How to enhance profits from special events

Published 11:15 am Monday, May 2, 2011

In the last article we discussed the food for your special events. In this article we will talk about profit enhancers for your special event.

I have said it before and will say it again, as nonprofit leaders we want all of our events to be successful.

This is especially true for the special events intended to raise a lot of money for our organizations.

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So, what are some ways to add additional revenue and your next special event?

Let’s start with several different profit enhancers described in this article.

Auctions are almost a staple and continue to raise a lot of money for nonprofits.

Most nonprofits focus on live and silent auctions. In order for live and silent auctions to be successful the organization must put a lot of work into getting several large and desirable items, along with a lot of smaller, just as desirable items to auction.

A new concept is that the auction itself is the event and it is virtual (all online). Organizations choose several items that fit their mission closely and auction the items online. Several nonprofits have enlisted the help of eBay, which has helped thousands of charities raise millions of dollars over the last several years. The idea of having a virtual auction opens up the bidding to more possible donors that are not located in the local community.

Advertising or more specifically, selling advertising, for the special event can also be a great source of extra income for the organization.

In planning what advertising to sell, consider thinking outside of the box. A good example would be an event that I attended several years ago that sold advertising space on the back of the restroom doors.

At first I stopped and thought, well; but after careful thought my statement changed to how smart. What is the only place that everyone at the event will visit at least once – the answer; the restroom. The most common place to sell advertising space is on the tables at the event.

The sponsor of the table will get in return for their sponsorship their name proudly displayed at the table or tables and sometimes will get the opportunity to hand out information or coupons for their business to all the guests.

This can be a great win/win for both organizations.

Additional “fun and cute” profit enhancers include the following ideas:

Balloons – this is where volunteers walk around and sell balloons for a specific amount, we will use the example of a dollar for this article. The balloons are then popped and inside the buyer will find a number that corresponds to a donated prize.

Duck pond – this is where the event will have a small child’s swimming pool with floating ducks. Guests purchase the ducks for a specific amount and on the bottom of the duck they will find a number that corresponds to a donated prize.

Another similar concept is the Key Club – this is where volunteers sell keys that may or may not open a door to reveal one of the donated prizes.

Items that can be sold at the special event to increase the profit could include the following ideas: DVDs or CDs of prior events or commemorative cookbooks published for the organization by their friends group or volunteers.

Raffles for large items, such as a vacation, are also another great way to increase the profit at your event. The final thought is a 50/50, when guests check in at the registration table approach them to participate in the 50/50 and set a time to announce the winner.

At many events I have attended I have witnessed the guest who won the 50/50 turn over the entire amount back to the organization.

The next several articles will focus on special events and how to successfully host one for your organization.

Nonprofit Leadership column, written by Melissa Le Roy, a nonprofit consultant, is aimed at providing guidance from Melissa’s perspective as a leader in both the nonprofit and for profit business world and does not reflect the views or opinions of any organization she has been affiliated with.

For questions or comments related to this series, feel free to contact