One of the most complex parts of fundraising is keeping your annual event fresh and fun. We all feel at some point that events can get stale for you and your guests. So you want to change things up, and everything is on the table including the venue, the caterer, the date or time of year, the entertainment, and even the theme of the event.
But before you think about those elements, why not think about changing the overall theme? That may make it easier for you to think about the venue, food, entertainment and the date!
We have had the pleasure to attend hundreds of events, all with various themes. Take a look at a few of our favorite themes to spark some ideas for your next fundraiser.
1) Casino Night
Guests love this because it allows them to play some fun games for little or no cost. There are gaming companies that will come in and manage all of this for you including the dealers decked out in bow ties, game tables, and different games like Craps, BlackJack, and Roulette.
To avoid any gambling laws in your state, you will likely need to issue out fake currency that the guests can use. However, don’t forget to add in some great games and prizes including a silent auction (use mobile bidding to keep people engaged while they play), raffles and other revenue generating games.
2) Mardi Gras Ball (Masquerade Ball)
If you want to have an event early in the year then consider a Mardi Gras theme. You can encourage people to dress up, supply them with plenty of beads and masks to make it a real New Orleans theme. The menu should consist of some popular cajun dishes, like shrimp over grits in a small cup, a raw seafood bar, with oysters and shrimp, and a King Cake where the winner can get a great prize.
Add in a wine wall raffle, a silent auction with mobile bidding, and end the night with dancing in a Second Line to a live band.
3) Kentucky Derby
Want to have an event in late spring? Why not consider the first Saturday in May? Not only should the weather be warmer, your guests will be ready to don some spring formal gear and sip on some mint-based cocktails.
We aren’t talking about Cinco de Mayo, although it falls during the same week each year. We are talking about the greatest 2 minutes in sports!
Find a venue with lots of windows and areas for people to roam outside if the weather is nice. Serve up mint juleps, popular Kentucky dishes, like Hot Browns, and allow people to bet on the horse race while you show it live at the event.
Looking for ways to make money over ticket sales? Consider a ladies hat contest, men’s seersucker suit contests, silent auctions, and other fun spring games. Your guests will love it!
4) Le Bal en Blanc
Want to dress up your summer event and have a bit of a garden party? Consider an event where everyone is asked to wear all white. If you can host this event out in a tent it will help build your event theme even more.
Consider hosting a croquet tournament to go along with your silent auction and summer wine wall. Set up centerpieces with flowers and other fancy decorations, and then sell your gorgeous floral table centerpieces to your guests when they checkout.
This sort of event is a great way to kick off a warm summer fundraising season.
5) Christmas Tree / Holiday Auctions
Late in the year your guests are getting geared up for the holiday season and always looking things to purchase for their home or for friends. Two themes growing in popularity are Christmas Tree auctions or Holiday Shops.
For Christmas Tree auctions, you will recruit supports to decorate a small tabletop tree, which can be purchased Target or Walmart. These supporters can then pick a theme and decorate the tree to put into the auction. We have seen trees that range from a popular NFL team to Disney or Star Wars. Encourage your decorators to get creative.
Each of these trees would go into an auction where using mobile bidding, you would sell them to the highest bidder!
Holiday Shops allows you to host a bazaar where you recruit holiday vendors to sell their wares. Rent out a big warehouse or gym and invite your vendors to come set up a kiosk. Any vendor selected should donate an item worth $50 or more to your auction that you intend to run alongside it. The vendor will get recognition in the app in the donor field and you will generate more revenue in a completely different way. Add some extra items of your own to boost the interest of the auction!
Make Sure Your Silent Auctions are Ready to Rock!
Hopefully these themes give you some ideas on how to change up your next event. In each case, the theme should help you determine the best time of year, venue, entertainment and food you would need. And, in some cases the theme will identify ways to generate revenue at the event, like through horse race betting at a Kentucky Derby event, through silent auctions, raffles, or other techniques. Be sure to run your silent auction on mobile devices so your guests can roam the venue, play casino games, or even bid from a remote location.
We have attended events that have used all of these themes above while running an auction on Handbid, so we are happy to provide you with tips on how to maximize your auction revenue! Check our some of our other top Silent Auction Tips.
We would love to hear from you! Do you have any great event theme ideas you could share?