How do you keep the fun in fundraising?

Fundraising event — the two words that can create an instant cringe for most members of an organization.

What seems like a fabulous and “sure bet” idea at its very inception can quickly spiral into sleep deprivation and total calamity for the organizers.

Events are a challenge — hmmmm, maybe that’s why professional event planning is a growing and thriving industry? Yet most non-profits can’t spend the money to hire a professional, so they rely on the tireless creativity and goodwill energy of their board, committees and volunteer base. Coming up with a novel idea is certainly a monumental task — you are always searching for that next big thing in fundraising events, but it’s a footrace to discover it before anyone else. While dreaming up the idea for an event is tough, that is just the tip of the overwhelming iceberg! Planning, venue booking, budget projections, marketing strategies, ticket sales, social media strategies, trimming the budget, asking for donations, plotting the itinerary, trimming the budget even more……beginning to see why this is really a job for a professional?

Events are a lot of work, and for a non-profit it is a delicate balance to ensure that the event itself is not consuming the volunteers and staff, ultimately distracting them from the critical mission that the organization exists to carry out! WHEW! That’s a big balancing act. Fundraising events are totally unpredictable as well. That sure thing idea can be impacted by so many things that organizers simply have no control over: weather, other closely timed community events, sports schedules, did I mention weather??? Fundraising events are not just a lot of work, but they are also expensive! The old adage “it takes money to make money”…well there is a ton of truth in that when it comes to fundraising. With so many great causes and so much important work being done in a community like ours, donor fatigue can become real. Businesses and individuals can sometimes begin to feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of requests they get for donated services & raffle items. Getting the support for a fundraising event is a careful dance- non-profits have to seek bolster from those who already champion their cause, but they can’t saturate them with repeated requests — again, delicate balance.

The cost of diverting staff time to a fundraising event is also an expense. Fundraising events seem like a simple answer for an organization with the need to raise capital — but it is a complicated, exhaustive and expensive endeavor.

So now that I have laid out all of the cumbersome and complex details of hosting a fundraising event, you must wonder why an organization like Untied Way continues to host and promote these events. Well, a carefully planned and meticulously crafted event can be a successful fundraiser. They can be a way to mobilize a core of community volunteers who want to join together for a common cause.

An important piece of a well-planned fundraising event can be the sheer exposure and brand recognition that it creates in a community You can never lose sight of the fact that the bottom line profit is the goal, but there are many, many side benefits that can happen, especially in a supportive and engaged community like ours.

Our annual POWER OF THE PURSE auction is coming up on January 11 at the Lafayette Hotel in Marietta. It is a grand opportunity to enjoy a post-holiday evening out with friends.

Live auction, silent auction, designer purses, door prizes, raffles, hors d’oeuvres and more! The best part of all?

It is a beautiful example of this community coming together to support a cause and make this event successful year after year! Businesses like Teri Ann’s and Schafer Leather have stepped forward and helped to ensure that the auction inventory is something worthy of excitement!

Our Partner organizations have stepped up and volunteered to help with details that will create a wonderful evening. Our staff and volunteer base have lent support that is above and beyond. Once again I am reminded — when we are succeeding, our community is succeeding…..and when we are succeeding, our community jumps behind us and drives us towards even greater successes! What a beautiful cycle to be caught up in!

Join our excitement next Friday. Grab a group of friends and come out for a fantastic evening in downtown Marietta. Check out our event details on or Facebook page @uwamov or check out the link on our website www.uwamov.com/events. You can purchase tickets online at either link, in person in our Market St office or at the door. It’s a big job, but we are putting the FUN in FUNdraising…come be a part of a great Friday night. You will have a grand time, likely make a new friend or two, and know you are supporting some truly critical work in your community! Join us for the fun part of our fight to build a stronger community in the MOV.

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Stacy DeCicco is the executive director of the United Way Alliance of the Mid-Ohio Valley.

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