In the thick of planning a charity or fundraising event, there are innumerable logistical considerations ‒ from booking venue space to organizing transportation and guest lists. Another important task not to be neglected is finding the right promotional gifts to give to attendees to demonstrate your appreciation. This is also an effective opportunity to encourage more exposure for your brand, by gifting attendees with something useful and valuable to them. The right gift can make it so that your fundraiser was a memorable event.

We spoke with Marit Ortega, Director of Philanthropy of the Tri-County Humane Society, a non-profit animal adoption agency, who successfully used branded promotional items to foster relationships with guests at a recent event. The Wine, Kibbles & Bids event, is a large fundraiser held annually ‒ and as the name suggests, it consists of a wine and beer tasting, a gourmet dinner (not kibble!) and a very large silent auction.

Marit is aware of all of the intricacies of planning an event. She explains, “There are so many things that can go wrong when ordering promotional products. Will the quality of the product make our organization look good or give us a bad name? Will it arrive on time for our event? Will the ordering of the product be hassle free and efficient or a waste of my valuable time?”

Even with all these variables at play, the Tri-County Humane society held a greatly successful event this year, aided in part by the thoughtful use of branded promotional products as gifts.

Are you planning a fundraiser or charity event soon and you’re unsure where to start with promotional gifts? Here are 5 important considerations for choosing the right branded products for your next event.

1.       Select a Relevant, Functional Promotional Item

When selecting which promotional product to giveaway at an upcoming event, ask yourself if the product is relevant to your industry or the event itself. It’s a simple consideration, but it’s important to provide promotional gifts that are purposeful and relevant, rather than contrived. With a wide array of items that can be branded with your logo – anything from golf balls to hand sanitizer or headphones – it isn’t challenging to find something that fits the purpose of your event.

For the Tri-County Humane Society’s Wine, Kibbles & Bids event, branded wine glasses were a practical choice. “The wine glasses are a gift to all attendees and serve as their glass for the wine tasting at the event,” Marit explained. “[They] make a big statement and show that some thought was put into the gift, and that we are not just trying to force our brand on people by giving them something that’s not very useful or of poor quality.”

If you’re uncertain what promotional gift to give attendees at your non-profit event, bags are a popular choice. This is especially true at events where attendees are likely to receive other products like brochures, drinks or other bulky items, where they will be appreciative of having something to carry everything in. Exposure for your non-profit is also a big perk when giving out branded bags, not only when attendees carry it around the event. Shopper bags, tote bags, drawstring bags and insulated totes all serve a purpose outside of the evening, making it so that your company’s logo can be seen anywhere from the grocery store to the gym.

Wristbands from ePromos

Wristbands from ePromos

2.       Logistics: Timing and Budget

Timing and budget are two other fundamental considerations in purchasing promotional products for an upcoming event. Unfortunately, marketing budgets at many organizations can be a bit thin. According to a study by PPAI, “About one-fourth of the buyers report they allocate less than 5 percent of their ad/promotion budget to promotional merchandise. Asked to forecast their expenditures on these items in the next two years, six in ten buyers predicted their spend would be little different from what it is today.”

Specifically, in the non-profit world, Marit suggests organizations “[keep] the gift under 5% of the ticket price or prize incentive level. You are, after all, fundraising for a cause ‒ and the gift, while hopefully meaningful and useful, should not be a huge expense.” Fortunately, there are great promotional items at several different price points, and you don’t have to sacrifice quality for savings.

You should also be cognizant of how long a product takes to customize and ship – after all, you wouldn’t want your branded water bottles arriving the day after your charity run.

Peace, Love & Rescue Shirts from ePromos

Peace, Love & Rescue Shirts from ePromos

3.       Keep the Intended Audience in Mind

Knowing your customer is a fundamental principle in marketing. You are likely trying to target specific donors or partners for your non-profit, so take things like demographics into consideration. You’ll want to supply gifts that are in line with what your donors and other event attendees value. For example, when trying to reward or incentivize enterprise-level donors, corporate gifts like leather notepads and engraved ink pens are a great choice. On the other hand, if you are holding an outdoor fundraising picnic for children, branded bubbles, chalk, or even printed balloons are sure to win attendees over.

Quality, longevity, and appropriateness of the gift are all paramount in identifying the perfect promotional product for your upcoming non-profit event. Marit illustrates the importance of this, admitting that some items previously given to her didn’t fit her needs. “I’ll be honest, I have received many freebie promotional items from events that I’ve attended, and most of them end up at a local thrift store,” Marit said. So be sure to keep your target audience in mind – be it a donor, potential partners, internal employees or others – in selecting an appropriate giveaway for your event.

Woofstock Shirts from ePromos

Woofstock Shirts from ePromos

4.       Promotional Items as a Tool to Gain Even Further Exposure for Your Brand

As touched on earlier, reusable branded bags like shoppers, totes and drawstring bags live on past the event, and can be seen everywhere from the office to soccer practice. This is why it’s imperative that you select a promotional product that is useful to your intended audience.

Marit illustrates this point, noting, “I know that over the years I, for one, have replaced all of my wine glasses at home with my annual Wine, Kibbles & Bids wine glass ‒ and they make a fun conversation piece when we entertain friends and family at our home.”

She continued to speak about the potential for further exposure for your branded products. “Our Woofstock T-shirts are a big hit as we change the design on them every year. We have some people who have been coming to our walk for over 20 years and collect the shirts. One person even mentioned wanting to make a quilt out of them.’

“The wine glasses have received just as many compliments at Wine, Kibbles & Bids ‒ and people are genuinely thrilled when they find out that they get to keep them,” Marit explained. Whether it’s a wine glass, tote bag or Bluetooth headphones with your logo printed onto them, products that can be reused outside of the event serve to further amplify your brand exposure.

5.       Longevity of the Item

Longevity, or the durability of a product, go hand in hand with other factors like your budget and the usefulness of a promotional gift. In the same study from PPAI, authors Rick Ebel and Saritha Kuruvilla note, “When we asked consumers how long they kept their favorite promotional products, 26 percent said they held on to high-end items for more than five years. For a favorite item that was considered to be low end, the five-year-plus retention period was claimed by 20 percent of the respondents.”

While marketing budgets for promotional items can be a bit limited in the non-profit world, what Rick and Saritha looked at was the perceived value of the items. People determine value by a number of factors like usefulness, design, and materials. This means you still have the opportunity to pick an item that has a high perceived value that’s still within your price range.

Although there are innumerable logistical considerations in planning a non-profit charity function, promotional items are a valuable marketing outlet not to be forgotten. In the end, we guide non-profits through the top five considerations when purchasing promotional items for a charity event or fundraiser. It’s important that all products are purchased in a timely manner to ensure item selection and branding are done thoughtfully. Ultimately, when the promotional product is relevant, audience appropriate, and materials sturdy enough to last, it will have a permanent marketing impact on potential donors and event attendees.


We are excited that this year’s Wine, Kibble & Bits event was a success. We thank Marit Ortega and the Tri-County Humane Society for speaking with us about their branded wine glasses from ePromos and the importance of promotional products!