We've had an interesting discussion on the AHP email list on holding "non-events," events that raise money but don't have any real event.
Rodger Wetzel from ND gave these great suggestions:
One example: A Non-event
Send out invitations that say something like: (Your organization) is holding its first annual Black Tie Non-Event. The event will NOT take place on (date). Cocktails (or refreshments) will NOT be served at 6 p.m., and dinner will NOT be served at 7 p.m. NO program will be held at 8 p.m. You will be saving yourself (itemize the money they will save by not having to attend your event, such as tuxedo rental, buying a new dress, babysitting, parking, cost of the dinner, cocktails/refreshments, having your hair done, etc.)
Then ask for a donation equaling that amount. If you're looking for smaller donations, make the non-event more casual (beach party, cocktail party, etc.)
Another example: The 'Stay at Home' Event
Ask people to buy a ticket to a non-event, entitling them to stay home and relax. Explain how much money the charity is saving by not renting a room, purchasing food/beverates, and entertainment. Emphasize how much the donor saves, with no expenses for a salon appointment, baby-sitter, parking, tuxedo rental, and so on. This is especially good if your target audience are people who are constantly on the go, who crave a quiet night at home. If your supporters who really look forward to a chance to get together, this may not be the right fit.
An extra benefit can be had by scheduling the non-event for the same night as a television show or TV special related to your cause. This could be an investigative report or a movie dramatizing your issues. It could be a concert, or a game your team is playing. Urge people to watch it, and learn more about what you do. Attach a couple of teabags, or packet of coffee - donated, of course - to the ticket.
You can even encourage the donors to throw their own neighborhood fundraising party. This do-it-yourself event may result in dozen of mini-events on the same night. Each can raise a little money, at minimal cost and send it to you. They can even compete for titles such as 'Most Money Raised', 'Most Fun', or 'Most Innovative'.
Rodger W. Wetzel, LSW, MPA/MHA
Community Health & Foundation
St. Alexius Medical Center
PO Box 5510
Bismarck, ND 58506-5510