In 2019, popular events registration website Eventbrite evaluated the most popular types of nonprofit fundraising events hosted through their platform. From most to least popular, the categories were: networking events; trainings and workshops; food and drink events; and arts and entertainment events.
Hosting events is often a huge part of a nonprofit’s fundraising strategy, and the ability for events to expand an organization’s network shouldn’t be overlooked, either.
Events are great ways to:
- Raise awareness of your organization and its mission,
- Gain new donors and friends,
- Introduce yourself to a new community,
- Showcase the work of your organization, and
- Educate your community on a variety of topics.
What do you need to know before deciding on your first nonprofit fundraising event?
Types of Nonprofit Events from A to Z
An event is an event, and the same rules apply: entertain your guests, keep their attention, and don’t forget to feed them. Yes! Feed them, even if you are hosting a virtual or hybrid event. You can do this by forming partnerships with local restaurants that can deliver the food to your event attendees, or you can make arrangements so that your attendees can pick up their “food packages” somewhere local. You can even find companies who will ship your guests ready-to-eat meals or packaged snacks.
Remember that your nonprofit events offer you an amazing opportunity to raise money and to establish or deepen connections with event attendees who will support your mission and programming. Make sure your events are top-notch and represent your organization in the best way possible.
When it comes to choosing what kind of nonprofit fundraising event to host for your organization, the options are virtually endless.
Here’s a selection, from A to Z.
“A-thons” are large, high-energy events that include food, entertainment, and some kind of shared activity. Phone-athons, walkathons, golfathons – you name it!
Cook-offs are common for faith-based organizations. Competitors angle to make the best chili, barbecue, pie… Anything you can imagine!
Galas can be designed to fit your unique fundraising needs, but most share a handful of features: dinner or hors d’oeuvres, speakers or an award presentation, and a specific fundraising opportunity. Galas tend toward the formal side, though there’s certainly room to be creative!
Health and resource fairs are common for place-based organizations looking to connect and educate their community through the distribution of helpful materials and introductions to local vendors and service-providers in attendance.
Open houses are an opportunity for you to open your doors to your community and show off your space! Give tours, show your work, and allow your attendees to mingle casually.
Performances or art exhibitions can be a fun way to bring your community together and make a name for your organization. Film festivals, concerts, gallery events – choose what makes sense for your target audience and issue area.
Silent auctions generally involve goods and services donated by local businesses. As guests mingle through your event, they silently bid on available items.
Sporting events can be hosted alone or in conjunction with a local team. Turn a company baseball game into a fundraiser, or work with a professional team in your area to donate a portion of ticket sales to your organization.
Choose the right type of nonprofit event for you
Nonprofit events are some of the best ways to bring your community together, make friends for your organization, and raise money for the work you do. Events can range from logistically difficult to relatively easy.
Keep your budget and necessary event expenses in mind. If you think you can raise $5,000 from your network at an event, make sure your expenses are low enough to make it worthwhile.
Want to know more? Get the extended version of this article – with lots more detail about the types of nonprofit events and how to choose the one that’s right for you – as well as other valuable resources by joining THE LAUNCHPAD. The NPO Centric's membership program brings regular tips, tricks, and best practices to nonprofit leaders across the country.
Happy planning, friends!