When it comes to bowling, there are 2 types of people: those who hit the alley every week and those who play once in a blue moon just for fun. Why not combine both of these groups, friends and strangers alike, to help raise money for your upcoming adoption? This fundraiser is FUN and relatively simple to pull off successfully.

Preparing For Your Event

  • No procrastinating allowed for this fundraiser! You should plan on starting the process months before the event, not days or weeks ahead.
  • Recruit volunteers to help with the planning. Form teams to assist with various aspects, including recruitment, food and beverage, sponsorships, prizes and graphic design. You should also have 4-6 volunteers who are available to help on the day of the event.
  • Begin negotiations with local bowling alleys to determine which one is the best fit for the event and will meet your needs. Inform them of the cause and, hopefully, you will find one that will cut you a great deal and help you reach your fundraising goals more easily. Emphasize that your budget is small since this is a charity event.
  • Begin contacting businesses and individuals seeking donations for prize giveaways. Don’t forget to solicit sponsors for the event. Sponsorship opportunities might include: event announcements, signage, company logo on printed material and/or t-shirts, official or title sponsorship of the event, and free bowling teams for their employees.
  • Advertise like crazy! Aim for posting in local newspapers, on business bulletin boards, at your workplace, in your church and all over social media sites. Be sure to ask local bowling leagues if they will spread the word to their members.
  • Determine a minimum fundraising goal for participants like $50, $100, $200 and so on. Then, create an online form to allow participants to register and select their pledge amount. We like Jotform because it allows you to put a PayPal button on the form to collect donations immediately. If you think you’ll have more than 100 registrants, sign up for the $9.95/month version because the free version only allows for 100 monthly form submissions. On the form, ask for name, phone, email, address, sponsorship amount/goal, and company name plus whatever else you wish to have on file for each participant. Be sure to set up a table at the bowl-a-thon (possibly at or next to registration) to allow for donations to be turned in on the day of the event.
  • You can choose to offer t-shirts to participants who raise above a certain amount, for example all participants who raise more than $100 will be given a bowl-a-thon t-shirt. You can also have prizes for the top fundraisers and/or teams.
  • Set a registration deadline. We suggest 7-10 days before the event. This will allow you to know exactly how many people to expect so that you can finalize last-minute details.
  • After registration is closed, create a registration spreadsheet that contains name, pledge amount, pledge paid or unpaid, and lane assignments. (If you decide to use Jotform, this will make it easy to export the file to Excel, print off and use for check-in on the day of the event!)

Determining The Structure of Your Event

  • Will participants bowl a specific number of games or for a set amount of time?
  • Will you have contests during the event such as most strikes, highest score, or best/worst bowling form?
  • Will you offer door prizes?
  • Will you have a silent auction, prize raffle or a 50-50 raffle every 30 minutes or hour?
  • Will you offer food and beverages as part of the event or have them available for purchase? Check with the bowling alley to find out if they have restrictions regarding food and drink brought in from outside.
  • Will there be a specific theme or costumes involved?
  • Will there be live entertainment such as a band, DJ or professional MC?

The Day of Your Event

Ask all volunteers to arrive at least 2 hours before the event for setup. Hang up all event and sponsorship signage, setup registration and auction/raffle tables, and decorate. Test the sound system and microphones so you’re ready to go when the event begins.

Have your registration spreadsheet with lane assignments printed off so that participants are directed to their lane upon check-in. Collect donations and have volunteers denote the total amount raised by name. Provide a raffle ticket to each participant at check-in if you intend to do have door prize drawings. Have volunteers direct participants toward the desk to get shoes and bowling balls.

Kick-off the event by welcoming everyone and thanking sponsors and participants. Be sure to inform them about your adoption and where you are in the process. Go ahead and start on time even if everyone isn’t there.

Depending on how many door prizes you’ll be giving away, announce prize numbers throughout the event.

After Your Event

  • Leave the bowling alley in better shape than you left it. Ask your volunteers to stay a few extra minutes to help pick up trash and put away tables, decorations and signage.
  • Write a hand-written thank you card to everyone that participated including sponsors.

Did we miss anything? Tell us what you think we should add to make it better.

photo credit: Mustafa Khayat via photopin cc

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Lori Resmer

Child Advocate. Entrepreneur. Fitness Junkie. Mommy and Wife. Lori is an adoption fundraising coach that provides creative strategies and resources that empower families to adopt without debt.

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