Why Have a House Party?
House parties are one fun and easy approach to start fundraising. They are informal, efficient, and can easily change to fit each group’s size, needs, budget, and goals. House parties also provide a great opportunity to promote your work, network with others in the community, and serve as a morale-booster for group members.
House parties allow for an emphasis on relationship building, a key component of fundraising. Building relationships is uniquely valuable compared to raising money online because people get to hear first-hand testimonials of the impact your group has had. Ready to get started?
Set Your Goals
What is the goal of your house party? Having clear goals will drive the entire planning process and give your group the ability to reflect and improve for the future. Try to make your goals “SMART”: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound.
For example, you could set the goals:
Fundraising goal: Raise $500 at the event (on top of any costs), with at least 10 new donors giving
Attendance/networking goal: 35 people attend the event, with at least 20 non-Indivisible members who may be interested in learning about your upcoming actions
Develop the Scope
What type of house party do you want to throw? House parties can take many shapes and sizes, and therefore the costs and preparation involved can vary greatly. Be open to trying new things and be aware that not every event will work for every group! Here are some examples of house parties your group could consider:
Dinner party: formal (hiring a caterer) or informal (plan a menu for the host committee to prepare or potluck style!)
Outdoor get-together: BBQ, chili cook off, or low-country boils are another opportunity to get people together (be aware of the need for internet access to process donations!)
Cocktail party: drinks and light hors d'oeuvres
Coffee/brunch: the mid-morning equivalent of a cocktail party; just provide coffee and light breakfast snacks
Wine tasting: this would work particularly well if you have someone willing to lead the tasting or donate the wine (REMINDER: you cannot purchase alcohol using the funds raised through the distributed fundraising program)
Entertainment: bringing in local artists, musicians, or screening a film are great ways to boost attendance and make the house party a success.
Plan the House Party
Once you know what kind of party you’ll host and your goals, don’t forget these important details:
Host Committee: We recommend first creating a “host committee” that is responsible for putting everything together! This should include “worker bees” who manage logistics, “connectors” who help with the invite list, and, of course, the actual host of the space. (Note: committee members can definitely take on more than one role.)
Timing: When deciding when to hold your house party, be sure to consider key dates, such as holidays and annual community events that might compete with yours. Also be sure to give yourself enough time to send out invitations and get the event on folks’ busy calendars.
Budget: Create a simple budget for the costs of the event. You can use funds from the distributed fundraising program to cover costs of fundraisers like these. Often, co-hosts are also willing to donate food or drink as part of hosting, but that should not be assumed.
Invite List: Estimate the capacity of the house/venue and remember that this is a fundraising event when creating your list. Focus your list on those with the ability to donate and likely interest in Indivisible’s work (capacity and proclivity are key!). Work with the hosts to create a guest list, and encourage attendees to bring a friend or associate to help grow the list.
Promotion: Decide if you want to create a printed invite, or just invite people online through sites such as Evite or Punchbowl. Be clear in your invite that it is a fundraiser so people are primed to consider donating. Include a “RSVP by” date and don’t be afraid to reach out directly via calls, texts, and emails to confirm RSVPs! If your event isn’t private, you may consider using social media to promote and raise awareness. Check out our sample event invitation here.
We’ve also put together a helpful party planning checklist that can be found here.
1. Sign-in Sheet:
It’s important to get everyone’s name, email, and phone number when they first arrive so you can track who attended. This also allows you to follow-up appropriately and continue building relationships with your donors. We recommend having one person posted near the door who’s responsible for greeting guests and having them sign in. If it’s a smaller event, you can pass a sheet when folks are seated.
Create a brief agenda or run of show to keep yourself on track, including who says what. Key items to cover are:
Introductions: Welcome guests and be sure to thank the host committee.
Present Your Group: Present what your group has done, the impact of your work, and describe how the funds you raise will help you achieve more. This could be a formal powerpoint presentation, or a speech with a couple anecdotes about your work, or both. Either way, consider how you’re framing your work and connecting it to the change you are trying to make; needing support to buy paper isn’t exciting, but saving healthcare is! Be proud of your successes and use these as a testament to why people should support you. Make your remarks more relevant by speaking about current events, both local and national.
Ask: Make an ask! (See next section.)
Entertainment / food / etc.: Be sure there’s some fun planned as part of the event!
You could also consider having influential community members speak, but be sure they stay on message and keep their comments brief. We urge to use caution when inviting members of your community who are running for office. You need to make sure that the event is NOT tied to any coordinated election work as this would be considered ILLEGAL under our IRS tax status.
Sample internal agenda:
5:30 pm: Co-hosts arrive at Aisha’s home with the finger food and drinks, help clean up, and set out the snacks and drinks.
6:00 pm: Set up the sign-in sheet (Point person - Sonia) and set up the laptop to the ActBlue donate page (Point person - Jose).
6:30 pm: Guests begin arriving. Leave time for any late comers and allow guests to grab food and mingle.
7:00 pm: Invite everyone into the living room. Aisha welcomes guests to her home and thanks host committee.
7:05 pm: Sonia speaks about the growth of Indivisible Antarctica and the impact she has personally seen visiting Senator Penguin’s office during the TaxScam fight.
7:15 pm: Show video with projector on wall of Indivisible Antarctica’s most recent action.
7:20 pm: Jose makes a direct ask, describing what support is needed and what Indivisible Antarctica will be able to do with those resources. Mention how to donate, including by credit card in the foyer. Thank all guests for attending and ask that they get involved both by joining your group and through a contribution.
7:30 pm: Guests mingle, Jose mans the computer with the ActBlue page open to facilitate gifts, and Sonia helps guide folks to make their donation. Getting to know each other is crucial to cultivating donors!
8:30 pm: Clean up and thank your hosts!
3. Asking for support:
This is part of the program, but we want to break it out to reiterate how important the “ask” is. A few tips:
Some people get nervous to make an “ask,” so we recommend practicing the exact language you’d like to use ahead of time. You can say: “We’d like to invite you to donate today so we can accomplish our goals,” “I hope you’ll consider contributing $50 to support our work,” “If you’re able to make a donation, the funds we raise today will allow us to…”
Remember, be direct with your ask and don’t be shy! You are giving your guests the opportunity to support a great cause.
Ask and wait. After you make a direct ask, give your prospective donor the opportunity to respond. Making an ask can feel uncomfortable at first, so be mindful of wait time and don’t talk yourself out of it.
Setting suggested contribution levels, and/or clarifying what you can accomplish with different levels of giving, will encourage people to give at greater levels. Where possible, you can tailor specific contribution levels to the individual you’re asking based on previous support.
Sometimes, a co-host or another attendee will agree ahead of time to match donations made at the house party, up to a certain amount. That’s a great way let people feel their impact is doubled.
To take in contributions from the ActBlue page most effectively, we recommend having a laptop open to your page, in “incognito” or “private browsing mode,” which ensures their information isn’t saved and the next person doesn’t accidently donate using their information. Have one person assigned to be near the laptop to answer any questions.
4. Other Considerations:
Be sure you have enough parking and good directions
Consider giving your host a gift if you are able - flowers are a great option!
We cannot accept checks or cash through ActBlue. If you would like to receive contributions in this way, you will need to determine how to process/handle.
Follow-up and Reflect
Your work isn’t done when the event is over. You will want to follow up individually with attendees and thank them for coming out. If they did not contribute, this is another opportunity to make an ask. Include a link to your ActBlue page for those who haven’t given yet!
After your follow up, you will want to debrief with the host committee and assess how well your event achieved your goals. What was the attendance and what feedback did you hear from attendees? How much did you raise? How many new contacts did you make? How many prospective donors did you cultivate? Compare your results with the goals that were outlined when you planned the event. Use what you learned to build on your success and make improvements for your next house party!