Operations: 10 Strategies for Hosting a Successful Fundraising Event
Each year, Greenwood Athletic and Tennis Club members come together the second Friday in October to raise money for Brent’s Place, a local charity that provides safe, clean housing to the families of children being treated for cancer and other immune compromising illnesses. This year was Greenwood’s 11th Annual Roadless Ride for Brent’s Place. Hundreds participated in this all-day spinathon in which participants chose to ride for one class or all 11 classes for the Roadless Century. Money is raised class through participation, general donations, sponsorship of the Century Riders, corporate sponsors and a silent auction.
Eleven years ago, Brent’s Place’s director was a member and approached Paula Neubert, our general manager, about hosting this event. Year over year we have raised record amounts during this one-day event, and this year we raised $106,047.
There are some tips to keeping an event alive and growing year over year:
- Having a local connection to a charity is very important.
Brent’s Place was the idea of a young local boy who died of cancer, Brent Ely. He wished that other kids could have the support he had when he was being treated. That vision was created by his parents Donn and Linda Ely, to create “A Home of Hope and Healing.” Brent’s Place serves the Rocky Mountain Region and is near Children’s Hospital. Greenwood Century riders and staff have been invited to cook for the families at Brent’s Place and even in some years, our Century riders have done a group ride from Greenwood to Brent’s Place.
- Continue your event every year on the same date and the same time.
Choosing to host your event on the same date and time helps build momentum. Members remember that this is their big charity event and look forward to it.
- Keep things that work while adding in new things to keep it fun and exciting.
One of our favorite cycling instructors has her husband DJ during her class. This has been such a hit that we do it every year because her participants look forward to it.
- Maximize PR and media opportunities
We pitch our local newspapers, TV outlets and post calendar events online to be sure people know this event is open to the public. We oscillate our news stories year over year to ensure the story doesn’t get dry. Some years we pitch informational pieces on “How to stay in Shape for Cycling in your Off-Season.” Other years we pitch stories about a family staying at Brent’s Place. After every story, the news outlets display the information about the event. We also try to have the media attend the event, pitching it as a very visual day. Radio shows will also do Free Public Service Announcements or PSAs.
- Put up a variety of visual reminders using different media channels.
We start by making posters, put an indoor cycling bike in the hallway with pictures of the kids, place lawn signs in the parking lot, and post graphics on our TV screens, in our weekly newsletter and on our website. To increase excitement and encourage registrations, we put up two posters of the class list, each day crossing out how many bikes are purchased to show spots remaining.
- Use a multi-channel social media approach to make sure members see information about the event on all social platforms from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.
We use photos to tell stories about the children with the tagline, “Why we ride.” We give a little bio about the child and their story. We also use videos and pictures from prior events to show the energy and excitement of the day.
- Create a DropBox of photos so that riders and participants can build fun fundraising pages.
- Get staff and members involved in promoting the event.
One of our employees, Will Duncan, a beloved men’s locker room attendant, has taken on this charity and his personal catchphrase is, “Let’s Do it for the Kids!” We made a poster and business cards for him with a link to his donation page. This year he raised over $30,000!
- Have faith in your event.
Never give up and keep everyone excited about it. At times, when we were not getting the registrations we had hoped for, a miracle would happen. Barbara Lubbers, our assistant general manager, explained to a member that she was concerned about registrations, and then a surprise happened. That member told another member who said that he would pay for every unsold bike remaining at the end of the day. Stay positive that your event will work and it will!
- Pick a few annual charity events versus many, to ensure that you reach your fundraising goals.
Greenwood has chosen to partner with a few charities during the year so we don’t overwhelm the members. We partner with Augie’s Quest and with Brent’s Place. We put our hearts into promoting these two charities so that our members and the charity have an amazing giving experience.
As Barbara Lubbers has said, “Every year we look forward to partnering with Brent’s Place to help the children in treatment and their families who stay there. For every $93 we raise, the needs of one family can be met for one day. It is an amazing event to assist an amazing organization.”
Tiffany Slitkin Levine is the director of marketing and public relations at Greenwood Athletic and Tennis Club.