Great ideas often lead to big things, but somewhere along the way investments and fundraising are often required. Non-profits, political causes, and commercial startups all need cash to expand and grow. Although many groups may dream of a mega grant or super venture capitalist, support from small donors and individual investors are often the foundation from which all things grow.
One of the most successful ways of attracting these individuals is through small gatherings. These “house parties” are a popular and successful way to raise money for nonprofits, political functions, and business ventures. Although the reasons for these gatherings are always to raise funds, the purpose for the money creates subtle differences in the structure and style of the events.
Let’s take a look at all three types of events and see how they vary.
Nonprofit events are called by many names including a parlor meeting, house meeting, house party, or round up. The purpose can vary from funding for social programs or religious organizations, support for the arts, humanitarian outreach, environmental awareness or assistance for dozens of other charitable causes.
• These small charitable parlor meetings are usually hosted by two or more people commonly referred to as co-chairs.
• Successful house parties need two or more months advance notice.
• As a practice, the host does not ask for money. Instead, one of the co-chairs or the featured speaker will speak about funding needs and the benefits of supporting the organization or cause.
• One popular way to increase donations is to offer matching dollars. This is a popular incentive. A major funder agrees to make a specific donation as long as his or her amount is matched by other supporters.
Political Fundraising can be focused on a single candidate, group of candidates, or local political party. Small group fundraising accounts for a significant amount of dollars for both minor and major candidates.
• Political house parties usually begin with a committee led by a chair. In most cases, all the members are responsible for bringing in guests.
• The purpose should be defined. There can be more than one goal, but each goal should be very clear.
• Unless it is a general fundraiser, a target audience should be defined at the beginning. Food, location, and activities should be geared to target audience.
Investor Meetings also go by several names including networking house parties or Angel events.
• Although these small parties are often held in homes, informal settings in business or prestigious locations are also OK.
• Incentives, perks and well known speakers are often used to attract attendees.
• A few commercial groups are available to organize events.
Although the three types of small events have some differences, successful events share many of the same elements.
1. Prestigious location – Private homes are fine, and sometimes the best choice. Setting the event in a prominent neighborhood or in a notable home can attract guests and set a financial tone.
2. Organizers set a realistic financial goal with a specific amount they plan to raise.
3. The budget should be set in early planning and should be paid for in advance. (Dealing with last minute fees or unpaid bills creates a negative atmosphere.) A flawless event reflects on the organization, candidate, or company.
4. Leadership should be clear and defined. Jobs and roles need to be written down and understood by all members of the team.
5. Time management is very important. If the event is listed as two hours, don’t run over time. Running overtime makes potential donors angry.
6. Aggressively Market target audience. Make sure to budget for marketing campaign which may include personal contacts, mailed invites, direct mail, and entertainer contacts.
7. Thank you letters (or calls) should be sent to all attendees who attended parlor meetings or investment parties, whether they immediately invested or not.