Fun Run. Color Run. Foam Run. Dance Run. Undy Run.
Yep, Undy Run…
5K runs are happening left and right these days, and they’re starting to stale. My guess is that you’re just as sick and tired of fundraising races as we are. Don’t get me wrong, 5Ks have done a lot of good over the years, and they’re a great way to rally a community. But the truth is that a 5K is simply not the best fundraising event for everyone. In order to pull off a 5K well, you have to invest a significant amount of resources and time, not to mention have access to a sizable community to draw upon for participation. Despite all that effort, most 5Ks offer little-to-no return on your investment. And to make it even worse, since 5K runs are a dime a dozen, they tend to lose their marketing impact, as well.
There’s a better way to fundraise.
At HeartSpark, we believe in creating holistic fundraising experiences that not only increase revenue, but also invest in your brand. When a fundraising event directly aligns with the mission of your organization, you can effectively deepen your brand’s connection with the community, rather than just fundraise for the sake of creating an event.
Start with the core mission of your organization. The most successful fundraisers are those in which the idea is a direct reflection of the group’s underlying cause. For example, The World’s Big Sleep Out to end homelessness on December 7 will be a smash hit around the world because organizers took a simple idea that directly stemmed from their cause and promoted it like crazy, making it easy for people to understand and participate. Your event doesn’t have to be a worldwide phenomenon, but a great fundraising event should certainly reflect your core mission.
Pay attention to the time of year and relevant trends, as well as the emotional position of your attendees. Should this event be fun or somber? Should it be motivational or informative? Gauging the tone of your audience and the scheduled time of year will give you the best chance of ensuring attendance and excitement. Remember, a great fundraising event takes at least six months of planning, preparation, and promotion, so start early and anticipate potential challenges for the season your fundraiser will end up taking place in. If it’s the holiday season, be sensitive to that theme, and incorporate the season in a fresh way.
Use your event as a way to better the lives of your attendees and teach them something new. You can plan an entire event around an educational activity, like painting or wine tasting, or you can use the opportunity to take them a little deeper into your mission with personal stories or statistics. Even generating conversation can be an enrichment activity. The more you add value to the lives of your participants, the more likely they are to walk away feeling appreciated, believing that their investment in your organization is well worthwhile.
Successful fundraising events are unique and inventive. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel or break the bank when it comes to creating your event, but the experience should reflect your brand and highlight what makes it special. The best way to generate creativity is to surprise and delight your attendees. Consider having live music as they enter the main event area. Provide moments at the event for photo opportunities. Treat guests to an experience that they’ll never forget. People will attend your fundraiser because they love your mission, but they will continue talking about your event to friends because of its unforgettable moments of creativity. Give your guests something fresh and exciting to share!
Finally, each fundraising event should leave people feeling proud that they are part of your organization and inspired to continue supporting your cause. Make sure that the closing ceremony of the night is an experience that’s significant and memorable. If the event fizzles out or has no clear conclusion, people will remember that and may associate a dull or disappointing emotion with the event. Finish the event with a bang, capturing a moment of sincere thanks from your leadership team and rallying the crowd with a motivational call-to-action.
We know fundraising can be frustrating and exhausting, so we hope that these five keys will help you build an exceptional event that is sure to increase donations to your organization. Implement these five strategies, and you will be well on your way to crafting remarkable events that can be replicated for years to come, continuously strengthening your brand’s image.
If you need help brainstorming event ideas or creating marketing designs for your unique fundraiser, please let us know! We would be honored to help plan your next event or bring your vision to life through beautiful, intentional design and strategic marketing. Just promise us that before you plan another 5K, you’ll apply these fundamentals first to make sure it’s the best fit for your brand!