Wine, Roses and Music...

Can Make or Break Your Fundraising Event

Fine wine, beautiful bouquets and romantic music are a sure-fire way to please your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day.  So why not treat your guests the same way at your next fundraising event?   

Understandably event planners and committees believe donors and potential donors should be well entertained and treated like the VIPs they truly are.  So they splurge on open bars, lush table decorations, popular bands and huge dance floors for guests to party all night.  Not only do these items drive up your bill, but over-doing the wine, flowers, music and fun can seriously detract from your fundraising efforts!

The "Wow" Factor

Event planners want to create that “Wow” factor the moment guests enter the room.  Breathtaking table arrangements can make a room “pop,” but those expensive flowers often get in the way of a good event. 

Eye-popping centerpieces prevent seated guests from seeing across the table and block their view of the stage!  Decorations should never come between guests and your important presentations on stage.  Smaller centerpieces can add color and sophistication without getting in the way.   

Dance bands often play during and after dinner.  But guests can’t socialize while eating when loud music drowns out their conversation.  This frustrates your guests and patience wears thin even before your official program begins!  By the time you are ready to present your mission statement or fundraising auction, your guests are fleeing to the lobby to escape the racket! 

The solution: Schedule the dance band to play after your dinner and program are complete.  Offer soft piano, a harpist or small string combo as background music during dinner.  Schedule the dancing to cap off your evening.  A smaller dance floor is more intimate and enhances the mood and energy for fundraising.  A crowded dance floor also gives guests the impression the event was  so successful, people were  “dancing on the ceiling” as in Lionel Ritchie’s song!     

Music and Dancing
Many people think a fabulous band and big dance floor are key to showing guests a good time.  That’s true for a wedding, but not for an effective fundraising event. A huge dance floor adds widespread cavernous space between supporters assigned to sit  at  tables in the back of the room and presenters who appear as tiny distant figures on stage. This barrier to communication dilutes your important message.  

    Bottoms Up!

    Serving designer cocktails or fancy flutes of champagne as guests arrive followed by an open bar and free flowing bottles of wine can add to the celebratory aspect of the evening, but when guests become too tipsy, fundraising fails.   “Well-lubricated” guests are not inclined to open their wallets to bid and to give.  When guests have too much to drink, they become distracted and distract others as well.  By the time you do your cash call, potentially great donors might not even pay attention! 

    True… a glass of wine or two… can loosen inhibitions so people will join the fun, but with much more than that; they have trouble following the auction bidding.  They often leave without paying for the item they won, or decide they don’t want the item at all!  That presents a dilemma.  The organization can’t reconvene the audience and hold the auction all over again, so it must face a loss or try to convince the guest to keep his or her “promise” after winning the item.

    Wow! What a Party!

    The last thing an organization wants to hear guests say as they leave is, “Gee that was a great party!" That means the organization missed the opportunity to impress guests with its mission.  It also suggests the organization has so much money to spend on frivolity and fun, it doesn’t really need more financial support! 

    Follow the rule of “everything in moderation”  when it comes to romancing your supporters with wine, roses, music and fun.  Keep flowers simple and colorful.  Aim for one or two drinks per guest.  Dinner music should be soft and unobtrusive and if you have dancing at all, keep the dance floor small and schedule it to cap off the evening.   These rules will save you unnecessary expenses, enhance your fundraising potential and leave your guests with the best impression of your work and your organization. 
    Does your 501(c)(3) nonprofit need additional financial support ?
    Organizations that we love to support this February
    Taste of the NFL
    Feb 4th Houston, TX
    Mission: To address the needs of the hungry and homeless by raising awareness and money through special events and programs.
    Safe Space
    Feb 4th  Sarasota, FL
    Mission: A nonprofit  organization serving victims of domestic violence in Martin, St. Lucie, and Indian River counties in Florida. In addition to a 48-bed Emergency Shelter, SafeSpace also provides a Supportive Living program for individuals in need of longer-term housing as well as outreach services for those who choose not to enter a shelter but whose lives are being affected by domestic violence. 
    Thodos Dance Chicago
    Feb 4th Chicago, IL
    The company’s unique mission of inspiring expression through dance education, dance creation, and dance performance has established TDC as an original force in modern dance for 25 seasons.
    Make A Wish Middle Tennessee
    Feb4th Brentwood, TN
    Mission:  Make-A-Wish serves a unique, and vital, role in helping strengthen and empower children battling life-threatening medical conditions.
    Stuart Society
    Feb 10th St. Petersburg, FL
    Mission: To promote the welfare of the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg. Stimulate public interest and participation in Museum activities. Increase the Museum's general membership and maintain a close acquaintance with the activities of the Museum.
    YWCA of Pueblo
    Feb 10th  Pueblo, CO
    Mission:  YWCA is on a mission to eliminate racism, empower women, stand up for social justice, help families and strengthen communities. 
    Winter Park Rotary
    Feb 15th  Winter Park, FL
    Mission: A nonprofit  organization serving victims of domestic violence in Martin, St. Lucie, and Indian River counties in Florida. In addition to a 48-bed Emergency Shelter, SafeSpace also provides a Supportive Living program for individuals in need of longer-term housing as well as outreach services for those who choose not to enter a shelter but whose lives are being affected by domestic violence. 
    Palm Beach Habilitation
    Feb 20th  Lake Worth, FL
    Mission:  Palm Beach Habilitation Center, Inc. is a private, nonprofit organization providing programs for skills training, employment, community job placement, residential services, recreational and senior activities for individuals with disabilities.
    Oral Health America
    Feb 22nd  Chicago, IL
    Mission:  Oral Health America’s mission is to change lives by connecting communities with resources to drive access to care, increase health literacy and advocate for policies that improve overall health through better oral health for all Americans, especially those most vulnerable.
    Camp Smile-a-Mile
    Feb 25th  Birmingham, AL
    Mission:  Camp Smile-A-Mile’s mission is to provide year round challenging, unforgettable recreational and educational experiences for young cancer patients, their families as well as young adult survivors from Alabama at no cost to the families. 
    Asheville Lyric Opera
    Feb 25th Asheville, NC
    Mission: Asheville Lyric Opera stages original productions of opera and lyric theatre to enrich, engage, and educate. We serve patrons and the community through collaborations and outreach with organizations and schools from Asheville and the surrounding region.

    Girl Scouts of Southeast Florida 
    Feb 25th  Palm Beach, FL
    Mission:  Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.
    Treasure Coast Community Health 
    Feb 25th  Melbourne, FL
    Mission:  Treasure Coast Community Health  exists to serve those who have limited access to health care, although all are welcome. Unlike most private practices, CHCs welcome low income individuals, the uninsured and under insured, immigrants, migrant and seasonal farm workers, those who are homeless and those who live in public housing.
    Catholic Charities
    Feb 25th Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
     Mission: Their mission is to provide help and hope to all through the Catholic tradition of service. Services are available to all persons with no restrictions based on income, ethnicity, or religious preference.

    AmFund helps more than 100 organizations a year nationwide by sponsoring auctions at their fundraising special events.  Its goal is to be the largest or among the largest supporters of the evening.  They carefully screen organizations to help where they can have the greatest impact. 

    American Fundraising Foundation
    1411 Edgewater Drive Suite 103, Orlando, FL  32804 | (407) 895-8000