5 Ways Your Fundraiser Can Spell Success

If any organization knows how to throw a fundraiser, it’s the Wellesley Education Foundation, a nonprofit that raises money for public schools in Wellesley, Mass.

After all, the organization’s town-wide Spelling Bee is a 22-year tradition.

Firefighters, students, policemen, and parents come together every November to wage phonetic battle in the high school gymnasium. To date, the event has raised more than $1.5 million.

Check out this video to learn more about this exciting event:

If your own fundraisers are flagging, then you may want to take a page out of WEF’s book. Here are 5 ways you can learn from the foundation’s Spelling Bee:

1. Host an Interactive Fundraiser

Imagine if WEF encouraged people to donate money by hosting a bake-off. Results would be good, but would it be unforgettable? By making their fundraiser an interactive competition, people get involved and excited because it’s not just for a good cause — it’s a great way to spend a day with your friends.

“The Spelling Bee is a very tangible way to see dollars being raised in a fun and festive setting,” says Annie Cohe, co–vice president of the Wellesley Education Foundation.

She adds that the event brings together the whole community in one fun competition, where learning and fundraising collide. Not to mention the fact that the Spelling Bee makes fundraising a little more dramatic.

2. Make It Easy for People to Get Involved

Last year was the first time the Wellesley Education Foundation took their Spelling Bee registration online, and Annie Cohen, the organization’s other co–vice president, said this had an immediate impact on the event.

“People registered more quickly,” she reports. “Usually, right before the Spelling Bee, we were saying to people, ‘Where are your forms, you’ve got to get those in. But we had 35 teams register well before the event. Without Event Marketing, we would have had half as many registrants.”

With the forms gone, all participants had to do was click the ‘Register’ button. And as a bonus, WEF saved money on postage, too.

3. Offer Different Ways to Donate

No one likes going to a fundraiser and immediately being accosted by someone with a jar. WEF incorporates donations into the ticket prices for Spelling Bee teams, and also offers donation options through the event’s registration process — something Annie says made sponsorship rise in 2011.

“I think people find it much more preferable to donate online than to return a paper form,” she explains.

4. Ditch the Excel Sheet

A lot of organizations still depend on Microsoft Excel when keeping track of RSVPs, but anyone who has accidentally changed a cell or deleted a column knows how painful that can be. The same goes for volunteers whose sole job is to call attendees who haven’t confirmed or paid for the event yet.

Once WEF took event management online, every participant was automatically entered into a database, along with their payment status.

5. Overall, Make Things Easier for Everybody  

Making things easier for both donors and volunteers is the goal of any organization. Annie has noticed a tremendous difference after taking the whole operation for the Spelling Bee online. In addition to less paper-shuffling, the shift put less of a burden on the parents who run WEF in the first place.

“One person can sit down at a computer and get it all done, then different people can review it,” she says. “You can do it all in your pajamas.”

As one of the competitors might have said, the Spelling Bee was a S-U-C-C-E-S-S.

What are your tips for hosting a successful fundraiser? Share them with us in the comments section below. And for more insights, “Like” the Event Marketing Facebook Page.

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