What is a Fundraising Event?
Fundraising events—also known as benefit events or charity fundraisers—are organized by a nonprofit, community group, or organization to help raise funds and awareness for their cause.
While black-tie galas often come to mind, golf tournaments, fashion shows, immersive experiences, and even the humble bake sale are all examples of fundraising events.
Photo credit: Narrative Images, Father Joe’s Villages’ 37th Annual Children’s Charity Gala
But with so many different fundraising themes, budgets, and audiences, how can you ensure yours is a success?
We've narrowed down the elements of successful fundraising events to just five 5 key areas. Read on to discover what they are and how to incorporate them into your next fundraiser.
1. Welcome Reception
First impressions are crucial, and your welcome reception is no exception. Think of it as the introduction to your benefit event: The reception should encourage attendees to mix and mingle and get them into the fundraising atmosphere.
The welcome reception is also your first opportunity to raise money and connect with donors in a relaxed social setting.
Silent auctions are an ideal way to open bidding at this stage. Even if guests don't win the lot, bid sheets collect precious contact info from potential new donors.
💡 Fundraising Tip
Welcome receptions don't have to be stuffy hotel lobby affairs. An NPO for the arts might hold their reception in a gallery after dark or start the evening with a music performance. Get creative!
📚 Fundraising Resource
2. Mission and Impact Story
You want your benefit event to be fun, but you also want guests to understand why they’re here.
Your nonprofit impact story is a golden opportunity to educate guests on what you do and where their funds are going.
Videos and speakers are a popular option. But one of the most successful ways of telling your story is by immersing attendees in your work.
Take no-kill shelter Operation Kindness as an example. They let attendees meet puppies and chat with shelter staff at their annual gala.
Besides tugging at the heartstrings, this type of in-event experience helps guests make the connection between their support and the nonprofit's mission.
Photo credit: Operation Kindness, Canines, Cats, and Cabernet gala
3. Live Auction and Fundraising Games
Fundraising games aren’t just the event’s main entertainment, they’re your best opportunity to bring in funds!
Live auctions are an ideal way to ramp up donor excitement and raise big. With this in mind, live auctions should showcase showstopping, exclusive, and appealing prizes that drive bidding, like auction vacation packages, sports memorabilia, and unique experiences.
Be sure to include other fundraising games in your event to create even more opportunities to raise funds.
Raffles, wine pulls, and wishboards are all simple, low-stake ways to gamify donations and get new donors to take that first step in supporting your cause.
📚 Fundraising Resource
4. Mission Moment
With the excitement and goodwill of the crowd at an all-time high, it’s time to tune in to your mission moment.
This is your chance to connect deeply with your audience and draw all their attention to your appeal.
The best mission moments put a face to your cause. Have a beneficiary speak on stage about how your organization has impacted their life—all thanks to generous donors like your guests.
Don't have a key speaker? Think about how you can create emotional connections using videos or touching experiences. One animal rehab center safely released birds back into the wild in front of guests for an unforgettable mission-in-action moment.
5. Paddle Raise Appeal
Now is the moment to capture those powerful emotions by connecting donation dollars to impact.
A Paddle Raise—also known as a Fund a Need—works best after your mission moment, as every dollar raised goes straight to your cause.
Try starting your pledge at a top figure (say $1,000) and lowering the amount in increments. This strategy gives everyone a final chance to make a meaningful contribution at any financial level.
You can even amplify the appeal with games like "last paddle up", where the final guest pledge takes home a luxury travel experience.
💡 Fundraising Tip
Set a reasonable top figure based on the type of event and attendees you have. Ensure at least one bidder in the room will donate your top figure to get momentum going.
Planning a fundraiser for your nonprofit? LuxGive offers a wealth of resources to help you plan and execute a successful benefit event.
At LuxGive, we believe in the transformative power of travel. Our mission is to help nonprofits raise more funds at auction through once-in-a-lifetime home and villa experiences.
Our travel experiences feature dedicated concierge service and access to an exceptional portfolio of over 1,500 stunning private properties across the world.
Whether it’s a luxury Caribbean villa, an enchanting Tuscan apartment, or an alpine lodge steps from the powder, we have something for all your clients' needs.