How to Plan a Bowl-a-Thon Fundraiser [7 Simple Steps & Ideas]

Bowling events are a fun way to have some family fun while raising a few hundred dollars for your organization. With the creation of bowl-a-thons and peer-to-peer fundraising, nonprofits can now make thousands of dollars and spread the word about their organization to people across the country. This article gives a step-by-step breakdown of how…

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How to Plan a Bowl-a-Thon Fundraiser [7 Simple Steps & Ideas]

bowl a thon

Bowling events are a fun way to have some family fun while raising a few hundred dollars for your organization. With the creation of bowl-a-thons and peer-to-peer fundraising, nonprofits can now make thousands of dollars and spread the word about their organization to people across the country.

This article gives a step-by-step breakdown of how to run these events and a few ideas on making your next bowl-a-thon a success. With a well-thought-out fundraising strategy and some creativity, your next bowling fundraiser can be an exciting evening for all involved.

  1. What is a Bowl-a-Thon?
  2. How to Run Bowl-a-Thons?
  3. 4 Simple Bowl-a-Thon Ideas

What is a Bowl-a-Thon?

bowl a thon for fundraising

Bowl-a-thons are the perfect combination of traditional bowling events with new online fundraising campaigns. Bowling events have always been a way to bring all ages together. Now, with peer-to-peer and crowdfunding campaigns, people from across the country can get in on the fun.

There are bowling alleys everywhere, and your supporters can encourage their community to participate in the bowl-a-thon to help your organization.

The possibilities for fundraising are endless with these events. Nonprofits can raise funds with bowling event tickets, donations from people’s families and friends, and any games they can add to the evening.

How to Run Bowl-a-Thons (7 Simple Steps)

bowling alley fundraiser

Deciding to hold a bowl-a-thon is only the first step. To make your bowl-a-thon a successful event to hold year after year. follow the simple steps here.

Here’s how to plan a bowl-a-thon fundraiser in 7 steps:

  1. Form an event committee
  2. Set your fundraising goals
  3. Decide on an event location and date
  4. Find event sponsors and vendors
  5. Choose the right tools
  6. Market your event
  7. Say thank you

Step 1 – Form an Event Committee

Volunteers are a vital part of any nonprofit. Creating a committee of volunteers to help find sponsors, in-kind donations, and event attendees not only makes your job easier but also increases your chance of holding a successful bowling event.

Schedule the first committee meeting 6 to 9 months before your bowl-a-thon. Volunteers will know business owners and individuals interested in sponsorship opportunities or participating in your bowl-a-thon and it will take time to have them on board.

Step 2 – Set Your Fundraising Goals

bowling tournament fundraising goal

The first step you need to take is to decide your fundraising goal. When creating your budget, it is important to look at similar events your organization has done in the past.

Determine the cost of event tickets, sponsorship levels, and other fundraising ways you should add to this event. You will also need to determine the cost for the event and how many necessary items you can get for free.

Your organization must also create a list of other goals you hope to achieve.

  • How many new donors can you bring to this event?
  • What are you going to do after the event to keep these donors interested?
  • Do you already have sponsors you can depend on for this type of event?
  • If not, how will you develop long-term community partnerships with any new sponsors you can find?

Step 3 – Decide on an Event Location and Date

When figuring out the cost of your bowl-a-thon, you begin by researching and contacting potential locations. Ask your event committee to discuss your bowling event with several different options.

  • Is the site large enough for your event?
  • Is there space to hold other fundraising activities during the games?
  • Will you be the only ones using the location during your event, or are the bowling alleys open to the public as well?

When deciding on a date, you must ensure you aren’t competing with too many other fundraising events. Summer and Christmas Season events are extremely popular.

Step 4 – Find Event Sponsors and Vendors

Once you’ve finalized your location and date, it is time to find sponsors and vendors that can help cut down on the cost of your bowl-a-thon.

4.1 Event sponsors

Ideally, you can find one or two major sponsors to cover most of the cost. Businesses support nonprofit events because of the potential they see in marketing to your supporters. When creating your donation form and page, include a reminder that you’re offering sponsorship opportunities to local businesses and companies.

Check this page below for example. It lists down sponsorship opportunities and benefits. The donation form on the page is pretty simple and allows donors/sponsors to designate their donations to a specific fund.

bowling tournament fundraiser


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4.2 Vendors

Sponsors are not the only way to cut down on costs. Finding the right vendors for your event is essential. As you decide on the food and drinks, look for vendors willing to give you good deals on their products.

4.3 In-kind donations

In-kind donations are more important than you know. Your nonprofit can raise funds with more than event tickets and donations. You will need products and prizes for fundraising activities like silent and live auctions, raffles, and t-shirt sales.  You should also be open to getting items related to the event such as bowling shoes. Bowling shoes can be rented out or sold at the event to those who haven’t got their own.

Step 5 – Choose The Right Tools

Choosing the right fundraising tool for your bowl-a-thon is equally important to any decision you’ve made so far. A bowl-a-thon combines an in-person event with online fundraising campaigns, so your nonprofit must use a processor that offers both event registration and peer-to-peer or crowdfunding fundraising campaigns.

Check this fundraising page below. A form like this can really cut down on efforts for event registration and accepting donations.

Plus with Donorbox, you get to manage your donors, track their donation plans, send receipts, create crowdfunding campaigns, have social media buttons added to your page, and much more.

bowl a thon fundraiser

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Step 6 – Market Your Event

Marketing is essential for the success of your bowl-a-thon. Send invitation emails to everyone on your donor database. Flyers and local media advertising are easy ways to catch people’s attention and bring in a local crowd. Create separate social media posts on each participating bowling team to create excitement and encourage more people to register.

Those who signed up for sponsorship opportunities need to be marketed as well. You’d need a separate plan for them.

Your office should send event reminders about the upcoming event, updates on new sponsors and vendors, and volunteers’ peer-to-peer campaigns on a regular basis.

Step 7 – Say Thank You!

bowling tournament fundraiser

There are many people that helped you hold your bowl-a-thon, including volunteers, sponsors, and donors. At your event and after, you should find ways to recognize and thank each group for their help. Acknowledge every bowling team for helping your nonprofit create a greater impact by participating in the event.

Acknowledge your event committee with a presentation during the event and thank you gifts.

4 Bowl-a-Thon Ideas to Make Your Fundraiser a Success

As you plan for your upcoming bowl-a-thon, there are a few ways you can make your event stand out in the crowd.

bowl a thon ideas for bowling alley fundraisers

1. Find Additional Ways to Raise Funds

Events like bowl-a-thons can include more than just event tickets and donations. Give your fundraising efforts a boost by including fun games and item sales in your bowling event.

1.1 Silent auction

A silent auction can engage your crowd and get you a good amount of funds. Auction items can consist of tickets to local sporting events, spa certificates, and wine bottles or food. Raffles are another excellent option.

1.2 Raffle games

If you have received some high-end in-kind donations, you can use them as raffle gifts. If you can’t find the right raffle item, a 50/50 or reverse raffle can help your organization raise a few hundred dollars with a large enough crowd.

1.3 T-shirt sales

Another fun and creative idea to help raise funds are t-shirt sales. You can ask bowling teams to design their own team t-shirts. Everyone from the team can sell them before the event to gather support for their bowling team. You can also rent out bowling shoes. This may require partnering with a community store.

2. Go Live

bowl a thon promotion via Youtube

Since your bowl-a-thon is also an online campaign, you can share the fun of this event with the online crowd by live-streaming the event on social media accounts like Facebook or YouTube.

If you have connections with a local band or entertainer, this may be a great time to ask them to join your fundraising efforts in exchange for some publicity. Making your bowl-a-thon a live event for those who attend in-person and those who support through donations allows everyone to celebrate together.

3. Set a Theme

Fundraising events are the perfect opportunity to share your mission and impact on the community with a new audience. An excellent way to achieve this is with a theme.

Bowl For Kids’ Sake is one such campaign that’s based around the theme of helping community kids aged between 6 and 18. It aligns with the mission of the nonprofit Big Brothers Big Sisters. It’s a good inspiration if you’d want to create something similar.

planning a bowl a thon fundraiser event

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4. Recruit Players with Strong Online Connections

Do you know of any volunteers comfortable using social media? Do you know any influencers with a large following?

Create teams of players, assign a team captain to each, and encourage everyone to spread the word. The team captain can be someone with a good following and should help you raise more funds with a peer-to-peer campaign.

Final Thoughts

bowl a thon fundraiser

Following the steps listed above will help you hold a successful event. Bowl-a-thons can bring in thousands of dollars to your nonprofit. You can also gain more attention and raise more money by adding different fundraising activities to it.

Modern nonprofits need quality tools to reach their fundraising goals. With online donation processors like Donorbox, your organization can spread your mission, raise funds, and collect necessary donor information. Visit our website for a list of features like matching gifts, text-to-give, and crowdfunding campaigns. Check out our blog if you’re looking for more tips and ideas on holding more online fundraisers.

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Kristine Ensor is a freelance writer with over a decade of experience working with local and international nonprofits. As a nonprofit professional she has specialized in fundraising, marketing, event planning, volunteer management, and board development.

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