Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Unusual locations inspire successful special events

For a Successful Fund Raising Event, Consider Location, Location, Location

Many people raise money by hosting a special event.  Usually it is some sort of banquet, dance, or both in the local hotel ballroom or country club.  No wonder attendance seems to decline every year!  Boooorrrrrriiiinnnggg!  If your group depends on such an event for a large portion of its revenue, consider a change of venue.  Here are a few examples of events that succeeded because of location:
·         In a small town in Missouri, the local chapter of the American Heart Association scored big by staging not one event, but twenty – all within a two-week period.  Each private “dinner party” was hosted in a sponsor’s home.  Area residents purchased tickets to the party and/or event they wished to attend.  The events ranged from casual barbeques for up to 100 at an area farm, to formal dinners for six with live, classical music.  And the event stayed fresh because every year the range of parties, venues, and ideas changed!
·         Another group of dedicated volunteers staged a memorable “Phantom of the Opera” party.  Although timely at the time, the real success of the event was due to the location – in a large Victorian mansion made available for the occasion by its generous owners.
·         One not-for-profit can help another when the local museum is the site of an event.  The Carnegie Museums in Pittsburgh actually advertise the space in their four facilities as a perfect venue for private parties.  Many small-to-medium sized museums can even arrange for catering.  It’s a nice source of extra revenue (and exposure) for the museum, and a location with a difference for the sponsor.
·         How about a Texas-style ho-down in a large barn?  Nice casual, fun atmosphere and, if pasture space allows, an opportunity to make a few extra dollars with a rousing game of Cow Pasture Bingo.
·         One group planned to host a Mississippi River Boat theme event in the courtyard of a small, enclosed shopping mall.  The foyer of an office building might work as well if the décor supports the theme.
When it comes to special events that make people want to attend, choosing an unusual location adds interest to the event, and dollars to the cause.  Just make sure that all the other elements are in place as well: The event is fun.  The committee has fun planning and hosting.  The event is well planned and executed.  The people who attend look forward to next year!

Kathryn Lima, founder of Faro Enterprises, is a consultant with over 30 years experience in marketing, public relations, and fundraising.  Send your questions about fundraising to her via email to  

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