A friendraiser can be an effective way to grow awareness of your local projects and activities and can very quickly turn into an effective way to raise funds for your work! The idea behind this growing trend among TU chapters and councils is to gather together people who have the potential to make a direct donation to a local program or project in a more informal and fun setting.
Not surprisingly, many of these types of events take place in a fun venue – often a brewery, bar or hip local venue. Bonus points for when this venue is located along the river you’re hoping to restore!
If you are considering launching into a friendraiser, feel free to reach out to your Volunteer Operations Staff for advice and ideas – or to connect you to other volunteers who have successfully led similar events.
Elements of a Successful Friendraiser
- A clear cause to rally behind
Effective friendraisers are often designed to increase enthusiasm, raise awareness and – eventually – raise funds for a specific and tangible project or program. It’s easier to get supporters excited about restoring a specific stretch of a specific stream, or buying equipment for Trout in the Classroom for three specific schools, than for general support of ongoing chapter activities.
- A passionate champion to sell the opportunity
While the cause or project may be important, at the end of the day, people give to other people and having someone who is articulate and passionate about the effort will make supporters more likely to offer their help – financially or otherwise. If you have this expertise in-house among your current volunteers, great! If not, consider bringing in a guest speaker like a state fisheries biologist, or a TU staff member, to sell people on the potential of the idea. Showing a short film that effectively outlines the challenge and opportunity is also a powerful way to build buy in.
- A targeted list of invited guests
By its very nature, a friendraiser is designed to activate and excite a group of people who have a specific ability to help – whether they have influence politically, expertise to share, or the means to make a significant financial contribution. when planning your event, an important step is reviewing your membership roster and your board’s list of contacts and acquaintances to send a special, targeted invite out to this small group.
- A mix of fun and purpose
The appeal of the friendraising event itself, not the purpose of the gathering is what draws the right crowd to attend. Taking this event outside of a chapter meeting or banquet space and to a venue such as a local brewery is one way to immediately differentiate it form other chapter activities and to make it feel hip, fun and informal. In some cases, a brewery or restaurant may be willing to offer free space, or a nonprofit discount on an open bar or appetizers – in other cases, volunteers have charged small fees to attend the event with the offer of a fun time, cold beer and great conversations as an example.
- A plan to follow up with attendees
Getting folks in the door, and getting them excited about the opportunity that night is only half the battle. While some friendraisers incorporate an immediate and “soft” ask for support at the event itself, others choose to present the opportunity and invite attendees to learn more by contacting the volunteer champion. Even better, volunteers should have a plan to reach out in the days after such an event asking attendees to join them for coffee to discuss it further – or to go fishing on a local stream. Cultivating relationships with these individuals, and finding the right time to make an ask of them for support is often-times more of an art than a simple act.