Fundraiser/Parties: The Delicate Balance

Posted by Dave

Simply put: the goal of a fundraiser is to make money, while the goal of a party is for everyone to have fun. To achieve both goals from the same event requires balancing skills worthy of The Great Wallendas.

At a fundraiser this past Saturday for a Catholic school, this balance was achieved in a way I haven’t seen done successfully before. I suspect that its success is the result of both a lot of experience on the part of the planners and the attendees.

Instead of trying to make all 4 hours of the event a 50/50 blend of fun and funds, the planners laid out the evening this way: Hour One was almost all-party – music, food, and drink. Auction items were available for inspection, but no pressure was put on anyone to bid (yet).

With Hour Two came dinner, and – once everyone was seated – the emphasis shifted 180 degrees. The goals of the event were spelled out in detail, so that everyone present knew exactly how much money the planners hoped to raise, and exactly where it would be spent.

The really big financial push came in Hour Three, with repeated announcements of the approaching close of the Silent Auction items and with the Live Auction. Normally, I recommend using professionals to conduct these auctions, but – here again – the planners drew on experience. One of their committee who was comfortable being center stage (and who knew virtually everyone there by name) did an excellent job of pushing the sales prices up and up.

By Hour Four, both planners and guests alike were free to kick back and enjoy the party. Other than a couple of announcements reminding Silent Auction item winners where and how to pay for their items, all business had already transpired.

Those who stayed for the full event got a perfect 50/50 meshing of business to pleasure. And I learned that there is yet another way to accomplish a worthy purpose, while attending a really great party.


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