So sorry you couldn’t make it…

A twist on the tradition

We’ve all fretted about getting RSVPs in for events. Probably even had nightmares over the number of ‘no sorry, can’t come, that date doesn’t suit’ replies (there’s just no pleasing everybody!). Sometimes we get so wrapped up in wanting a sell-out fundraising event, we forget that it’s not all about ‘bums on seats’. There is a way of turning the ‘no can do’s’ into profit for your fundraising – donations!

How the NFP’s do it

The big not-for-profit organisations have used a simple, but unique fundraising idea for some time. Included in the invitation is an option that goes something like this:

I’m sorry I can’t make it to your function but here’s my donation of $____ because this is a cause I support.

Some not-for-profits go so far as to actually specify what the profit may be on a ticket:

Tickets for our gala dinner are $95 a head. After costs for the meal, venue and entertainment, $30 comes directly to us. If you can’t make it, please consider a donation of $30 to help us further our work.

  • Yes, I’ll donate $30 even though I can’t attend.

When a long-established community arts organisation adopted this technique for a recent anniversary dinner, its Chair was lost for words by the number of donations that resulted.


Community Group Example

This technique can be used for product drives too. A canny scout group provided an option to selling chocolates, rather than simply accepting the returned box unsold:

Dear Scouting family,

You will have heard that our scout group is raising money to send members to World Jamboree.

This is an opportunity of a lifetime but it is very expensive. That’s why we’re running a chocolate drive, beginning on 1 September.

Every family in our scout group will receive a box with 30 individual chocolates to sell for $2 each. These are quality products and at a great price. We ask that you sell them to friends, neighbours and colleagues.

Please return money and unsold product to Baloo at your scout meeting beginning 15 September.

If you want more than one box, terrific: Baloo can supply.

If you can’t sell the chocolates please do two things for us:

  1. Return the box to Baloo as soon as possible. (We have to pay for the unsold boxes.)
  2. Consider making a donation of $15 which is the profit we make from selling a box of chocolates.

Remember the more money raised, the more young people we can send on this wonderful adventure. Thank you in anticipation of support.


Group Leader


Fete Example

While participating in an online Silent Auction at a fete recently, as an unsuccessful bidder, I was sent the following text message, ‘Thank you for supporting our school, unfortunately you were not successful in the silent auction today, if you would still like to contribute to our fundraising please consider donating here (with a link to their online donation page which accepted anything from $5).  While I was at the event, those that couldn’t attend but were participating in the auction were still given the opportunity to give donations.


Originally published April 10, 2012


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