How to create a brilliant community fundraising event

Alistair Kelly By Alistair Kelly

How to create a brilliant community fundraising event

Admit it – if you’re a fundraiser, you’ve wondered how to come up with the next Wear It Pink, Christmas Jumper Day or World’s Biggest Coffee Morning.

Truth is, mass participation events are the holy grail of community fundraising. Not only can they raise millions, they have rich potential for donor recruitment, because people are drawn to events even when they don’t know your cause.

But unless your event is exceptional, it won’t captivate your supporters.

So how do you create an event that really inspires?

Here at Consider, we’ve been bringing together strategy and creative for 15 years. We’re pleased to let you in on some tips for creating a winning community fundraising product, based on our recent work with Plan International UK.

1. Your first question is ‘who’. 

At its heart, community fundraising is volunteer-led. So the ‘what’ – your fundraising idea – needs to start with the ‘who’ – the people giving their valuable time to do it. 

But sadly, many community fundraising ideas don’t take off because they’re simply not closely tailored to a specific audience.

Yet fundraisers like Macmillan’s World’s Biggest Coffee Morning – which volunteers created for themselves – have become household names.

So Plan were onto something when they developed a pen portrait of ‘Sophie’, a 50-year-old time-poor empty nester, who enjoys exercise, learning and socialising. Like them, you need to accurately capture your target audience if you’re going to truly inspire them.

2. Thoughtfully test.

Now it’s time to develop ideas. Some rules of thumb: make your product scalable, ensure it can be held anywhere in the country, and avoid charging up-front fees.

But every idea you develop needs careful audience testing.

For Plan, initial thoughts were tested against dozens of hypotheses about Sophie’s needs and motivations.

Ideas that scored well were tested via social media display ads and focus groups. Social helps you gauge broad appeal – and in-person feedback tells you whether your idea actually addresses pains and gains.

3. Create your concept

You’ve got your insight – now develop your idea.

For Plan, we took their best-scoring suggestion – a dinner party – and came up with a simple proposition: Do Good Dinner.

Our concept hit Sophie’s key motivations: Do Good Dinner is a simple way to bring friends and family together, an appealingly fun experience with an aspirational feel.

We overcame Sophie’s barriers with simple instructions. We built in ways to adapt the event, ensuring wide appeal: Do Good Dinner can be a Come Dine With Me-style competition, a simple takeaway or even a work lunch.

4. Grow your product

It’s time to turn your idea into a fully fledged community fundraiser.

This means attention to detail, considering how you can meet all your fundraiser’s needs. Our Do Good Dinner creative made sure Sophie’s event was easy and uplifting.

And because community fundraising events are key recruitment moments, we made sure our event invitations and thank you cards introduced Plan simply.

5. Spread the word.

The key to mass participation is, well, participation.

We shaped Plan an integrated marketing campaign based on their audience and budget. Facebook was right for Sophie, so we made Do Good Dinner appealing through a suite of display ads, encouraging click throughs with retargeting.

Our highly personalised DM pack convinced the audience that this fundraiser was the perfect fit.

A compelling marketing campaign is crucial. But truth is, without a watertight journey, you won’t get your audience converting.  

That’s why your landing page must work hard to inspire them to sign up – and nothing else. 

Want to create a brilliant community fundraiser?

Get in touch with us today – we’d love to help you create your next blockbuster event.

And as for Do Good Dinner? Plan loves it – and we’re so excited for its launch next month. We’ll be sure to keep you posted…

Alistair Kelly

Alistair Kelly

Creative Partner

Alistair is one of our co-founders. He has more than two decades of heavyweight agency experience behind him and is a fountain of ideas and creativity, particularly around print and fundraising. Alistair brings the clarity to our creative thinking and you can read his latest insights on our blog.