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Planning a Bowl-a-thon Fundraiser

Planning a Bowl-a-thon Fundraiser

Hosting a bowl-a-thon fundraiser is a unique fundraising idea that is plenty of fun for all those involved. Similar to walk-a-thons, a bowl-a-thon incorporates nonprofit crowdfunding to scale your fundraising efforts. Your organization benefits as bowlers create fundraising 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,  Junior Achievement uses bowling for fundraising at many chapters, and 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 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

While you can certainly throw a bowl-a-thon together quickly, starting at least six months in advance will help to ensure your event’s success.

Establish Fundraising Goals

Bowling Venue for a Bowl-A-Thon Fundraiser

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. It will likely be one of your most important decisions and greatest costs as well. When visiting venues, introduce your nonprofit and cause, the purpose of the event, and the logistics needed to host a successful bowl-a-thon. 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 of the bowling alley. 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 food vendors interested in being in-kind sponsors, this will greatly lower your event costs.

You will also need to consider t-shirt and prize vendors for the event, too. 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, consider registration costs for participating. Establish the registration fee, which can begin at $10. Registration fees include 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 $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 Before the Bowl-a-thon: Event Promotion and Sponsorship Recruitment

Set up a Crowdfunding Website

While the traditional fundraising method 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/walkathon-pledge-form/ tracking donations and pledges and many organizations report raising 2-3 times more by taking their events online with our crowdfunding platform.

Bowling websites for  a Bowl-A-Thon Fundraiser

Our Crowdfunding websites allow bowlers to register and create personal fundraising pages. The platform can help administrators track bowling teams and offer a convenient way to share the campaign with others on social media or email. This is 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, making the crowdfunding website the preferred way of collecting fundraising pledges. Another benefit of using a crowdfunding website is real-time reporting to help assess the progress of the bowl-a-thon fundraiser.

Recruit Bowlers and 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 supporters 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 fundraisers to reach their goals, which allows the organization to reach your goals. Don’t ask bowlers to spend time creating resources. You’ll be more successful if participants use the resources your organization provides, and bowlers will be more likely to return 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.

Bowling Team in a Bowl-A-Thon Fundraiser

For media and PR outreach, draft a press release to distribute 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 Bowl-a-thon Sponsors for Donations and Prizes

Find local sponsors who will donate money, accessories for the event, food, or prizes for winners. Perform outreach to corporate sponsors, which can often give great prizes like gift certificates, sports or performance tickets, food, or other items. Consider prizes for a fundraising raffle, in addition to the prizes for the best bowlers or highest fundraisers and teams. Also,

1-2 Months Before the Bowl-a-thon Fundraiser: Finalize Event Details

There are so many details to consider! Be sure to use an event planning timeline and checklist or even an app to organize volunteers and event day tasks.

Plan Day of Event Logistics

You’ll need plenty of volunteers to make the event day happen. Be sure you have a volunteer leader who can manage your team of staff and volunteers. The logistics include such tasks as:

bowling timeline
  • 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.

Plan the timeline with food breaks and time to announce winners and recognize 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 event nears, reach out to the venue to finalize the time to come in and set up the event, the event timeline, and any other helpful logistical details. The same goes for the vendors and sponsors, including the details to pick up or drop off any items necessary for the event.

After the Fundraiser: Don’t Forget the Thank You’s

Soon after the bowl-a-thon event, reach out to your participants, donors, vendors, volunteers, venue, and sponsors to express gratitude for their participation. Appreciative notions count and will go a long way toward donor retention. 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 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 or raffle, selling branded merchandise or snacks and desserts could help to boost your fundraising efforts.
Bowling party

Our Crowdfunding Software Will Make Your Bowl-a-thon Fundraiser More Successful

A P2P crowdfunding website is essential to securely raising money with a Bowl-a-thon fundraiser. Peer to peer 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 solicitation. Some key features of our software:

  • Fundraising Pages: Personal and 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.
  • Online 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: 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.
DoJiggy Bowl-a-thon software
Lisa Bennett

About Lisa Bennett

Lisa is the Sales Director at DoJiggy. She joined DoJiggy in 2006 and loves her job. Prior to working with DoJiggy, she worked at several non-profits and managed special event fundraising.

See other posts from Lisa Bennett