For our summer 2021 project management MBA course, our group planned a fundraiser to benefit Make-A-Wish Illinois. The event itself was an in-person karaoke night, hosted at Hopsmith bar in downtown Chicago on July 8, 2021. Our project aimed to raise money for Make-A-Wish in two main ways; first through ticket sales for the event itself, and secondly through an online donation portal to capture donations from those who were unable to attend the event.
We marketed the event to our personal and professional networks frequently and aggressively. To attend the event, attendees could pre-order a ticket for $25, or pay $30 at the door (both options included a welcome drink). We also raised funds by selling raffle tickets, which were $5 for 5 tickets or $5 for 3 tickets and a karaoke song. We continually pushed the online donation page, which became our mainstream of revenue in the end.
About the charity:
The charity we raised funds for was Make-A-Wish Illinois, which grants wishes for children in Illinois fighting critical illness. In 2020, many wishes were put on hold because of COVID-19, yet Make-A-Wish IL was still able to grant 390 wishes and raise $9.4 million in cash, and an additional $4.8 million in donated goods and services. 2021 is already projected to far surpass 2020’s fiscal earnings, and this event was one way we could contribute to that.
Analysis of success measures:
Although we had just short of four weeks total to plan and execute this event, we were extremely successful in raising funds for Make-A-Wish. Our total donations were just about $4,900 (before expenses), through a combination of online donations and raffle/ticket sales from the event itself. Our net revenue after $519.89 in expenses was $4,385.11.
While we had set a goal of 50 attendees at the event, we did not have that many people attend. However, our revenue goal for Make-A-Wish was $2,250, so we far surpassed our goal in the end, even despite not having as many attendees as we had originally planned for. This was due in large part to the extensive marketing of the online donation page, which was the bulk of our revenue.
Feedback from attendees and donors was extremely positive – everyone was thankful for a chance to give back and was thankful that our instructions to donate and attend were both very clear. Additionally, we had built an extensive risk management plan for potential risks and were able to mitigate all of them and have a smooth event – a great sign of a successful event!
One of our most important lessons learned was to have a contingency plan in place for every potential risk that could occur. We did this early on, and as risks came up, we were able to mitigate them appropriately. If we had not had a contingency plan in place, hitting roadblocks could have easily thrown our very condensed timeline off track, resulting in a failed project.
Another important lesson learned was to lean into the networks and connections that each individual person had. Since our timeline was so short, we quickly tapped into resources we had, so that we could leverage those existing connections and move on quicky. This helped us secure a venue, charity, and overall plan very quickly – something that was extremely necessary with such a short timeline.
Advice for future teams:
One piece of advice to share for future teams doing a similar project fundraiser is to have multiple streams for revenue – this is something we did (ticket sales, raffle and online donation site). This allowed us to be able to hit the needs of multiple different people, which resulted in such a high net revenue in the end. We recommend future teams think this through as well, as it provides multiple ways for people to support.
Additionally, be sure to communicate early and often. We had a constant Teams chat running each day so that we could quickly make decisions and move forward on different aspects of the project. Again, since we had such a short timeline, time was of the essence. Waiting for our virtual or in-person touch points to talk through things was not efficient, so we made sure to be in constant communication.
Photos from the event: