Events of all kinds have long been at the center of the nonprofit world. They are used for spreading awareness, bringing in new faces, and - of course - fundraising. Read this article to find tips about how to raise money with events, plus tools to use to bring in even more critical donations.
For decades, many nonprofit organizations have relied on events to bring in critical donations as well as spread awareness about their missions. But planning and hosting impactful events can take a lot of time and a big budget. So, you might be wondering how to actually raise money with events.
The good news? There are several ways to ensure your next nonprofit event brings in the revenue you need to continue your important mission. In this blog, we’ll cover 10 of them as well as share the tools you can use to ensure success.
10 Ways to Raise Money with Events
When you host a nonprofit event – especially if the main goal of your event is fundraising – you don’t just want to bring in enough donations to cover the cost. You want to ensure your event makes money!
You don’t have to wait until the event begins to make some money! These strategies can be used to set yourself up for fundraising success during the event as well as bring in some dollars beforehand.
1. Choose your pricing strategy wisely
One of the most important things to determine when planning your event is your pricing strategy. Pricing your tickets just right ensures you bring in the most attendees possible while still turning a profit.
Think about your event goals, budget, audience, and event activities before settling on a price. To increase event attendance, offer multiple ticket tiers at different price points.
Pro tip: Use promo codes to boost ticket sales, honor your VIPs with free tickets, encourage top donors to bring their friends and family, and more.
2. Ask for donations with ticket purchases
No matter your pricing strategy, you can raise critical funds by asking ticket buyers to make a donation on top of their ticket purchase. Offering free tickets? Request that supporters make a gift to help your cause in place of a ticket fee.
This makes it easy for your event attendees to directly support your mission. Plus, you can announce the amount you’ve already raised at the start of the event!
Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Family Alliance used Donorbox Events to ask for donations in addition to ticket sales for their 45th-anniversary event.
3. Connect with attendees early
Generate excitement for your ticket buyers before the event begins by connecting with them early and often.
Create an email campaign that targets your audience starting a couple of weeks before the event date. Share necessary details – such as directions, where to park, schedule, etc. – but also use these emails as an opportunity to start talking about your mission, opportunities to give, and more. Share this information via your website, blog, and social media as well.
Here are some ideas to feature in this pre-event outreach to generate excitement and give your fundraising a boost –
Talk about your mission – Thank your ticket buyers for their purchase and then share a bit about the mission they will be supporting at your event. Consider including a video.
Make introductions – Are you featuring a beneficiary’s story at your event? Introduce them with a quick paragraph or two to pique the interest of event attendees. You can also do this for any honorees or speakers.
Tease auction items – If you’re hosting a live or silent auction, previewing your top items gets your audience excited to start bidding as soon as they arrive!
Announce giving opportunities – Hosting a wine pull? Selling merchandise? Offering pay-per-play games? Letting attendees know about these options prepares them to spend money for your cause.
4. Offer sponsorship opportunities
One of the best ways to ensure the majority (if not all) of your attendees’ ticket purchases go towards your mission is to secure sponsorships for your event. Sponsorships can cover anything from general event costs to more specific things like entertainment, beverages, and raffle or auction items.
Offer sponsorship packages at multiple levels to appeal to businesses and other community partners of all sizes and budgets. Include incentives such as advertising, tickets or tables, mentions during the event itself, and meet-and-greets with entertainers.
Add your sponsorship levels to your online event ticketing form to make it even easier to become a sponsor. Take a look at how the Engineering Education Foundation of America used Donorbox Events to secure sponsorships for their annual golf tournament.
Donorbox Events is a comprehensive online ticketing system. This powerful tool enables you to sell an unlimited number of ticket and sponsorship tiers, easily calculate and display tax-deductible values, set sales limits and deadlines, and request additional information and donations on top of ticket sales. You can also create promo codes for free or discounted tickets and use the check-in feature to quickly scan, verify, and check each guest in.
Depending on your goals, you will likely make the most money during the event itself. Here’s how to raise more of those critical funds!
5. Make an appeal
If you don’t ask for donations, you may not receive any! That’s why it’s critical to make an appeal that includes details about your mission, why it’s important, why it matters right now, and how event attendees can make a donation.
Take your appeal to the next level by including a brief story that showcases the impact event attendees can make with their gifts. Storytelling is a powerful way to facilitate an emotional connection between your supporters, your mission, and those you serve that will bring in more donations.
6. Focus on the experience
Many potential donors are looking for experiences these days – they don’t necessarily want to just sit and listen to you talk about the mission or watch a performance.
Think about how you can evolve your event to include experience-based fundraising efforts, with activities that get your donors involved. Here are a few ideas –
Pay-per-play games – Hosting a carnival or festival? What about a casino, bingo, or trivia night? Come up with a few games attendees can play for a small donation. Bonus points if you can relate them back to your mission!
Interactive mission moments – Bring your mission to the event! Animal shelters can bring adoptable dogs and cats for attendees to meet, while environmental organizations can showcase the effects of pollution or climate change.
Fundraising activities – Don’t just pass the hat – find ways to entice your audience to give by offering something in exchange. Think raffle tickets, silent and live auctions, wine pulls, and more.
7. Sell something
Another way to raise money with events is to sell products, merchandise, or even food and drink to your guests.
Offering event concessions is an easy way to make some extra cash, especially if you can get snacks or beverages donated by a sponsor. Or, allow area restaurants, food trucks, wineries, and other vendors to set up a stand in exchange for a percentage of their profits.
Also, create branded merchandise – think t-shirts, hats, coffee mugs, and more – that attendees will want to buy to remember your event. Be sure to include your logo for some free advertising!
8. Use in-person fundraising tools
No matter what giving opportunities you provide your event guests, you’ll need an easy way to collect those donations. Many of your guests won’t bring along cash or a checkbook, making cashless giving options a must.
Use these in-person fundraising tools to raise money with events –
Hosting a concert, putting on a theatre production, or making an appeal live on stage? Put text-to-give to work so your guests don’t have to leave their seats to donate! With Donorbox Text-to-Give, your guests send a text to receive a link directly to your secure, mobile-optimized giving form. Plus, they can give the same amount again with a single text message!
Place QR codes around your venue, whether at each table, on screens, or on signs, along with brief information about your mission. Should a donor be inspired to give, all they have to do is scan the QR code with their smartphone to access your Donorbox Donation Form and make a donation in seconds.
There are numerous ways to use a donation kiosk at your next event! Set up your own with the Donorbox Live™ Kiosk app, your favorite tablet, and a paired card reader device, enabling you to quickly collect donations, merchandise payments, winning auction bids, and more via card or smart device.
Learn more about Donorbox Live™ Kiosk and how it can help you capture convenient cashless donations anytime and anywhere – including at your events – in this video:
You’ve captured your donors’ attention and have maybe even brought in some new supporters. Now is the time to build upon these relationships using event conversion tactics!
9. Say thank you
While each phase of the donor cultivation cycle is important, stewardship is among the most vital when it comes to establishing long-term donor relationships and growth for your organization. And acknowledging your supporters is a big part of stewardship!
Sending a timely thank-you letter or email to all event attendees as soon as possible after the event is critical. Acknowledge any contributions made throughout the event as well as the impact these gifts will have on your mission and those you serve.
You can also share photos or videos from the event, reminding your guests about the fabulous time they had and encouraging them to share on their social media pages. If you have a date set for next year’s annual event, include that as well!
10. Encourage recurring donations
Once your event is over and you’ve thanked your attendees, that means you’re done, right? Not exactly. One of the best ways to raise money with events is to turn those one-time supporters into recurring donors.
Follow up with your event attendees, whether through letter, email, or phone call, within a few weeks after the event. In this communication, reinforce your gratitude and share how these supporters can continue to make a difference with a recurring donation.
Then, make it easy for your donors to set up and manage their own recurring giving plans using an online form! Donorbox Donation Forms give you the ability to offer up to four interval options, choosing from one-time, daily, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually. Donors simply select their preferred interval, enter their donation amount, and follow the steps to save their payment method. They can edit or cancel their recurring plans in their Donor Portal.
Take a look at how New Beginnings encourages donors to set up a recurring giving plan using their online form.
Nonprofit events have long been a critical part of many organizations’ fundraising strategies. Knowing how to raise money with events will ensure that spending the time, effort, and funds it takes to plan and host them is worth your while. Use the tips shared here to guide you as you prepare for your fundraising events!
Kara has several years of experience in communications and marketing for nonprofit organizations, with knowledge in social media, email, public relations, event promotion, appeal writing, and more. She specializes in writing and enjoys sharing her expertise and advice with others.