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Workplace fundraising events are ways for companies to raise money for a worthwhile cause. Just about any event—from a meal to a game night—can become a way for an organization to raise money for a charity or non-profit. Company fundraisers can be internal or external. Internal fundraising events ask your employees to help raise money, either by donating themselves or by asking friends and family of workers to contribute. External fundraisers ask for donations from people outside your organization, including people who may never have heard of your company before.
Why Hold Workplace Fundraising Events?
Workplace fundraising events—like any company events—require effort. Often, they mean spending time beyond work hours to organize and pull off a fun and enjoyable fundraiser. There are many benefits to putting in the work, though.
Workplace fundraisers can build employee engagement and morale
Workplace fundraising events can help employees pull together for a common cause, which can boost employee morale. These events can also be an exciting change from the everyday pace of work, which can improve employee engagement by giving workers a new focus.
They can build your brand
When you give to a charity or non-profit, that organization is likely to thank you publicly on social media or its website. When you host a fundraiser, you’re also likely marketing your efforts. Both of these activities can help get your organization’s name in front of more people and build your brand through something positive—like making a difference or supporting a special cause.
Workplace fundraising events can help you connect with your company’s purpose
Your company purpose or your big “why” may go beyond your industry and the work you do every day. You may want to make a change in the world or your community, and raising money for a worthy cause can be one way to help fulfill that purpose.
They can help your bottom line
Customers today are conscious of the good that companies do. Harvard Business School professors Elizabeth Keenan and Leslie John have studied the effects of charitable giving by companies. They’ve found that customers are more likely to prefer companies that donate to causes, and especially favor companies that donate a larger percentage of their profits—as opposed to a larger dollar amount overall.
Fundraisers make a difference
In the United States alone, there are over 1.54 million charitable organizations. These groups provide support and resources to the vulnerable, raise money for cancer and medical research, provide shelter to animals, offer educational opportunities to children, and more. When your company helps these groups, you are contributing to initiatives that change lives.
They build a culture of kindness
Employees who take part in workplace fundraising events are asked to look outside their own concerns and to think about others—especially those who face big challenges. By working together and by learning about those who need support, employees can build a culture focused on helping others and expressing kindness.
Best Practices for Successful Fundraising Events
Unlike workplace holiday parties and other company events, fundraisers are all about raising as much money as you can for a purpose that matters. That’s going to require a different approach. Here’s how you can make a difference.
Survey your team
Before you start planning, survey your team. You can use an app like Connecteam to send out an anonymous survey so that you can determine if there is interest in the idea of a fundraiser. You can also find out what charities and causes matter to your employees. By raising money for causes your team is passionate about you may get more enthusiastic volunteers from your team and more buy-in.
Get clear about what you want to achieve with your workplace fundraising events, whether it’s raising money or awareness—or both. Determine what cause you want to support. If you’re raising money, you will also want to set a dollar goal to help keep you on track.
Create a committee
Ask for volunteers from your team who are willing to work on a committee to make the event happen. This group will be responsible for taking care of booking venues, communicating with your employees, and marketing. They will need a budget and support from leadership so they can develop a timeline of everything that needs to happen before the event itself.
Communicate and make it personal
You need to communicate with two groups of people about your workplace fundraising events: your employees and the greater community. With your employees, you need to get them excited about taking part. With the greater community, you want to encourage anyone who is inspired to do so to donate. In both cases, you can do so by communicating regularly and by keeping communications personal. Regularly send out updates through an app like Connecteam chat to let employees know how your efforts are going. If you are seeking external donations, use social media to share with others in your city or state what you are raising money for. Where possible, encourage leadership and even employees to share their own stories about the specific cause. For example, if your company is fundraising for a local animal shelter you might want to ask employees to share pictures of their pets if they want to. They can also share stories of their own pet adoptions. These personal stories and pictures help connect people to the purpose of the fundraiser, which can encourage them to see its value so they are more willing to donate time and money.
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Get the logistics sorted out
You will need to sort out what workplace fundraising event you are hosting, and where. Invitations will need to be sent out, as well as a method for gathering a list of likely donors. In addition, you will need a way to receive donations and keep them in an account until your money can be transferred to the charitable organization of your choice. Many charitable organizations can help. They may have resources and useful suggestions, so as soon as you determine where your donations will go, contact that organization to find out what support systems they have in place. Other logistics to get sorted out are the legal aspects of fundraising. Find out whether there are insurance requirements for your event—especially if you will be running a marathon or hosting any event where injuries are likely. Consult with an attorney to make sure you are in full compliance with any relevant laws, including tax laws.
Send out invitations
Well in advance, send out invitations to your workplace fundraising event. Invite your team too, even if your fundraiser is aimed at external donors—but make it clear it is voluntary to attend.
Market your workplace fundraising event
Promotion can make the difference between meeting your goals and not. Internally, you need to raise enthusiasm among your team so that they want to participate. If you’re holding an external fundraiser, your ability to get the message out to your neighborhood, city, state, or even the world can determine your success. Create a marketing plan. It could involve sending messages via social media and your organization’s website. You might also want to contact local reporters and media or post ads in newspapers or online to promote your event.
Employee incentives and rewards can get your team excited about your fundraising efforts. You can offer company swag, gift cards, or other awards and prizes. Don’t overlook non-financial incentives though. Keeping track of the money raised on company chat can encourage your efforts too. Shout-outs on social media for volunteers and participants can also encourage your team to take part. Another important incentive is the “thank you” note. Write a personal thank you card or note to everyone who donates or takes part in your event. This shows your appreciation and ensures they want to take part in your next fundraiser.
As you host your event, gather some information. Keep track of how much you raised in relation to your goals. Note down how many people contacted you about the fundraiser, how many employees volunteered to help, and how many people attended your event. Analyzing what worked and what didn’t can help you plan your next workplace fundraising event. You might even want to hold a debriefing meeting with your fundraiser committee to discuss what to do next time and what to try to get even better results. Keep your meeting notes digitized online on a platform like Connecteam so you can easily refer to them when you’re planning your next event.
Inspiring Ideas for Workplace Fundraising Events
So what kind of events can become fundraisers at your company? There are many options, from the formal to the zany.
Some organizations get donations from sponsors, purchase large gifts using past fundraising funds, or auction off their own products or services. At these workplace fundraising events, donors can bid on items they want, driving up the costs—and the money earned for charity. Auction items range from in-demand concert tickets to gift baskets—and even entire furnished homes.
Fancy dress parties, dinners, and gala events are popular ways to fundraise. These workplace fundraising events can include speeches, which can help raise awareness about an issue too. Money is raised by charging for tickets to the event.
Another way to raise money for a good cause is to hold a competition. A game night, trivia night, or arcade night can generate donations if people play to enter the competitions. More gamers can be encouraged to take part if there is a grand prize for the winner. One caveat here: in some areas, there are regulations about getting money for games of chance. While charities are usually excluded, always check local laws before hosting any kind of competition or game night.
Races and marathons
Races and marathons are a great way to raise money for a cause. Your employees can take part and ask friends and family to sponsor them. The money raised goes towards charity. Chili’s restaurants—for example—regularly take part in 5k marathons and even hosts a company picnic afterward. Funds go to St Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. In addition to running and walking marathons, many workplace fundraising events can become “a-thons.” Fundraisers have included danceathons, hula hoop marathons, readathons, cycling races, and more. Another variation of this is a “drive,” where employees or other donors gather items for a charity. For example, workplaces may hold toy drives to gather toy gifts for local children’s hospitals or children’s charities. Food drives, coat drives, clothes drives, and other similar workplace fundraising events can gather needed items for local charities.
Another popular workplace fundraising event is to ask for donations in exchange for taking part in an activity. For example, Habitat for Humanity Okanagan in Canada holds a gingerbread house fundraiser during the winter holiday season. Participants pay to get a gingerbread house kit. They have a chance to build the kit, take photos, and post them online. Winners with the best house compete to win one of several prizes. Another event has seen small companies hosting rappelling fundraisers. Participants pay to take part in rapelling inside a climbing gym, with the money raised going to a charity. Almost any fun event—from hiking to rock climbing to skiing—can become a fundraiser.
Employee special events
A common internal way to raise funds is to ask for donations in exchange for a workplace privilege. Workers can pay for the right to dress casually at work, nab a prime parking spot, dunk their boss in a tank of water, get their boss to shave their heads, or something else. This can be structured in a few ways.
- Employees bid on the privilege and the highest bidder wins
- Employees contribute to a fund and if the pot reaches a specific amount the whole workplace gets a special privilege—like a workday party or seeing their employer have to dress as a clown for a day
- Employees pay for a right—such as the right to dress casually—and everyone who pays gets the benefit
Bake-offs, chili cookoffs, grill cookoffs, and other food events raise money by harnessing the cooking power of your employees. Your staff can create food items which are then auctioned off for money. Alternatively, people can pay to enter a cookoff or bakeoff with the chance of winning a prize if their entry wins. Often, these can be fun outdoor events in the summer—where they can draw a crowd.
Raising Money and Spirits with Workplace Fundraising Events
Your company can make a difference by raising money for causes such as children’s charities, animal shelters, and local or international non-profits. Workplace fundraising events can contribute to a better world and can be a fun way for your team to pull together for something meaningful.