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Does your organization provide supplies, a venue, or event planning support for ice cream socials? Consider sponsoring this fundraising idea to expand your reach!

5 Steps to Plan an Ice Cream Social

Your organization can turn an ice cream social into an effective fundraising event in five easy steps:

1. Set a Goal

Every successful fundraiser starts with a clear goal. Think about what your organization wants to accomplish with your ice cream social, such as:

  • Raising a certain amount of money
  • Acquiring new supporters
  • Engaging existing supporters
  • Spreading awareness of your cause

This goal will shape the rest of your planning process and ensure everyone on your team is on the same page about what success looks like.

2. Decide on Your Event Logistics

Next, you’ll need to make a few key decisions about where and when your ice cream social will take place, including:

  • The location–particularly whether it will be inside or outside
  • The date and time, including a rain date if it’s outside
  • Whether you’ll pair the social with another fundraising event

At this stage, you should also think about which supporters you want to target with your event, so you can use their preferred communication methods to market your fundraiser.

3. Promote Your Fundraiser

When spreading the word about your ice cream social, make sure to promote it early and often. It’s okay if you don’t have all of the details finalized when you start marketing–send your first messages as soon as you know the date and location, then follow up with more information later.

Promote your ice cream social using the following marketing channels:

In each marketing message, include a link or QR code where supporters can purchase tickets for your fundraiser. Doing so will help maximize attendance by making sign-ups as easy as possible.

4. Gather Supplies

The main thing you’ll need to host an ice cream social is, of course, ice cream! Purchase large tubs in a variety of popular flavors, such as vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and coffee, and have some dairy-free options available as well for any supporters with dietary restrictions. Put together a topping bar with whipped cream, chocolate and caramel sauces, cookie pieces, and various candies so attendees can build their own sundaes.

You’ll also need disposable bowls and spoons, ice cream scoops, tables for serving, and a seating area for your supporters. If your social is outside, you might choose to put up a tent to block the sun. To ensure you stay within your event budget, buy your supplies in bulk when possible and consider securing sponsorships to offset some costs.

5. Host the Event and Follow Up

The day of your ice cream social is when you’ll see all of your hard work pay off. Arrive at the venue early to set up, and meet with the staff and volunteers to ensure everyone knows their responsibilities.

After the event, send thank-you emails to each of your attendees, volunteers, and event sponsors. Personalize each message with the recipient’s name and the way they contributed to your ice cream social’s success to show that your organization values every individual who made your fundraiser possible.

How to Raise Money During an Ice Cream Social

Another way in which ice cream socials are highly flexible is that they offer multiple opportunities to bring in revenue for your organization. For example, you could:

  • Sell tickets before the event and at the entrance
  • Offer canned or bottled soft drinks alongside the ice cream for a small additional cost (cups of water can be free)
  • Set up a donation jar for cash contributions
  • Display a QR code to collect text-to-give donations

Plus, if you pair the ice cream social with another event, you’ll open up even more fundraising opportunities!

Fundraisers to Pair With Your Ice Cream Social

Ice cream socials can coordinate with a wide range of other fundraisers, including:

  • Raffles. Sell tickets during your event and pick one lucky winner at the end. Since ice cream socials are great summer fundraisers, consider choosing a summer-themed raffle prize like passes to a local water park or a gift basket of beach day essentials.
  • Physical activities. Finish off your field day fundraiser or fun run with a sweet treat to reward participants for a job well done.
  • Community dinners. Coordinate a potluck, picnic, or cookout and add an ice cream social for dessert.