Bright Idea: Give Supporters an Immersive Experience

Fundraising Ideas

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Leader Dogs For The Blind, a nonprofit providing guide dogs to the blind, hosts an innovative event called Dinner In The Dark. During the event, guests are blindfolded so they experience an ordinary moment in the life of Leader Dogs For The Blind’s beneficiaries, eating dinner.

What makes this event so successful?

Leader Dogs For The Blind Dinner in the Dark Event Header Image

Guests to the event experience what it’s like to be blind. They eat dinner with a blindfold on as a Leader Dogs For The Blind client guides them through the meal.

This event is creative and offers an experience that supporters likely have never had.

In addition to the unique experience, the event is successful for Leader Dogs For The Blind because the experience asks guests to empathize with the organization’s clients. Once they experience what it’s like to do an everyday task while blind, they’ll see why the work of Leader Dogs For The Blind is so important.

Blindness is the theme of the event, and they’ve built sub-events into their Dinner In The Dark. The evening starts with a black carpet entrance and pictures with a canine ambassador for every guest. From there, guests can participate in a “blind” wine pull. They purchase and pick a ticket at random and get the bottle of wine that has the matching number. Participants don’t know what kind of wine they’ll get until they’ve purchased the ticket.

They offer a VIP package that offers an exclusive experience to encourage guests to opt for a higher cost ticket. Adding additional value further endears supporters to the organization and their clients, which helps the organization raise more.

How can your organization emulate this success?

1. Create an event that relates to the services you provide

You can create an event centered around the theme of the services you provide. Leader Dogs for the Blind created an event based on blindness because they make the lives of people living with vision impairments easier. What services does your organization provide? Who are your beneficiaries? Base your event around them.

2. Create an immersive event experience

Your event can provide guests an opportunity to experience something they’ve never done before. In the case of Leader Dogs For The Blind, the experience is fine dining without the use of one’s eyes. The purpose was to help guests empathize with those who benefit from the organization’s services. You can create a similar event for the same purpose. Determine what’s unique about your organization or your beneficiaries. Then, figure out how to turn that unique experience into a fundraising event. This can be a physical activity, a dinner, or another type of event entirely. You’re only limited by your creativity.

3. Build in related sub-events

Leader Dogs for the Blind created a blind wine pull sub-event to raise additional funds at their event. You can do something similar. If you’re an animal shelter, for instance, you can do a “pick-a-pooch” wine pull. Creativity is important here too. You’ll want to make sure your sub-events relate to the overall event theme.


An immersive event experience, if done right, can result in great fundraising success for your nonprofit organization. The key to a successful, immersive experience is to create an event concept that guests won’t have experienced before. That event should relate to your organization’s mission and build empathy among your supporters for those your organization serves. Related sub-events provide additional opportunities to raise funds from empathetic supporters.

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