How to Host a Bowling Fundraiser

The best ways of raising funds for good causes all involve having fun, and that's certainly true of a bowling fundraiser. Beginners and experts, young and old can all get together at the bowling alley for an event that will live long in the memory and raise some valuable funds at the same time.

bowling pins

The other advantages of a bowling fundraiser are the minimal preparation and low up-front costs: the bowling alley can provide pretty much everything that you're going to need, so all you need to do is show up and bring along plenty of other participants. The number of attendees is only limited by the size of the bowling alley hosting your event.

Finding a venue

Choosing the right bowling alley is the most important part of this fundraiser — you'll need to put in some preparation time with the manager and staff rather than turning up out of the blue with dozens of guests. You'll find that the staff at the alley can offer plenty of advice and tips on how to get the most out of your fundraising event.

The key question is how many people you're planning to bring along. The alley might put a limit on this that you will need to work within. Depending on the location of the venue and the time of the week, you may be able to negotiate exclusive use of the bowling alley for your organization.

When choosing a time and a day for your fundraiser, bear in mind other events in the local area and the other commitments that your potential participants might have on. The good news is that you won't have to worry about the weather, because a bowling fundraiser works just as well in the snow and rain as it does in bright sunshine.

Get as much information as you can from the venue about how early your guests need to show up and what they need to bring with them. If people are arranging lifts and transportation then you'll also need to know how long the event is likely to last and how many games will be played.

Prices and promotion

Together with the bowling alley venue settle on a specific flat fee for each of your attendees. This should be all-inclusive, covering shoe hire, the bowling itself, and any extra food or drinks you want to include. It's up to you how much extra you add on to support your cause.

If the price does start to creep up, you might want to consider having snacks as an optional extra. However you decide to do it, make sure that guests are always aware of the good causes they're supporting and the difference that those extra few dollars will make to people's lives.

The manager of the bowling alley might be persuaded to let you hire the alley for free if you make a good enough cause for your organization. Alternatively, you may be able to negotiate discounted rates for drinks and snacks that people buy on the day during the event.

With the details organized, it's time to turn your attention to the promotion: get exposure for your event everywhere you can, from flyers distributed to schools and workplaces, to posters placed in the bowling alley itself in advance of the day. Social media is a great way of getting word out too.

You're going to need some kind of ticketing or registration system in order to know exactly how many people are showing up on the day. This could be anything from an email address on your promotional material to a kiosk selling tickets set up at your church.

On the day

Preparation is key to making the day run as smoothly as possible. Make sure you have the teams worked out in advance so you don't have people wandering around not sure where they need to be. Attendees might want to organize their own teams, but if there are people on their own make sure they're looked after.

Wherever possible make the event feel like a group activity rather than different teams bowling on their own. Make sure everyone keeps a similar pace, with specific times for starting games, and keep an overall scoreboard. Make use of the alley's public address system so everyone knows what's going on.

You could ask the alley or a local business to chip in extra funds if people hit strikes or specific scores. Make sure all the players are aware of this as it can act as a great extra motivator. It's also a good idea to have promotional material related to your organization available so that participants are reminded of the reasons behind the event.

Depending on the size of the venue, you may want to allow spectators too. They can cheer on the teams and contribute to the fundraising by offering one-off donations or by buying food or drink from the venue.

Once the bowling has finished, arrange a prize presentation for the best team, the best player, and any other categories you can come up with. Take the opportunity to thank everyone for participating and remind them again of the real difference that their money will be making in the weeks and months ahead. Don't forget to mention your thanks to the bowling alley and any local businesses that have got involved to lend a hand.

Comments

  1. Lucas says:

    I have a bowling fundraiser every year and the best way to raise money is through sponsors. Event sponsor, lane sponsor, raffle sponsors, food sponsor, drink sponsors.

    I found with no sponsors I was limited to less than $10k an event. With sponsors, the sky is the limit. I am preparing for my next event now and asking businesses for $10k to be the event sponsor. I went from $7,500 an event to a projected $40,000 just through sponsors.

    You will need to create a donation request letter and send it out to businesses 60-90 days prior to the event for the best responses. Follow up, never take no for an answer and be specific according to the business. I.e. Ask local bars to be the drink sponsor, ask restaurants to be the food sponsor, etc.

    • Felicia says:

      Wow, I will like to to know more on this bowling..

    • Carolyn says:

      Hi Lucas, my name is Carolyn. I was reading your reply on this site I have one question. I’m having a bowling fundraiser church event I do not have a date yet but that’s alright. My question is about the drink sponsor and the restaurant. Does this have to be a restaurant or bar by the bowling alley ,or a restaurant and bar by your church area.

    • Donnie Squire says:

      Hi Everyone,

      I am a head coach and the fundraiser director for the Capital City Pacers Organization in Raleigh,NC. We are an organization that help kids get into college. I am trying to find different ways to raise money for the organization. I am want to try something new instead of throwing basketball tournaments and selling donuts and plates. I think hosting a bowling event would be a nice way to raise money. so can you please help.

    • Alecia says:

      Hi @Lucas, if you do not mind can you please share how you got started with the bowling fundraiser. I have a start up nonprofit and am looking for ways to raise money for our programs. I would greatly appreciate your help. Thanks!

    • Alecia says:

      Hi @Lucas, I would love more information about how you got started with the bowling fundraiser. I am looking at doing one as well, but don’t know where to start. Thanks

    • Lisa Wetzel says:

      Can you please email me at [email protected]. I would like to be able to set up a time to talk to you about this my name is Lisa thanks !

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