How to Guide: Friendraiser Events

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Friendraiser event: a fundraiser designed for and promoted to Host’s friends/network

Host: “Friend, let’s hang out and do some good at the same time! Join me for a glass of wine, I’ll tell you about the candidates we’re supporting and we’ll donate to help them win”

Friend: “Of course! I’m so glad you asked, I’ve been looking for a way to make an impact and you and I don’t get to spend enough time together, so this is perfect. I’ll be there.”

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Go big on Friendraiser events because they:

  • Scale your fundraising efforts
  • Require relatively little time and energy from leaders
  • Double as volunteer recruitment efforts
  • Help your team diversify and grow organically
  • Are a great way to activate/develop leaders – anyone can host some version of a Friendraiser!


Many teams focused on increasing friendraiser events in 2020. For just one example, the Organizing Department has been closely following the Sister District Portland Friendraiser program. They adopted a strategy for friendraiser events in 2019. That year they:

  • Raised 85% of their $12,200 2019 fundraising total from 11 Friendraisers
  • Used larger meetings and events to recruit Friendraiser hosts
  • Most core leaders hosted their own Friendraisers early in the election cycle and recruited hosts from those events
  • Included a “will you get your own friends together for a candidate fundraiser?” ask in their survey for new volunteers
  • In 2019, one of the team’s new leaders invited friends over for ice cream, and 26 people raised $2,800 for candidates. See Case Study: Ice Cream Social Friendraiser Scoops Big Dollars

Given their 2019 success with Friendraiser Events, the Portland leaders sought to expand their program for 2020. Leaders:

  • Recruited 8 Friendraiser hosts from the 19 attendees at their 2020 planning meeting
  • Formed a committee of four to shepherd the 8 host recruits and others who had responded Yes on the new volunteer survey through to successfully hosting their own Friendraiser events
  • Spent relatively small amounts of time supporting Friendraiser Hosts to raise roughly $20,000 of their total $55,000 fundraising haul with 9 events
  • Friendraiser Hosts put on creative, light-lift events! Examples include: Robin Johnson, Anthony & Diana
  • Those who hosted Friendraiser events were encouraged to invite their friends to also join the team’s recurring phonebank series, which helped boost attendance


The following is a suggested process for team leaders to start or hone your Friendraiser Event program.

  1. Establish a committee (it might be a committee of one for now, and that’s OK!) to run a Friendraiser Host Recruitment & Support Program
  2. Prospect! Committee members:
      1. Make asks to find Friendraiser hosts at meetings, at events, in your team newsletter and in surveys (see below for the ask made by Sister District Portland at their 2020 planning meeting)
      2. Reach out to active volunteer/donors who might be well-suited/interested. Candidates might include someone who has donated at a higher level, or consistently shows up to candidate event.
      3. Pro Tip: Winter and spring are great times to recruit! Just because you might not have candidates yet doesn’t mean that you can’t ask folks if they’re interested and begin the process of shepherding them through.
  3. Committee to establish a system to track prospects, assign members to shepherd Hosts through from saying Yes to actually running their event, periodic committee check-ins
  4. Steps for Committee members shepherding Hosts:
      1. Share Host a Friendraiser!
      2. Confirm day/time/concept and their plan for virtual event, if applicable
      3. Share your team’s unique ActBlue link with a refcode (see 1(b) here) and work out how you will help the host track or report on donation totals. This will likely include pulling a list of donations and sharing with the host after the event, so they can thank donors. For help with this, please see How-To Guide: Treasurer and talk with your Organizing Department staffer
      4. Share links and other information on your candidates, point out messaging that might be helpful in the content they find on the Sister District website
      5. Suggest specific days on which Host will send an invitation email and reminders
      6. Suggest two non-donation asks Host can make of friends at the end of the event and provide registration links (e.g. invite to sign up for the team’s phonebank program or fill out an interest survey)
      7. Check in with Host with appropriate frequency
      8. Encourage, thank, debrief and help with any donor-details follow-up
  5. Report out to other leaders on the success of the program in terms of # hosts recruited, # of Friendraisers completed, total Friendraiser event dollar amount, and positive leader-development or other team-building stories related to your work

How Sister District Portland leaders recruited Friendraiser event hosts at their in-person 2020 planning meeting:

“Thank you all so much, what we’ve done so far here tonight is great. Thank you for being here. We just learned about our wonderful brave candidate, the importance of Early Money to catapult her campaign, and we know how important this election is in our last chance to win elections in advance of redistricting and what the stakes are for the citizens of the state in terms of policy. And we’ve discussed the outsized impact we can make.

I’d like to ask you to pledge to do one simple thing in the spring: get your friends together for dinner or wine or ice cream or whatever feels fun. Introduce our candidate to them and invite your friends to donate. We’ll give you a unique ActBlue link and can track your donations, and we’ll provide all the messaging and materials to help introduce our candidate and the stakes.

Four people with clipboards are going around the room, if you’re interested at all, please sign up and we think it’s an easy thing we all can do to make a collectively big impact. Our team did 11 of these last year and raised about $10,000.

Again, we provide the links, you just ask friends to come over for coffee, introduce the candidate, get ’em to text to donate using their own phones. It’s so easy. Sign up now to tell us you will, and we’ll follow up to give you the ActBlue link, information on your candidate and that’s it! We’re going to take 7minutes total right now to get everyone signed up – – I’ll count down!”