How to Plan a Fundraiser


How to Plan a Fundraiser

Here’s a question for you: How do you go about engaging the Facebook generation with philanthropic fundraisers? 

According to Neil Bergquist, it’s not with another silent auction or gala event. The secret lies in involving them in breaking world records... plus some food trucks, beer gardens, and live music. After hosting the world’s largest snowball fight this past January, Neil is on to the next big record: the world’s largest water balloon fight.  

All planned in Smartsheet, of course.

Neil described his vision for the event encompassing the record-breaking fight as 1980’s Wet Hot
American Summer meets Disneyland – adult summer camp built around the largest water balloon fight the world has ever seen. All proceeds from Neil’s fundraiser go to Camp Korey which provides year-round camp experiences to children with serious medical conditions.

We recently spoke with Neil about how the heck you even begin to plan a record-breaking fundraiser – and how to get millennials to support philanthropic causes.  

To learn how he used Smartsheet to plan every aspect of the event itself, check out the full case study published earlier this week.

Top 3 Tips for Planning a Fundraiser:

Looking at Neil’s World Record Snow Day and now all the great hype to the World’s Largest Water Balloon Fight, we picked out the top three tips to think about the next time you’re planning a fundraiser with a twist:

1. Tug at the Heartstrings

Everyone knows the endless days of summer camp are unforgettable. The nostalgia of chasing friends, eating popsicles, and staying up late – are you reminiscing yet? 

A great way to find your way into an audience’s heart is through tugging at the heart strings and getting a little emotion out of them (yes, you too, gentlemen). Traditional fundraising events pull this tactic out with keynote speakers – why not get a little action out of it? 



That’s exactly what we’re seeing in Neil’s summer extravaganza. An appeal to go back to the greatest time in your life puts people in a giving mood.  Give your attendees the chance to reminisce while giving to a great cause. A win-win for everyone!To really get the idea, check out this video of Neil’s last fundraising event, the world’s biggest snowball fight. The best days of winter were spent doing the snow dance and praying for a snow day. 

2. Keep It Social

With the target demographic of a notably social generation, tapping into the power of social media is key.

Cleverly tackling every opportunity on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook etc, Neil’s team is hard at work spreading the word. The Party Camp team passed posters out at Seattle’s Famous Pike Place Market, and wore shirts to Mariner’s Baseball Games just to gain the curiosity of a mobile and social generation – where a quirky picture with a clever hashtag is gold.

With an element of surprise on the down-low, Niel is making to keep his audience on their toes by waiting to announce special events and music performances that will occur.

3. Keep Your Audience in Mind

When you’re rallying thousands of people behind your cause – remember that they have causes of their own.  The more you respect what others care about, the more likely they are to have a positive impression of your fundraising event and participate again in the future.

For example, knowing his target audience, Neil went above and beyond to address environmental concerns – the water balloon fight is planned to have the smallest carbon footprint possible.  The 300,000 water balloons used for the record breaking fight will also take care of watering the lawn at the host venue.  So next time you don’t think there's a “go green” solution for your event, think again.

Smartsheet World Record and the winner is..... Neil Bergquist!

From a fundraising standpoint, Neil already broke a Smartsheet World Record: the biggest fundraiser ever planned in Smartsheet (Neil, we’ll ship the trophy over soon). Did we mention this isn’t even Neil’s day job? With a Clark Kent on our hands, we felt pretty lucky to hear which aspects of Smartsheet worked best for him to plan a fundraising event on such a big scale, and still have time to prep up his A game. 

Make sure to look to Neil for inspiration the next time you want to plan something out of this world, or in this case, record breaking! Niel’s event will take place August 17th at Seattle Center.

With all this happening on our stomping grounds, Neil not only amazed us in his use in the product, he got us on board with the the cause.  Team Smartsheet is strapping on ourwater wings – and we’re prepared to pummel the world record. 

Good luck Neil, see you Saturday! Let’s set that record!

- Smartsheet Team



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