As a 3-Day coach and repeat walker, Aubrey Cushing knows a few things about fundraising. This year she is walking in the Seattle and San Diego 3-Days – and just reached her fundraising goal for both events. Way to go Aubrey! When I asked her the secret of her success over the years, Aubrey told me, “I try everything. Some things work and others don’t, but I NEVER give up. My mom is a breast cancer survivor, and I will do whatever it takes to get us closer to a cure.” Well, said, Aubrey!
Here are Aubrey’s tips for holding successful fundraising events – and avoiding fundraising flops!
• Invite as many people as you can accommodate, and more. Expect half to RSVP, and a quarter of those to attend. Follow up with the RSVP’s who didn’t make it an offer them the chance to make a donation online.
• Everyone loves a raffle. A raffle item doesn’t have to be an expensive. I collect things from store’s clearance sections and have a theme in mind for my raffle baskets, such as summer BBQ or a back to school. Offer tickets for donations of $2 each, or 3 tickets for $5 and so on. If your item is valuable, set a higher price per ticket. My friend got a donation of a week’s stay at a resort in Cancun. She sold tickets for a $25 donation each – and made $800! Be sure to check the 3-Day Fundraising FAQ for important Fundraising Policies regarding raffles.
• Keep costs down. Don’t spend more money on your fundraising event than you will make in donations. I visit local businesses that may not make a cash donation, but are happy to donate items for the event. My local bakery donates desserts for my party, and another donates a gift card that I use to purchase refreshments.
• Avoid advance costs. A fundraiser with no upfront costs will be successful no matter how many people attend. My Bowling for Boobs event is a great example. Each guest donates $20 to play. I pay the bowling alley the $14 per person cost (they waive the shoe rental), and I make $6 per person in attendance. Be sure to have a raffle basket or two for added fundraising opportunities.
• Pay attention to the calendar. Selling hand painted Christmas tree ornaments in April probably won’t sell much, but in November and December they sure do! October is breast cancer awareness month, and is a great time to sell items in support of the cause.
• Know your audience. Not all fundraisers will appeal to everyone on your list. Mix it up and keep inviting people (unless they have requested otherwise). If they’re not interested in a fundraiser you’re having today they may be interested in the one you’re having next month.
• What are other people doing? If a fundraising idea works well for someone else don’t be afraid to ask if you can borrow their idea. Chances are they won’t mind!
• Host an annual event. If they liked it, they’ll be back! Create an event that people look forward to (and better yet, EXPECT you to have) each year. It also keeps them interested in your fundraising and will bring more people in each year.
• Forget the flops! Ditch the ideas that didn’t work and keep using those that did. Not everything will work out the way you planned but the key is to never give up! Try EVERYTHING!
Thanks to Aubrey from some expert advice. Be sure to check out the Fundraising Tools on the 3-Day website as well!
What was your most successful fundraising event? Submit your story, or let us know in the comments below.