Changing the World, One Party at a Time

Introducing the new way to party for a cause.

We’re proud to partner with the best nonprofit software companies for our customers. So, when we caught Neon One’s Tim Sarrantonio speaking at a TEDx event, we weren’t surprised. As we heard Tim tell stories of changing the world through parties and celebrations, we knew he was speaking our language. Let’s reinvent the nonprofit event to emphasize your mission and empower your biggest supporters.

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Most Memorable Occasions
Tim opens his talk sharing that the most memorable occasions for him have always been ones where a sense of community is being built and the focus is on the relationships. If we all look back on our own most memorable occasions, odds are, most of us can relate with Tim.

This lends itself to a radical idea: partying for a cause.

Now, it’s true that partying for a cause isn’t a new concept, but the idea is beginning to take a new shape, and a big part of that is getting back to the root of building community.

Birthday Fundraisers
Birthday fundraisers are a popular concept in the industry, but recently, you’ve probably started to see them become more mainstream, like on Facebook. In the weeks leading up to your birthday, Facebook encourages you to create a birthday fundraiser for a nonprofit important to you. And, according to Tim, 45 million people wish each other “Happy Birthday” on Facebook. Daily. That’s a lot of giving potential.

These opportunities that link celebration to fundraising are becoming more and more popular. The do-it-yourself approach can be incredibly efficient. In fact, Michael J. Fox’s Foundation raised $7 million through DIY fundraisers (sometimes called “volunteer-led” or “third-party” events) alone. Tim’s own Timtacular birthday event raised $4,600 for four charities in the Chicago area.

The Black-Tie Gala
If you have watched Tim’s full TEDx Talk (or plan to), you’ll know his stance on the traditional black-tie gala. As Tim puts it, they need to die.

Now, we disagree with Tim a bit on this one. Traditional (and we’ll admit, sometimes stuffy) galas can do more harm than good to some nonprofits. While Tim believes galas only benefit the large nonprofits with million-dollar marketing budgets, we believe that if galas are done well, they are still a beneficial fundraising strategy for nonprofits.

The Solution
It’s time to empower supporters with the right tools, including innovative DIY fundraising in conjunction with the more traditional approaches. And this is where we fully agree with Tim.

We’re seeing an increase in more casual fundraising events hosted by volunteers and board members – like birthday fundraisers, for instance. These third-party fundraising events relieve the heavy lifting of event-planning from your staff and alleviate costs associated with hosting large-scale events.

Sharing fundraising responsibilities with volunteers and board members means more and more people need to be comfortable hosting this kind of do-it-yourself event; they should feel empowered to merge their passion with their purpose. It’s your most passionate advocates you want out there raising money for your mission, so it’s important to provide them with the tools to help make that happen.

When it comes to nonprofit revenue,
DYI fundraising is the fastest-growing industry.

With new technology like the myRollCall platform, there is really no limit to who can host a DIY fundraiser, or what that fundraiser looks like. Empower your strongest advocates with easy technology to further spread your mission. As Tim mentioned, these DIY fundraisers can take many shapes – a fun run, theater performances, pet adoptions, a backyard BBQ. What’s most important is the mission and its supporters.

As Tim says, “We have the power to change the world. Parties are a good way to do that.”

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Tim Sarrantonio is the director of business development at Neon One. Sarrantonio has worked for several nonprofits at both the support and executive levels and has raised more than $3 million for various causes over his career. Sarrantonio has created databases from scratch, worked on an organizational technique to build broader coalitions and networks of support, managed committees, presented as academic forums and conferences, written successful grants, and overall worked hard to make sure other people can live their lives better.

Watch Tim’s full TEDx Talk here.