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Put the ‘fun’ into your next fundraiser

Fundraisers aim to raise awareness of a certain cause and generate income to foster charitable efforts. Fundraising can be hard work and often requires an investment of both time and energy, but the end result makes those efforts well worth it — especially when the event is successful.

One way to make sure fundraisers are well-attended and effective is to focus the event on something entertaining. Fundraising parties can take many shapes and forms, but those that guests find fun might ultimately prove more effective and successful.

When planning a fundraiser, gear the party around the likes and interests of your expected guests. Here are some additional suggestions for hosts hoping to throw a fun and successful fundraiser.

• Form a committee. Fundraising should be a group effort; the more help you receive the more smoothly it will run. Association Works, a Dallas-based fundraising consulting company, advises that fundraiser committees be formed as early as possible, ideally several months before the party is scheduled to take place. This affords ample to spitball ideas and plan the event once a theme has been chosen.

• Decide on the type of event. Look around in your local community and within the organization to learn which types of events have already proven successful. Figure out if you can utilize materials you already have or receive assistance from people you know. One way to keep overhead low is to find out if certain items can be donated to the party. For example, a caterer may donate food in exchange for free advertising.

• Find the right venue. The United Kingdom-based National Council for Voluntary Organisations advises hosts plan fundraisers before choosing a venue, rather than vice-versa. Determine whether you will have exclusive access to the location or if the venue will be hosting another event concurrently. Look for amenities such as adequate parking or proximity to transportation and major roadways.

• Decide on a fun theme. Themes can help sell an event and enhance the fun factor. Explore the following themes as a way to jump-start your own creative ideas.

- Old-fashioned garden party: Serve finger foods, tea, scones, and punch, and arrange for live music from a string quartet.

- Pool/beach party: Invite guests to cool off in the waves or in the controlled environment of a pool or waterpark.

- Game night: Use a carnival theme to excite potential donors. Proceeds from games will go to charity, but include some take-home prizes for the winners as well.

- Concert: Contract with a local band or musician to provide entertainment.

- Costume party: A masquerade ball or another themed costume event can up the entertainment factor for guests.

- Dance party: Relive the days of school dances by hosting your own dance. Attendees can dance the night away while remembering the joys of their youth.

Make fundraisers more fun by hosting entertaining events that raise money for good causes.