1. Should I host a FUNdraising party?
If you care passionately for the West; If you love High Country News and want to see it thrive while other papers and magazines go out of business or get set out on the curb with the trash; If you love to meet with friends or strangers and talk about things that are important to you; If you are relatively organized; If you have a good location in mind (see Q/A #3 below) to host the party; If you want to find a way to give more than you have in your own wallet to High Country News; If you love dinner parties, pot lucks, cocktail parties, birthday parties, book club meetings, film releases, or community gatherings; If you love to bake, decorate, lick envelopes, or e-mail friends…
If you answered "yes” to any of the above, then, we encourage you to SIGN UP to be an official High Country News 40x40 FUNdraising Party Host!
2. Should I host a private or a public party?
We encourage your party to be open to the public - meaning, open to other High Country News readers in your area. When you sign up to host a public party, the general location of your party will be listed/mapped on our Web site, and registered High Country News readers can let you know they want to attend your party. Though we do encourage the kind of community building an open or public party naturally creates, we will support any host in planning for a FUNdraising party, to the best of our ability.
3. Where should my party be?
Determine what kind of party you want (i.e. pot luck, cocktail, birthday) and the capacity you expect (average returns for invitations is between 10% to 25% of your guest list). Besides your own house or yard, we suggest considering a public space: a park, community center, independent bookstore, church, library, art gallery, etc.
4. Who should I invite?
Friends, High Country News subscribers, non-subscribers, family, policy makers, public servants, people with money, people without money, people who have interesting points of view…
5. How many people should I invite?
- Consider the capacity of your venue, then multiply by at least 4 (invite four times your expected attendance - the average return for invitations is between 10% to 25% of your guest list).
- Consider your fundraising goal. (We suggest a goal of $1,000 per party, but do not feel obligated or limited by this goal – any amount raised is success!) How many guests do you think it will take to raise that amount?
6. What is the liability of hosting a party?
If you are hosting a party in your home, your homeowner’s policy should cover any unforeseen accident or injury. If you have further questions about liability, please contact your insurance company. High Country News does not assume any risk involved in party planning, hosting, or attending.
At risk of stating the obvious, we gently remind you to use good judgment while planning your party (with regards to the safety of the venue, serving alcoholic beverages, etc.) As a party host, you are serving as a High Country News Ambassador; we trust your good judgment. If you have any questions or concerns regarding party hosting, please contact Alyssa via e-mail: alyssap (at) hcn.org. Or call 800-905-1155.
7. What do I do once the people arrive?
Here are some examples of what the flow of a party might be:
- Guests arrive, usually staggered.
- Guests are warmly greeted upon arrival and directed to sign-in (which helps us to get a sense of the size of your party and who attended it), and put on name tags; at this time, the host, or a designated volunteer should make first mention of the donation envelope location, information for the Sweepstakes, subscription forms, and issues of High Country News (these materials, which will be provided to you by High Country News, should all be easily accessible at a nearby table)
- Host introduces people to each other (or gets this process started)
- Host serves refreshments or invites guests to serve themselves
- Lively conversation ensues (if not, see our tips for conversation starters)
- Midway through event, make a toast, or in some way get the attention of all guests (at one time if possible) for the following:
- A formal greeting and “thank you” for attendance
- Fundraising pitch - and clear direction of how to donate. Be sure to remind guests about the Sweepstakes prizes they will be entered to win for their gift of $150 or $500 or more (received between April 1 and June 1, 2010); You could also ask for gifts of "$40 for 40 years!"
- Possible 40th Anniversary video viewing (or let guests know when or where this will happen)
- Reminder to sign in so you can accurately tally number of guests
- Reader testimonials, or toasts (it would be good to speak to a few folks ahead of time to ask them to share a few words)
- If there is food served, direct guests in that direction
- As guests begin to filter out, the host or a designated volunteer thanks guests for coming, and makes sure guest attendance has been recorded on the sign-in form
8. How do I keep track of attendees?
This is one of the more difficult things to execute. Here are a few suggestions:
- If possible, provide one obvious entrance to your event, e.g. a front door, and have a greeter who asks guests to sign-in, perhaps in exchange for a name tag.
- Explain to guests, either personally, with a note, or with an announcement, that the sign-in sheet will be help you keep track of attendees for the host contest.
- If you have a large party or an outdoor party where there is no way to control how people enter the space, you might try having multiple stations with sign-in sheets. Ask guests to sign-in while you (or a volunteer) write out a name tag for them.
- Make an announcement to remind guests to sign-in.
- Have a designated person to walk around party multiple times (to record late arrivals or early departures) and invite guests to sign a register.
9. What incentives do you have for attendees?
Meet with other High Country News lovers and friends, celebrate the organization's 40th Anniversary, share stories and engage in interesting discussions! All attendees will receive a commemorative party favor as a token of our gratitude.
10. What incentives do you have for donors?
All High Country News Research Fund donors receive a thank you note, tax receipt (if amount is greater than $75), and gifts of $25 or more are acknowledged in the magazine (unless the donor wishes for the gift to be anonymous). Between April 1 and June 1, 2010, for a donation of $150 or more, donors are automatically entered to win one or our Sweepstakes prizes, generously provided by our 40th Anniversary sponsors. At the $500 level, donors will be eligible to win a higher tier of prizes. These prizes are listed on our Web site, and we will send party hosts a print out describing/showing these Sweepstakes items for display at the party itself.
You will officially be on the “Fabulous High Country News Ambassador” list. You will be able to donate, in-kind, your expenses (up to the legal limit) to High Country News and get a tax receipt from us (IMPORTANT NOTE: be sure to retain your receipts for in-kind tax deductions; the burden is on the host/donor to prove the expenses incurred to the IRS). You will be automatically entered into the Sweepstakes contest. You will be added to our “we know who to call when we come to town” list. We’ll also send you a special gift bag full of fun goodies from some local and regional businesses who love High Country News as much as you do! You can see some of the items in this bag on our Sponsor page. Finally, there will be special prizes for the host whose party brings in the most in Research Fund donations, and the most in new and lapsed subscribers for the magazine.
12. Does High Country News help pay for any of these parties?
Since the 40x40 FUNdraising parties are fundraisers, we do not have a budget to supply parties with any financial assistance. We will provide Media Kits, copies of magazines, donor envelopes, other related items, and the postage to get your party kit to you. If you are interested in receiving a tax benefit for the cost of your FUNdraising party, collect your party cost receipts, make and send COPIES ONLY of them to us (IMPORTANT NOTE: donors should retain their original receipts for tax deduction purposes), and we will be glad to send you an in-kind donation tax receipt for your tax records.
13. How do I collect donations?
Ideally, you won’t be handling any money personally, but you may help facilitate delivery to our office. You will distribute specially coded donation envelopes (provided by us) for guests to mail in themselves. We will collect donations at our office, enter qualified Sweepstakes entries, and tally total amount given per party.
Here are some helpful tips regarding soliciting donations:
- Make it as easy as possible for guests to actually write a check and enclose it in the coded donation envelope during your event (the longer the lag time between the event and posting – the less likely a person is to make a donation)
- Checks should be made out to "HCN Research Fund" or "High Country News"
- The envelopes are already postage-paid, so consider offering a "drop box" for completed donation envelopes that you can take to the Post Office for your guests
- Remind guests that you cannot personally accept responsibility of donations – especially cash.
- And most importantly, make it clear before hand (on invitations and/or in person) that your event is a fundraiser, so that guests are prepared – and that they remember to bring their checkbooks!
The thing that we value most is the quality of your and your guests’ experience, so make sure you enjoy your own party!
On behalf of the staff and board of High Country News, we thank you for your time, enthusiasm and work in this 40th Anniversary FUNdraising initiative!