Shifting from Themed Fundraising Events to Mission-minded Fundraising. Advice from the July 11th GAOC.


In our twenty-five years of business, Project Partners has managed almost every type of fundraising event that you can name: galas, golf tournaments, concerts, festivals, walks, runs, fashion shows, anniversaries, dancing with the stars, celebrity waiters, game shows, casino nights, wine and dines, and sports outings to name a few. So, you may be surprised that our July 11th Good Advice Over Coffee (GAOC) topic was “Shifting from Themed Fundraising Events to Mission-minded Fundraising.”  Why would we broach that subject?

Themed fundraising events can be an excellent way to:

  • improve your community profile

  • increase awareness for your mission

  • engage community

  • raise good money, and

  • develop your volunteer and donor base.

 However, they have downsides, too. They can:

  • take too much time for the dollars raised

  • focus more on a theme than on your mission

  • cost too much

  • misdirect the time and talents of key volunteers

  • be a burden on your targeted audiences

  • become habit instead of strategic, and

  • lose steam.

Have you experienced any of these problems in the events that you produce? If so, it may be time to shift from themed fundraising events to mission-minded fundraising. But how do you make that shift?

While helping a number of clients do just that, we’ve identified a ten-step process. At our GAOC event, we had time to touch on just two of the ten steps, including: 1) Secure a commitment to this shift from all staff and board members, which will get everyone on the same page, and 2) Tie your fundraising campaign to your mission and your strategic plan for achieving that mission, as then your messaging becomes mission-oriented and less about “buying a ticket” or “sponsoring a table“ and such.

This mission-driven approach allows more time to focus on building relationships and drawing people closer to your cause. As the GAOC discussion ensued, one attendee shared that her organization is focusing on one-on-one meetings with donors to ask them what is most meaningful to them. A board chair of a nonprofit said he regularly asks his fellow board members to call donors during the holiday season to simply thank the donors for their investments made that year. (He reported that the donor response was amazing!) Two educational leaders in attendance explained how they are constantly discovering ways to connect students and educators with donors who support their efforts on campuses and in classrooms, creating a lasting impression between their gifts and those served by them.

Yes, mission-minded fundraising might still integrate strategic events as part of the plan, but these events create connectivity, cost almost nothing, take a fraction of the time to produce than themed fundraising events and can yield much higher rewards. You can make the shift! 

We’ll continue to talk about tools, strategies and opportunities for advancing community causes every second Thursday of the month. Please join us!

Speaking of talking, check out the latest episode of Your Podcast for Good on this subject, hosted by our own Scott Smith. Here, we continue the conversation on Mission-minded Fundraising and share more good advice discussed during this event. Enjoy!