Over the past two years, most of us have attended at least one virtual event, and its popularity has skyrocketed during the pandemic. Attending is as easy as opening a laptop or phone and getting access to several live broadcasts at any given time.
While they’re now considered necessary and trending, the concerns for virtual events are fairly straightforward. The most frequent concerns I’ve heard have been “It’s hard to interact, keep people’s attention and compel donors to give.”
However, over the past two years, we have seen charities rise above these challenges and continue to raise money and out raise their expectations in the vast majority of cases. The fact is, donors are eager for opportunities to connect, converse and feel hopeful. They want to give, and if you provide an easy and engaging way to do it, they will.
A fundraising house party event with the proper planning can accomplish all this.
What is a fundraising house party event?
A house party is where donors offer their homes to allow other donors to attend a planned event. These smaller gatherings help your donors feel like they are part of an event without having to intermingle with hundreds of other people. The event is broadcast as a standard virtual event, but the homeowner will make their TV available for a full-screen experience. Guests in the home can use their phones to follow along and participate in the live, silent, and fund-a-need. A house party brings back the much-needed interaction of fundraising events – storytelling, handshaking, laughing together, enjoying a meal with friends, and learning about the charity.
House parties are the perfect way to fundraise for your nonprofit. They’re personal, engaging, and easy for donors to participate in. Plus, they offer a unique opportunity for networking with other supporters of your cause and are similar to the ballroom settings your donors are used to, only on a more personal level.
Based on what you know about your donors, you can decide on an appropriate theme for the fundraising house party. Ideas include :
A night in New York City or Paris
1920s Gatsby party
When choosing a theme, be sure to think about what will inspire your donors and make them want to attend.
Benefits of hosting a fundraising house party
There are several benefits to hosting a fundraising house party:
Increased attendance. With the smaller, more intimate setting, donors are more likely to attend than they would at a large event.
Donors feel special. Hosting a house party in their honor is sure to make your donors feel appreciated and important.
Easier and more intimate for donors to connect with your nonprofit.
Encourages networking between different supporters of your cause.
A more personal experience that donors are used to.
Similar setting to a ballroom event, just on a smaller scale.
Now that you know what a fundraising house party is and the benefits of hosting one, let’s look at how to make sure yours is successful.
Steps for organizing a fundraising house party
Choose a date and time that will work for the majority of your donors.
Send out invitations at least four weeks in advance.
In your invitation, be sure to include the theme of the party, what guests can expect, and how they can participate.
Make house party tickets and virtual-only tickets available.
Let your attendees decide where they feel comfortable attending. Promote the house parties on the event landing page, so donors know what is available. Each house party should include a volunteer from the organization to help guests bid in the auction (silent and live) and answer questions about the charity.
Location and Logistics
Choose a location that is easily accessible for most of your donors.
Make sure the location has enough space for all of your guests.
Make sure the location has appropriate seating and that it is wheelchair accessible.
Schedule a “tech day” for anyone who wants to test the video stream for the event.
Your house hosts should show the broadcast on their TVs so everyone at the house can watch. You should do this even if you only have a virtual house party.
Food and Drink
Provide a catered meal at each homeowners’ house so that guests can have another piece of the gala experience (and you don’t overwhelm your hosts). Points to consider:
Serve light hors d’oeuvres instead of a full meal.
If you’re serving alcohol, make sure to have plenty of non-alcoholic drinks available as well.
Keep the food and drink budget in mind when planning your party.
On the day of the event
Have a check-in table for guests to sign in.
Make sure the location is set up according to your plan.
If you have a live auction or raffle, make sure the items are on display, and the bidding process runs smoothly.
Have your AV team send the program to your broadcast channel. Start with a 10-minute pre-show to make sure everyone is tuned in. During the broadcast, have your AV team loop in-house parties via Zoom so that everyone can have their minute of fame live and during the event, no matter where they are.
Make sure someone is available to greet guests, answer questions, and help with the bidding process if needed.
After the event
Send a thank-you note to all of your donors who attended or participated in any way.
Follow up with anyone who donated an item for the auction or raffle to find out if they would like a tax receipt.
Upload all of the photos from the event to your nonprofit’s social media pages and tag everyone who attended.
Start planning your next fundraising house party!
Now that you know how to run a successful fundraising house party, it’s time to get planning! Invite your donors to a party they won’t want to miss and raise money for your nonprofit at the same time. The key is that instead of looking at events as binary (virtual or in-person), consider other options. Bring back some of the interaction without putting everyone in the same room. Fundraising house parties may be the needed solution this spring while we wait for the pandemic to subside.
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