Try SOCIALS to Raise More Money AND Build Community
In every crowd, there are people who love to throw parties, people who love to attend parties, and people who just love to PAARR-TAY! Harnessing these party fanatics has turned into a well-loved fundraising program called “Socials” or party fundraisers – small, individual planned events that provide a great opportunity to build community and raise money for your school, church, or nonprofit organization.
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“Our elementary school has had Social event fundraisers for the past three years,” said Eanes Elementary PTO member Laura Greenberg. “Socials are great because they build community, enhance friendships and raise lots of money. Our Spring Garden Wine and Cheese Party for 50 adults at $50 per person raised $2,500 for our school!”
Here’s how Socials work:
- Have a committee solicit party ideas from the group’s membership. Then choose the events that are most appealing to your organization.
- Find people who are willing to sponsor or host the gatherings at their own expense. Usually, those who made the event suggestion are offering to host. Often, a few families partner together to host. Party expenses are usually tax-deductible. If some hosts want to throw the party at their house but can’t cover material costs, just deduct them from the funds paid by party goers.
- Determine a reasonable amount to charge for people to attend the event. A typical ticket price range for Socials is from $15 to $75 per person.
- Advertise and solicit sign ups for the events. (Usually on a clipboard at a larger event like a silent auction, school carnival, etc.) And of course, be careful in scheduling your events to avoid having overlapping activities or scheduling parties on religious holidays or at times when people are likely to be out of town.
- Collect the money.
- Have the party!
Your organization can decide to put on as many events as you think your members would support. The gatherings should be varied and targeted to your membership’s interests. They can be at the host’s house or at another event location.
Tap into the resources of your membership: does someone in your group own a bowling alley or other activity place? Is there a generous benefactor in your community who would be willing to underwrite an event or offer a prime location? Is there a pit master in the crowd ready to barbecue for a crowd? Take advantage of the opportunities to put on an event and offer publicity and recognition to those who support you at the same time.
Some examples of successful Social Themes include:
Garden Wine and Cheese Party for 50 adults
Margarita Dinner Party for 20 adults
Family Game Night for 10 families
Art Gallery Tour and Appetizers for 30 adults
Bunko Party for 24 Ladies
MardiGras Costume Party for 50 adults
Holiday Cookie Decorating for 16 1st-5th graders
Tennis Lessons and Lunch for 8 ladies
Family Roller Skating Party for 100 people
70s Fondue Fete' for 40 adults
Backyard Washer Tournament for 40 adults
Crawfish Boil for 30 adults
Pool and Cigars for 20 men
Black Thai Asian Party for 100 adults
Taste of Spain: Tapas and Sangria Party for 24 adults
Dove Hunt for 12 pairs of fathers & sons
Lunch with the Principal for 30 kids
Family Golf Outing & Picnic for 30 families
Ornament Exchange and Brunch for 30 ladies
'Fun on the Lawn Games' Kids Party for 50 kids
Oscars Party for 15 families
Texas Hold’em Poker for 20 adults
Backyard BBQ for 40 adults
Bowling with the Teachers for 40 kids
One way to make your proposed Socials known and easily available for sign up is to have them displayed at an activity where the majority of your members are likely to attend, like the School Carnival, Silent Auction/Gala, or Back-to-School night. You can also run online signups through VolunteerSpot.com – you can post links to each of the social signups on a PTA web page and publicize through the school newsletter, to get the widest possible publicity and attendance.
You can easily put together an attractive flyer or booklet with enticing party descriptions advertising the Socials in advance, so that potential party-goers will get excited about the events and know what they want to attend. These can be sent home in one of the first weekly packets of school information kids bring home and left in the school office.
Be sure to stress to your group that guests can sign up for as many parties as they would like to attend and bring as many people as they’d like (as long as they pay for each spot). Remind them that this is a fundraiser and a community builder!
“For a school, it is key for the sign up event to take place near the beginning of the school year. That way parents and kids can have fun all year going to parties and getting to know each other,” Greenberg said. “Our school has a Friday night adult-only party that has Socials signups, a silent auction, games, music, dinner and beverages – and this fun kickoff event really gets people excited about the socials they’ve signed up for the rest of the year!”
With a full year of socials on the calendar, families who attend get to know other families in the school or organization and build community spirit. And you’ve got an important new fundraising stream to increase the amount of money you can raise, that can easily be added to what you already do, or replace a funding source. And, your group now has a great excuse to party all year! Enjoy!