5 Tips for Planning a Successful Outdoor Fundraiser

As the weather warms up, non-profit fundraisers take to the great outdoors in the form of runs, walks, and golf outings, as well as other, less traditional event types. Here are a few tips for planning a successful outdoor event:

1. Start planning early:

If you are thinking about an outdoor event, it’s never premature to make a plan.

Most outdoor events involve a public venue that needs to be reserved at least 6 months in advance.

You may need to contact the mayor’s office or public works department to get the event on the calendar. Events such as a run/walk entail closing off streets, which may affect local businesses.

The further in advance you reserve the date, the more time you have to inform others of the event and encourage them to get involved.

Some businesses may want to take advantage of the crowds to plan a sale or their own special event. It may even allow you the opportunity for some cross advertising.

2. Take advantage of low costs:

One of the benefits of an outdoor event is the low cost of many public spaces.

Local parks are a great venue for fundraisers and can usually be secured with minimal fees.

This is a great opportunity to get creative and think outside of the box.

For example, Madison Park Cooperative Preschool, in Seattle Washington, held a “polar plunge” on the shores of Lake Washington.

Forgoing a facility ensured a low-cost event where the school was able to make $25K; the creativity of the event was an added bonus, allowing the school to raise more than their projected goal.

3. Think of the season:

Think of your donors and what activities the season lends itself to.

People love outdoor activities if the time of year is optimal for them.

A great summer fundraiser could involve swimming.

Winter caroling sets the mood for a festive season.

The start of spring is always a great time for avid golfers to get excited about breaking out their gear after the cold finally breaks.

Life’s WORC took advantage of this idea with their 29th Annual Geraldo Rivera Golf & Tennis Classic on a Thursday in May.

Choosing the time of year that suited the event ensured Life’s WORC’s fundraising goals were met without a hitch.

4. Be prepared:

With an outdoor event, it is essential to take the weather into consideration.

While we all hope for a picture perfect day, forecasts are always unpredictable.

Having a backup plan is necessary if you don’t want to find yourself scrambling for a last-minute venue.

Consider a rain date if the event cannot be held in inclement weather. Also, consider securing tents, a simple fix for many outdoor events.

Another thing to think about is the time of day.

Cool mornings are the best time of day for events that involve exercise.

The Arc Mercer, an organization dedicated to empowering people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, held a 1-mile fun walk to raise money for their programs. The event was scheduled for 10 a.m. sharp to ensure maximum comfort for all participants.

5. Choose the right online event management platform:

The ideal platform does the following:
• Makes it very easy for supporters to create, share, and manage a personal campaign/event page.
• Integrates seamlessly with your website and branding so that you can maintain control over the look and feel of communications.
• Contains built-in email and social media marketing tools that enable supporters to get the word out in just a few clicks.

Crowdster’s platform does all of this and more. Request a free demo.

An outdoor fundraiser is a great way to come up with a unique event that stands out in this competitive marketplace. Your supporters want to feel passionate about a cause greater than themselves, and what better way to inspire that passion than through plenty of fresh air and exercise!

For lots more fundraising event ideas, both indoor and out, click here.


Denise Goldman is an educator and a graduate student at Long Island University. More posts from this author can be found here.

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