Parties with a Purpose / Grants / Grant Writers / New York City Fundraising Consultant / ROI

Why Throw a Party With a Purpose?

March 18, 2015 | Laurence A. Pagnoni

Parties With A Purpose (PWAP) provide a social setting where new persons and businesses are introduced to an organization in a casual yet systematic way.  They allow somebody who is knowledgeable and passionate about an organization to share its mission with friends, associates and peers.  Relative to other fundraising techniques, the party is an informal gathering: it is geared to be enjoyable for both guests and hosts.  

We recommend PWAP for two reasons:

  • First, they are cost effective. Because the host makes available his or her home or office space, there is no need to pay for space. Further, the costs of invitations and refreshments are kept to a minimum.
  • Second, a significant amount of money can be raised on the spot and also through strategic follow up after the event.  We estimate that the ratio of costs to funds raised should be $1 of cost to $100 raised.


How Does a Party With a Purpose Work? 

A PWAP usually takes the form of an informal get-together at someone’s home.  Guests might include peers, friends, family members, co-workers, and business colleagues.  Usually a dozen to 20 people attend.  Hosts should think expansively when assembling the invitation list.  Modest refreshments are served. Guests enter and are made to feel at home. They meet one another and converse as if at a normal social gathering.

Unlike a normal social gathering, the PWAP is tightly scripted. At a pre-determined moment, the host asks for the guests’ attention and the program is presented. The program is designed to be emotionally-charged, informative, inspiring and, above all, brief.  We recommend recruiting persons directly involved in, or served by, the host organization to give personal testimonials during the presentation—they will add emotional intensity and perspective to the event.

At the end of the program—before anyone leaves—pledge cards are distributed. The guests are asked to fill out the pledge cards, and the host should collect them on the spot.

When departing, people should be in good spirits, having made new acquaintances and learned more about the outstanding opportunities to support an organization.  No one should feel that the PWAP, as a fundraiser, has intruded on too much of their time.

The host of a PWAP should set a guest list and provide light snacks (hors d’oeuvres) and drinks.  The organization can contribute to the Party by suggesting additional guests or by designing and sending out invitations. 


Sample Party Flow:

  • One hour for Hors d’œuvres and drinks (alcohol is at the discretion of the host).  Guests should be greeted at the door. Organization staff may perform sign-in functions and distribute nametags. (2-5 minutes)
  • Welcome Speech by the Host/Hostess stating why we are gathered.
  • 5 to 8 Minute Testimonials by client(s).
  • After the testimonial, Pledge cards are distributed throughout the crowd and collected immediately.
  • Entertainment, desert or more time for socializing.
  • As guests leave, the host collects outstanding pledge cards and distributes informational packets. 

What’s been your experience with recruiting hosts, and throwing these parties? Please let us know on the blog.

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