If you’re using underwriting just to cover the costs for your fundraising event, then you are leaving revenue on the table. Underwriting aspects of your charity event is a great way to raise money ahead of your fundraising gala. We have seen non-profits raise 70% or more of their fundraising event goal through underwriting alone.
How to Calculate Your Underwriting Packages
When creating underwriting packages for your fundraising event, calculate the total cost of the event. This will include the BEO metric (Banquet Event Order), the entertainment cost, and equipment rental. Write down the total cost of the event because it will form the foundation of your calculations.
Decide how much you want to raise for your non-profit based on the cost of the event. What amount will make it worth the cost, time, and effort? For example, you might want your event costs to be a quarter of the money you raise. That means if your event cost is $25,000, you want to raise at least $100,000. Your metric may vary for different types of events. For example, your fundraising gala might be your main fundraising event, so you would want to raise a higher percentage relative to your costs.
Once you have your fundraising goal, calculate how much you want to raise before the event through underwriting and ticket sales and how much you want to raise during your event through your auction, fund-a-need, etc. That balance will be different for each non-profit. For example, you may want to raise 70% before the event, which means if your fundraising goal is $100,000, you need to raise $70,000 through ticket sales and underwriting.
From there, look at the elements of your event that you can use as underwriting opportunities. These don’t necessarily have to be things that cost your non-profit money. We have seen non-profits underwrite the toilets at the fundraising gala. You could also underwrite aspects that have been donated. Your donors are there to raise money for a cause they believe in; they will not quibble over the cost of what they are underwriting. Plus, underwriting is 100% tax-deductible.
Here are some examples of underwriting opportunities that cost little to nothing:
The inclusions of each underwriting opportunity will help sweeten the deal.
What to Include in Your Underwriting Packages
The most common inclusion in an underwriting package is tickets or even a whole table. Be mindful when calculating the price of underwriting packages that include tables, as it is easy to forget to factor in the ticket costs. Take the total cost of the event and divide it by the number of tickets to get the per-person event cost. You want your ticket cost to be at least twice this price, maybe even 3 or 4 times the cost. Your underwriting package price should include the cost of the tickets plus how much you want to raise through that underwriting opportunity.
The best inclusions in an underwriting package are things that cost you nothing but are valuable to your donors. That could be shoutouts at the event and on social media. It could be their logo on the auction paddles or the stage.
From there, you want to calculate the per-person cost of the event. Your event tickets should be at least double this cost, if not more. Knowing the ticket price will help you calculate table costs so you can determine which underwriting packages will include tables.
How Much Donors Will Spend on Underwriting
How much your donors are willing to spend on underwriting opportunities at your fundraising event will vary. It is important to know your donors and what they value. Many of your high-net-worth donors and corporate sponsors have budgets for fundraising events, but that budget will be allocated based on their preferences.
To maximize how much you are raising through underwriting, try to match your donors to specific underwriting opportunities. Consider which donors are most invested in your mission and have the capacity to underwrite some of your high-ticket underwriting opportunities. Consider which donors have a connection with particular aspects of the event. For example, a plumber may underwrite the bathrooms, or a liquor brand may underwrite the bar.
If you have difficulty getting sponsorship for a high-ticket underwriting opportunity, consider turning into a few smaller underwriting packages. For example, your $25,000 underwriting opportunity could become 5 underwriting opportunities of $5,000. Just make sure you’re recalculating the tickets or tables included. Alternatively, you could remove some of the inclusions to reduce the cost. Including tickets or tables in your underwriting opportunities may not always make sense for your non-profit. Some of your donors may use underwriting to support your fundraising event even when they can’t attend. Some of your donors may not have the connections to bring a whole table of people, so they might prefer not to have a table included.
Muscular Dystrophy Association’s Amy Meyers joined HGA’s Jason Ledlow and Trevor Nelson on our free webinar for non-profits to discuss how she and her team raised $300,000 at a recent fundraising event. Listen to Episode 104 of the HGAFundraising webinar to learn how to maximize your fundraising through underwriting opportunities.
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