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How to Successfully Market a Fundraising Event

November 23, 2016 / Marketing

It seems like everywhere you look there’s another 5K or charity walk. Don’t misunderstand me; I think these events are great and that most, if not all, support very worthy causes. Personally, I was thrilled to participate in my first Komen MD Race for the Cure® this past October. With all the competition out there, how do you successfully market a fundraiser?

I think the single most important aspect is to have a cause that people really care about. If the cause is just, people will support it. I believe that the world is good in this regard, and it’s great seeing people helping other people (or animals).

In some cases, all you need is an internet connection and a social media page. Causes, GoFundMe and Crowdrise are just three of numerous websites that enable people to donate to causes from their laptop or cell phone.

If you go the traditional route, I think step two would be to attract sponsors to support your cause. Sponsors are able to help you financially and recruit people to join your team.  The more people that are expected to come to your event, the more vendors would be interested in setting up a booth and getting their brand seen.

I’d like to use a local example of the right way to market an event. Our flagship agency, Miller’s Minuteman Press, does work for the Baltimore Humane Society (BHS), a well known nonprofit in our area.

Since 2008, the BHS has been holding DogFest, a Walk-A-Thon for people and their four-legged companions.  Miller’s MMP has been a gold sponsor the past several years, printing flyers for the event.

First off, this organization stands for a great cause. The BHS is “a no-kill shelter protecting, saving and caring for animals since 1927.” Located in Reisterstown on 365 acres, the BHS offers adoption, veterinarian and memorial services. Any animal lover should respect this organization’s mission and be willing to help if able. Around 3,500 people attend the event each year, which is geared toward families and their dogs (there are numerous activities for your four-legged companions to participate in).

After securing numerous sponsors, the BHS utilized various media outlets to promote their message, including the internet, TV, radio, magazines and newspapers. A website was created specifically for the event ( and the BHS used social media outlets (Facebook and Twitter) to promote the event and provide additional details. They even have a celebrity endorsement (I think most of us in Baltimore have heard of Joe Flacco – get well soon, Joe!).

In addition to web, print and media, the BHS used signage to advertise as well as branded promotional products (T-shirts and goodie bags) as giveaways for those in attendance.

Press releases were issued in advance, and local reporters were invited to attend DogFest to give live updates and serve as celebrity judges for contests.

After the event, attendees were encouraged to submit user-generated content of their experience via social media. In 2015, DogFest was held on Saturday, September 26. New pictures were still being uploaded to Facebook daily by BHS staff and attendees into October. In addition, the BHS was still actively engaging online with their audience.

Overall, the BHS puts on quite a show for their guests every year, which is one of the reasons that DogFest is such a success. It doesn’t hurt that the event features man’s best friend, either (and all proceeds go to benefit the animals at BHS).

They utilize multiple platforms of advertising and marketing to reach their intended audience before, during and after the event. These include web, social media, TV, radio, print, signage, promotional products and branded apparel. They also issue press releases and invite local media to participate in the event.

By following this example, you too could host a successful fundraising event or 5K. Here’s a simple checklist to ensure your success:

  • Start with a worthy cause, or the public won’t be as moved to help
  • Invite local companies to sponsor your event
  • Start promoting early, utilizing all available marketing collateral
  • Set up a website dedicated to your event
  • Promote your event on social media
  • Advertise via print collateral (flyers, postcards, door hangers, direct mail, etc.)
  • Involve the local media (TV, radio, newspapers, magazines and local newsletters)
  • Invest in signage (billboards, posters, etc.)
  • Use promo products and branded apparel to gain recall power
  • Engage with your audience after the event to keep them informed and dedicated to your cause

As always, we are here to help with any and all marketing needs. Whether it is creating a website, running a social media campaign, printing flyers or creating customized T-shirts, our team is available to assist in your next project. Give us a call or comment below with any questions.