The number one rule of fundraising: DO NOT SPEND MONEY ON YOUR FUNDRAISER. Okay, maybe a little bit of money but you should not have to! Our chapter at Lawrence Tech hosted a Freedom By Design Auction and Concert this semester and raised over $2,000 without spending a dime.
“Start with why. -Simon Sinek” -Austin Hurrell. Luckily, you already have a great why. The work our organization and Freedom By Design programs do is incredible. Clearly communicating this work is important. Since our event was half auction, we worked with our dean and faculty advisor to put together a sponsorship packet that showed potential donors the importance of what we do and why we do it. 90 days in advance, we contacted 80 companies, restaurants, firms, professionals, and faculty about donating items, tours, or services. It is easy to send out an email these days but making grandma proud and dropping off your sponsorship package in person or by mail with a handwritten letter will go a long way. We ended up with right around 35 items varying in price (for us broke college kids) and goods/services/tours. All of these items ended up being bid on and sold! Maybe the beer had something to do with it… Take a peek at our Sponsorship Package for more details.
Having a unique venue was important to us since the other half of our event was a concert. A local brewery, managed by a Lawrence Tech alumnus, was kind enough to donate their keg warehouse for the event free of charge. They also threw in free pizza from their restaurant to top it off. Okay, we got pretty lucky with the venue and food part but there will be local businesses/venues who would be happy to support your cause for no cost or a discounted cost. The same thing goes for the music. Our concert bill featured a talented cover song singer, a local rock band, and a DJ. The singer was a sister of a board member, I manage the rock band, and the DJ is a local architect at Rossetti. All of them were happy to help and to have the opportunity to play to a new audience. Three acts that had completely different styles appealed to the different crowds we anticipated at different times throughout the night. Know your audience!
I cannot stress this enough, send out invitations and reminders 90 days, 60 days, 30 days, two weeks, and the week of your event! People are busy and you need to get on their calendar sooner than later. At the same time, 90 days is a long way out from your event and a friendly reminder will help your event stay fresh on people’s minds. Do not limit your invites to just designers or architects. We are all connected people and have individuals in our lives willing to support us. Invite those people! Not everyone may bid so charging a light entry fee is a great way to raise some guaranteed funds. Good luck!