How can I increase fundraising for my worthy cause? This is a question typically asked by the Event Planners and Foundation Directors. When I ask them to describe the audience providing contribution support, the consistent answer is “We have some sponsors and the individuals participating in the event”. When I inquire how much their net donation was, a typical answer is “we had 100 participants, but only made $2,000” followed by a statement of despair when the organizer considers the amount of organizational effort was spent delivering the event.
Event organizers charge a participation fee that normally includes a primary event activity and meal, standard for most events. There’s usually supplemental effort to gain additional contributions from those already contributing. It generally comes packaged as a variety of choices – raffle tickets, live and silent auctions, side bets and other activities. Event participants have told me countless times “I’d rather write a single check for every event element, instead of being asked to again reach for another $20”. The end result is the event supporter may question participation in subsequent years. Sponsors are also at risk, because they rarely receive recognition commensurate with their contribution. Event signage or thanks at the awards ceremony offers nominal value.
When working with large charitable foundations, my experience has been that for every 100 event participants there are typically 500 individuals, in a current contributor data base, who may receive an e-mail notification, but otherwise are entirely overlooked.
I encourage events to develop a separate prize pool or gifts for non attendees, willing to contribute and who would like the opportunity to win prizes or some simple form or recognition for their contribution.
Development of a “Superticket” was a simple way to deliver the aforementioned opportunity to non attendees and increase the value to sponsors. Supertickets are a scratch off game card that are combined with additional elements – raffle tickets, merchandise and services, printed on the back side of the scorecard. For golf events the Superticket looks like a scorecard. The recipient is instructed to “scratch off” one score per hole then add the scores for an 18 hole total. There is no skill involved, scoring is random and prizes may be awarded based on the Supertickets low (or high) scores. Providing free Supertickets to sponsors for internal distribution is a great way to encourage and reward their financial participation.
Superticket Case Study
A Southeastern children’s hospital conducts four fundraising events throughout the year. Their golf event, while popular, doesn’t contribute as much financially to the hospital as the other events do, due largely due to the expense for use of the golf course.
Because of strong community support, the hospital receives contributions supporting their events from sponsors and local sources that include restaurants, consumer electronic stores, automobile dealerships, clothing stores, jewelers and travel agents. These gifts are used to incent event participation.
Organizers increased the golf participation fee by $15, but every participating player received one Superticket. It included the scratch off game component, 5 raffle tickets, 1 individual mulligan, entry to the putting contest and a par three shootout. A separate prize pool for the golf participants included golf merchandise.
A separate Superticket promotion was announced through the hospital newsletter and e-mailed to hospital supporters who were not participating in the golf event. To non – golf participants, Supertickets were sold: 1 ticket = $20, 2 tickets = $35 and 3 tickets = $45. All details of the promotion were clearly explained on the back of the Superticket. To enter after Superticket purchase, the recipient returned the ticket to the hospital with their name, address, phone number and e-mail address. The non golf participants promotion included prizes for the lowest 20 Superticket scores and 15 additional prizes being awarded from a random raffle drawing. The Superticket golf card was identical to the card used at the golf tournament, but the prizes available were non – golf specific merchandise. A consumer electronic store sponsor donated a 32″ flat screen TV and there were a total of 35 gifts allocated. In addition to the flat screen, there were lunches and dinners for two, $25 gift certificates to retail stores, movie tickets for four and salon gift certificates were popular.
An additional 360 Supertickets were sold to individuals who were non golf participants and an announcement of all winners was sent by e-mail to all purchasing Supertickets. An important component was offering prizes both to Superticket low scores while also including a random raffle drawing. An important element to the hospital was the simplicity of the promotion, the fun and the financial contribution sustainable in subsequent events.
Financial Contribution: Net profit = $14,004 ($14,760 revenue – $756 Superticket cost)
Golf Participants 144 Supertickets x $15 (entry allocation) = $2,160 revenue
Non Golf participants – 360 Supertickets sold x $35 (avg. expenditure) = $12,600 revenue
Adding the non participant element increased event fundraising by $12,040.