Guest Post: 4 Simple Strategies to Keep Fundraising Events Fresh

Donor retention is an essential part of nonprofit fundraising. Unfortunately, keeping donors interested and supporting a mission is also one of the biggest challenges nonprofits face. If you’re losing donors year after year, or are affected by the dreaded “donor fatigue”, it might have something to do with your fundraising events.

Are you hosting new, exciting fundraising events each year? Coming up with fresh ideas can have a huge impact on donor retention. Donors don’t necessarily want to attend the same event every year – sometimes they want to try something new.

Spice up your fundraising events this year by trying out these 4 strategies:

1. Combine events

A dinner and a dance, an auction at a golf tournament, a carnival and a raffle … you get the idea. Sometimes getting more donors interested in an event is as simple as pairing together two different events that complement each other. This is a good way to appeal to the interests of a wider swath of your donor base, as well as a great excuse to spend more time developing your relationship with donors.

One successful pairing we sometimes see is the combination of a golf tournament and dinner gala. It’s important to spread two big events like this over a couple days so the time commitment required doesn’t go over 4-5 hours per day.

Make sure your live and silent auction take place at dinner the night before, so your guests are fresh, focused and together with their spouse. It’s usually best to host the dinner gala the night before the golf tournament so the celebration can carry into the next day. Then you can finish the tournament with awards, donor recognition and a final special appeal or small live auction to cap off your fundraising efforts.

2. Add a theme

Incorporating a theme into your fundraising event can make an ordinary event feel more special. Try to pick a theme that gives your guests some flexibility to choose whether they want to go all out or stay conservative with their attire.

For example, instead of hosting a typical black tie gala, create a 1920’s theme and encourage attendees to dress up in flapper or mobster outfits. This gives guests the option to have fun dressing up or attend in their regular black tie attire if that’s how they’re more comfortable. Having a theme and encouraging or suggesting people to wear costumes will make the event more fun and unique.

Featuring a live band is another way to further embrace your event theme. Some of our favorite themes include 80’s Prom, Country Line Dancing and Swing Dancing.

3. Think outside the box

Try something completely different this year and think beyond your usual fundraising events. Instead of a dinner gala, you could host your own Survivor or Top Chef competition. People who are fans of the TV shows will want to participate and experience what it’s like to be a contestant or judge. Completely changing the event like this gives your supporters something new to look forward to. There are plenty of other ways to think outside the box so use your imagination and creativity!

4. Get ideas from donors

Donors like to contribute more than money. They like to contribute ideas too. Asking major donors for suggestions is a great way to show that you genuinely value their opinion. They are also much more likely to attend an event they feel like they had a hand in creating. One of the best ways to do this is to survey your donors to gather input on previous events and ask for feedback or ideas for future events.

By Jeff Cova


Jeff Cova is the Founder and President of Winspire, Inc., a company specializing in priceless travel packages for use as unique auction items in charity events and fundraisers. He has over 17 years of experience in the Nonprofit and fundraising industry. He was the Director of Development at Cal State Fullerton before co-founding a company specializing in producing charity auctions where he produced 250 of Southern California’s most successful Nonprofit fundraising events.

Jeff founded Winspire in 2008 with the goal of helping Nonprofits increase their event revenue and identify new fundraising sources. Jeff and his team at Winspire have helped over 12,000 Nonprofits raise more than $30 million to date.

For more information on using No-Risk travel packages in your next fundraiser, visit

Share your thoughts