This article explains how to take an ordinary bowl-a-thon fundraiser that might have produced $5,000 and turn it into one that approaches six-figures. Below is a quick summary snapshot of the idea, followed by sections describing how it works and ideas to consider.
- Potential Revenues: $$$$$
- Revenue Source: Attendance fees, silent and live auctions, raffles, lane sponsorships
- Advertising: Social media, press releases to local newspapers and TV/radio stations, website, signature, all communications
- Equipment/Supplies: Event planning with area bowling establishment, tables for auction items, audio system
- Partners: Area businesses, restaurants, corporations, bowling lane owner
- Volunteers Needed: Extensive committee structure to handle all aspects of the event
How It Works:
This fundraising idea can be a surprisingly large fundraising event. The Domestic Violence organization of New Haven, CT uses this as their premier annual event, and earned $91,000. The great part of this event is that the bowling alley comes fully equipped to handle your event. Simply arrange to rent a block of lanes or the entire building for your event.
The hard part is deciding on fundraising venues. Usually, the event is either done by inviting teams to come in and compete, or by open bowling. The preference is for the teams, as you can pretty much decide ahead of time what you’ll be getting for donations, as well as what you’ll be needing for space. Generally, teams pay between $60 to $150 and more to compete. Prizes are donated and awarded, and team scores are posted as the day goes on.
The day is usually broken up into multiple time slots, and teams are assigned to each slot for the competition. If you have a 60-lane facility, you can see how quickly the contributions can add up. Five 2-hour time slots, completely filled, equals 300 teams. At $100 to enter a four-person team, that’s $30,000 to begin with. Then there are the other added fundraisers that can be combined: silent auctions, live auctions, food and drinks, sponsorships, and even an awards dinner later in the evening.
Ideas to Consider:
So where do you come up with 400 teams? Well this becomes a perfect venue for existing bowling leagues, local businesses and associations (like Kiwanis and Rotary) to participate in. Contact each local business and ask them if they’d support your event by entering 1 or 2 teams. Explain the rules, prizes and your cause. It’s not too hard to come up with 1 or 2 teams in a company, and a healthy competition makes for great press releases and sponsorships.
While you’re in talking with the businesses, ask if they’d like to sponsor one of the lanes during the event. Perhaps a good sign sponsorship would cost $200. With 50 lanes, that’s an additional $10,000. Allow fans to attend for a small donation, or even for free. You want a lot of participation in the silent auctions, buying food you have for sale, or attending the awards dinner event that evening. Remember that you have to charge to attend, unless you’ve included it in the team entry fee.
If you can get a few of the local celebrities to attend, that will draw additional people to the event. Make sure that you use the Live Auction and Silent Auction formats at the dinner.
Make the prizes fun. Come up with unusual prizes to augment the normal first, second, and third place prizes. Maybe you can get a car dealership to come in with an overall sponsorship, and offer up a car for a 300-game. (Believe it or not, Lloyd’s of London insures these types of awards, based on expected risks.) The more prizes the better: most gutters, lowest individual score, highest individual score, best team jerseys, and so forth.
For more details about how this fundraiser works, you can go to www.FundraisingAlmanac.com/bowl-a-thon.php.