Five Steps to a Successful House Party
Thanks so much for considering hosting a fundraising house party for Our Bodies Ourselves! Please note that if the event is in the Boston area or nearby (generally within a few hours by car), OBOS executive director Judy Norsigian, along with one or more board or staff members, can often attend. If the event is outside of the Boston area, we can sometimes arrange for an OBOS contributor or colleague to speak.
The following steps can help you plan and prepare for a fabulously succesful party!
- Prepare a guest list that includes nearby colleagues and friends who might be interested in the work of Our Bodies Ourselves
Some hosts prefer to invite just their own friends, neighbors, and colleagues. Others would like to add the names of any people OBOS knows who are in the same area. About 100-150 invitations have been mailed for most events, with between 20- 30 people attending, but this has varied. In one case, the hosts had 10 friends each capable of making a higher donation and arranged for a much more intimate event in their living room. We have also had house parties with as many as 65 people.
- Determine a date, time and format
House parties usually last approximately two hours, according to the following general guidelines: 45-50 min. for mingling/eating, 20-25 min. for presentations, 20 min. for Q & A, and 10-20 min. for final mingling, writing checks, picking up literature and books.
If you would like someone from OBOS to be present at the party, please contact Anne Sweeney (email@example.com) to determine a date and time that will work for everyone.
OBOS will provide sign-up sheets, name badges, a basket for checks, and selected informational handouts and books. If the event is outside the Boston area, the materials will be sent to you.
- Prepare and send out the invitation
OBOS is happy to prepare an email invitation, with host input, and also print/distribute a small number of printed one-page invitations for people who prefer to use regular mail rather than email. You can also use online invitation services like evite.com.
Regardless of who prepares the invitation, proofing should be done by several people. The host needs to be sure that directions and phone numbers are accurate; OBOS staff need to be sure that organizational information is correct. (The OBOS staff usually prepare the first draft with content provided by the hosts.) We recommend including a suggested donation amount or range (the range would depend on the giving capacity of those invited). Sometimes, hosts note that “anyone donating $100 or more will receive one or more of the recent Our Bodies Ourselves books inscribed to the person of his/her choice.”
The invitation can note either the office or the host for RSVPs (email addresses AND phone numbers are usually offered). It is best for the host to send out the invitation to his/her contacts and for OBOS to send out the invitation to people already in the OBOS database. But OBOS can send out ALL the invitations if provided with emails and addresses.
Invitations should be sent out about four weeks prior to the house party.
- Figure out the logistics
At most house parties, the host(s) arranges food and drink. Light hors d’ oeuvres (cheese, fruit) and wine and a non-alcoholic beverage are typical. In some cases, the host has arranged for a food or beverage donation from a local store such as Whole Foods. If you go this route, we are able to send the store or restaurant a tax-receipt for an in-kind donation.
Think about how set-up and clean-up for the event will happen -- you may want to ask a few friends to help.
At some point during the party, usually after the Q&A, one person (either the host, another guest, or an OBOS representative) will make a special pitch for donations. An envelope is provided for checks, to fill in credit card information, or for noting a donation pledge that will be fulfilled later online.Some hosts like to have a table with a friend or OBOS staff/volunteer in charge of collecting donations, giving out name badges, signing people in, etc. Others prefer a more informal approach, although a larger group requires some monitoring of donations and book distribution. It is helpful to have a sign-in sheet and name badges readily available in an entrance foyer or other accessible location. Literature can be put there as well, so people can pick it up either on the way in or on the way out.
- Do follow-up calls (or emails) to those who have not RSVP’d
Typically, the host follows up on certain people and asks the OBOS office to follow up with others.
OBOS TAKES CARE OF SENDING OUT THANK-YOU NOTES AFTERWARDS, acknowledging donations for IRS purposes, etc. Hosts will receive the list of donors and gift amounts and often send their own personal email thank-yous.
Thank you so much for considering hosting a house party! For help at any stage, please contact Anne Sweeney (firstname.lastname@example.org).