Fundraising events are only worth it if you take in more than you spend. Many campaigns feel the need to create lavish fundraisers requiring a lot of effort, time, and resources yet yield very little in return.

Don’t fall for this trap!

In this 4-part blog series, we’re going to show candidates how to effectively execute their campaign fundraising efforts.

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Keep Overhead LOW

Set your budget and your fundraising goals and make sure you identify a few supporters who will help you with the logistics, promotion, and the follow-up effort it takes to pull off a profitable event. This “Host Committee” should bear the brunt of the workload. They need to commit to an agreed-upon set of goals in order for you to have the confidence that investing in an event will pay off. If ten host committee members commit to bringing 4 people each at $50 per person, you will raise $2,000. Now, can you deliver an event that these folks will be happy to attend for less than $500? You betcha!

Venue

An easy way to do this is for a supporter to host an event at their home or office. The most successful fundraisers I have attended were at a home that folks are curious about. Maybe a local celebrity is willing to open their home to your campaign or maybe one of your supporters has a house with a unique history. Another option is to use a supporter’s place of business. An example would be if a florist was one of your big supporters, see if he/she would open up their showroom/shop for an after-hours cocktail party among the flowers!

Food and Drink

In most cases, guests are satisfied with a few nibbles and something to drink. Think about it; Donors don’t want to think their contribution is going to expensive appetizers, especially if they see huge amounts of food go uneaten! They want to feel confident that their investment in your campaign will be wisely managed and ultimately go towards the tools needed to win on election day.

Invitations and RSVPs

To cut costs, invitations can be sent via email. You can create a PDF invitation that can easily be forwarded as an attachment to a personalized email. It always helps to have a team of people (the Host Committee) send personalized emails with the invitation attached to their own contacts and then follow up with personal phone calls!

Use a free online registration system like Eventbrite to manage your RSVPs. This technology makes registration easy for your guests AND your campaign.

Tip: Be careful using Facebook events. If you are collecting registrations via your website and/or another system like Eventbrite, this can cause confusion. This is because people will frequently think that clicking “I’m Going” on a Facebook event means they’re registered. This may or may not be the case with your event. And you should be even MORE careful if you plan to boost the event (i.e. pay to show it to more people) on Facebook. Instead, we’d encourage you to create a page on your website with the event details and send traffic there. The reason is that you’ll have less confusion about how to register and also have the opportunity to get people to visit other pages on your website. Who knows… They may even give you a donation!

If you are confident about these basic elements of throwing a fundraiser, consider taking it to the next level by incorporating a theme. Having an element that is a “draw” in addition to your candidacy should boost interest and attendance. Example: Have your fundraiser on the day of the Kentucky Derby and encourage attendees to wear a derby hat. Make sure you have a TV at the party to tune into the big race!

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