By David Hoffman
One of the simplest and fastest ways to generate a few hundred to several thousand dollars in an evening is to hold a house party. It’s easy money, and house parties can be just the thing to help your organization or worthy cause to get through a tight spot.
A house party is quite simple. You need just a few things: a common cause that people can rally around, a date and location for the event, a means of reaching out to people to invite them, and a speaker or speakers that will act as part entertainment, part educator, and part evangelist.
For this article, we’ll use a fictional but entirely plausible cause to illustrate how to host a house party. Here’s the setup: a section of town has a main road that runs through it, carrying thousands of cars per day. This community also has a large and active bicycling and walking population. Cyclists feel uncomfortable with the speed of passing traffic, and just the other month a child was injured when a motorist hit her while she was in the middle of a crosswalk in poor weather. The solution along this stretch of road has been determined to be a radar sign at the busiest portion of the road that indicates what the driver’s speed is along with the posted speed limit. These signs cost $5,000 each to purchase and install, and the city has approved one, but has little room in the budget. A community group calling for safer streets springs up amidst the anger and frustration around the speeding, agreeing to fundraise to pay for the signs. But how?
Define Your Cause and Identify Your Audience
This first part has practically been done for you. In this example case, the need is for $5,000 to pay for the radar sign. The message is clear: something needs to be done, and we need your (the prospective donor’s) help to implement a solution.
The audience for this house party is anyone that would benefit from a slower, saner street and has the means to donate towards the cause. Once you have your target audience, look within your ranks to find those who know people from the various audiences that you’ve identified. Set a goal of how much you want to raise per house party and a minimum “ask” per person that will attend. For example, if you want to raise $1000 at a party with a minimum donation of $50 per person, you would likely need 15-20 people attending, as some people will actually give more than the minimum. You may need multiple parties and events to reach the ultimate goal.
Many people who host house parties rely on an actual printed invitation instead of an electronic one. Printed invitations have the advantage of being charming in the age of electronics and standing out in a sea of junk mail if they have been hand addressed. The invitation should have the following information on it: