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!

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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!


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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!

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We Did Everything Right, and We Still Had Low Attendance! NEW Ideas for Boosting Fundraising Event Ticket Sales!


why didn't more peole come to our fundraising event?“We had such a great time! Why didn’t more people come to the fundraiser?”

That’s what Mrs. Q., my 4 ½ year old’s preschool teacher, asked me on Monday morning. And, you know, it's a great question. After doing some due diligence, I think I know why.

The preschool has a history of lovely annual fundraising events. This year was no different! The event was held at a very convenient and well-liked local pub. The evening was relaxed with a great DJ who played 80s music (You spin me right round, baby. Right round, like a record, baby…).

In addition to throwing a great party, the moms organizing the event did a great job of publicizing the event. THEY DID ALL THE RIGHT THINGS!

  • Notices were sent home with the kids with plenty of time to hire a sitter.
  • Email reminders were sent weekly
  • A price cut was offered to people who bought their tickets early
  • Auction items were put up online for preview and bidding
  • And, a week prior to the event every parent had to walk by a balloon bouquet with a sign… “Have You Bought Your Tickets Yet?”

And yet, attendance at the event was really low. My heart went out to the organizers because they had done such an excellent job, and everyone who went had a blast! But, more guests in attendance mean more money raised. And, I am sure the organizers left the evening feeling a little frustrated and wondering what more they could have done.

At the event, I had a chat with my wise friend, Shelby—my go-to mom at the school for getting perspective. She said, “Sometimes you just do all you can do.” She was right. And, I am sure like me, she felt like the event organizers checked the box on every event planning best practice in the book.

So...that got me thinking. Maybe the book is missing something! And, after a little research, I realized that--in fact--we need to add a chapter to that book. And, when we do, the solution to low attendance is definitely within reach!

As Fundraising Event Planners, We Need to Improve Our E.Q.

To set the stage for the ideas I am offering up, I am going to roll back the clock and dust off a buzz word from when I was getting my MBA—E.Q. or Emotional Intelligence. Here is how Wikipedia explains it:

Fundraising Events could use some emotional intelligence
As a group, fundraising event planners are highly successful from an I.Q. perspective. We cover all the logical communications requirements—date, time, place, menus, auction information, and we provide frequent reminders. But from an E.Q. perspective, we are missing the boat.

To get to the bottom of this, I asked people who decided not to attend this event one simple question,

"Why didn't you come?"

Beyond simple calendar conflicts, here are a few reasons why people didn’t attend the fundraising event this weekend:

  • I couldn’t get a sitter, and I didn’t want to go alone.
  • I was afraid I wouldn’t know enough people and I would feel awkward.
  • I was afraid everyone else would know each other and I would feel left out.
  • I was afraid I wouldn’t remember people’s names—I feel like I should know them by now.
  • I have been to fundraising events that are a total snoozer.
  • I didn’t really want to give up my Saturday night for this.

Of course, these reasons will change some from one event to the next. But, I think you will agree that they are universally experienced on some level. 

Now we have some real things we can solve for!

I am going to use the preschool fundraiser as a case study in the ideas below, but many of the ideas could be applied to your fundraising events!

Emails that Address Social Anxiety Head-On

Emails that to pump up the fun factor of the event and dispell any social anxiety fears can be sent out in the final week of ticket sales. Address issues head-on with lighthearted treatment of the concerns that are holding people back from attending. Below, are two emails that could have been used for this event.


EMAIL SUBJECT: YES, there will be name tags!

Hey All,

We know that you have options on how to spend your Saturday night, so we are putting some things in place to make sure you know the fundraiser will be a great night!

fundraising event name tagsYou Don’t Have to Worry About Forgetting People’s Names! We will have NAME TAGS. Plus, we will include your kid’s name, their teacher’s name, and provide color coded stickers so that you will know at-a-glance if you are talking to the parent of one of your child’s classmates.

You Can Sit with Your Friends at Dinner! We will have place cards available at check in. All you have to do it grab your place card, put it at a place setting, and tell your friends to put theirs next to yours. Guaranteed awesome dinner conversation!

You will have Natural Opportunities to Network! Whether it is while you wait for the bartender to mix your drink, while you browse through the auction items, or while you are on line for the buffet, the evening is filled with natural opportunities to start conversation with the person next to you! This is a great group of parents, and you are guaranteed to make new friends!

So, rest assured this will be a great way to spend your Saturday night!

We can’t wait to see you there!

Carol, Nicole, Penny, and Mary (The Fundraiser Committee)


EMAIL SUBJECT: Didn’t get a babysitter?

So you are interested in attending the fundraiser, but you didn't get a babysitter and you don’t want to go alone. Well, we are here to tell you, you won’t be alone!

  • We will have friendly greeters at the door to make you feel welcome and even walk you to the bar to get your first drink, if you like!
  • Other parents, including Sara Thompson and Emily Jones, are coming on their own! Look for them, they will be happy to have you join the conversation.
  • Your kids’ teachers will be delighted to see you!  What a nice opportunity to get to know each other outside the classroom.
  • Plus, we are a community of people with a long history of enjoying each other at this event. We promise you will only feel alone for the 30 seconds from your car to the front door of the event!

So, please come! Don’t let a little thing like not having a date to walk in with keep you from a wonderful evening among friends.

We can’t wait to see you there!

Carol, Nicole, Penny, and Mary (The Fundraiser Committee)

Signage to Highlight the Fun Factor

fundraising event chalk board announcementsHighlight the diversity and interest of your non-profit's community by communicating Silly, Fun and Fascinating Facts about its members! This chalk board is located at the entrance of our school and used for announcements. Other facts could have included:

Which teacher has served chateaubriand
at 30,000 feet?

Which Mom worked at NASA?

Which Dad was an Olympic rower?

Everybody has something about them that is intriguing--I am actually the mom who worked at NASA!

Let people know that at your fundraiser, there will be a room full of people who will laugh, listen and be great conversationalists! Fun facts like these can be rotated daily in the final week of ticket sales to create a buzz.

Personal Notes That Make People Feel Wanted

Everybody wants to feel wanted. And, in this electronic age, a handwritten note truly has the ability to stand out and make someone feel special. Below is an example of something a teacher or administrator could place in students' cubbies during the final week of ticket sales to reach out to parents who have not yet purchased tickets.

fundraising event personal note

Amp Up Your E.Q, and Amp Up Attendance

Whether or not these specific tactics can be applied to your organization, I hope that you all feel encouraged to start to develop your E.Q. as fundraising event planners. Just keep in mind...

Our guests are all human.
They need to be nurtured and coaxed and reassured.
Being informed simply isn't enough!

This was a heady and long topic today! Honestly, it took me ages to get to the heart of the issue. But, I think this line of thinking could be very valuable to all of us. I hope you feel like your time spent reading was a good investment!

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.



Great post - thanks. Another option for the babysitter issue is to have a kids room staffed with High school volunteers offering pizza & movies , games etc. for kids.
Posted @ Thursday, April 05, 2012 11:43 AM by Lori Soutar
GREAT tips for engaging messages!!! I love the "teaser" questions. I'm working on an event right now for the Leukemia Society and I'm feeling inspiration from this site! Thank you for making my morning energetic!
Posted @ Tuesday, May 01, 2012 9:46 AM by Ashley Garrett
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