A block party fundraiser is ideal for community organizations, neighborhood associations, and any other group offering services in a specific area. Get some tips on turning a neighborhood party into a fundraising opportunity.
A block party is a great chance for residents to learn about your organization, meet each other, improve the bonds in the community, and take a day to relax and have fun while spending little money. Make this a real community initiative by partnering with other local organizations serving the community so residents can find out about all the local resources available to them. Most importantly, make sure that the reason you are raising money is very clear, and is something that everyone in the neighborhood can get behind.
There are many great block party planning guides available on the internet, which include a planning timeline, ideas on organizing your planning committee, food safety tips, and more (see the link in the Resources section at the end). But how do you put a fundraising twist on this kind of event?
Here are four fundraising ideas to help you make your block party into a fundraising opportunity. Be sure to keep in mind your neighborhood demographics to be sure that everyone can afford to participate. If you are in a particularly low-income area, you might need to rely more heavily on sponsorship than on selling items at the event itself.
The most popular element of a block party is the food, and the most popular food for a block party is barbecue of course! Ask for donations from a local grocery store for hot dogs and hamburgers to grill up, as well as soda, paper plates, napkins and cups. If you have a family restaurant or grill in your area, you might be able to get them to sponsor this part of the event as well. If your grocery store can’t supply drinks, you can approach soda companies for donations, or get the famous orange drink donated from your local McDonalds!
Always contact the manager directly to ask for donations, and arrange a meeting in person so they can learn more about your organization and the event you are planning. Most grocery stores are happy to get behind a community event like this, as it offers exposure to potential shoppers in the area and reinforces their relationship with current clients.
Be sure to provide a formal donation request letter with outlining who your organization is, what the event is for, and how much of each item you will need, as well as a brochure or other information on your organization, so they can see you are prepared in your planning – showing that you will be prepared for the event! If your organization serves the community, have the meeting there so they can see exactly how their support will help.
You can also set up a snack bar and sell fundraising products – snacks like candy bars, lollipops, and beef jerky that are specially priced for fundraising groups.
Even if you sell it at a low, affordable price, if you can get these products donated, you will be able to raise money by selling food and drink to your hungry neighbors. Allow your sponsors to display banners/signs, or hand out flyers, coupons, or other promotional pieces if they wish.
Get prizes donated for a raffle and sell tickets throughout your event. This is a good way to get people to stick around too, since they will want to know if they won a prize! Step by Step Fundraising has a lot of great information on organizing fundraising raffles that you can use in your planning.
If you can’t get any prizes donated, go with a half-and-half where half of the money you raise by selling raffle tickets goes to your cause, and half goes to the raffle winner. When planning raffles, always be sure to check with your state laws, since some states have very specific rules about doing raffles and some states require a permit.
In addition to donations for food or prizes, you can approach local businesses to sponsor your event, giving a donation in exchange for allowing them to promote their products or services at your event. Allow them to set up a table at the event or display a banner, and be sure to include their logo on your fundraising flyer and other fundraising event publicity. Follow the tips in #2 to get your sponsorship request prepared.
Expanding on the idea of having tables for sponsors, if you have the space and equipment available, why not have a bazaar/block sale area? While planning a bazaar or block sale can be a complete event in itself, if you have the resources to put this together, this adds a fun twist to your event, gives residents the chance to get rid of unneeded items, and is a great chance for local merchants to meet residents that may have never set foot in their store. Setting up a bazaar also offers a great opportunity for talented residents who don’t have a store to sell handmade arts and crafts.
Charge a set amount per table: if you have space for just 10 tables and charge $30 for each, that’s an extra $300 raised. Plus, get just one or two items from each of your tables and use them as prizes in your raffle.
A Few Planning Tips
– Know your Liability – In addition to local permits, be aware of liability issues. Work with your municipality to make sure you have the right liability coverage for your event.
– Have a Plan B (as in Bad weather!) – Try to partner with an organization that is well located in the area where you want to have your block party. If you have a community center in a local park, your block party could be a Day in the Park instead. If you work with an organization that has a facility where you want to hold your event, it will be easy to move activities inside in case of bad weather. Be sure to consider your plans for food: if you have to move inside, is there a kitchen or indoor grill available?
– Survey your Neighborhood – If this is your first community event, you may want to do a survey in advance to see what kind of activities your residents would be most excited about. This is a good way to reach out to your community in advance to get them excited about the event, recruit volunteers, and maybe even stumble across some hidden talent in your area that might want to provide some entertainment on your big day!
– Get Entertainment – Local radio stations will often help with community events by getting radio personalities out to host and DJ the event, and will help to promote the event over the radio.
– Promote your Fundraising Event – Get tips on publicity for your fundraiser, and learn how to create a fundraising flyer .
– Do a Post-party Evaluation – Get your planning committee together after the event to evaluate the event, and what you could improve for next year (yes, next year! These are the kind of events that will keep growing and residents will look forward to all year long)! Be sure to thank all of your sponsors, city officials, and partner organizations that helped make your event a success. Get ideas for thank you letters.
Block Party Planning Resources
– That’s The Spirit: Four Steps to a Great Summer Block Party
– Step by Step Fundraising: How to Organize a Fundraising Raffle