Crush your Fundraising Challenge! Part 1: Planning

These past few months I’ve been thinking a lot about fundraising. This Thursday, I’ll be embarking on a 10 week fundraising challenge for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I did a post last year on this fundraising competition that originated in SF 22 years ago, and the events candidates hosted as part of their campaigns. My personal goal this spring is to raise more than $100,000, and do so by throwing a series of really fantastic events. As I reflect on the last 6 months I’ve spent in the planning phase, these 5 tips are what I’ve found to be most important. Challenge yourself- how much can YOU fundraise with your event?

1. Find a cause that you’re passionate about. If you’re passionate about the cause you’re fundraising for, that will translate into your success. I chose The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society because I have a personal connection to the cause (my dad), which motivated me to orchestrate the Slap Cancer campaign. On a similar note, Scott Harrison came into Eventbrite HQ the other week to share his story about Charity Water. His passion and story were so moving it brought many of our employees to tears (and to pledge our birthdays this year to donate to the cause). Your passion will translate the meaning of your cause to others and inspire them to donate and attend your events.

2. Choose a unique theme. You have a great cause, but now you need to get people out to support it. An eye catching theme or doing something that hasn’t been done before are great places to start. If you personally feel like the 80s prom theme is a bit tired, your potential guests might feel the same. I’m hosting a gala that’s themed around the board game Clue because I hadn’t seen it done before, and it’s at The University Club since it’s a venue most of my friends haven’t had the opportunity to experience. And while December can seem overwhelming with holiday parties, the reason The Elf Party has been so successful for 9 years running is because the theme is so original and fun.

3. Be mindful when setting your ticket price. It’s important to keep in mind what your value-add is for attendees. Your choices in target audience, venue, included food and beverage, entertainment and suggested attire will all factor into the ticket price. Do some research and find out what other similar fundraisers are charging. And if your fundraiser is a first time event,  keep that in mind when setting your ticket price. The San Francisco Social is a wildly successful gala supporting local nonprofits at The Fairmont. The audience is primarily young professionals and while they charged $75 for early bird guests at the 5th annual, they were able to bump the ticket price up to $90 for the 6th annual this past year and still sold out early. Also, don’t forget to include an open donation field for any attendees that can’t make it to your event!

4. Data is your friend. It’s important to actively manage your ticket sales from the moment you send your invitations out. 64% of fundraiser organizers who met their sales goals logged in daily to view ticket sales and analytics- so make sure to do the same!

5. Offer incentives for early buyers. We’ve found fundraiser tickets go on sale an average of 4-6 weeks before the event, but  ¾ of events see the majority of sales just in the last week or two before their event. This can feel overwhelming, but when you are proactive about your goals and communication plan you can better manage your sales. Setting an early bird and general admission are great ways to see a spike in your ticket sales earlier on.

Tickets to the events during Brianna’s 10 week fundraising campaign go on sale this Thursday, 3/29! Check out the Slap Cancer website and Facebook page and make sure to follow @slapcancer. She’ll be blogging throughout the campaign and posting tips for nonprofits to be more effective with their fundraising as she tries to crush her own goal!