7 Steps for Planning a Charity Bowl-A-Thon


A fundraising event, like a bowl-a-thon, where individuals bowl to support a cause, is an exciting way to inspire your supporters to engage with your organization and raise money for a cause they care about.

It’s a great addition to any organization’s rotation of fundraising event ideas. The team setting of a bowl-a-thon allows for social activity that wouldn’t typically exist in fundraising activities like a walk, run, or ride. This type of environment allows fundraisers to bowl and train in teams, creating friendly competition. This increases engagement and leads to an increase in group activities, which can build momentum towards future fundraisers.

It’s also a great way to bring in new, non-traditional donors. If your typical donors are adults between the ages of 35-50, plan a bowl-a-thon for kids and ask your current donors to get their kids involved. This will keep donors engaged and more likely to donate and participate next time around. But do keep in mind that bowl-a-thons do not always have to involve just kids; senior and family bowl-a-thon events are also popular.

Here are 7 steps to help you plan a bowl-a-thon:

1. Start Early
A bowl-a-thon isn’t organized in a few days or even a few weeks - rather, it takes months to plan one. In order to ensure a successful event, we recommend that you start planning at least six months in advance.

2. Set Fundraising Goals
Make sure your fundraising goal is attainable, but also make it an impressive number. Encourage your participants to help reach your goal by explaining what their efforts will help achieve.

3. Identify Needs, Wants and Potential Event Dates
It’s important to identify what your event needs, what you want for it, and any potential event dates before contacting possible venues. Once these factors are determined, reach out to a couple different venues to negotiate and see which one can best meet your needs. Make sure the venue understands your organization and what you are trying to achieve. Explain what the bowl-a-thon means to the venue in terms of revenue (for example, additional games played) and the exposure they will receive from your advertising efforts.

4. Solicit Prizes
Write a letter encouraging local businesses to contribute to your bowl-a-thon by providing prizes. Make sure your letter states the purpose of your fundraising event, gives an estimate of the number of people that will be in attendance, and how much money you intend to raise.

5. Create and Distribute a Flier
Once your plans are set, create a flier that can be printed, emailed, shared on social media, and other online avenues that includes details about your event and how to get involved. Be sure to include your sponsors, your supporters to date, and prizes that you plan to give away.

6. Get Social
Create a Facebook event to share and promote your event. Create a unique hashtag for your event and share a pre-written tweet with your supporters to share and promote on Twitter. During the event, share live posts and photos to build excitement with supporters and those who couldn’t attend the event. Also, don’t forget to ask for donations on social media!

7. Contact the Local Press
Reporters are always looking for a feel-good human interest story. Once your event details are finalized, write and distribute a press release with details on the event. Reach out to reporters and personally invite them to the event. Find them on Twitter and asked them to help support your cause! Sporting and athletic events typically receive a high level of interest from the general audience.

After the event concludes, make sure you follow up with everyone involved (attendees, donors, sponsors, the bowling alley, etc.) to give thanks for their participation and support. Write a personalized letter and make sure to highlight the successes of the event, what your organization is able to achieve with the money raised, and build momentum for your next event by letting them know where they can find the latest developments on future events.

A bowl-a-thon is a fun and exciting fundraiser that your organization should not overlook. It brings in many new fundraisers and expands your network of donors through your event participants.

Have a bowl-a-thon for charity coming up this season? Check out our ebook on how to hold a bowl-a-thon event!


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