How Holding a Bowl-a-Thon Fundraiser Makes Fundraising Fun!

How Holding a Bowl-a-Thon Fundraiser Makes Fundraising Fun!

If you’re looking for a great family friendly fundraising event that is cost effective and great at creating community awareness for your charity's cause, then holding a bowl-a-thon fundraiser may just be the perfect match. These types of local events are fun and family friendly, and a great place to hold an event during the winter months!

And if you think bowling isn’t for everyone, you’d be wrong. In just the last two years, membership at the USBC (United States Bowling Congress), membership is up over 27% and is on an upward trend. And who doesn’t like to bowl? It really is fun and even kids enjoy it. And bowlers don't needs to be great at the sport to have fun, unlike golf tournaments or more sophisticated sports.

And it doesn’t matter what you’re charity is about, you can be an outreach ministry or an animal charity, bowl-a-thon fundraisers are extremely versatile. Plus, bowl-a-thons can be very cost-effective to organize and run and can generate significant donations through participant sponsorships, entry fees, and additional nonprofit fundraising activities during the event.

These events are also great not just as networking opportunities for all of your attendees that can benefit them personally and professionally, but for spreading awareness of your cause and your charity's positive impact on it. These events are a great way to get people personally involved as simple supporters, donors or even bring on new volunteers.

And since they are always locally based and in person events, your bowling fundraiser is also directly supporting the local economy. This can also help you find local businesses that can also help sponsor and support your cause as businesses are always looking for ways to advertise on a local level.

All in all, bowl-a-thons truly are perfect for fundraising events and you should definitely be thinking about how to incorporate them into your overall fundraising best practices. And don’t worry, if you’ve become enlightened to the idea, will will explain just how to create your own profitable bowl a thon event step by step. So read on!

Planning Your Bowl-a-Thon Fundraiser

Obviously when it comes to holding a bowling event, the first step of the process is to plan everything out so you know you’ll have a successful event. Things like creating a committee to look over all the details and which venue are all important aspects of your event running smoothly and each step below is important. So just follow each one and you should be well on your way to creating the best bowl a thon event in your town’s history!

Forming an Event Committee

Committees, committees, always one for something or other when it comes to the nonprofit sector, and this is no different. Forming a committee a skilled people really does make a difference. Some things to think about when you’re choosing who will be a member are what skill sets will be needed to pull of your event.

You should include someone that is great at details and keeping notes and following up on things to be sure nothing slips through the cracks. Another that is a talented marketer so they can work to get your bowl-a-thon event the publicity it needs for people to show up. And someone that is obviously great at planning, meeting vendors and asking for local businesses for support.

Remember, we all have our strengths and weaknesses, so look at people’s individual skill sets and match them to the task that best suits them and they’ll work harder to make your event amazing.

Setting Fundraising Goals

Once you have a solid committee, the next step is to set your fundraising goals. Your fundraising goal needs to be realistic and achievable according to the size of your community, their ability to give and the number of people that you believe will actually attend the event. If you live in a town of 1500 people, don’t expect your bowl-a-thon event to make a million dollar profit, it’s simply not realistic.

There are other goals you should consider as well. Things like bringing on new volunteers, supporters or simply spreading awareness of your cause. You might try to get subscribers to your newsletter, or get people to become a member of your charity’s Facebook group or YouTube channel. These types of goals may not equate into cash at the moment, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t extremely valuable goals both in the short and long term.

Choosing a Venue and Date

Which venue you choose will have a lot to do with the availability in your area. In some places there may only be one bowling alley for miles and you really don’t have much of a choice. But if you’re lucky, there may be a few and you’ll be able to approach each one and see who is willing to support your nonprofit the best, meaning who will give you the place at the lowest cost or even for free.

If you do have choices, don’t forget to think about things like parking space, or the ease in which participants can get to the alley. People don’t want to drive an hour to go to an event if it can be helped. So if you have a choice and one venue is more centrally located, it may be better to choose them even if the cost is a little higher.

You also need to think about other ways you may want to include as far as fundraising. Do you want to include food options that require a kitchen? Or space to set up other games or places to hand advertisements? Your event may include more than just bowling, so what ever extras you hope to include, just be sure there is space or facilities that can handle those requirements.

Again, a lot of this will also depend on the availability in your area.

Identifying Sponsorship and Vendors to Raise More Funds

One major positive of these fundraisers is that they are local, and local businesses are always looking for ways to advertise directly to their local customers. And what better way than to advertise at a charity event showing what upstanding local citizens they are.

This helps securing sponsorships much easier than in other situations, although the scope of possibilities may also be narrower depending on where you live.

One way you can start looking for opportunities is to see if the chosen venue would be willing to share their vendor list with you. These are companies that already do business with the bowling alley and should be open to ways that their products and services can be shared in a positive way with your guests. Each company can either donate or participate in the event, or even display advertisments during it.

Then look to your own connections and ask them for some ideas as well. Often times one business owner has a network of friends and they’re often willing to share the opportunity with all of them.

As a last case resort, you can even simply cold call businesses in your area to see if they’d be willing to help out. It’s always best to start with businesses that in some way align with your nonprofit whenever possible. So for example, if your organization is an animal charity, you may want to invite veterinarian clinics, pet store owners and other pet related businesses to support you. Try to look for synergetic relationships as they’ll be the easiest to begin with.

Marketing Your Bowlathon

This is always one of the most important aspects of your planning, no people or sponsorships, no income. So place a lot of focus on this area of planning. Hopefully one of the people on your committee is pa proficient marketer and understand the importance of advertising and can work to get the word out.

We also strongly recommend you be sure to give your team at least a month to work on its advertising, do not leave this to the last minute. People are busy, they have plans, if someone knows about your event a month before, it’s much easier for them to schedule the event into their busy lives than if they hear about it two days beforehand!

This is when things like your social media channels and email list can be extremely beneficial. You can plan a media campaign and have it run for a month or more to build up excitement about your event. This also gives your team time to meet with sponsors and vendors, and plan how everything will meld together on the final night.

You may even be able to snag some cheap or free advertising on your local radio station, or local newspaper. The web isn’t the only way to advertise, and sometimes in smaller communities it’s easier to stick with old advertising tactics as much as new ones. Even sending out flyers or passing them out at busy intersections, malls or even schools can help. Or ask any shop owners if you can hang a flyer in their window. Just ask the question, where do people frequent here in my town, and how do I get their attention for a moment.

Registration and Bowling Team Formation

Once you have everything above you should be getting participants that want to be included in your event. This is the time you’ll need to create a process for registering everyone for the night’s festivities, and a way to decide what teams they be on. This could be broken down into family teams, women against men, or just random picks for each team. Just be aware of each individual’s level of play, you don’t want one team winning every single game as it wouldn’t be as much fun if at all possible.

One way to make this process very easy is to use PayBee’s registration and ticketing app. It works on any mobile device connected to the internet, and can really speed up the entire process of event ticketing. You can find more about our app here and how we can help with yoour fundraising campaign.

Additional Fundraising Tips

There are a lot of additional fundraising tips you can employ to help your event become more successful. Things like offering your guests a way to create their own peer to peer fundraising page on sign up is a great option. Peer-to-peer fundraising can not only make your event more profitable, it can bring awareness of your cause to people that may never have heard of your organization in any other way.

Adding a link for people to gift online donations to your charity in all your communications is also another way to get some donations from those who can’t attend your event, but still feel they’d like to support your cause. You can even include donation buttons on your registration and check-in pages so people that want to give more can conveniently do so rather than you neding to ask for a donation directly.

You can even plan mini-events that happen simultaneously as people bowl. You can have a silent auction or raffle for any products or services donated by your sponsors. Or you can coordinate a bake sale or food trucks outside the venue so these additional revenue streams don’t interfere with the games being played inside. Or try incorporating a pledge drive, where participants gather pledges based on their bowling performance sort of like a walk a thon,

There are many fundraising ideas that you can use to make any event more fun and profitable at the same time. Just check out this list of ideas and see what you can work into your event with out going overboard or making holding the event too complicated.

Execution: Hosting the Event

When it comes time to host your live bowl-a-thon, there are definitely some things to think about first so it runs as smoothly as possible. There will be a lot going on, and there’s always something that doesn’t go as planned. But don’t freak out, things always seem to work out in the end. Just be sure you have enough staff on hand to cover anything that needs attention as soon as possible rather than running around trying to do it all yourself.

Event Day Logistics

To make things easy, we’ve created a list of things to be aware of on your big day. Be sure someone is assigned to each item on the list and their responsibilities are clear. And if at all possible, use our platform to help you and your team create the most successful event possible. PayBee can literally assist and even automate each and every item you see in one way or another. Our platform was specifically designed to help nonprofits succeed, and by using our website and app, we can save you a ton of time and energy when hosting these types of events.

Here's a concise list of event day logistics to keep in mind for your bowl a thon:

  1. Venue coordination and setup.
  2. Equipment and supplies arrangement.
  3. Registration process management.
  4. Communication of schedule and rules.
  5. Donation and pledge handling.
  6. Staffing and volunteer management and assignment.
  7. Food and beverage provision.
  8. Scoring system setup.
  9. Emergency and contingency planning.
  10. Participant engagement and entertainment.

As long as you have someone assigned to each area and they’re clear on their tasks and responsibilities, everything should go according to plan. One tip here, if you have an extra staff member or volunteer, give them the task of doing whatever isn’t getting done or needs immediate attention. Things like running out of ice or not having balloons for a planned game are all things your gopher can do without upsetting the rest of your intricate balance of task mastering.

Keeping Participants Engaged

To keep your event's participants engaged, consider incorporating activities, games, and entertainment such as themed bowling rounds (e.g., "glow-in-the-dark" bowling), competitions for the highest score or best costume, raffles and silent auctions, photo booths with props, interactive games between bowling rounds (like trivia or bingo related to your cause), and live music or DJ sets as they bowl. All of these extras can not only keep everyone engaged and happy, they can also bring in more fundraising income for your charity.

Just make sure you encourage friendly competition, you want people to have fun and walk away happy after they bowl, not frustrated. If you pull off a successful event, your supporters will remember the great time they had and associate your organization with positive thoughts and experiences, making it much easier for them to be included in all your future events as well.

Post-Event Activities

So now your event is over and everything went off without a hitch. Congrats! But that doesn’t mean the work is over. On the contrary, post event management is just as important as the event itself.

This is your opportunity to cement new relationships, thank your donors properly, and thank and congratulate your entire team for a job well done. The way in which you choose all of this depends on the scope of the task, and your resources.

Importance of Saying Thank You and How to Do It Effectively

One of the easiest things to do is to create a thank you letter template that is easily customizable for each donor and all your participants. Your staff can assist you with this task. Especially if you have a comprehensive database on all your donors. This letter should include the amount of their donation and how your organization plans to put their gift to use.

One thing to note when thanking your donors is to understand they’ve already done something for your cause, so this is not the time to ask for another donation. This should be a pleasant call and your tone should be grateful and friendly rather than business like. Now that they are a donor, there will be additional opportunities to ask for giving at a later date.

Another opportunity to make everyone feel more inclusive is to mention or tag them in public thank you messages on social media or through emails or newsletters. This can help everyone, including staff and volunteers feel like a real part of your charity and the good work it’s doing. After all, everyone deserves some praise now and again.

How to Measure and Review Fundraiser Outcomes

Now to where the rubber meets the road, reviewing the overall profitability and effectiveness of your fundraising.

Now that everything is over, it’s time to dig into the numbers and evaluate whether or not your event was successful and if you reached your goal. Knowing if you came out with a profit is easy enough, just some simple bookkeeping math and you’ll know how profitable the event was.

But don’t forget to take into account other factors like donor growth, increasing your support base and spreading awareness of your cause and how your charity is working to fix a real world problem.

Sometimes even when an event doesn’t seem like it was worth doing, other factors that will show results in the future make it well worth the effort. So don’t look at data as the only way to measure the success of an event.

FAQs for Nonprofits Hosting a Bowl-a-Thon

How do we start planning a bowl-a-thon?

Begin with setting a date, finding a venue, and establishing your funding goals. Then, create a planning committee to handle different aspects such as marketing, sponsorships, and day-of-event logistics.

How can we engage the community and attract participants?

Promote your bowl-a-athon through social media, community businesses, community bulletins, and word-of-mouth. Offering incentives and engaging local celebrities or influencers can also boost participation.

What's the best way to collect donations and pledges and raise funds for our fundraisers?

Using an online fundraising platform like Paybee allows you to create specific event pages and add donation buttons. These online pages can be accessed from anywhere and offer your donors multiple payment opportunities making it a frictionless process for them to donate to your cause.

Any ideas for additional fundraising activities for our thon fundraisers?

A few additional bowling fundraiser ideas are incorporating a silent auction, raffle, merchandise sales, or a bake sale to increase fundraising opportunities and help raise funds. 

How should we market our bowling fundraiser ?

Utilize all available channels including social media, email newsletters, community media outlets like newspapers and radio stations.

What technology or fundraising platform can aid in managing our thon fundraiser?

Leverage event management software like PayBee for registration and donation tracking can make your life much easier. Our charity specific technology can assist you and your team in a variety of ways when it comes to event management and even the daily running or your organization. You can try out a free demo here to understand how we can upgrade your entire business almost overnight.

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Bill Allen

Bill Allen is an expat that has been travelling the world for the past 25 years. He received his MA in writing in New York too long ago to remember, but has been writing on all sorts of subjects far varied publications ever since. When he isn't writing he enjoys meditating and working on his own website, UpscaleDrinks.com. Feel free to connect with him any time.