Hello, my name is Jenna. In this blog, I am going to bring you BIG ideas for every little detail of your event. Need inspiration? Check out my current post. Want a tip on a topic? Browse the categories. There are thousands of people just like you planning fundraising events across the country...we may be apart, but when we share ideas, we will do great things together!

Please Note: Jenna has retired from blogging, but we keep her posts on the site because the ideas are timeless and have been very well received in the non-profit community!

Details About Your Blogger, Jenna

JennaBW resized 182 Mom, step-mom, wife, daughter, singer, volunteer, writer, marketer, gluten-free baker, MBA, and...
eternal optimist! More...

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Help Others by Sharing Your Ideas! (And, maybe win a hot air balloon ride!)

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Every month from November through June, I will pick a winner of a hot air balloon ride for two! And, if you submit a photo or video from your event, you will be entered twice! Any event topic is welcome! Things like..

Creative Place Settings
Fundraising Games
Checkout Best Practices
Agenda Ideas
No idea is too small!


Don't Forget to Order Your FREE FundraisingRides Auction Materials!

AuctionTableTopDisplay8.23 resized 182FundraisingRides donates a hot air balloon ride to every non-profit that participates in our program. Order your FREE Auction Packet with our simple online form.

Why the Details Bring Us Bliss

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I have a love of details because managing them gives me three wonderful gifts. To find out what they are and learn a little more about me, click here.

Is There an Event Detail You Would Like to Read About?

Themes that Rock
Transforming Your Venue
Event Timeline/Flow
What Makes a Good Emcee
Staging the Auction Table
Balloon Arch Design
What's on YOUR mind?

If you are thinking about it, most likely other people are too! Send me an email and let me know what event details you have the biggest questions about!

Send me an Email!


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Today’s Conversation Piece: The Table Centerpiece


Fundraising event centerpieces can be made from small potted plantsHere in Connecticut, it has been an uncommonly mild winter. Sixty degrees, yesterday!  And, yet, in my core, it still feels we are in the midst of our hibernation season. The days are short, sunshine is scarce, the produce in the grocery store is lackluster, and our small downtown has been robbed of its rhythm and buzz with so many families on vacation.

So, I was thinking it is a perfect time for a blog post that features vibrant colors and a festive feel. Today, we will cover a bit of the basics with centerpiece design.

Now, I know, this is not a complicated topic. But, so many of you are [rightly] focused on the more challenging details of fundraising events such as driving ticket sales, attracting sponsors, acquiring auction items, and settling on entertainment. I thought that perhaps a no-brainer list of best practices and a couple ideas for inspiration could be helpful.

Back to Basics

  • A low design will create an atmosphere where table guests can all see each other and help spark conversation.
    • This is especially important if businesses or groups are buying entire tables!
  • Always test your design before acquiring all your supplies.
    • Create a prototype to share with committee members.
    • Make your design easy to replicate.
    • If you can prep the centerpiece prior to the event and delegate assembly to team members, all the better!

Make Your Centerpiece a Sponsorship Opportunity

fundraising event casino night centerpiece

The Centerpiece offers an advertising opportunity with a captive audience for the duration of the entire meal!

Bring your prototype design to local businesses and offer signage on the table or better yet, integrated into the design! Be sure to keep in mind the cost of the goods it will take to create all the centerpieces and add on a premium for the value of the advertising.

(It also may be a good idea to add in the cost of two large pizzas so that you can offer your creative team a pizza party for the centerpiece assembly night!)

Bring your theme tableside

Think outside the box! Are there small colorful items that tie to your theme that can be used to create a centerpiece? Nothing like overhearing your guests say as they sit down, “Oh look, that’s so clever!”

I took a stab at this idea with the centerpiece above for a casino night. I used some mini playing cards, floral picks, a little floral foam, curling ribbon, poker chips and some handy dandy scotch tape.

The Impact of A Color Theme

fundraising event blue and purple centerpieceMany of you have written to me about how you have elaborately incorporated color themes to transform mundane event rooms (i.e. a high school gym) into lively celebration spaces.

Water pearls (sometimes called jelly balls or jelly beads) are all the rave for showcasing color themes in the centerpiece. They are reasonably priced and work great with submersible accent lights (if they are in your budget).

For the design to the left, I used very inexpensive felt sheets along with a small amount of glittery accent tulle with floral picks for the flowers. Coordinating water pearls with a table mirror and accent ribbon tied the look together.

The “Favor”ite Centerpiece

Fundraising event favor and centerpieceThis idea came to me from Linda who raises money for a prep school. Her event was in the Spring and she was able to get a flats of violets at very reasonable prices. She wrapped the individual plants in aluminum foil and set them on risers in the center of the table. In addition to adding fresh color to the table, each plant was the favor for the guests.

Being February in Connecticut, I didn’t have the benefit of Spring plantings to choose from! But, thanks to a local ShopRite, I got 4-inch prim rose pots on sale for $1.49! A little pink ribbon fastened to floral picks, some brown paper lunch bags, and glittery tulle brought this breast cancer-themed centerpiece and party favor together!

Fresh flowers are gorgeous, But…

cut flowers for fundraising centerpiecesIf you can get a florist, local supplier, or grocery store to donate flowers for your event, more power to you! But, before you check off the box done, here are a few things to keep in mind.

  • When will the flowers arrive? Will you have the (talented) manpower available to create the arrangements?
  • Figure out how long it takes to make one arrangement…then estimate the time for make as many as you need.
      • Are you arranging the flowers the day before? Do you have the means to transport the arrangements to the venue without damaging them?
  • What will you be arranging them in?
    • Do you need floral foam (and is that in your budget)?
    • Can you borrow the containers and some table mirrors from a local florist?
    • Do you need ribbon or pebbles or gems to bring the design together?
  • Most importantly, keep in mind that with a fresh flower arrangement, you will be adding responsibilities to the oh-so-valuable last-minute prep time for the event!

fundraisingridesThis is a topic that so many of you have expertise on! Please, write comment below, or send me emails with photos of your designs. Your peers want to see what you can do (and so do I)!

Don't worry, I didn't forget! I have our last two balloon ride winners to announce!

  • Among our contest entrants that didn't win in a category, Sharon who raises money for Cancer, MS and Cruedtzfelt-Jakob Disease was picked from a fish bowl.
  • Also, one of our email subscribers was selected from a fish bowl, but I haven't heard back from her via email. So, will announce her first name and the type of organization she raises money for when I hear back from her, next week.

Thanks everyone...and remember, the bliss is in the details!


This blog is sponsored by FundraisingRides, the division of Soaring Adventures of America, Inc. dedicated to providing non-profit organizations with fundraising opportunities.


Fundraising Detail Contest Winners (And 2 More Chances to Win!)


hot air balloon ride winnersSo, I thought this would be fun. But, choosing winners from a wildly creative, incredibly generous, and indisputably deserving group of people is simply a painful process. It means people have to not win (ugh…I can’t even bring myself to say “lose”).

So, to soften the blow of not awarding everyone hot air balloon rides, I have two announcements:

One: I will put all the names of the contest entrants who did not win a hot air balloon ride in a fish bowl and draw one additional winner at random.

Two: I will give an opportunity for people—like first-time event planners—to win a hot air balloon ride. So many of you are following the blog, submitting comments, and sending me emails. I don’t want  you to miss out! So, I will randomly select one of my EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS to win a balloon ride for two. Please subscribe to this blog by entering your email address in the upper right-hand corner of this page by midnight, Wed. Feb 22nd.

I will announce both these winners in my post next Friday, Feb. 24th. Thank you to FundraisingRides for providing all the hot air balloon rides to our winners!

Winner for Creativity, Innovation and Originality
Marit, Who Raises Money for a Humane Society

Every year, Marit’s Humane Society puts on an auction event called Wine, Kibbles and Bids! For the table centerpieces, Marit and her team acquired empty wine bottles and soaked off their labels. Then, she and her team crafted new labels with the pet-themed wine name alternatives featured below.

winner fundraising originality

Marit was able to get flowers for the wine bottles donated so that all she had to do was pay for the printing of the labels. The bottles were then used as door prizes for her guests to take home.

Why I really LOVE this idea…

  • It is always a good thing when you can incorporate a clever and upbeat reminder of your organization’s mission into your event space.
  • This idea not only served as a centerpiece but also as a conversation piece helping to spark interactions among all the guests at the tables.
  • You can take this idea and run with it! The concept could be applied to an event theme or the mission of the organization. For example, a library could create wines that incorporate authors’ names, a casino night could use gambling terms, a historical society could use the names of U.S. presidents. Just make a list of common wines, and a list of relevant names, put them together and see what you come up with! (If you are having trouble being clever, maybe have a glass of wine would help—Personally, I think I am very clever after a glass of wine.)  

Winner for Ease of Replication
Evan Who Raises Money for A Private School

I promise—not every winning detail involves alcohol! But, I do have two in a row.

winner fundraising ease of replication

Evan included an Instant Wine Cellar Raffle at his school’s Annual Soiree. Guests were invited to bring a bottle of wine to the event. These bottles were collected and displayed on a table in the middle of the auction room. When guests brought a bottle, they were given five raffle tickets and invited to purchase additional raffle tickets…$5 for one ticket, $20 for five tickets, $100 for 25 tickets. The winner of the raffle walked away with 50+ bottles of wine—an Instant Wine Cellar!

Why I really LOVE this idea…

  1. Everyone has at least one bottle of wine in the house they can grab as they walk out the door. Guests don’t have to prep ahead of time to bring something valuable and feel connected.
  2. For the winner, every time he/she uncorks a bottle of this wine he/she will think of—or better yet, tell the story of—the fundraising event.
  3. The only cost to the non-profit is the roll of raffle tickets—which you are probably ordering already.  Kudos, Evan!

Winner for Low-Budget Ideas That WOW!
Colleen, Who Raises Money for a Private K-8 School

This is such a good idea, my guess is that some of you have heard of it before. But, I had not. And, I asked a number of friends, and they had not either. It is so EASY and sounds like so much fun. I simply had to award the ride for this category for Colleen’s “Heads or Tails” idea.

Fundraising game heads or tailsAll you need are glow wristbands and a quarter and an emcee—oh and it would help if the event was in the evening so you can dim the room. When guests arrive you sell them a glow wristband for $10 for a chance to win a cash prize (you can decide on the amount), activate the wristband and be sure they put it on.

Just before the start of the auction (if you are having one), have all the people with bracelets stand up. Dim the lights. The emcee announces that they are flipping a coin and all those guests with bracelets need to decide if they are “heads” or “tails.” If they are “heads,” they put their hand on their head. If they are “tails” they put their hand on their…well you get the idea!

The emcee then flips the coin and announces the toss. If you guessed correctly, you stay standing. If you guessed wrong, you sit down. Those still in the game get to keep their original guess or switch it up. This continues until only a handful of people are left standing. The emcee then invites the final few up on stage to complete the game until there is a winner.

Why I really LOVE this idea…

  • You get guests laughing and completely engaged in the event.
  • You have a natural way to get guests to pay attention to the stage at the onset of your auction.
  • When you give a cash prize…the guest is most likely to spend that cash at your event!!! Make sure you get the cash in the winner’s hands right away so they have the opportunity to pay with it at checkout.

Winner for Unprecedented Style and Design
Casandra, Who raises Money for Teens in Foster Care

Okay…just look at the young woman in the photo below wearing the hat and arm warmers--and tell me if you could award this category to anyone else! I confess, her smiling face pretty much had me the moment I opened the email from Casandra. Then I read her story and it only got better from there.

winner fundraising style

Casandra’s church mission group used the ministry tagline of “Clothed in Love” for this event. The goal of the fundraiser  was to raise money for and awareness about the plight of teens in foster care. (And this was their FIRST event, by the way. Not sure how they will top this!)

Empowered by three talented seamstresses in their church community and a little online research, the fundraising team “Up-cycled” donated clothing items into refreshing styles to feature in a fashion show.  The three inspired items above were crafted with totally repurposed materials:

  1. A knitted sweater was transformed to a hat and armwarmer set with accent buttons lifted from another garment.
  2. An unlikely assortment of traditional men’s shirts were given a new life as a flirty tiered skirt.
  3. A collection of men’s ties were congregated to create a whimsical skirt paired with a fitted cardigan repurposed from a boxy crew neck.

The up-cycled styles were included in the auction at the event.  And, considering the fact that Casandra used the word “FUN” (in caps) four times in her contest entry, I am guessing that the women planning the event had just as much FUN as the attendees. Go Casandra!

Why I really LOVE this idea…

While few of us have three enthusiastic  seamstresses on hand to create trendy fashions, we  all have the means to be creative and energized and optimistic. I can only imagine the first meeting of Casandra and her team…loud conversation, free flowing ideas, laughter, and lots of… “oh, oh, oh…and we can also [insert great idea]!”

The fact that they hadn’t done this before, didn’t get in the way. There may have been moments of doubt, but they were undoubtedly brushed away by the momentum of shared mission.

Winner for The Tiniest Detail with the Biggest Impact
Heather, Who Raises Money for The United Way

There were so many amazing entries in this category! It was great in some ways because the number of creative entries certainly validated that the detail-oriented concept for this blog is relevant to all of you! However, it was very challenging to pick a winner! But, I think you will agree that Heather is deserving.

winner smallest fundraising detail

Heather was involved in the planning of a very lavish and very large Rio Carnival themed Gala. For her VIP entrance, Heather’s team crafted glittery tasseled keys for use as tickets. At first, I thought, “Well, that’s super-pretty, but huh?” Not being educated on Rio Carnival lore, I consulted the handy dandy Wikipedia for clarification.

In Latin American countries, King Momo is considered the king of Carnivals. His appearance at the event signifies the start of festivities and, traditionally, he is given the key to the city by the mayor of the town hosting the festival

So, not only did Heather hand her VIP attendees a stylish ticket and clever keepsake, but also she was effectively saying to her guests… “Now that you’re here, let’s get this party started!” Awesome job, Heather!

Why I really LOVE this idea…

  • This dazzling detail impacted guest before they even entered the event. It set a tone for all who entered that this would be a night to remember!
  • Heather got the 350 recycled keys as well as the coordinating retired graduation tassels donated! And as she put it, “All that it cost us was a lot of hours painting keys!”

Winner for The Detail That [Nearly] Led to Disaster
Jessica, Who Ran Her Team’s Relay For Life Fundraiser

Do you see the Detail that Nearly Led to Disaster? Yes? Well then you truly are detail-oriented and you are in the right place! You will love Jessica’s story because you will be able to imagine yourself doing the exact same thing in her shoes.

winner fundraising detail that led to disaster

I am going to go ahead and quote Jessica straight from her contest entry so that you can feel her pain (and rejoice in her redemption!).

The first round of tee shirts had a big donor's name spelled “A” needed to be an “E.”  Being the crafty person that I am, I said, ‘Wait,  we can get iron on ‘E’s and put them over the ‘A’s. I went to Staples had a bunch of the same type E's and put them on transfer paper, and I was good to go.

Well, that worked except that you could still see a bit of the ‘A’ in the background. As I'm walking around my house talking to myself....a bright idea came to mind..."Wait I have white tee shirt paint"!!! I sat at my kitchen table with my white paint and a tiny brush (helps to have all this stuff at home) and covered all the parts of the ‘A’ on each shirt, individually. Best part was that they came out soooo good that even those who knew about it couldn’t really tell! It paid off!

Why I really LOVE this story…

We all make mistakes…sometimes, they are BIG ones!  It is mostly because we take on too much. Plus we are risk takers, we put ourselves out there, especially when it is for a cause we believe in—and [thank God] that’s never going to change!

So, getting comfortable with making mistakes and shifting quickly to what I call “Problem Solver Mode” is essential. When you read Jessica’s words, you can just get into her head and see how she was relentless in “Problem Solver Mode.” Getting jiggy with this mindset will enable you to turn on a dime when things go wrong during an event and turn lemons into lemonade (more on this topic in future posts!).


This contest has been a wonderful springboard for the Bliss for my Detail-Oriented Fundraiser blog. I learned so much about what you can do, what you want to do, and what you want to learn about. Thank for being here with me from the beginning. There is so much good stuff yet to come!

And remember, the bliss is in the details,

Warm Regards,


This blog is sponsored by FundraisingRides, the division of Soaring Adventures of America, Inc. dedicated to providing non-profit organizations with fundraising opportunities.


It's Official, I Am In Awe of You!


"The Bliss is in The Details" may be the mantra for this blog. But, for me, personally, the Bliss is in The Blogging! I am less than a week into launching this blog, and I am already dazzled by your creativity, enthusiasm, dedication and your interest in sharing ideas. Your engagement in helping to create this community of fundraising event planners has been outstanding. Thank you!

Ask one question and raise an additional $1,000Plus, your contest submissions have been even more than I had hoped for (and I have high expectations)! Thank you to everyone who has provided fantastic details from their fundraising events.

And please…if you haven’t done so yet fill out our contest form. I am giving away six hot air balloon rides for two people. No doubt you have plenty of good ideas, How glow bracelets and a quarter can raise $1,000so the odds of you winning are excellent!

Even if you don’t win a balloon ride, everyone who reads this blog will benefit from the fundraising ideas shared through the contest.

BELOW, and to the LEFT, are teasers about the fundraising event details you will read about in future posts!
how to make donors feel like hollywood celebrities
You will learn how to make an easy $1,000
by having your guests to bring one small item (that they already have at home)!

You will find out how thousands of dollars of donations could go uncollected, If you forget this live auction best The key to making donors feel like VIPspractice.

And, you will get the details on how to create a stunning, simple (and super-cheap) centerpiece that doubles as the party favor!

Well, from where I sit, we are well on our way to creating that "bank of fundraising ideas" that I referred to in my first post. And, It is all because of you.

I truly look forward to cataloging and communicating all your great ideas. Next Friday, I will announce the hot air balloon ride winners and their exceptional ideas. Now your challenge is to take these ideas and run with them (Oh yeah...and don't forget to report back to me with your results!).

And, remember, The Bliss Is in the Details!

Warm regards,


This blog is sponsored by FundraisingRides, the division of Soaring Adventures of America, Inc. dedicated to providing non-profit organizations with fundraising opportunities.

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