4 ways to refresh your annual fundraising event

As better weather approaches and spring nears, nonprofits know that fundraising event season is on its way!

For many organizations, there is an annual event in the spring or summer that helps provide revenue for the big projects ahead. These can range from challenge events like walks or runs, high-end galas, or anything in between. But like any recurring initiative, one pitfall to avoid is becoming too predictable or repetitive.

If this challenge seems familiar to your event planning team, we have some ideas to freshen up your annual fundraiser.

Add on a unique theme

It’s common for certain types of events, like galas, to have a theme each year. But others, like walkathons or community sales, are usually focused around the activity itself. This provides an opportunity to adjust the format and add to the excitement.

Some of the common twists on challenge events like walks and runs include asking participants to attend in a costume or specific color. You can also play certain music or decorate the route to match your theme. Similarly, you can hold a bake sale where treats are decorated like a certain image – be it a superhero or a monument – or have your salespeople wearing costumes themselves.

There’s a lot you can do with prizes

Fundraising events will often involve prizes for attendees. These add to the excitement of the day and give an extra incentive for participation. It also gives organizers an easy way to switch things up.

Some challenge events will offer one grand prize for the best performance. You can adjust this by adding smaller prizes for runner-ups or those who give the most effort. You can also try the opposite if your event has always had a series of prizes. Devoting all those funds to one big reward may add some new motivation for attendees.

Update your event’s atmosphere

There may not be structural changes you can make to your event, but you can always affect how it feels to be there. You can go about this a few ways.

Most events have a host or emcee who welcomes guests and introduces key moments. Each host brings his or her own personality, which can impact the atmosphere of the entire event. If your event has always seemed professional and serious, you may want to try bringing in someone with comedic chops to handle the job.

The music at your event can also have a big impact. Whether it’s the tunes to dance to at a gala or the background music at an outdoor event, the music can really change your attendees’ moods. You can add more dance, rock, or classical music to affect the atmosphere, or just consider providing a wider mix.

Look at the concessions

No matter what else you have going on at your event, guests always seems to talk about the food and drink available.

This provides a great opportunity to make some changes to your event that freshen things up without having a big impact on the budget.

You can make changes as small as switching from hamburgers and hot dogs to pizza and pasta, but feel free to think outside the box too. For example, compliment the theme for your event by choosing food and drinks that match a certain region or culture. You can also offer more diverse and unique options that get people talking, like more vegetarian choices or delicious treats to please a sweet-tooth.

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