3 Ways to Put the FUN Into Your Fundraisers
If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a million times… “Benefit dinners are boring, guests just want to get in and get out.” Why? It’s not because fundraisers are boring per se. It’s because organizations continue to plan boring dinners! And while I appreciate that there are certain expectations that come with a benefit dinner format, the most successful fundraising events take the opportunity to surprise and delight guests and make them feel that they’ve spent their money and their time well. If you want to throw a fundraiser that leaves everyone talking, read on for my top three fundraiser must-haves.
1. Find a dynamic host.
I’m just going to say it… your organization’s president or board chair is probably amazing at what he or she does, but being the host or emcee of a gala dinner may not be one of them. Your event host will be the thread that ties your whole event together and will be the underlying voice of the overall experience. Choosing (or hiring!) someone fun and funny and exciting for this role will instantly transform your fundraising from an event to a party.
2. Mix up the menu.
Fundraising events tend to favor the typical “chicken or beef” type menus, but why? I see clients inclined to do it, just because it is “what everyone does” or what they’ve done before. Change up your meal format with a thematic dinner, a bento box style presentation or elevated comfort food. While in the past it was assumed that big money donors wanted to be impressed with a fancy cut of meat like a filet mignon, this logic is no longer relevant. Big money donors want to be impressed with experience, innovation and heart. And that rarely comes in the form of balsamic chicken.
3. Invest in entertainment.
While keeping budgets lean is always a priority, investing in great music or other performances will pay off in spades. The bottom line is that guests leave events early because they are not engaged in a holistic way – if they feel they’ve accomplished what they came there to do, they are likely to leave. Adding music or comedy or dance to an event piques a guest’s interest on an additional level – they stay because they want more – or at least they are curious to know if there will be more. The longer they stay, the more time they have to give money – and the more fun they have, the more likely they’ll be to return next year to see what you have in store.
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