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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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.



These ideas are great! My church is having an event in a couple weeks and I am going to add the heads or tails game to the evening, Thanks! 
Posted @ Saturday, February 18, 2012 9:29 AM by Tammy
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