TRADE Secrets – How to Produce a Great Fundraiser

Bill Alfano's picture
Bill Alfano

TRADE Secrets – How to Produce a Great Fundraiser

(written by guest blogger Meghan Brady of TRADE)

As the Events Manager at TRADE, I plan and execute hundreds of events a year. 

The most challenging? Fundraisers. Yes, a fundraiser is a feel-good excuse to gather family and friends and throw a great party, but this party has a goal. That goal is to raise as much money as you can for your cause.  How do you maximize that result and still focus on fun?  

My teammates and I are in the process of planning our fifth Team Rialto-TRADE PMC event. Our team’s PMC party is the largest fundraiser we host at TRADE all year and probably the most personal. Over the years we have done all different kinds of events and learned a few lessons along the way. Here are a few tips for throwing a fantastic, successful, fundraiser.  

Ticket prices  

Be conscious of how much your ticket prices are and price appropriate to the type of event. You WILL sell more tickets (and raise more money) if the ticket price is appropriate to the type of event. Is it black tie or BBQ? WHO are you inviting? What will your invitees realistically spend?  

For example, when pricing tickets for our brunch event this year I tried to think about what I would spend on a Sunday brunch if I were out with my girlfriends (mimosas included, of course) and I priced accordingly.  

Also think about the percentage of guests who will purchase as pairs or couples. It may not seem like a huge difference between a $50 and $75 ticket, but think about that number x2. There is a big difference in price perception between $150 and $100 for a night out for two.  

Remember, there are other ways you will be asking guests to contribute on-site, whether through raffles or live and silent auctions 

Volunteers (!) 

The PMC wouldn’t happen without volunteers and neither will your event. Throwing a successful fundraiser requires lots of hands so don’t be afraid to ask people to jump in when it’s show time. Maybe it’s checking people in, checking coats or organizing the auction table. Think the event through from start to finish and have a volunteer list with roles assigned well in advance. I have made the mistake of taking on too many responsibilities at events and it doesn’t make me a very good host – or a very effective fundraiser. How can I make sure raffle tickets are getting sold if I am behind the bar pouring wine? 

You want people to enjoy their time too, which is why getting together a great volunteer list could mean asking friends to lend a hand for an hour or less. And let them do what they are good at! Consider peoples skill-sets when assigning tasks.  

Everyone can contribute something 

Friends who can’t attend? Ask if they can contribute in other ways, even if they may not be obvious. Your friend is a great photographer? Ask them to donate a portrait package as an auction item. All kinds of goods and services can make great auction items. Diversify! In the past we have auctioned off everything from dance classes to European bike tours to eyelash extensions. The possibilities are endless and you never know what will pique someone’s interest.  

Remind people why they are there 

I attend dozens on non-profit events each year. Many times I have wondered, “What is this for, again?” Whether it’s a slideshow, photo displays or a brief speaking component – remind people why they are giving this cause their time and money. Peopleare there to support you, but be sure to remind them what you are really doing. You are not just throwing a cocktail party. You are riding a bike (really far) and in the process raising a ton of money for cancer research.  

Social Media 

Use all of your social media outlets to promote the event. This year I created a facebook page just for our team that all of our friends, families and guests could “like”. Having a single page for team news and event invites and updates makes it so easy.  

When it’s party time encourage your guests to use a #hashtag to quickly pull up photos and share their own. Display this #hashtag on invites, bar signange – anywhere you can think of! It makes the event more interactive and is a great promotion tool leading up to the event. (PMC note - the official hashtag for PMC this year is #PMC2014) 

I hope some of these tips help you make your next PMC fundraiser a great success. Happy party planning!  

PMC Team Rialto-TRADE has raised over $250,000 for Dana-Farber Cancer Institue over the past 3 years. This year, the team is stronger than ever with 15 riders. Their fundraiser #brunchsohard will be held at TRADE on June 8. 


Other PMC Notes:

  • Eventbrite has designed a PMC template to use for ticketing (charge or no-charge) for your PMC Fundraising events.
  • To inquire about booking an PMC fundraiser or to look at their delicious menu or make a reservation: TRADE & Rialto
  • Other PMC Fundraising Tools and Tips