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Tips for your next fundraising event!

We've previously written about fundraising event tips (part 1), but since there's so many ways to liven your next event, we decided to provide another set of tips for you!

Another essential to fundraising events is having great promotional items as giveaways for attendees to take back home with them. The market offers a vast variety of customizable items that companies can wrap their logo on – things that can either be subtle reminders, such as pens or notepads, or things that are loud by nature, like bumper stickers and t-shirts. The items you choose to brand each offer a strategic way to get your donors thinking about your name and your cause even after they’re out of sight. For example, a pen might end up among other pens in a holder on a desk. By picking it up and using it, one might be prompted to look up the company name or website online, which may lead to further contact or donations. On the other hand, a t-shirt might be worn on a casual day or during workouts, and may spark a conversation with others who see it. It makes the wearer a representative of your company name and allows them to share with others what they learned and experienced at your event.

Keeping strategic promotion in mind, let’s look at some different items that are available in the market and how they can each benefit fundraising for your company or cause.

As I mentioned, pens or pencils are a great way to get your logo, website or cause in plain sight and likely in use on a regular basis. Other items in this category include notepads or sticky note pads, rulers, mouse pads, coasters, cups or mugs, water bottles, key chains, magnets and stress balls. The level of use and visibility will, of course, depend on the individual who receives these items, but these are generally more common items and are probably going to be in use at some point. How can you help your odds? Obviously, cost can often play a role in this part of the game. Let’s use pens again as an example. For instance, the nicer the quality of the pen, the more likely its owner is to pick it up and use it. Be thoughtful in your selection of the items you choose. Most sites that sell promotional items offer a plethora of options you can use to leave your mark on. Think about the pens on your desk at your office or at home. What kind of pen feels easiest to write with? Which pens get used the most? And what design features do you recognize as higher quality than the rest? Keep in mind that some of items might have actual higher value that comes with a higher cost, and others might just have a higher perceived value, but will allow you to get away with a lower cost. While some of your patrons may use anything that’s within arm’s reach, many may choose a few favorite pens to work with. So when it comes to picking out a pen to put your logo on, consider the value, ask a few friends or colleagues for second and third opinions and (this is important) read reviews on every site you consider ordering from. Personally, I look through several customer reviews on items that I’m considering, prioritizing the most recent reviews and always reading a few of the negative reviews as well to see if there is a common product flaw being pointed out. If a website looks questionable and has absolutely no reviews to base your opinion off of, you may want to steer clear, even if prices are tempting. For pens and other writing utensils, pay attention to the writing quality and look out for reports of ink leakage and loose parts. In general, no matter what type of product you choose, always look for reviews on the quality of the custom printing. Your logo, website or message needs to be clean and concise just as the product itself needs to be functional and attractive.

Similar to common desk items are organizational materials, such as planners, journals and calendars. These are just as useful, but offer some challenges as well. Unlike pens or notepads that people go through quickly and keep on hand in some quantity, planners and calendars have to hit a home run with a user in order to be hung up or put out for daily use rather than being “gifted” to your mom or grandma, recycled or trashed, or stuffed in a desk drawer “because it’s wasteful to throw it away,” only to be thrown away at a later time. However, if this is your item of choice, don’t give up hope! If it does, in fact, end up in use, this is an item that will have high visibility and is liable to have a number of supporting graphics that bring the user’s thoughts back to you or your company. There are many companies and causes that can benefit from using this type of promotion, whether your subject matter is children in need, rescue pets, supporting the arts or historical discovery. Whatever the case, remember that with these items, visuals are key. Although you may give these away to people who are fired up about what you do, they probably won’t choose your calendar with poorly taken photos or charts and static graphics over Thomas Kinkade or Puppies & Kittens. Think of your product as wall art, because that’s how everyone else will be sizing it up. Try this test on yourself and ask a few friends as well: would you choose to put it on your wall or desk if it wasn’t branded with your logo? Invest in finding a good photographer or designer to create visuals that can represent you in a compelling way. If you run a puppy shelter, you may find it easier than someone who offers financial aid to those in need, but remember that a good designer can make even statistics look appetizing, and that a memorable calendar or planner will give you a year of visibility to those who use it.

Another useful category for promo items is electronics and digital accessories. Flash drives have become a common customizable item because of their easy application for anyone who uses a computer. USB sticks come in a variety of shapes, colors and sizes that give you control over how you want your branding displayed. From standard stick-and-cap USBs, to swivel caps, to push-out, to credit card drives, to fully custom shapes, there are so many different ways to make a flash drive uniquely your own. In addition, many companies now offer premium casing materials such as metal or wood blocks, which also allow for laser engraving as opposed to standard print personalization. Depending on what you do with your custom USBs, these nifty items can be hidden in pens, attached to key chains, clipped onto your bag or inserted into your wallet. Other customizable electronics include calculators, clocks, watches and flashlights.

A type of item that can be strategic when used for the right company is edible giveaways, such as candy, chocolates, gum, mints, jellybeans or cookies. Although these giveaways tend to have a short lifespan, food items can definitely make an impression and are not easily passed up when given for free. During your fundraiser, custom printed candies such as M&Ms or jellybeans can add a layer of lux to your event. It may be a small detail in a large event, but making your logo edible conveys a level of attention that may be refreshing to your guests. Take-home edibles can be customized as well with custom printed cookie tins or personalized labels on food bags or packages. This also opens up an opportunity to save money by opting for a DIY giveaway, tying your business cards or applying your custom stickers to goodie bags. Reusable containers may be kept for a while, giving your guests a sweet reminder of the fundraiser that sent them home with a tasty giveaway.

Wearables are a great option for fundraiser giveaways too. T-shirts, wristbands, sunglasses, sweatshirts, hoodies, jackets, hats, caps, towels, tote bags – the options for customized wearable items and accessories are far and wide. These higher value items can either be given as part of a package to all who pay to attend your fundraiser, or they can be offered as prizes to a select few. Everyone loves free t-shirts, and with a great design, yours can be a desirable prize and a memorable takeaway. These items are most likely to have a lasting effect on your guests and will give you “walking marketing” wherever they go when they wear your product. And if you’re looking for a cheaper option that’s still wearable, how about using silicone bracelets? Silicone bracelets are extremely popular as promotional items for their limitless color options, their ability to be printed or engraved, and their fun and simple function as an accessory. As a small and easy item to stash at home and to compliment an outfit when worn, these humble bracelets can go a long way in representing your cause and reminding donors often of your event.

There are several standard items for promotions, but, of course, there are some unique items that don’t necessarily fit into any category, which can be great for your company because they will be intriguing to your guests and may gain a higher value perception based on their uniqueness. Think about how many options there are for party favors or bridesmaid or groomsman gifts and consider that items like these can just as easily be customized for your fundraising event; they’re just not commonly thought of. For example, mason jars or vases can have logos engraved or printed on them, poker chips and playing cards can be customized for your event, and bubbles, beach balls (or any sports balls, really), frisbees, dart boards and kids toys can all have your company mark branded on their surfaces to be viewed over their many years of use. Promo printing companies now offer tea cups or coffee mugs with options for inside printing, giving their users a unique experience as they read your message at the bottom or inside of their cup. Shot glasses can be custom printed and even glow-in-the dark shot glasses are available with your logo on them. Likewise, many glow and LED products are now available on the market for a completely unexpected, but equally useful selection of items that can still be customized with your company logo or a message supporting your cause. If you decide to use the distinctive lighting of glow materials for your fundraising event, consider carrying it on as a theme into your promotional items as well. There is a range of quality LED light up pens available for customization with a variety of style options – a great way to plus-up your promotional product in a colorful way without losing the useful function of a great desk pen. Also, if you have glow sticks in play at your event, why not offer your guests a chance to take the experience home with giveaway glow sticks sporting your logo and website information?

With the abundance of both popular and little-known promotional products out there, I urge you to explore your options and really think about the lasting effect these items can have on your audience. After all, this is a great opportunity to make an impression even after your fundraiser is over, so think strategically, follow your theme and keep your giveaways as light, bright and fun as your event!

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