Planning a Fundraising Event – Fun & Games

Installment 9 of Planning a Fundraising Event – Fun & Games

Your event will have many entertaining facets to it. One important component to implement is something that makes the evening feel like it is an opportunity to have fun and play games. Games? Well, that can take many meanings, but the traditional concepts such as silent auctions, goal meters, and such are aspects that are frequently associated with competition and winning.

These types of activities raise the level of excitement and motivation to participate. Don’t limit your fundraising efforts at the event to mere ticket sales or the traditional direct ask. Induce a social component which will bring a level of deeper community collaboration to participate and do what it takes to raise the funds. Plus, who doesn’t like to be a winner?



Every seat in the house can be the hot seat when the bidding or participation can be done from their own mobile device. This also ensures that the participants feel that they have the power, quite literally, in their hands. This also allows freedom of movement for attendees, so they can mingle, review auction items, the overall efforts of the organization, and participate in game anywhere they are in the room while simultaneously making decisions privately on their own mobile device.

Mobile increases guest participation due to the convenience and privacy it offers. If you utilize auction software to enable such a feature, those who bid will receive immediate notifications when they have been outbid. This offers them an opportunity to raise their bid, and your overall donation in real time. This also allows those who were unable to physically attend to bid from home! Be sure to incorporate an online auction catalog of the items being auctioned live at the fundraising event.


Auctions have always been a popular fundraising option for nonprofits. Whether they be silent or live, they still offer an opportunity for local community vendors to provide items to promote their own business as well as provide an item to be auctioned at the fundraising event.

This is considered an ‘in-kind” donation, so be sure to give the vendor who provided the item for auction a receipt for their contribution. They will need this for their taxes. This also increases the amount of promotion your event will receive as vendors who donate goods will want to promote your event to their own customer base. Vendors really are your best friends in your fundraising event planning. 

Items to Auction

  • Gift cards
  • Products
  • Art
  • Tickets to events
  • Services
  • Vacation packages

Catalog Options

You can even reserve big ticket items through auction catalogs. Some auction catalogs allow nonprofits to “reserve” such items for their auctions without any upfront fee. They provide the media to promote the item, descriptions and details relating to the value, and concierge services for the winners. The starting bid covers the cost of the item, and the payment isn’t taken until the highest bid is reached. The catalog services collects the fee and the balance is provided to the nonprofit.


Silent auctions are great and can be done simultaneously as a live auction takes place. Put your smaller items on the silent auction tables and online catalog, then have the live auctioneer fire things up with live action bidding on higher priced items that were donated to your event. Really bring the feeling of competition for the big prize to the fore.

Hire an experienced auctioneer who knows how to engage the audience and ensure that everyone participates. It may be a small price to pay a professional, but the return will be seen in the increased monies collected from the experience. If you have an experienced auctioneer willing to volunteer, even better. Don’t have anyone local who would know how to be an auctioneer? See what kind of entertainment professionals are available and ask them if they would be willing to provide this service for you (donated or for a fee, you negotiate). 

Master of Ceremonies

Your Master of Ceremonies will be leading the charge throughout the entire event. Be sure to select someone who knows how to engage the crowd, get them excited, and can inspire community throughout the entire evening. They can be entertaining, funny, and perhaps even willing to perform at some point in the evening. The sky is the limits.