Grassroots: How We Raised Funds for a Small Non-Profit

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Grassroots Fundraising Campaigns: How we raised funds to surpass our goal for the Pura Vida Fundraiser 2013
Kaylee Brown, Copywriter – LoudMouth Strategies
Date: 11/6/2014

The idea to throw a fundraiser stemmed from a casual interaction around corporate responsibility and how important it is to give back to the communities that need it most. I quickly told my team about this exceptional non-profit Abriento Mentes located in Costa Rica that I had volunteered with in the past. We discussed the invaluable impact organizations like Abriendo Mentes have on developing countries by providing opportunities that enhance economic growth through education, social, and technology programs. This casual conversation blossomed into the brilliant idea to host a fundraiser to help raise awareness and funds for the non-profit. And so, the brainstorming began…

Step 1. Finding the Venue

Finding a venue for your fundraising event is critical to hosting a fundraiser and should be your number one step in planning. Our group was able to partner with a local restaurant in San Diego, the Salt & Cleaver, for the space to host the event. The restaurant was eager to get involved and agreed to give their space for an evening to host the fundraiser. In addition to providing the space, the restaurant created a select menu, including a special “Pura Vida” inspired cocktail that would be served to our guests. The Salt & Cleaver also donated a percentage of all food and drink sales for the evening which contributed to hitting our monetary goal for the night.


Step 2. Getting Attendees and Sponsors

We used our individual contacts to create an initial list for potential sponsors and attendees. To draw sponsors and attract attendees, we promoted the event as an opportunity to expand social networks while giving back to a great cause. Establishing a purpose for the event is necessary to attract sponsors; confidently relaying the purpose and having a solid outline of how the fundraiser directly benefits a cause will motivate the potential sponsor to contribute. Our team put together a detailed informational sponsorship package that we were able to send out to potential sponsors to include the non-profits mission, details about the event and the various sponsorship levels and opportunities they could contribute too.

For example, informing our sponsors that their donations would go directly to programming that would help empower small Central American economies through the enhancement of education and social programming was our key messaging. However, it is as equally important to relay to them how their company will benefit from contributing to the event. For instance, some of our sponsorship benefits included free promotion of the sponsor’s company through social media marketing, featured logos on Pura Vida Fundraiser’s imagery/signage, marketing collateral for attendees, email campaigns to invitees, and shout outs at fundraiser.

Step 3. Planning and Marketing the Event

The evening’s total revenue came from multiple sources including; RSVP Ticket Donations through targeted email campaigns, all drink/food sales, raffle ticket sales, out of pocket cash donations, and corporate sponsorships. Through this strategy, we created a solid foundation of key sponsors to donate goods, services, or money. All of our sponsor’s donations allowed us to successfully design a dynamic experience for our supporters and attendees – HAPPY HOUR! FUN PRIZES! GAMES! FREE GIVEAWAYS! LIVE MUSIC! Having a solid marketing strategy in addition to setting/reaching goals were essential components to increasing attendance for the fundraiser:

“It takes a lot of organization and team work to plan a fundraiser. It’s important to have a clear strategy and set objectives going into any event, especially a fundraiser. Understanding how to strategize, plan and market your fundraiser is instrumental in achieving your events target numbers. Setting goals and milestones, understanding your budget and building a solid marketing plan is instrumental in planning a successful fundraising event. Simple marketing activities such as branding your event, setting up social media platforms to organize and promote, and planning out a series of email blasts with designated content to engage your audience in supporting your fundraiser.” 

– Georgette Kakridas, Pura Vida Marketing Director –  Founder / CEO of LoudMouth Strategies

Creative development is also a key component to planning a successful fundraiser. The theme and image should correspophoto (1)nd with the non-profit’s mission in order to preserve the fundraiser’s core function – to expand the positive impact of the non-profit’s cause. For example, Abriendo Mentes is a non-profit based in Costa Rica with a focus on youth education. We used a tropical beach theme as the backlash for all social media outlets, a howler monkey Abriendo Mentes logo for imagery (signs, T-shirts, gift bag prizes, flyers) and we used pictures of local Costa Rican children in Abriendo Mentes’ classrooms for the event’s PowerPoint show, email campaigns and social media updates. The creative development of the event plays an essential role in capturing your supporters’ interest, attention, and hearts in order to reach the goal of funds raised.

Our inspiration to host the event was derived with the goal to expand Abriendo Mentes’ cause, but the benefits of planning, marketing, and hosting the fundraiser far exceeded the monetary donations gained. The fundraiser resulted in an immensely rewarding experience: we surpassed the goal of funds raised, cultivated professional relationships through the event’s social network, exposed/promoted small to medium size San Diego companies, and created a fun way for people to contribute a great cause!

The single most important thing you can do to prepare for any fundraiser is ask for help. Don’t talk yourself out of reaching out to your contacts because you think they will say no, people will surprise you! While the fundraiser is going on, work the room – thank people for their support and let them know how their contribution will impact the fundraiser’s beneficiaries.”  

Follow up when all is said and done. The best way to get support for your next endeavor is to show your supporters they real impact they made. Publish photos, comments from beneficiaries, the organization and supporters on the event’s social media channels. Help people tell the story about their experience and everyone will want to become a part of it!”

         – Diana Farias, Pura Vida Event Coordinator & Project Manager for Center for Creative Leadership

For more details on Pura Vida Fundraiser 2013 check out


Fundraiser Hosts

Kaylee Brown, Event Coordinator and Copywriter – LoudMouth Strategies

Georgette Kakridas, Marketing Director and CEO – LoudMouth Strategies

Diana Farias, Fundraising Event Coordinator – Volunteer

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