The price of your event tickets should cover the cost of your event, and, hopefully, turn a profit. You’ve already calculated how many tickets, at what dollar amount, you’ll need to sell to come out ahead after paying the venue, the caterers, the staff, and the entertainment. If your event is to serve as a fundraiser, for a favorite charity, or for any organization that needs to raise some cash, you’re best bet is to think beyond ticket sales. You need to monetize your event!
No, you don’t want to stand around with your hand out, especially after your guests have paid money to purchase the tickets. Instead, you need to find ways to encourage them to make additional donations. They need a reason to give, and they need to get something in return.
Ø Silent Auction
Solicit donations well in advance of the event. Anything that might interest members and donors is fair game. Big ticket items like motorcycles, TVs, or vacations really generate interest, but so do gift baskets, handmade crafts, gift certificates for local businesses, and services, such as massages, housecleaning, or pet care. Take whatever’s offered. In a silent auction, the more items to bid on, the better.
Set donated items up in a space you can control. You may like to display or promote the auction items before the event, to get people excited about their bids. Even if you don’t have a space where they can be viewed, you can send out written description or photos over email. At your event, arrange the prizes tastefully. Then, set out bid sheets and have a volunteer or staff member on hand to monitor the auction and answer questions during your event.
Similar to the silent auction, but more exciting. Start out the same way, by finding donors to contribute prizes. You only need three big ones, but more is better. You don’t have to list every single prize available when you print your raffle tickets, just the big ones, and a tantalizing hint that there are more prizes available, and that more prizes mean better odds of winning.
Start selling raffle tickets well before the event, using volunteers as a sales team or selling them in the same way you sell event tickets, and continue to sell them during the event. Make occasional announcements throughout the gathering reminding people that tickets are on sale, and the time of the actual prize draw. Hype up the actual drawing of the winners: this can be a major and exciting element of your event!
Ø Branded Merchandise
Your supporters like you well enough to buy a ticket to your event. They probably like you well enough to buy merchandise emblazoned with your logo. Research companies such as Café Press that will print T-shirts and other interesting items with your own designs. T-shirts, hoodies, hats, and mugs are popular choices.
If you have a very nice design or image, try printing it on a poster, or, if it’s small, a sticker. Choose an assortment of items: supporters with very little money may still like to spend a few dollars on a fun sticker, but have a few more expensive items, like sweatshirts, available too.
The gold star of event fundraising, sponsorship shows that your organization has arrived. If a large, commercial business can be persuaded to donate a large amount of money to your cause in exchange for some goodwill publicity, you’re set. You’ll need to do your own networking and research. Maybe you can find an allied business. For instance, if your organization runs a food pantry, maybe a grocery store will sponsor you. A charity that works with children may find support from a toy store.
Reach out to anyone you can, and let them know that you’ll provide free publicity. Your organization’s reputation can really open doors here, if your group is one that others would like to be connected with. If you print your own event tickets online, you can add your sponsor’s name and logo to your tickets, and any other event collateral. Mention them in press releases and on web sites and it could be the start of a beautiful relationship.