In the Community

Fundraisers: Tips & Tricks

October 03, 2023

From Seeley Lake Community Foundation

From West Yellowstone Foundation’s “Happening” to Hill County Community Foundation’s “Arts & Appetizers”, LCFs across the state incorporate fundraisers into their annual activities to raise money and gather as a community. Hosting a fundraiser can be daunting, so we sat down with Claire Muller, Executive Director of the Seeley Lake Community Foundation to gather insights and knowledge from her experience.

MCF: What are some benefits of a fundraiser?

Claire: There are a lot, but three that come to mind are: 1) fundraisers bring supporters together, 2) in-person fundraisers generate excitement (and money) in a quick amount of time, and 3) fundraisers are an opportunity to introduce new people to your community foundation’s work.

What are some hurdles to hosting a fundraiser?

Claire: Fundraisers are a lot of work, so that is a hurdle. At SLCF, we think about the time that we spend organizing our annual banquet and auction; it takes time away from serving our community, so we ensure that the output from the fundraiser offsets those costs. Also, we know that it can be dangerous to have too many eggs in one basket and count on your fundraiser for all the money your community foundation would like to raise in a year. What if there is bad weather or wildfire (which has happened to us)? Those pieces can really change the impact of your fundraiser.

MCF: What are some tips for a successful fundraiser?

Claire: If you are thinking about a fundraiser, you should look at the landscape of your community. Where are there opportunities for new events rather than replicating events that other organizations are already doing? Also, it is important to build a good team. We have community members serve on the decorating committee and had a volunteer design our invite; these opportunities allow us to engage new people while spreading the workload.

MCF: Do you have any other thoughts on fundraisers?

Claire: SLCF’s annual banquet and auction has been an impactful way to raise funds and bring our community together in the summer! However, there are sometimes easier ways to raise money, so do not discount those. I would encourage other community foundations to consider newsletters, end-of-year giving, and asking in person for specific projects and campaigns.