Corporate fundraisers are a great opportunity to raise money while having fun. Most people are willing to give back, they just need to be in the right settings. It just requires a bit of planning on your part.
In this article we’ve listed key pieces of advice to help you plan the best possible event. We’ve structured the article into the following five sections:
- Choosing A Charity
- Choosing Your Fundraising Format
- Corporate Fundraising Ideas
- Ideas for Fundraising Prizes
- Increasing Fundraising Donations
Choosing A Charity
The whole point of fundraising is, of course, to help make a difference. We want to have the biggest impact possible with the money we raise. Unfortunately choosing which charities to give to can be tricky.
Don’t assume that all charities are created equal. Instead, take some time to research where to donate money effectively.
You don’t have to do this on your own. GiveWell.org can help you find the charities that will have the most impact per euro/dollar donated. At PartyWizz, we also refer to Effective CSR who are based in Ireland. Check out your local area for similar associations.
To encourage attendance and participation at your fundraiser, make sure people know ahead of time which charity you’re supporting, why, and what impact you’re hoping to have.
Planning your fundraiser
The format of your fundraiser will dictate how you raise money and the fundraising activities you choose to plan. Broadly speaking, fundraisers take two forms:
This is when you raise money over a period of time, most often with a set end date. For example, if your colleagues are running a marathon they might be collecting money two or three months prior to the race.
This is when you plan an event specifically for fundraising. For example, a fundraising dinner for your employees. This is what generally comes to mind when talking about corporate fundraising.
These events have a higher upfront cost and require more planning: you’ll need to find a venue, book a caterer and organise a fundraising activity. However, they can also have a greater payoff.
Pro-tip: Regardless of the format you choose, don’t make your attendance fee too high! You’re better off making the attendance fee appealing, increasing attendance and getting people to donate on the night.
Corporate Fundraising Ideas
1. Bingo Night Fundraiser
Bingo nights are extremely popular for fundraising. Their simple to plan, easy to play and fun.
Every player who wants to participate, needs to purchase a bingo card. You can find these online for free or for a very low cost. Each card has 24 numbers and an empty space in the centre. Numbers are then drawn out at random and each player needs to identify if each number is on their card.
At its simplest, the first player to identify 5 numbers in a row (or a diagonal – different places have different rules) shouts out “BINGO”. The numbers are verified and if they are correct the player wins a prize. After each round, players are allowed to purchase new cards. A different and really fun take on the classic bingo game is music bingo where a DJ will play songs and if you identify a song on your card you cross it off. Again 5 correctly identified songs wins. This is a great way to play music and have an interactive game at the same time.
2. Book a Live Band
Consider booking a live band or a singer to entertain your guests during the fundraiser. The band itself won’t be generating a lot of donations but they will increase attendance, make the evening more memorable and increase your guests’ willingness to give.
You can also ask the band to encourage donations between songs and/or to break up their performance into different time slots (for example: 2x 1h with a 30 min break) if you want to have an activity or speeches on stage.
Remember, there will be a fee! Most professional acts do not perform for free due to the cost of performing (travel, equipment, time…) and the loss in revenue which they could be earning at a paid show. Instead you may be able to ask for a discount or additional time given for free.
3. Hire a Variety Act
Use a variety act as a hook to get people in the door for the event. For example, this could be a magician, a juggler, a comedian… A great entertainer will make the evening!
Most often, charity events, book stage shows. However, you can also book entertainers to mix and mingle with your guests, performing for small groups at a time. For example, a balloon modeller or a close up magician.
Depending on the format of their show and how flexible they are, they might be able to incorporate fundraising activities in their act. For example: drawing raffle prizes.
Once again, asking entertainers to do the show for free is probably starting off on the wrong foot. Free shows have a high opportunity cost for entertainers. Instead, ask if they are willing to give you a discount or extra time or make a donation to your chosen charity.
4. Talent night
If you don’t have the budget for an act, why not crowd source the talent? Ask your employees if they would be willing to perform for the rest of the company.
Comedians, musicians, dancers… Even if you’re a small company, you’ll be surprised at the amount of talent your employees have.
Again, this is a great way of getting people in the door but you can also use the acts as fundraising incentives (i.e until X amount is raised, the act won’t go on stage…). Just make sure you keep it light-hearted and fun.
5. Silly Auction
A Silly Auction is a great way to get everyone to contribute.
Ask your employees and/or guests to donate something to the charity auction. This could be anything from food, concert tickets to old playing cards… During the event, get someone to auction off the items. Don’t be afraid to encourage silly bidding amounts as everything will go to charity.
As a variation, you can also “auction” skills. For example, an employee could host a Photoshop course and auction off the available seats. It’s a win-win for everyone.
For this format to work well, you need an entertaining and engaging auctioneer.
6. Fundraising Raffle
Raffles are a fundraising standard as they don’t require too much planning and are guaranteed to generate engagement.
Sell raffle tickets for a set amount and encourage people to get multiple in order to increase their chances of winning. Throughout the night draw random tickets and give the prize to the winner, ending the event with a “big prize”.
Make sure to price the tickets fairly so that everyone gets one (or more) while still making a profit.
7. Casino Fundraising Night
Host a Casino fundraising night. Set up different gambling games for your guests to play and donate all the profits to your chosen charity. Set up a few stalls with different games such as:
- Black Jack
- Wheel of fortune
Unless you specifically want to do a poker night, try to avoid this game. Although it can be great fun, it usually goes on for too long. It isn’t well suited for raising funds.
For a bit of originality you can also add carnival games to your event:
- Balloon and dart
- Duck pond
- Ring toss
- Bean bags
You should be able to find all of the required props in local shops. Alternatively, depending on where your event is being hosted, you can also rent professional equipment for the day.
8. Balloon popping
Balloon popping is another classic.
Simply have a number of balloons on display. Inside each balloon is a piece of paper which is either blank or has a prize on it. Your guests can pay a fixed price to pop any balloon. They win the prize (if any) that they find inside.
Once again make sure you work out the accounting for this game ahead of time.
9. Bowling tournament
For a relaxed and social event, make a reservation in a bowling alley. If you’re expecting a large group, explain what you’re planning to the management team at the bowling alley. It will facilitate the process.
Establish a flat fee for everyone to play and have a prize (or prizes) for the winner. All the money left over will then be donated to charity.
A lot of bowling alleys also provide food. If it’s suitable to your needs, you’ll have to decide if you want to pay or if let the attendees pay. As always your objective is to maximise attendance. Choose accordingly.
10. Fundraising Competitions
Raise money for charity by planning a friendly internal competition for your employees. This can be an ongoing activity or during an event. A few popular ideas are:
- Bake Off
- Fantasy football
- Arcade games competition
- Sports competition
- Silly sports competitions
Try to choose an activity that will engage a large number of people. Give out prizes to the winners.
11. Guess the sweets
Have a large jar of sweets and ask your guests to guess how many are inside. At the end of the night count them out (that’s the painful part) and give a prize for the closest guess.
Most often this isn’t a stand-alone activity. Rather it’s something to do throughout the evening along with other activities.
12. Karaoke night
Plan a karaoke evening to raise money for charity. If the venue doesn’t own the correct equipment, check your local area to see if you can rent it for the day. You can also hire a DJ or an entertainment company to handle the music.
During the evening, ask guests to donate money, with the understanding that once a certain threshold is reached, the CEO (or pre-designated person) will sing. You can also ask every participant to collect donations before they sing a song or donate some money.
13. Wine Tasting & Wine auction
If you want to act like a wine connoisseur, why not do it while raising money? Have a wine-tasting session followed by an auction where the participants can buy some wine. You can obviously use this concept with any other drink.
As a variation you can auction some mystery bottles (hide the labels). Have one really good bottle and a few cheap ones. The audience can then bid/guess when their instinct tells them to.
Note: Depending on where you live, make sure you have the right permit to sell alcohol.
14. Pub Crawl
Plan a pub crawl for your employees to enjoy and then donate all the proceeds to charity. If you’re a large group, call the bar owners ahead of time to plan everything. Pubs usually have a room they can lend or hire out for the occasion. In addition, if you’re a large group, you might get a discount on the drinks which will increase your donations.
While this can be a really fun way of raising money, it might not appeal to everyone. Consider planning an alcohol-free alternative for the others on the side.
In addition, remember to keep it safe. Plan designated drivers and safe transport home ahead of time.
15. Costume Fundraisers
This can be done at an event or during a regular working day. Choose a theme and get your employees to put on their best costume for it. Elect a winner by a popular vote on the day and hand out prizes.
Costume themes are unlimited but a few common ones are:
- Ugly Christmas Sweater Competition
- Best Scary Halloween costume
- Best team costume
- Best Disney costume
Ideas for Fundraising Prizes
As a rule of thumb, you want to buy one “big” prize, some smaller prizes (that are still nice) and some light-hearted fun prizes. Anything will work. Here are a few:
1. Approach local businesses for vouchers
Approach local business for vouchers, prizes and/or donations. Most often they will be happy to give discount vouchers as prizes. It’s for a good cause and it’s potentially a new customer for them. Depending on what they sell, they might also offer you free products to sample.
Giving out tickets of any kind is always a success. These can be game tickets, show tickets, holiday tickets… it all depends on your budget. Once again check out your local businesses (for example: comedy clubs). They might give you a discount, especially if you buy in bulk.
Hampers are the iconic prize. They’re cheaper if you assemble them yourself but if you don’t have the time, search your local area. You most likely have somewhere you can order them from.
4. Self-care Beauty Products
After shave, hand creams, perfumes… prizes will definitely make the winner happy. They are easy to find and aren’t too expensive.
Chocolates come in all shapes and sizes and you can find nice ones at all price ranges. Stock up!
6. Bottle of wine
Depending on where you live, this is a fairly cheap gift that has a good perceived value. As a rule of thumb, try to give two good bottles instead of one extremely expensive one. It’s easier to find occasions for them.
7. Dinner for Two
A voucher for dinner for two is another easy one to plan. Depending on the budget you have, you can invest more or less in this prize. For example: including the drinks in the voucher or not.
8. Silly Prizes
If you’re hosting the event just for your employees, don’t miss the opportunity to hand out some silly prizes. It can be anything such as:
- Being allowed to arrive late next Monday
- A voucher for a 20-minute nap
- Assume the title CEO for a day with none of the responsibilities
- Your manager will serve you coffee at your desk
- Fancy Stationary
Increasing Fundraising Donations
You’ve got your activities and your prizes. But to make the most of your fundraiser, you need to plan out how you can increase your donations.
1. Finding sponsors
Look for some sponsors. It doesn’t need to be anything big. Companies are always looking for ways to increase their awareness. Ask for donations or for help of any kind and establish how you can help them in return.
2. Make everyone feel involved
The more your employees feel involved in the fundraiser the more donations you’ll collect.
3. Gamify the donations
This is a classic strategy. To boost donations set some objectives and make a challenge out of it. For example, if X amount is raised, the CEO will pay for a round of drinks…
4. Ask the company to match the donation
This is a common tactic and it’s worth doing to encourage employees to donate. In addition, depending on where you live, companies can reclaim part (or all) of that money against their tax.