Friday, January 11, 2008

Wanna Have Fun and Raise Money? Why Not Host a House Party?

In a time when fundraising widgets, Causes on Facebook and other forms of web-based giving are rising in popularity, it's important to not forget the power of people connecting face-to-face.

If you are looking for a way to support an organization or cause you care about while having a good time socializing, why not host a house party? House parties can be used for fundraising, or if you are uncomfortable asking for money, "friendraising."

Morrie Warshawski, author of Shaking the Money Tree: How to Get Grants for Film and Video, recently sent me a copy of the 2nd edition of his book, The Fundraising Houseparty. This 58-page book provides all of the information you need to host a house party including a pre-party checklist, a sample fundraising "ask" script, and sample thank you notes and invitations.

One of the tips I found the most interesting was that it is important that the person who asks the group for donations is a peer. Warshawski says,
"It is a mistake to have the ask made by an expert on the subject, one of your close friends or anyone else who is not a peer of the group. The most effective ask will come when peers ask their own peers for support."
Monica Williams' post, The first-person donation request works, at least it does on me, supports Warshawski's theory (even though she was asked to donate by email). She writes:
"How else would NMSS [National Multiple Sclerosis Society] have gotten my money? Direct mail? An ad in the paper? A flyer in the breakroom? I don't think any of those strategies has ever worked on me. But here was Bruce, the boyfriend of one of the people I like the most who also happens to have MS, personally asking me to donate money to this cause . . ."
Many nonprofits like TransFair, the Global Fund for Women, Genocide Intervention Network and Women for Women International have house party guides, specific to their organization, on their web sites.

Right now, of course, there are a lot of house parties going on in the US for presidential candidates. Kelly Nuxoll describes her amusing experience at a house party for Giuliani in San Francisco in her post, Killing with Kindness: House Parties Hope to Pluck Voters One at a Time. My Urban Report's post, Atlantans Party for Obama, includes video footage from an Obama house party and an interview with one of the attendees.

Whether you want to host a house party for a presidential candidate, a nonprofit, or a friend's do-good venture, The Fundraising Houseparty has all the information you'll need to get started. It also has an order form in the back of the book with bulk purchase rates (25+ copies for $15.95 each) if you want to mobilize a group of people to host house parties.

Have you ever hosted a house party? What are your house party hosting tips?


  1. In addition to knowing a lot about house parties, Morrie happens to be a pretty fantastic Strategic Planner for nonprofits too. If you'd like to hear more of his thoughts in that arena, check out an earlier interview I had with him at:

    Morrie and I also are planning on talking about House Parties on an upcoming episode of the 501c3Cast soon. I hope that it will compliment the highlights that Britt was able to provide here too!

  2. Anyone reading this comment who hasn't listened to Corey's podcast, the 501c3Cast, it is a great show. Feel free to leave a comment again back here, Corey, when you post the new show with Morrie

  3. Wow, such amazing ideas to get people moving. Just wanted to note I've featured the 60 Minutes story featuring Women for Women International on my blog. I missed the show but am so glad I read the story...and discovered WWI through your blog, Britt. Thanks so much! K.

  4. I watched the 60 Minutes story. It was very sad and hard to watch. It has less about Women for Women International than I had expected.

  5. I thought the same thing when I read the transcript. Women for Women deserves A LOT of attention. K.

  6. I really like your blog- have to check on it more often. If you are interested in
    maybe you should have a look at my blog :)


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