Planning a fundraiser

August 17, 2010


It is fantastic that you want to organize your own event. Whether you’ve held lots of events before or it’s your very first time, I hope you’ll find this information helpful.

I know all too well the devastation Alzheimer’s disease can cause to a family. And organizing a fundraiser is an important step in helping us fight Alzheimer’s disease. If it seems like a daunting task to plan an event, know I am here to help answer all kinds of questions. The planning can be hard work, but it will all be worth it when you see the results and know that you’ve helped us fund vital Alzheimer’s disease research.

Every 70 seconds someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. With over 5.5 million cases in the United States alone, it has become the 6th leading cause of death in our nation. Our mission is to beat Alzheimer’s disease by funding innovative world-class research, which has already led to improved treatments and helped many families cope with an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis. These improvements really wouldn’t be possible without the support of wonderful people like you. By holding your own event, no matter how big or small, you really are making a difference.

Good luck, and know you can always call me at 800-259-4636 or email info@alzinfo.org
Thank you for your support!

Planning Offline Events – Getting Started

Set a date

Deciding when to hold your event can be crucial to the event’s success. Try to avoid holidays or big travel weekends. It’s also good to research other events that may be going on in your area so you can avoid any potential conflicts.

Set a budget

Ask yourself how much you want to raise and what the expenditure is likely to be and then set a realistic budget. Remember to include hidden costs such as tips, delivery cost, etc.

Plan, plan, plan

This is obviously vital. Create a time frame from now until the event and then decide when each job needs to be done. Try and give yourself the time you need to plan to prepare.


Keep reviewing your plan and budget to make sure that all your efforts are on track and make changes if necessary.

Two heads are better than one

When you’re holding an event for charity, friends, family and colleagues are usually more than willing to help out. Having a team of helpers means you can pool ideas and divide up tasks. If you have a friend who is a printer or caterer then you may find that they can give you a discount which is great for keeping costs down.

Event Ideas

Dinner Party
Everyone likes to eat and enjoys getting together. You can choose any meal, breakfast, lunch, dinner, or anything in between from high tea to ice cream social. Make it as formal as a black tie gala or as casual as a BBQ cookout. It can be catered or home-cooked. The possibilities are endless!

Invite family, friends and colleagues over for a meal. Ask that they contribute a set amount or free will offerings. Sell tickets if you think it will help, but most people are fine if you set a minimum amount or ask that they give what they can.

Mediterranean cuisines as well as curry dishes have gotten a great deal of praise for helping preserve memories and ward off Alzheimer’s. Try grilled fish, which is high in Omega-3 fatty acids. Antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables are also a plus. Smirnoff makes a Blueberry Vodka for adults who may want to spice it up a bit. Some studies even say red wine, dark chocolate and nuts can help fight the disease. Remember Alzheimer’s is a terrible disease but what you can do is bring people together with good food and good cheer which will provide much needed hope.

Don’t Come Event Fundraiser
A don’t come fundraising event is a clever way of asking for donations in a novel and humorous manner. First things first! This event will never actually happen — other than on paper. You send invitations to supporters – and potential supporters – for a spectacular event with scrumptious food, exciting entertainment, and a glamorous guest of honor. The sky’s the limit since the event won’t actually occur.
Let your imagination run wild!

Why in the world would you do this? Because it’s a good way to raise funds and have some fun at the same time — something that’s nearly impossible to do when trying to raise money. Your only costs are the printing of the invitations, thank you notes and postage. If you can get some of this donated, that’s even better.

Here is how to begin: Send the invitations to as many people as you want – overcrowding will not be a problem. In addition to your regular supporters, be sure to include local political leaders, businessmen and media personnel. You could also send press releases to the media outlets in your area. They are always looking for humorous current event items. Make sure you include information on how someone can purchase a ticket.

Okay, so why would anyone buy a ticket to a non-existent fundraising event? Because there are a lot of very busy people who are willing to support a good cause but don’t have the time, energy, and/or interest to go to one more rubber-chicken dinner. Purchasing a ticket to a don’t come event lets them support a worthy cause while relaxing at home. Plus, they will appreciate your ingenuity.

You should make your invitations classy – printed on good quality paper. After all, the invitation is all they will get for their ticket purchase. Make it just like an invitation to any formal affair. You can use a standard good quality thank you card. Make sure that the invitations and thank you cards are hand addressed to make them more personal. Oh … and since the recipient gets nothing for their ticket purchase, make sure you include a notice with their thank you card that their donation is fully tax deductible.

Variations: Have a don’t come fundraising sporting event where members of your group ‘don’t play’ the Harlem Globetrotters, Green Bay Packers, etc.; a debate between someone in your organization and the President, Arnold Schwarzenegger, or some other famous person on a ‘nutty’ topic; or …..? Be creative. Be humorous. Have fun. Make money!

Athletic Fundraisers
There are sites online you can visit to join a formal event such as:

Or you could create your own Walk or Golfing Event

Fundraiser Golf Tournament
A great warm-weather fundraising event is a golf fundraiser. Hosting your own golf tournament is actually fairly easy and if done right, you can raise a significant amount of money. Here are some tips for maximizing your results.

Big turnout: Obviously, the bigger the crowd, the better you’ll do with your tournament. Promote with quality posters at golf stores, your own offices, and other high-traffic, high-visibility locations. Use your newsletter and email lists as additional ways to get the word out.
Distribute a press release about your golf fundraiser to all your local media outlets. Describe your most noteworthy news angle in the summary paragraph and then get into the who, what, when, where, why, and how aspects of your golf outing.

Greens fee markup: Most golf courses will give you a substantial discount for a large group, particularly if you’re scheduled for a weekday when traffic is low. You can charge the regular price and do quite well. Or, you can pocket the discount, markup the regular greens fee by $10, and do even better.

Hole sponsors: Contact local businesses and ask them to sponsor a hole. To attract eighteen sponsors, make it affordable, say $100 or so. Show them a mockup of the signs that will be placed for each sponsor and your event program where you’ll list all your sponsors.

Corporate sponsors: For the biggest financial impact, approach large corporations and ask them to sponsor your event. Companies with headquarters or substantial operations in your area are your best bets. Price your corporate sponsorships at a reasonable level, say $1,000 for a smaller golf tournament, and you’ll get a good response.

Put together a sponsorship request on your letterhead and be specific as to what’s in it for the corporation, i.e. prominent signage at the event, corporate logo golf balls for all golfers, newspaper coverage, golfing slots for top executives, etc.

Ask around within your group to see if anyone has personal contacts at the management level. Managers often have discretionary funds available for reasonable promotional expenditures.

Player sponsors: Just like individuals get sponsors for Relay For Life walks, Multiple Sclerosis bike rides, and other types of event fundraisers, so should your players. Put together a sponsorship form and ask each player to raise at least $100 in pledges along with their greens fees.

Silent auction: Solicit items from local businesses and even offer to pay for some popular items that will attract serious bidding such as golf lessons from the club pro or a set of new irons.
On the day of your golf fundraiser, setup a couple of tables full of donated goods and services. Tape bidding sheets and descriptions of each item to the tables so that golfers can place bids one-handed.
Make sure to get the bidding started on each item and encourage everyone to bid. Do a last call for bids as everyone is gathering for the awards ceremony that wraps up your tournament, then announce the winners, collect the funds, and disperse the merchandise.

Hold a raffle: You can sell raffle tickets for quality prizes in conjunction with your event. They don’t even have to be golf related, but it does help to have at least some prizes such as a new golf bag, free round, season pass to top course, etc.

Price your tickets so that you raise at least twice as much as your prizes cost. If your prize costs total $5,000, then sell 1,000 tickets for $10 each. You can make even more if you get prizes donated.
To increase sales, sell tickets to the general public and not just to your group of supporters. You can even set up a sales table at high-traffic locations like shopping centers. obviously, follow all local regulations concerning raffle ticket sales.

Cash bar cart: Load up the back of a golf cart with ice and cold drinks, then drive the course and sell your golfers what they want. Cold beer and sodas are the best sellers, but don’t forget to include snack foods like pretzels and chips.

Catered lunch: Work with the club to offer a catered lunch to all your golfers or at least a boxed lunch of sandwich, chips, and a cookie. Depending on what you’re offering, markup your costs by $2 to $4 per person and you’ll do well. overcharging will actually cut into your total profits.

Summary: If done correctly, a golf tournament can raise a substantial amount of money. Leverage all these fundraising tips and you’ll have a record-breaking golf fundraiser!

Yard Sale
It’s a tried and true way to raise funds.

Before the Sale: Check with your city to find out if you need to have a permit to hold a garage sale. Ask if there are regulations concerning when and where you can place signs to advertise your garage sale. For example, some cities forbid placing signs on light poles.

Announce the sale to your group. Tell them when and where it will be held and when and where to drop off donations. Decide on whether items will be priced by the person donating them or by the organizers. Designate a person in charge of receiving the donations and choose a place to store the donations
Advertising. Plan your advertising well in advance in order to put classified ads in your local newspapers. Send press releases to your local newspaper and radio stations. Place flyers in public places such as grocery stores, libraries, bookstores, schools, and churches. The night before the sale place posters and signs on the street advertising your sale. Make sure you take down your signs and posters after the sale.
Contingency Plans . It’s best to plan to hold the sale in any kind of weather. Try to hold the sale indoors or under tarps. You will have placed advertising and engaged the services of your volunteers for a specific day. If you have to cancel your sale because of weather you will have lost your advertising and your volunteers may not be available for a later date.

Pricing garage sale items. Pricing should be in round numbers. This will make pricing and selling much easier. You can buy pre-made pricing stickers at office supply stores or make your own on a printer. Generally speaking, items in good shape should be priced at one-third of their retail price. Of course there will be exceptions. For example, you might want to price hard cover books at $2.00 a piece no matter what the retail price was. Or, you may want to price CD’s, DVD’s, and tapes at $2.00 each. You should group like items together during the sale and sell them all for the same price unless otherwise marked.
Supplies needed – Tables, chairs, umbrellas, extension cords, clothes racks, boxes, small bills to make change, and plastic bags.

The Day of the Sale: Have as many volunteers on hand as possible. You will need people to help the shoppers and to keep things running smoothly. You’ll need people to take the money and provide security. You may want to offer to deliver items if your group has access to a willing person with a truck. Be aware that you will have “early birds” show up so try to be ready to sell up to one hour ahead of your advertised start time. In order to bring in drive-by traffic you can have volunteers hold up signs on nearby streets.

Have a check-out table with chairs so that your volunteers can sit. At the table have plastic bags, boxes, scissors, a yard stick, measuring tape, and wrapping supplies such as newspapers and tape. Make sure that you have access to electricity so shoppers can test items. Display valuable items such as jewelry at the check-out table in order keep them from being stolen. You can use a cash box or fanny pack to hold the money. A fanny pack is recommended for security purposes. Make sure your money is never left unguarded. Have plenty of change in small bills at the beginning and throughout the sale. You will no doubt be receiving lots of twenty dollar bills. Take cash only, unless you are willing to take a check from a person who is known to you.

If the sale is being held at a personal residence take precautions against theft from shoppers. Never allow shoppers into the home and make sure outside items that are not for sale do not get stolen. Pets should be locked up also. As your cash builds up throughout the day take it inside to keep it safe.

Selling Tips to Maximize Your Sales and Raise More Money: Let your shoppers know that your yard sale is a fundraiser. Make sure your signs say what you are raising money for. You may want to make a display board at your check-out table the gives information about your organization and cause. Have your volunteers wear your club’s t-shirts or uniforms, if you have them, so shoppers will know who is working at the sale.

Decide in advance if you will bargain on prices. Expect that your shoppers will want to bargain. You may want to tell shoppers that you can’t lower prices until the afternoon. Let your shoppers know that your yard sale is a fundraiser and tell them how the money that the sale brings in will be used.

Additional Ways to Make Money During a Yard sale

Have a donation jar at your check-out table to collect donations: Hold a raffle for a special item. You can display the actual item or a picture of the item you are raffling. Sell tickets throughout the sale and have the raffle drawing at the end of the sale. Or, sell raffle tickets to a raffle that is ending at a later date.

Sell baked goods, hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, sodas, coffee, tea, bottled water, candy, etc. Sell products people you know may have produced such as cookbooks, calendars, CD’s, shirts or other spirit items.

Sell fundraising products such as cookie dough, candy bars, wrapping paper and more. There is a wide variety of items available from fundraising companies that nonprofit clubs and organizations can sell to raise money.

Helpful fundraising web sites:

After the Event is Over

Congratulations! Give yourself a huge pat on the back – you certainly deserve it after all your hard work. So what’s next?
Round up the money

1. Call 1-800-ALZ-INFO (1-800-259-4636) to make your donation over the phone by credit or debit card.

2. Send us a check/checks made payable to:
Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation
110 East 42nd Street, 16th Floor
New York, NY 10017

Send us your stories and photos

We’d love to hear all about your event! Your stories and photos can be really inspirational to other fundraisers. So give me a call any time or email with all the details and please send any photos to me at info@alzinfo.org


Remember to say a big thank you to all the people who have helped along the way. If they are aware of how much you appreciated their efforts, they will be more likely to help you again in the future.
Finally, put your feet up, relax and start thinking about your next challenge!

Forms you may need

501c3 Tax Letter and FCF-SponsorSheet


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