While many of us have participated in walk-a-thons or fun runs, a unique fundraising idea that is plenty of fun for all those involved is a bowl-a-thon fundraiser. Similar to themed runs and walk-a-thons, a bowl-a-thon incorporates nonprofit crowdfunding to scale your fundraising efforts. Your organization benefits as bowlers create teams and compete to raise the most money for your cause.
Benefits of Bowl-a-thon Fundraisers
Bowl-a-thons make great fundraising events for many types of organizations. In fact, Bowl for Kids’ Sake is the signature fundraising event for Big Brothers Big Sisters nationwide. Here’s why:
- Bowl-a-thons are family friendly and accessible events. Bowl-a-thon fundraisers bring families and communities together, in a fun atmosphere.
- Bowl-a-thon fundraisers can introduce your organization to new donors. Since Bowl-a-thons are peer-to-peer fundraising events, your bowlers are asked to reach out to their network and fundraise.
- Bowl-a-thons are healthy fundraisers. Physical activity and a healthy lifestyle can contribute to overall self-esteem, productivity, and enjoyment of life. Strike!
- Bowl-a-thon fundraisers can be quite lucrative fundraising events. Many organizations have had great success with bowl-a-thon fundraisers.
Bowl-a-thon Fundraiser Timeline
Here’s a bowl-a-thon timeline with the essential steps on how to plan for a successful bowl-a-thon, along with great bowl-a-thon fundraiser ideas to make your event one of a kind.
6-9 Months Prior: Begin Planning for the Bowl-a-thon
Establish Fundraising Goals
For starters, decide the overall financial fundraising goal for your bowl-a-thon. Could you realistically raise $50,000? $20,000? What are the costs associated with hosting a bowl-a-thon – including the venue, food and drinks for participants, marketing and more? You’ll need a fundraising event budget to decide on these numbers. The size of your fundraising goal and the venue capacity will determine the personal fundraising goal that each participant should aim to accomplish. This is an important number for your promotion of the event and determining prize levels.
Find the Venue and Vendors
Your venue is one reason why people will want to attend the bowl-a-thon fundraiser. As well, it will likely be one of your most important decisions and greatest costs. When visiting venues, introduce your nonprofit and cause, the purpose of the event and the logistics needed to host a successful bowl-a-thon fundraiser. Inquire if the lanes and shoe rentals can be donated or if a discount can be given. When choosing a venue, also account for the capacity that the bowling alley can fit. Each lane typically accommodates up to six players so this is your team goal. Will teams bowl one game or three? Depending on how long you want to host the event, decide how many attendees can register to reach capacity. The bowling alley can also help you with these numbers, since they have experience.
Food and drink vendors are of the utmost importance, since bowl-a-thons can strike up a powerful hunger in participants. Pizza works great as bowl-a-thon food. If you can find vendors that are interested in being in-kind sponsors, it would be most beneficial to minimize event costs.
You will also need to consider t-shirt and prize vendors for the event. Your participants will determine the success of your bowl-a-thon fundraiser, so don’t forget that your job is to incentivize them to fundraise.
Establish Registration Fees
Now that you have approximated fundraising goals and event expenses and have your venue, consider registration costs for participating in the event. Establish the registration fee, which can begin upwards of $10. Registration free includes bowling shoes and 1-3 games, and can be counted towards the participant’s fundraising goals.
Encourage a minimum donation amount for participating, such as raising a minimum of $50-$100. This can be inclusive of or in addition to the registration fee, but the idea is that this is a crowdfunding event where your participants are also fundraisers. Many organizations also include a t-shirt or other branded merchandise for participants who reach this minimum fundraising goal.
3-6 Months Prior to the Bowl-a-thon: Event Promotion and Sponsorship Recruitment
Set-up a Crowdfunding Website
While the traditional method of fundraising for a bowl-a-thon uses a bowl-a-thon pledge sheet, reaching fundraising goals is much easier with a crowdfunding website. Crowdfunding websites have become an increasingly popular and efficient method of tracking donations and pledges and many organizations report raising 2-3 times more by taking their events online with our crowdfunding platform.
Our Crowdfunding websites allow bowlers to register and create personal fundraising pages. Not only can the platform help administrators track bowling teams, but it offers a convenient way to share the campaign with others on social media or by email. This is really the key to success – casting a wider net for fundraising efforts and making it easy for donors to donate online. A bowl-a-thon pledge form can’t be spread through social media, which is what makes the crowdfunding website the preferred way of collecting fundraising pledges. Another benefit of using a crowdfunding website instead of (or in conjunction with) a bowl-a-thon pledge sheet is that crowdfunding websites can drive real-time reporting to help assess the progress of the bowl-a-thon fundraiser.
Recruit Bowlers & Teams
It’s time to recruit your bowlers! Plan a recruitment campaign by spreading the word through social media, your organization’s newsletter, flyers throughout the local community and media outreach. For social media and newsletters, plan posts that can do the following:
- Event Registration Reminders: Plan relevant posts that educate about the cause behind the fundraiser, articles on why the cause is important to support and other helpful information or infographics that can bring attention to potential participants.
- Event Updates: Recognition or a spotlight on sponsors, vendors and venues can share news about the planning process behind the bowl-a-thon.
- Fundraising Tips: Offer resources and helpful fundraising tools for your participants to reach their goals, which eventually trickles into the organization reaching your goals. Don’t make bowlers spend time reinventing the wheel. You’ll be more successful if participants use your organization provided resources, and bowlers will be more likely to come back next year.
- Fundraising Spotlight: Recognition or a spotlight on crowdfunding campaigns that gain momentum in their fundraising goals.
Plan the marketing collateral, which includes a flyer and crowdfunding website graphics. Distribute these flyers to local businesses, schools, and public places to raise awareness, which also leads to potential opportunities to find prospective sponsors. High school service organizations and sports teams are a great way to recruit bowlers.
For media and PR outreach, draft a press release to distribute out to local media and press contacts. The press release should include information about your cause, past fundraising efforts, participating sponsors and any other information that will incite interest from potential participants. One of the bowl-a-thon ideas to spread the word is to post the event in local event calendars and to reach out to relevant Meetup groups that often look for events to do with their members.
Acquire Sponsors for Donations and Prizes
In conjunction with the flyer distribution, this is a great opportunity to find local sponsors that can donate money, accessories for the event, food or prizes for winners. Consider prizes that can also go towards a fundraising raffle, in addition to the prizes for the best bowlers or highest fundraisers and teams. Also, perform outreach to corporate sponsors, which can often give great prizes like gift certificates, sports or performance tickets, drinks/food or other items.
1-2 Months Prior to the Bowl-a-thon Fundraiser: Finalize All Details
Plan Day of Event Logistics
You’ll need plenty of volunteers to make the event day happen. In fact, be sure that you have a volunteer leader who can mange your team of staff and volunteers. The logistics include such tasks as:
- checking-in and directing bowlers,
- setting up and breaking down decorations,
- setting up t-shirts or prizes,
- selling raffle tickets,
- recording bowling scores,
- serving food and drinks,
- working as a runner,
- managing first aid and emergencies,
- emceeing/hosting the event and managing entertainment
- and more.
It is also essential to plan the timeline to give room for food breaks, announcing the winners and recognizing the sponsors. Once these items have been planned, the next step behind the logistics is to find event volunteers to make the day run smoothly.
Finalize Venue, Vendor and Sponsor Logistics
As the time comes closer, reach out to the venue to finalize the time to come-in and set up the event, the timeline of the event and any other helpful logistical details. The same goes with the vendor and sponsors, which also includes the details to either pick-up or drop-off any items necessary for the event.
After the Bowl-a-thon Fundraiser: Appreciative Notions Count
Don’t Forget the Thank Yous
After the bowl-a-thon event, reach out to your participants, donors, vendors, volunteers, venue and sponsors to express gratitude for their participation. Let them know how much money was raised and how their contributions made an impact on reaching your organization’s goals. For key volunteers and top fundraisers, consider hosting an event (such as a lunch or happy hour) to thank them for volunteering their time and helping to make the event a success.
With a lot of preparation ahead of time and this helpful timeline, organizing a bowl-a-thon will come with ease and can become a signature annual event for your organization.
Fun Bowl-a-thon Fundraiser Ideas
Here are some more bowl-a-thon fundraiser ideas to make your event one of a kind:
- Consider a bowl-a-thon theme. Participants can dress up and the bowling alley can be decorated with the theme to add in the fun.
- Don’t forget the prizes! Participants will work hard and earn more for your organization when you provide great prizes.
- Can you provide entertainment at the venue? A local celebrity bowler or local band can be a great attraction and bring in more participants.
- How can you bring in more money with the bowl-a-thon fundraiser? Hosting a silent auction, fundraising raffle, selling branded merchandise and even desserts could help to boost your fundraising efforts.
Our Crowdfunding Software Will Make Your Bowl-a-thon Fundraiser More Successful.
A Crowdfunding website is essential to securely raising money with a Bowl-a-thon Fundraiser. Crowdfunding websites make it easy for your participants to share their fundraising page and get donations from friends and family, without the need for bowl-a-thon pledge forms and door to door sales. Some key features with our software:
- Personal & Team Fundraising pages are the heart of the system. Each participant has a personalized page with images, videos, their mission statement, Donate Now button, a fundraising thermometer and social media links.
- Team & Individual Registration: All participants can easily create or join teams.
- Prize Management: Track multiple award levels and print reports to easily distribute prizes. When participants reach a certain fundraising level, they get a prize widget on their personal fundraising page.
- Reporting Capabilities: Always be able to check the progress of your Bowl-a-thon Fundraiser registration and fundraising progress in real-time so that you can plan that extra push to promote your event strategically.