investment.

In today's post, we'll quickly discuss best practices for each of the 3 major prongs of a fundraising event.

1. Sponsorships

Sponsorships are crucial to fundraising event success.

When local businesses and well-heeled individuals support your event with a sponsorship, more night-of revenue goes to your mission. This is typically done in exchange for valuable rewards like onstage recognition, logo placements and social media shout-outs.

The important thing to remember when procuring event sponsorships is to cater your offerings to the potential sponsor. Instead of offering cookie cutter sponsorship levels and rewards, try customized packages… because it’s all about what they want.

Start the conversation by finding out about their goals and how much they want to participate.

Can they attend the gala? Do they want their logo everywhere? Do they want their name mentioned during the live auction?

Ask lots of questions, and try to listen more than you talk.

Event Fundraiser Sponsorship Kit

One popular sponsorship opportunity is to underwrite the cost of a live auction item, such as a Winspire travel Experience.

Not every business has a product or service that is attractive for the live auction, such as doctors, lawyers and dentists. Underwriting the cost of a travel package gives them great recognition during the event. What's more, these movers and shakers get to see their initial investment of, say, $3,000, multiply into something much bigger before their eyes.

Read Next: Send Your Donors to Bermuda for Free: Beginner's Guide to  Underwriting

2. Promotion

You may be surprised to hear this, but selling the most tickets is not the ultimate goal of promotion.

Instead, focus promotional efforts on creating an event community. Local business owners, executives and leaders come together and spend money in support of your cause.

You want to make people feel like they need to be there - otherwise, they’re missing out!

Portrait of businesspeople toasting glasses of champagne in office at night

And how the heck do you do that?

  1. Share your mission - Make guests understand what it is you are raising money for, and how it fits into the overall goal of the organization.
  2. Who else will be there? To build your community, share who is going to be there. Clue VIPs in on other high-level guests planning to attend.
  3. What auction items will be offered? One of the best ways to draw in new major donors is to promote your best items via email and social media.

Offering big marquee items like a trip to Napa Valley or New York City adds invaluable credibility to your event. They provoke the “Wow!” response you want from high-net worth donors.

For more, see 5 Goals of Event Promotion that Beat Selling Out Tickets.

3. Live Auction

sharpie-cardIf you don’t normally include a live auction in your event, you should absolutely consider it. Offering big-ticket packages is one of the best ways to attract the kind of high-net-worth donors you want to your event, then identify them once they’re there.

You've already got the donors in the room and their time blocked off to support your cause. Why not make the most of it by including an auction?

One important rule of thumb is to offer enough items in the live auction, but not too many in the silent auction.

We suggest offering at least 10 live auction items, or as many as you can sell in under 45 minutes. Offering fewer than that wastes a prime opportunity to put big-ticket donation opportunities in front of a room filled with potential new donors.

Procuring 10 packages might seem like a lot, but the first 4-5 items usually come pretty quickly if you are out there networking in your community.

Finding the remaining 5-6 items to fill your live auction can be a little trickier. That’s where Winspire can help you round out your offering with unique travel packages from around the globe.

Offering travel in your auction gives your organization access to donor travel budgets.

Expert Tip: Take note of all high bidders, even if they don't win the item.

During the live auction, make sure you write down the names of every single person who bids over a thousand dollars, regardless of whether or not they end up the winning bidder. These are high-net worth, potential recurring donors with whom you want to share more about your cause.

Who would you rather take out the following week, the person who bid $300 on a gift basket, or the person who bid $3,000 on a travel experience?

Silent auctions, while profitable, can take an incredible amount of time to organize - and the bigger they get, the more time they take up (sometimes more than anything else!).

As we've discussed, your time is valuable. Event organizers need a laser focus on best use of time.

So before you start knocking on every retailer’s door to see how many donations you can get for the silent auction, have a plan of action. Figure out what would interest your audience, and figure out how you’re going to go get those items.

Then, use the time saved wisely: by networking in your community in search of sponsorships, spreading the word about your event, and procuring unique experiences for the live auction.

Expert Tip: Be specific with your ask.

When you approach a potential donor, know exactly what you want to ask for.

For example, say you've decided to put together a date night package for the silent auction. Let them know you’re looking for a restaurant that features live music, a certain type of food, or one that's near the local theatre... This strategy is a lot more effective than asking for what they can spare.

Download free PowerPoint templates for your live auction

Event Production
Summy Lau
Summy Lau
As Fundraising Editor, Summy brings hands-on experience in nonprofit development, event fundraising, publishing, copywriting and design to Winspire News. She creates blog content, infographics, templates, eBooks and other resources to help fundraising professionals and volunteers exceed their fundraising goals. Her two favorite perks of working at Winspire: hearing nonprofit success stories and dreaming of new bucket list destinations.

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