What is a fundraising event?
A fundraising event is an event designed to raise awareness and donations for an organization’s mission. A fundraising event can be a concert, silent auction, half marathon, neighborhood cookout, and more.
Nonprofits use fundraising events to raise money to fuel their missions. Events allow donors and other community members to actively engage with nonprofits, as opposed to just donating. Meeting with donors also gives organizations the chance to reiterate their mission and discuss ways people can get more involved in their work.
Fundraising event examples
Practically any type of event can be turned into a fundraiser, but some event types are more successful than others. That’s because some provide more opportunities for nonprofits to promote their mission and show donors how their support directly makes a positive impact.
Here are a few examples of popular fundraising events:
A gala is a social gathering, typically featuring food, drinks, and entertainment, that is used as a fundraising opportunity. Gala guests often purchase a ticket or a table to attend the event, which is how the nonprofit raises money. Galas may also include other activities, such as a silent auction (more on that later).
Donor appreciation event
Donor appreciation events are free events where nonprofits express gratitude for supporters. Nonprofits use these events to thank donors, communicate their mission, and highlight ways donors can continue engaging with the organization, such as through volunteering.
When you don’t ask for money at appreciation events, you can focus solely on creating connections with your supporters and building relationships. Essentially, the event’s focus is entirely on your supporters themselves, helping to promote stronger relationships and better donor retention.
Live or online auctions
An auction is a sale at which goods are sold to the highest bidder. Nonprofits hosting an auction seek out donated items from local businesses and then sell them to the highest bidder.
A live auction takes place in person, typically with an auctioneer who describes the auction items and manages the bidding for each item. Online auctions can take place on a nonprofit’s website, its social media pages, or a third-party auction site, where supporters submit bids electronically.
Silent auctions follow the same concept as an auction, but instead of an auctioneer announcing and describing each item, items are laid out for attendees to view and bid on “silently” by writing their bid on a sheet in front of the item. Mystery boxes, grab bags, and punch walls are a few effective fundraising ideas to help you sell some of the less expensive auction items donated to your fundraiser.
Virtual fundraising event
A virtual fundraising event is a nonprofit event that is online or has an online component with the intent of soliciting funds or other donations. In times when in-person gatherings are not feasible, virtual fundraising events are a viable alternative to in-person events.
Even when in-person gatherings are possible, nonprofits can continue to use these experiences to provide a unique form of engagement. Supporters often appreciate having the option to attend virtual events because they do not require them to leave their homes.
Hybrid fundraising event
Hybrid fundraising events include both an in-person and virtual element. They simultaneously or asynchronously combine offline and online experiences. Simply live-streaming your in-person event technically qualifies, but a truly stellar hybrid experience is multi-channel and interactive.
These events allow the hosting organization to appeal to and engage audiences both at a physical venue and online. Moving into a post-pandemic life, we can expect to see more hybrid events in the nonprofit and for-profit sectors.
Fundraising event management software
Planning, promoting, and carrying out a nonprofit fundraising event is no small feat. The process requires coordination of your fundraising and marketing teams to get the word out and host an event that promotes donor engagement and retention.
Many organizations turn to event management software to stay organized and keep their event planning on track. Event management software offers all the planning, registration, ticketing, livestreaming, and bidding tools your nonprofit needs to design an engaging event.
Let’s take a look at some of the most effective event management tools available.
Using Bloomerang’s event management tools, you can manage your event processes with the same platform you use to track donor and campaign information. Your nonprofit can:
- Create unlimited event landing pages for any event your organization hosts.
- Develop a customized ticket-buying process based on your event type.
- Track and report on your event metrics, such as your attendance rate or fundraising trends.
- Use social listening tools to monitor online conversations about your event.
Thanks to Bloomerang’s integration with DonorSearch, you can even screen event attendees ahead of time to identify potential major donors. This helps you know which attendees you could approach for a major gift and the appropriate donation amount to request from them.
Nonprofits can use Qgiv to manage any aspect of the event process, from ticket sales and social media promotion to donation collection. Qgiv makes it easy to create customized event pages branded with your nonprofit’s logo, fonts, and colors. Plus, guest management features like personalized ticket packages and discounts help increase attendee satisfaction.
Looking to host an auction event? Qgiv has you covered there, too. Qgiv’s auction tools include mobile bidding, simplified checkout, and VIP bidding services for your most loyal donors.
Eventbrite is one of the biggest names in event management and for good reason! The platform makes it easy to create, promote, and host events. Some of Eventbrite’s standout features include event registration and ticketing, social media marketing, and a mobile event app.
OneCause empowers nonprofits with event fundraising and auction tools that streamline planning processes. The OneCause event system makes it simple to pivot between in-person, virtual, and hybrid events. Plus, you can easily manage promotions and items for live and silent auctions while also offering an engaging experience for attendees using scoreboards and slideshows.
RedPodium is an event registration software that prides itself on its low cost and high performance. RedPodium allows nonprofits to track conversion rates and traffic sources, sell merchandise, and even encourage registrants to invite their friends through an ambassador program.
Event registration software RegFox allows nonprofits to customize their event pages with logos, compelling copy, photos, and more. In addition to customization, RegFox offers users real-time analytics, social media integration, and a guest check-in feature.
CharityAuctionsToday empowers nonprofits with solutions for live and online auctions, including ticketing, guest management, online and live-event bidding, and multiple bidding options. Need to plan your next auction quickly? The platform’s Auction Setup Wizard feature allows nonprofits to set up auction events in as little as five minutes.
Auctria offers a helping hand to those hosting auctions, from the first donation to the final collection. Each user gets their own auction website they can use to promote their auction, handle ticket sales, acknowledge donors, and more.
Looking to manage your events on a budget? CausePilot offers free auction and event fundraising software. Plan an online, hybrid, mobile, or silent auction with the support of this all-in-one platform. You can also use volunteer management tools to assign responsibilities and track volunteer shifts.
Handbid’s fundraising event management tools include a user-friendly auction app, web-based and live event bidding, a livestreaming platform, and a peer-to-peer fundraising platform to allow supporters to raise funds on behalf of your nonprofit. Plus, their unique Virtual Auction in a Box bundle is an all-in-one suite of tools that provides everything you need to plan and run a successful virtual event.
Ticketspice offers online ticketing software with a multitude of features, including a drag-and-drop event page builder, seamless QR code ticket scanning, timed entry ticketing, daily event payouts, and more. You can also access real-time analytics on page visitors, ticket sales, refunds, and conversion rates.
The bottom line
Fundraising events are a fun way to engage with donors on a deeper level and spread greater awareness of your mission. From galas to silent auctions, the possibilities are endless when it comes to hosting fundraising events so long as you’re backed with the right software.