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Cruising for Unique Fundraiser Venues?

February 05, 2013
By guest bloggers Jay and Corinne Fiske Northwest Benefit Auctions

How many times have you ripped open an invitation to a fundraiser only to see that the venue is [yawn] another hotel? Hotels are great, but if you really want to woo and wow your crowd, think outside the ballroom and get creative with some of these location options.

Cruise Ship
  • It’s already a party atmosphere
  • The demographics of the attendees should be excellent
  • No one can leave early!
  • Lots of lovely onboard “real estate” for live and silent auction locations
  • Duration of a cruise means many previews of the silent auction items
  • Lots of ways to co-promote: Your mailing list, Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets
  • Cruise lines love the ability to market directly to potential “cruisers” through the internal network of the organizations. It is a win/win for everyone, and an experience which will be long remembered.
  • Spaces often provide large, varied and unusual settings
  • Knowledgeable, experienced on-hand staff a helpful asset
  • “Behind-the-scenes,” insider tours are powerful lures
  • Museums and other cultural institutions often cash-strapped and make very willing partners
  • Ability to leverage museum member mailing list/social media platforms a plus
  • Informal, less-stuffy atmosphere perfect for the right fundraiser
  • Fun catering options on-site
  • Ability to procure team memorabilia/ticket packages to add to silent and live auctions
  • Offer of VIP tours to guests as part of event
  • Marketing via non-traditional “sports” platforms (social media too!)
What is important to remember when working with these and other out-of-the-ordinary locations is, although providing a non-typical venue is great for your cause, these spaces do bring along their own "unique logistics challenges" but the benefits will win out.

Savvy planners will sell the space on the inherent “win-win” of hosting a fundraising event there. Here is an approach we have found successful.

When proposing your fundraiser idea to the facility manager, agree to market the specific event to your mailing list, post on Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets, and become part of their viral marketing efforts. Some good examples of organizations that have the depth of contacts to make this “quid pro quo” relationship work are:
  • National trade associations
  • Alumni associations
  • Major health and research organizations
  • Nationally associated church groups
  • Class reunions
  • Corporate organizations wanting to give back to good causes while combining a little work
  • Fraternal and service organizations
You get the idea. Smart, forward-thinking venues have the ability to market directly to their target audience through the internal network of the organizations. It is a win/win for everyone, and ideally provides an experience which will be long remembered.