A much loved relative is ill, and his hospital bills are piling up. The relative’s insurance can’t cover everything and you want to help out. You can by organizing a get well fundraiser house party.

A fundraiser house party is a simple way to help raise funds for the person you care so much about. The components are pretty basic: you can use either your house or the house of someone else, set a date, send out invitations, plan  the music and menu (finger foods are best) and prepare a presentation.

Related: The Beginner’s Guide to Planning a Fundraising Event

Fundraiser parties usually last for only two hours. It brings together family, friends, and friends of the relative who’s ill whom you had not previously known very well. Normally, you want a maximum of 50 attendees to retain intimacy. Here are steps on how to hold a get well fundraiser house party.

Before the Party Preparation is key to a successful fundraiser party

1. Set up a committee. There are many elements to a fundraiser party so you will need help. Get family members, relatives or friends to join the committee. They can also invite more people.

2. Pick a date. It can be two hours on a weeknight, or a Saturday night (usually the best time) or a Sunday afternoon. Make the date six weeks in advance to give you time for preparation. Also, make sure there are no other conflicting events.

3. Make a website. A tech savvy committee member can do this. The website link can be added to the invitation. Also, some invitees may want to donate even if they can’t attend the party. Make sure the website can accept credit card and PayPal donations.

4. Design your invitation. A committee member with tech and design skills can do this. The invitation should clearly state that this is a fundraising party. Other basics to include: date, time, address, and a reminder such as “donations will be appreciated,” or “don’t forget your checkbook.” Include a link to the website and add that any donated amount is welcome. Also include an RSVP. You can also use Facebook events. Paper invitations cost more, but if you think it will help your party you can do that too.

5. Set amount or open-ended? Each option has its pros and cons. If you specify an amount, the benefit is that you’ll know how much money you will raise. On the downside, some may think the amount is too much and won’t show up, while others who might have given more will only give the specific amount. If you leave it open-ended, you won’t know how much you will raise but chances are you may exceed your goal. Your safest bet is to leave it open but note your target goal and add that any donation is welcome, then leave it up to the guests.

6. Who to invite. Your list should include family, relatives, and friends of your relative who is ill. Does he or she belong to any organizations? Social groups? Church? What about colleagues at work? Alumni? Former teachers?

7. Invite four times as many people as you would like to show up. For example, if you are aiming for 50 attendees, invite 200. This is because three-fourths of those invited are likely to not show up.

8. Make follow-up calls. Once the invitations are sent out, call up all those who were invited to ask if they will come. This will give you an idea of how many people you should prepare for.

Choosing a Host Find an appropriate location and a host

1. If your house is the venue, then you are the host. If it’s another house, the homeowner becomes the host. What is important is that the host is passionate about the cause, loves and cares about your ailing relative or friend, and will also invite people from his or her own address book to the event.

2. When you pick a location for the fundraiser, it is important to find a venue that can accommodate everyone that you will invite. If you’re hosting a party at your own home and you can comfortably host 20 people, don’t send out invitation to 500 people all at once. Give yourself enough time to invite people in smaller batches as RSVP’s are rolling in. So if you hit your target goal of 20, you stop inviting more people. You want a comfortable atmosphere, so everyone can enjoy themselves and socialize. Keep in mind, some people will RSVP and not show up. So don’t be afraid to add a few extra RSVP’s to ensure you fill the room even with no-shows.

3. The host’s job. The host should publicly endorse the cause, participate in planning and send thank-you notes afterwards. The host should also greet guests at the door, announce the presentation, announce the amount that was raised and escort all guests when they leave the party. The host should know how to make people feel comfortable and should send thank you notes after the party.

The Fundraiser Party Make sure people enjoy themselves and have a good time

1. Door greeters. The host and the closest relatives of the person who is ill (spouse or parents) should greet guests at the door.

2. Have a sign-in sheet and name tags ready. The sign-in sheet should include contact information and email address in case the attendee is interested in knowing the progress of your relative’s health. The name tag may include how the person knows your relative. For example, “friend,” “office mate,” “alumni,” etc.

3. What to serve. Finger foods are best because they can be eaten while standing up and they aren’t messy. Refreshments should be served at the start of the party. Give the people about 45 minutes to arrive and mingle.

4. Be sure that the music is appropriate for your fundraiser. It could be the favorite music of the relative or it could be music that everyone at the party can relate to. What is important is that the guests enjoy themselves and feel good because they are there for a good cause.

The Fundraiser Presentation It’s time to raise the funds and make a difference

1. About 45 minutes into the party, the host should announce the presentation and introduce the person who will give it (the closest relative or someone with good speaking skills). The presentation may include photos of the relative, a brief story of his life and activities, and inspiring anecdotes. The presentation should take 15 minutes. The presenter can state the target amount of money that they want to raise in this event and suggest that if everyone donates a specific amount they can reach that target. However, the presenter should add that all donations, large or small, are welcome. The presenter can add that if anyone else wants to throw a fundraiser party for the relative, they can do so. Afterwards, 20 minutes should be allotted for questions from the guests. The host can start the ball rolling by asking the first question.

2. The host can start the fundraising by making the first donation. You should leave options on how people can donate. You can pass baskets with envelopes around for guests who want to donate by cash or check. You should also have a couple of computers around with the website page so that others can donate through their credit cards.

3. After the donation portion, people can socialize again for another 30 minutes. Meanwhile, your committee can tally up the donations. Afterwards, the host can announce how much was collected and thank everybody for their help.

4. The host and closest relatives should thank all guests as they leave. The entire party should take about two hours.

After the Party You’re not done yet, one more thing

Thank you notes. The host should send thank you notes to all those who attended the party, whether or not they made donations. This can be done online and include a link to the website, with updates and photos of the event.

Hosting a get well fundraiser party can leave you with more than just money. You can feel happy that so many people care about your relative and you can gain strength personally by feeling that you aren’t alone in this journey. At the same time, the guests can feel inspired and thankful that they took part in something larger than themselves.

Sample Schedule for A Fundraiser Party
7:00 pmGet well fundraiser house party starts
7:00 pm – 7:45 pmGuests mingle as refreshments are served. This also allows time for people who are late.
7:45 pm – 8:00 pmPresentation.
8:00 pm – 8:20 pmQuestion and answer time.
8:20 pm – 8:40 pmFundraising.
8:40 pm – 9:30 pmSocial time, until the host announces the amount that was raised.
9:30 pmFundraiser party is over.

Have you planned a fundraiser party before for anyone? Share your tips below.

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Mona Gonzalez
Mona Sabalones Gonzalez is a veteran writer, book and magazine editor, and columnist in her country, the Philippines. She has also contributed articles to regional and some international publications. She has ghostwritten several books and contributed to the book, Faces of the New Millennium. She edited case studies for the 2015 APEC Foundation and made six page summaries per case study. She and her husband Ed have done marketing and publicity for select clients, and media coverage for events. Mona has written for several online publications and she has a blog, The Philippine Consumerist, and another blog with her husband Ed, The Euthymic Dog, which is about their shared passion for animals and the environment.