Fundraising Theme: Finding a ‘hook’ for your fundraising event

Fundraising theme

Finding a unifying fundraising theme, or ‘hook’ in your fundraising can go a long way to increasing participation and engagement.  The more clever and creative you are about it, the greater the returns can be.

This might be as simple as running your fete along a particular theme, for example a country fair, that defines the stalls, signage and promotion of the event.

With some imagination you can also find a ‘hook’ that’s unique to your organisation.

Case Study 1

A reader recently wrote in to me asking for ideas for her fundraiser. She is raising money for people living with epilepsy and needed to come up with an idea based on their theme of ‘91’ to represent the 91,000 people living with epilepsy.  The examples she gave were to learn 91 new words, run 9.1 kilometres, dance for 91 minutes or climb 91 stairs.  She asked for any other ideas.
I put the call out to our trusty Facebook community and was rewarded with a lot of other fantastic ideas.  They included:

  • 91 people purchasing 91 postcards (that you have printed) and you send them all over the world to highlight epilepsy
  • Using 1991 as the basis for a trivia night
  • Selling $91 raffle tickets for $9.10 each and the winner receives $91.91
  • 91 red balloons filled with helium at $2.50 each
  • Rainbow loom bands with 91 loops or bands
  • Another spin on the balloons idea – selling 91 helium balloons, and then fix a tag with a little speech about the cause.  You can include a number to call back and the furthest travelled balloon receives a prize.

But there’s more

  • Run a raffle selling only 91 tickets – value the tickets at between $10 and $20 each due to the high chance of winning
  • Try to get all prizes sponsored
  • Theme the prizes around ‘91’ where possible – perhaps a luxury day spa with a 91 minute massage, a bottle of wine from 1991, 91 scratchies tied to a small tree, 91 drink vouchers provided by your local
  • With each raffle ticket sold, provide a small description of the awareness you are attempting to bring to your cause – if your raffle tickets are large, you can print on the back, otherwise a small flyer is good
  • Find an event in your local area – perhaps it is a conference or a business lunch.  Ask to sell your tickets at the lunch and speak for ’91 seconds’ about your awareness campaign.  If you think you will sell all tickets, draw the prize at the lunch.  Alternatively, ask to sell the tickets outside a local shop or in some local workplaces.

From this example, you will see that you don’t need to have a fixed idea in mind before you come up with your ‘hook’ or fundraising theme.  Once you have found something meaningful that relates to your organisation’s purpose, it is much easier to brainstorm ideas around that.  You can have all sorts of fun with it!

Case Study 2

A small school in the Brisbane suburbs wanted to theme their 2017 fete.  Previous themes had included ‘Around the World’, ‘Lost in Space’ and ‘Rock Around the Clock’ themes but there was a feeling that these didn’t really gel with the image the school was trying to create.  Even though it is a small school in numbers, it has lots of green space and the Principal and Marketing Team wanted to have a theme that allowed them to best showcase their facilities and also support their marketing messages. Key marketing messages included ‘country feel with city proximity’ so in keeping with their message they chose a ‘Country Fair’ theme.

The school community thoroughly embraced the fundraising theme:

  • stall holders dressed in theme – including the convenors who all wore show girl sashes and the same check shirt so they could be easily identified
  • stalls were decorated in country theme
  • entertainment – sheep dog herding, sheep shearing plus the usual singing and class performances
  • activities and novelty events -gum boot toss, hobby horse race
  • general theming was also embraced for the first time – there was a scarecrow beside the stage, hay bales were used to create a performance area, large 3D cows made from MDF were painted and dotted around the grounds, sign posts were made to look like old palings, entrance direction signs were like the green road distance signs (that you see on the highway) so that on the way in the fete goers could get a feel for what they might see and do
  • it was held on their oval so they could show off their space

It was also their most successful fete to date. Needless to say they will be sticking with this theme.

The Teahouse that they ran at the fete is now also rolled out at community events around the suburb.  Why reinvent when you have everything you need already?  They hope to eventually be known as ‘that school with that awesome country fair’.

While there was an event in mind in this example they have chosen a theme that reinforces their marketing message and resonates with the school community.

Happy Fundraising!
Mandy Weidmann

Originally published 30 May, 2014

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