Signature fundraising events are campaigns an organization is known for throughout the community and beyond. Heard of the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS or The American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life? Chances are that you have, as these are highly successful signature fundraisers.
Creating a signature fundraising event can help build your organization’s brand, solidify your donor base, and contribute a consistent part of your annual fundraising budget. So how do you create an appropriate signature fundraising event that can become an annual staple for your nonprofit organization? Read on to find out. We’ve also shared some of the best signature fundraising event ideas for charities of all types.
The Importance of Annual Fundraising Events
Integrating a highly successful annual fundraising event into your nonprofit fundraising strategy can be one of an organization’s most pivotal fundraising efforts. Here are some great benefits of creating a signature fundraising event:
- Brand Awareness: Brand awareness can be built through different approaches, such as social media and public relations. Creating a signature fundraising event allows for brand recognition to be built naturally. An annual event builds camaraderie for participants, donors, supporters, and volunteers. During your signature fundraising event, everyone gets the opportunity to understand how their involvement contributes to the success of the organization, the efforts it supports, and how important their continued support is for the long-term sustainability of the organization’s mission.
- Putting a Face to the Name: Many supporters of an organization can be drawn to the cause and efforts of a nonprofit organization. Allowing supporters an opportunity to humanize their experience with the organization can be one great way to build donor loyalty. For example, meeting other donors that they can relate to, being introduced to the people behind the organization and hearing from the recipients of the cause and how the organization has helped them allows for supporters to solidify their confidence in where their donations are going. In addition, thanking and recognizing their support in person has a stronger effect on establishing loyalty than simply saying thank you in a letter or an email.
- Consistency in Financial Activity: Diversifying donation sources is a great way to build consistency in reaching annual fundraising goals. A successful signature fundraising event can be a great way to contribute towards financial consistency every year for a certain percentage of the fundraising goal.
The Nuts and Bolts of a Successful Annual or Signature Event
There are many components to consider that contribute towards successfully creating a signature fundraising event, year after year. Consider building upon the following:
A Planning Committee: Having an organized planning committee is the lifeline to planning all the intricacies behind a fundraising event. A team that is communicative, resourceful, and highly organized is key to the event. The most essential committee functions include the following areas:
- Sponsorship recruitment
- Marketing (including media/PR outreach)
- Event logistics
- Legal counsel – Recruiting a pro-bono attorney or another professional to provide legal support and vet contracts and agreements for the event is also recommended.
Sponsors: Building a list of sponsors is key to minimizing costs and maximizing funds raised. While you shouldn’t have to start from scratch every year, a handful of repeat sponsors should support your cause. Sponsorship outreach is a lofty task, so having a solid team of several individuals that can handle both local business outreach and corporate outreach is a vital focus when creating your signature fundraising event.
Vendor Relations: While not everything can be given as an in-kind donation, there will be several services, equipment, or items necessary to run a signature fundraising event. This may be a catering service, tent rental, a vendor that prints customized accessories or swag items, printing services, and more. Curating a list of trustworthy and reliable vendors assures that the event comes to life without any issues.
Maximizing Impact with Peer to Peer Crowdfunding Initiatives
One of the most powerful methods of promoting a signature fundraising event is utilizing crowdfunding as a tool. Here are the reasons why crowdfunding should be incorporated into your event:
Empower your Supporters: Social media is a powerhouse for spreading content, and crowdfunding uses that to its advantage. Crowdfunding for your nonprofit empowers supporters to spread the word about your organization through their social network. By giving them a platform to fundraise online, supporters can share their personal reasons as to why your fundraiser is important. The result is an organic promotion by allowing your supporters to personally connect with your cause.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work: Allowing your supporters to spread the word to their networks by encouraging friends to join their team also increases the impact of the fundraiser. By allowing your supporters to make this event a team effort with their friends and loved ones, the empowerment of your fundraiser is taken to a new level.
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Signature Fundraising Event Ideas
Many types of events work well as signature fundraising events. You need to consider your supporters and find a great fit for your organization to turn a fundraising event into your organization’s signature event. The event should be fun and memorable, so your supporters are excited to return next year.
Incorporating peer to peer fundraising and being active in your signature fundraising event is always a great idea to excite supporters. Some active signature event ideas include:
- Fun runs and walk-a-thons. Popular run/walk themes can add another fun element, such as hosting a Color Run, Santa-themed run or zombie run. If there are certain colors that associate with the cause, this is also another idea to incorporate a theme.
- Wine or Beer Festivals: If you have local wine or beer producers, hosting tasting fundraising events can be a great signature event. If event promotion is done well, you are very likely to attract people outside of your donor base, purely on the popularity and appeal of beer and wine tasting events.
- Galas: Giving occasion to celebrate a formal affair is another way to raise funds. These events are great to provide a platform to recognize key donors, share the organization’s most impactful experiences for the recipients of the cause and educate about the progress of current projects and developments. Stories from crowdfunding efforts and the impact of fundraising through peer-to-peer efforts can be great examples to share during the gala, as well.
- Golf Tournaments: Golf tournaments are an impactful signature fundraising event allowing supporters, community members, and business owners to bond over an enjoyable game on the green. Consider a golf marathon for a twist on the usual scramble. Customized apparel, mulligans, and putting contests can boost funds at these events.
- Obstacle course fundraisers and extreme sports challenges work well for schools and organizations that can tap into a healthy, active supporter base.
- Spin-a-thons and bike-a-thons are great events as families can attend as well as serious riders.
- Poker Tournaments or Casino Nights: A spin on the formal affair, poker tournaments and casino nights typically bring out the competitiveness in your attendees, which gives rise to raising funds through re-buys and side games.
Not quite right for your organization? Find more great fundraising event ideas to consider for a signature event.
As always, ensure your charity or nonprofit event idea considers your mission. Mission-driven fundraising will make a big impact as it aligns the acquisition of your funding and resources with your organization’s most deeply held beliefs and values. You will raise money for your organization and awareness for your cause, and your supporters are more likely to become engaged and supportive of your event.
No matter which event you choose for your signature fundraising event this year, these steps should help guide the first few steps towards planning and growing your event.