A Real “Mission: Impossible” – Planning The “Perfect” Hours For Your Fundraiser

Posted by Dave

“Good morning, Mr. Phelps. Your Impossible Mission – should you decide to accept it – is to pick the perfect hours for your upcoming dinner, dancing, and auction event. As always, should your mission fail, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your activities. This message will self-destruct in…”

The goal of every fundraiser is to make as much money as possible for a worthy cause. For this reason, you want the hours of the evening to be crowd-friendly, maximizing the cash potential.

Starting early is good for your Seniors (who also tend to leave early). Starting later means that your cash bar will have had a greater opportunity to loosen your patrons’ pursestrings. But it is critical to your financial success that you conduct your most important business (a live auction or raffle) at the exact moment when the most people are the most ready to part with the most money.

For this reason, I always suggest that committees work backwards from the estimated end of the party.

At a meeting last night to plan just such an event, one committee member suggested a 6PM start to maximize the participation time of the most affluent constituency of the expected crowd – the “mature” set. And on a Saturday, this might have been a workable idea. But this particular event takes place on a Friday, meaning that the majority of the working-age and young-family sets won’t even arrive until sometime after 7:00. These groups will also make up the bulk of the crowd, even if they aren’t the ones with the deepest pockets with regards to disposable income.

By working backwards from the projected time when the Seniors will start leaving (10PM), a 7 o’clock start was arrived at. This gives our AARP crowd time to review the Silent Auction items first, and bid up the prices a bit before the Yuppies arrive. Immediately following dinner (approximately 8:45), the live auction will be held. Silent Auction items will close, section by section, until 10:00. At that point, the fundraiser becomes simply a PARTY! Anyone who chooses to leave will do so with their pockets a little lighter. Those who stay will have no more official business to interfere with their dancing and conversations.

Is this a “perfect” solution. NO! Achieving perfection, we are told, is a real Mission: Impossible. But working your timetable backward from the party’s ending is your best way to have a “Mission: Successful.”


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