How to Host a Fundraising Party

by Edward Mercer
Attendees smiling at a fundraising party to benefit animals.

Attendees smiling at a fundraising party to benefit animals.

Charity is a social activity. The more people you get interested and involved in a cause, the bigger the difference you can make and the more money you can raise toward a charitable donation. Hosting a fundraising party is one way of bringing people together around a common cause. Best of all, you don't need to have a mansion and celebrity guests to make your party a success. With a little thought and preparation, you can have fun, raise awareness, and pull together some money for your favorite charity.

Getting Ready

Proper, realistic planning is essential for a successful fundraising party. According to the Foundation Center, you don't need to plan a lavish gala event to raise a significant amount of money. Informal gatherings in private homes are often very effective, and they can even add a sense of intimacy that makes guests more likely to donate. Select a date for your event and pick a place that can comfortably hold all of your guests. A group of around 50 is a good number for a local fundraising event. Next, pick a concept for the event. Ideas like charity dinners, wine-and-cheese gatherings, barbecues, charity auctions, local band concerts or simply a cocktail party -- with a presentation -- are all good themes.

Logistics

Goal-setting and budgeting are vital to fundraising success. Start by setting a goal for how much money you want to raise. With the goal in mind, determine how much you will have to spend per guest on party expenses, such as food, drinks, cleaning services and presentation equipment. Your budget and goal will help you determine how many guests you'll need at your party and how much you should raise from each or an average amount. Send out invitations to mailing lists of people already active in organizations related to the cause and to your own friends and family. Follow up on invitations and post information to relevant online forums and social media to make sure you hit your participation goal. A few days before the event, make sure your party location is ready, your party-throwing team is assembled, and you have all the food or equipment you need.

The Big Day

The International OCD Foundation recommends letting guests at a fundraising party mingle and enjoy themselves for about an hour before you start your fundraising presentation. This should give all of your guests enough time to arrive, feel comfortable and -- if you have a good team of volunteers or invited plenty of people already active in the cause -- get some good, relevant conversations started. Even if your event is a charity dinner or auction where attendees are already contributing, be sure to have some sort of a brief presentation as to how the funds will be used and other ways of getting involved. If you are soliciting funds during the presentation, make a strong appeal that stresses the importance or urgency of the cause. Be sure to thank everyone for participating and donating.

Asking for Money

Don't be ashamed to ask for money. Make sure that all your attendees understand that this is a fundraising event and be clear about your fundraising goals. Visual aids like a thermometer that displays progress toward your goal or a glass bowl holding donations can help people feel that they are part of a successful fundraiser and maybe even dig a bit deeper if you're just a bit shy of your goal. Be sure to have a procedure and a place for attendees to make additional donations if they feel moved to do so. Mention this process during your presentation. Lastly, think long term, and take down email addresses or contact information to send out information about the cause, thank-you letters, and perhaps even invitations to future events.

Photo Credits

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