How did you do it? What was the appeal of the fundraiser (any entertainment or speakers)? Who was your target audience and who did you want to come? What sources of funds did you try to get (corporate, private, governmental, etc)?
I was on a committee that organized a fundraiser for the Green Party (let’s not get into that, OK?). It was a variety show with music, poetry reading, stuff like that, at a local coffee house. We made several hundred dollars.
Some things I can tell you:
–Get a good location. Find someone who is on board with your cause and get them to allow you to have your event there. In our case, the coffee house was fine with it because they got more business and we got to pass the hat and charge a cover.
–Have some attraction for the general public who might not be particularly interested in your cause either way. In our case, it was the show that drew people in, and the politics were probably secondary.
–Publicize the hell out of it. Call local radio stations, put your event in the newspapers’ day books, make posters and flyers and hang them up. Invite specific people you think might be interested.
–Make sure the event comes off well. Plan ahead, be meticulous, and try to make the attendees have a good time.
I once worked for a fundraising organization.
There are volumes of literature, people earning millions of dollars and it is a real effort to be successful.
Are you talking something local like “Help Billy Jones Get A Kidney Transplant” or something general like “Fight Breast Cancer”?
Some generalized tips:
Get as many volunteers as possible.
Kill to get mailing lists for invites.
Line up as many donors as possible…not only financial, but for advertising, location, set up, decorations, food, drinks, etc. etc.
Pull in every person with a “name” you can find who will allow you to use their name to get people to come. (They don’t have to show up, just put their names on the letterhead! Let them know that is all they are expected to do!)
Check the date of the event to make sure it isn’t SuperBowl weekend or the local football team homecoming.
Get a real accounting firm to do everything with the money…seriously.
Advertise, and then advertise, and then…if you have some more time, advertise some more.
Make the event something “fun”. Nobody wants to spend money to hear sad speeches. A dance, a show, a hayride, a costume party…but it has to be FUN!
Theme parties usually work well.
Location, location, location…few people want to go to Billybob’s Bowling Alley. Everybody wants to go to Prissy Exclusive golf course lounge or whatever is exotic in your area.
Talent is always a big draw…and I don’t mean the local high school choir. Shoot for the top names for free, but only settle for someone you have to (shudder) PAY FOR that will make people buzz.
Silent auctions and free prizes from local businesses…and be sure to advertise their generosity!
Good luck! It ain’t easy to get people to part with their money.