We recommend that every charity hosting a p2p fundraising event officially kick things off with a campaign launch party. The purpose of a launch party is to make a splash and get your community of staff, captains, participants, volunteers, and donors excited and mobilized to fundraise!
This party doesn’t have to happen on day one of your campaign, you may have already recruited fundraising teams and participants and signed up local business sponsors, that’s actually ideal. Instead think of your launch party as a 30 day countdown that positions your event as the fundraising event worth getting involved in and kicks your campaign into high gear!
We recommend our tried and true strategy for planning and executing an engaging launch party.
For the first time ever, we’re sharing the Launch Party Planner that we use in coaching our event charity partners.
Choosing When to Party: Give yourself 6 weeks to plan a super-fun, high-energy, team-captain-attracting and momentum-building launch party and aim to host the party 30 days before event day.
The Big Five
To be clear, a successful launch party will:
- Bring your cause and charity to the forefront
- Ensure your community knows – and is excited – about the upcoming event
- Motivate prior year participants and (especially) team captains to sign-up
- Inspire same-week recruitment traction and deliver actual registrations!
- Get attention from your board, management, and staff (and result in their registrations!)
Here’s How: Launch parties are worth the effort if you make them fun, fast, and worthwhile. People are expecting a bit of a show and you need to be ready to deliver a solid event. You can’t call it a party if it feels like a meeting right? Here’s some pointers to get you up and running fast without it distracting from your actual campaign efforts.
Note: if your launch party needs to be virtual keep reading and see our “Virtual Adjustments” section below to help bring this all together.
When: Book your launch party no later than 30 days out from your event. Keep in mind holidays and vacations that might be happening in the lives of your attendees and plan accordingly.
Where: If you can host the party at your office, do so: homefield advantage is best! But, of course, pretty it up and make it look like a party is happening when your guests arrive! Use your provided event garb, hang some posters, lay out the toques/t-shirts/swag, order some balloons, etc.
Who: Your invite list should include:
(1) last year team captains
(2) VIP fundraisers
(3) involved board members
(4) media / political supporters
(5) prospective captains
(6) prior year lead sponsor (or prospects)
It’s assumed that your ED / CEO will play a key role as well.
What: Here’s an outline to help you plan the actual in-person event. It should be about an hour in total allowing for check-in (to capture names and contact info), mingling, food (if any), and the short presentations below:
- Focus on Your Cause (7 mins)
- Share the primary challenges faced by the people you serve. Make it personal. Talk about one story and then translate that story into 1-3 key local stats that highlight the wider challenges your community faces. Don’t overwhelm them with despair – just help them understand there’s a problem that _________ (i.e., Bob & Jane) are experiencing.
- Focus on Your Charity (7 mins)
- Don’t talk about your history – talk about today. Share how your charity is stepping into Bob & Jane’s story. What did your charity do? Why is that important and how is it helping? Then segue into the p2p event, “So, this is why we invited you to this CNOY/RIDE/TGP launch party today…”
- Pro Tip: Have someone from the community speak briefly, endorsing your charity and its local impact. A well-known, well-spoken chair of your BOD could work well.
- Focus on the Event (7 mins)
- Explain what the event is, how it works, (whether in-person or virtual), your expectations of participants and what you are trying to achieve.
- Share the CNOY/RIDE/TGP promo video, your team captain goal, overall goal and then connect that to Bob & Jane’s story. By raising $___________ we’ll be able to help ___________ (many more Bob & Janes).
- Pro Tip: If you’ve hosted this event before, consider inviting back your most enthusiastic and successful (this part is key!) fundraising team captain to share their story. Their words should make their role look attractive and doable to those listening. Be sure to review what they plan on saying prior to the launch.
- Close + Call To Action (2 mins)
- Wrap up your launch party with a confident, well scripted ask: “Well, you’ve heard Bob & Jane’s story, and how this event will help us fund the new/ongoing programs locally. What we’d like to ask you to consider is, how will you work with us on this event?”
- Captains – please register today (have computers ready to go)
- Participants – please register, recruit and fundraise this year
- MEDIA – please cover this local event with national impact
- Questions – take questions from anyone and everyone until they are all answered
- Consider having team captain kits ready to go for everyone who signs up
- Call, text, or email “Thank Yous” to all who attended
- Include the name of your sponsor(s), if they’ve already signed-up, in all communications
Tips For Hosting an Awesome Virtual Launch Party
Let’s be honest, we’re all tired of Zoom meetings, but you can make your launch party an absolute online success following any combination of these tips (some will work well in person too!). Even in locations where you can gather safely, consider adding an online or simulcast option so people can join in from a distance.
- Make Registration Easy
- Use the online registration system in Zoom (or equivalent virtual meeting software) to make it easy for people to sign-up and for you to both manage the event and communicate with attendees afterward.
- Devote Time to the Description
- Write an inviting, punchy description of what’s in store for attendees and pair it with a great graphic.
- Record it!
- Remember to record your virtual launch party so you can share it (in full or edited down to short snippets) later on. This is a virtual bonus and something that’s something much harder to do with in-person launches!
- Use a virtual backdrop to add some fun to the online experience
- Use video of walkers out on routes in prior years, or send/share/use any of the images on our CNOY/RIDE/TGP home pages
- Change the backdrop for every speaker to add variety
- Consider creating physical backdrops using our event posters, swag, etc.
- Engage Attendees With Polls
- Create two polls to share
- 1 serious – a cause-related trivia or a “guess how many” question
- 1 super-fun, silly, entertaining question
- Create two polls to share
- Make Use of Your Event Location Page
- Did you know that you can host your virtual launch party right on your location page? We’ve added a simple way for you to connect Zoom, YouTube and 5 other video streaming services right into WAVES
- Share Your Screen
- A virtual launch party has the added benefit of being able to show people whatever you want: content on your cause and charity, your event pages, etc.
- Plus, you can show exactly how to register, select your location, name a team and get fundraising.
- Play Our Event Promo Video
- If your wifi is stable, it’s easy to click on the event promo video and play that for everyone to watch together. Make sure the volume is up on the YouTube link itself and everyone will hear it well.
Whether online or in-person a campaign launch party is key to the overall success of your campaign. This mini-event is important but shouldn’t feel overwhelming. We’ve worked with hundreds of charity partners on thousands of p2p fundraising event campaigns and – trust us – the steps laid out in this Launch Party Planner work. So get planning, send the invites, write your engaging short presentations, and be prepared to party!