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What is the most important ingredient to a successful fundraising event?

Is the most important ingredient the type of live auction items or what kind of food you serve or how many silent auction items you have, etc.?  While all these are important, the answer is NO!  The single most important ingredient for a successful fundraising event is having the right people in the room. 

So you may ask “Who are the right people?”  These are simply the people that believe in your cause and have the means and desire to support your cause through monetary giving (Whether that be in a silent auction, live auction, fund a need, or any other type of revenue enhancer.  


This sounds so simple yet many organizations get away from this and focus on the party.  Your event should be seen as an opportunity to raise as much money as possible and spread your Nonprofit’s message.  If your guests are coming just to have dinner and not support your cause monetarily then you are missing your opportunity to have a super successful charitable event.

Quite simply, you are looking for QUALITY NOT QUANTITY.  

You would rather have 150 guests with the means to support your cause than 500 guests who are there for the party or there because the boss gave them tickets.  For example, if you take those 150 attendees that have the means to support your cause and they give an average of $500 per person then your organization would raise $75,000; not to mention the fact that you will pay less for your venue, less for your food and less for your beverages, ultimately raising your net.  If you take the 500 guests that were mostly given tickets (i.e. from bosses, friends, etc.) and most of them don’t have the means to support your cause, you may be lucky to have them give an average of $100 per person.  This equates to $50,000, which is 50% less than the example above.  Your net figure is also going to be much lower because you will need a larger venue, more food and more beverages.

When your committee sits down for its first meeting, the primary objective should be putting people with the means and desire to support your cause in the seats!

Written by Mike Grigg, AARE, BAS of Elite Auctions and Fundraising Services