Monday Mixtape 004: Fundraising Events, Galas, & Auctions

Megan Donahue
Megan Donahue

Monday Mixtape 004: Fundraising Events, Galas, & Auctions

Here’s your Monday Mixtape, a weekly newsletter from CauseVox designed to jumpstart your week, challenge your thinking, and inspire you to keep at it.

Each week, we’ll hand-pick must-read articles, thinking, resources, and stories for nonprofit fundraisers and leaders and drop it in your inbox. Have suggestions or questions? Let us know at Enjoy this week’s Mixtape!

It’s the season for galas, and dinners, and silent auctions.

These traditional fundraising events are still an important part of many nonprofits’ development strategies.

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, we’ve got tips, best practices, and fresh ideas to make your events stand out, raise more money, and go off without a hitch.

Here’s the Week’s Mix:

“There’s only two things you can start without a plan: a riot and a family, for everything else you need a plan.”  —Groucho Marx

Track #1: How To Recruit Sponsors For Your Fundraising Events & Campaigns, by Tina Jepson at CauseVox

We know sponsors can jumpstart event fundraising and steady pre-event cash flow, but exactly how do we get them in the first place? Tina gives us the how-to on recruiting sponsors and creating corporate and nonprofit partnerships that benefit both parties.

Track #2: Nonprofit Fundraising Event Tips, by Claire Axelrad at Clairification

Are you trapped in the same old dinner-presentation-auction rut? Do your donors essentially attend the same party every year? Shake things up with these ideas from Claire Axelrad.

In part one, she shares a simple question: why? and in part two, she pushes you to design events that make people feel. Before your next event planning meeting, grab a coffee and dive into these. You’ll thank me 🙂

Weekly Wow

The California Automobile Museum in Sacramento is on a mission to preserve, exhibit, and teach the story of the automobile and its influence on our lives.

However, they ran into a fundraising challenge that threatened their facility. They were about $30,000 short on a must-fund capital project. They had tapped out their key supporters and board members. And traditional fundraising tactics weren’t working.

So, they decided to rethink their fundraising and try something new: peer-to-peer fundraising.

The results? Incredible. Read how their ED navigate this and receive a surprise of generosity.

Track #3: Do NOT Make These Mistakes At Your Next Fundraising Event, by Gail Perry at Fired Up Fundraising.

Sometimes, things go wrong. Very wrong. Gail Perry hunted down some seriously cringe-worthy event stories, from emcees run amok to food poisoning crises.

Learn from other people’s disasters, and maybe feel a little better about your own. Bonus–in a refreshing change of pace, you will definitely want to read the comments on this one.

Track #4: Rethinking The Dinner Gala, by Phyllis Korkki at The New York Times

Can I tell you a secret? I’m not crazy about galas. Okay, it’s not actually a secret.

I’ll tell anyone who’ll listen that I think traditional dinner galas are usually an inefficient way to raise money. (If you love your gala, and raise oodles more than you spend on it,  please ignore me.) However, many organizations do them, and many boards like them, and you may not get to make the decision, even if you, like me, are on #TeamNoMoreGalas.

This article from The New York Times gives good insights on ways to make your gala more fun to attend, and to raise more money through thoughtful event planning.

Bonus Tracks

For when your fundraising appeal comes back in the mail, accompanied by two cents and a nasty note: The Best of Kermit Freaking Out, by Kermit the Frog.

For getting inspired: How To Change The World, by John Paul Flintoff at TEDxAthens

For when you need to buckle down and plan that gala seating chart: Your Musical Caffeine Substitute, by Lin-Manuel Miranda at Spotify

And Finally …

Fundraising on Facebook: Yea, or nay? We’re hosting a discussion of all the pros and cons of using Facebook for fundraisers, to help you determine if it’s right for your organization.

Join us on March 16 for this debate-style discussion between Noah and Julia. It’s going to be fierce.

Thanks for reading!

– Megan

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P.S. Questions about this week’s mix? Suggestions for next week? Don’t leave me in the dark. Let me know by emailing me at

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