If you work in a nonprofit organization or a business engaging in charitable activities, then there is a good chance that you have attended a fundraising event a few times or at least once in your life. Whether it was an extravagant gathering or a simple occasion held at the local bar, these events help organizations gather funds to use in a worthy cause within a short period.
From the perspective of a guest, you might think that fundraisers are easy to plan. But when you get roped in to spearhead the preparation of the gathering, you’ll find that it’s not just a fun night out with colleagues and friends.
When you’re working behind the scenes, you’ll realize that a lot of work goes into planning and preparation to make a fundraiser successful. This might even make you feel a bit more appreciative of those who planned the previous fundraising events you’ve been to.
Now that you’re wearing the organizer’s hat, there are plenty of things you need to think about. To help you out, here are the six essential steps in planning a successful fundraising event which you can use as a guide:
Step #1: Define Your Purpose
Before seeking out venues or plotting the schedule, the very first thing you need to do when planning a fundraising event is to define its purpose. Set a specific reason why you’re raising money in the first place, so you can determine what tools and methods you require to make the event successful.
Although the goal is to raise funds, knowing the reason why you’re asking people for their donations would help your event gain public attention. It is also useful in determining the target audience as well as other details like the venue and entertainment.
Step #2: Set a Specific Goal
As mentioned earlier, a fundraiser’s primary goal is to raise funds. To be more specific, you need to decide on a specific amount to target by the end of the event that, when reached, would indicate that the event has been successful.
When deciding this, you should keep in mind the expenses that you’ll potentially incur in planning and executing the event. This includes the costs for everything from the hosting committee and organization staff to the fundraiser venue and promotion. Remember that the amount you want to raise should be the net revenue, or the amount raised after all expenditures have been deducted.
Also, there could be different goals when it comes to individuals and organizations, so you should determine how much you need to ask for by:
- Assessing the need. Consider how much is required in order to accomplish the purpose of the fundraiser. For example, you can set a goal of $10,000 if the purpose of the event is to build a home for a family devastated by natural disasters.
- Determining your ability. Aside from knowing your purpose, you also need to assess how much you can This will ensure that your goal is realistic based on the sponsors you plan to reach.
- Coming up with a reasonable amount. A reasonable number should be something that is aligned with your ability and purpose. However, you can set it at 30 percent higher than what you require to allow for some wiggle room and accommodate any unexpected costs.
Step #3: Know Your Budget
Fundraisers are planned according to a specific budget. This means you must also know the possible aspects of the event that you’ll need to shell out money for in order to make it a success. This can include:
- Manpower – You can rope in volunteers or hire personnel with experience in running a fundraising event.
- Invitations and event promotion – These are necessary to let people know not just the “what,” “when,” and “where” of the fundraiser, but the “why” as well.
- Venue – Not all organizations have enough space to cater to a big crowd while maintaining an excellent fundraising auction experience, so you might need to rent a place for the gathering.
- Catering – This can be as simple as snacks or as elaborate as restaurant dishes served a la carte, depending on the type of event you’re planning.
- Entertainment – Auctions can serve as both fundraisers and entertainment, but if you’re not going for this type of event, you’ll have to account for additional expenses to keep your guests happy and entertained.
- Transportation, security, and utilities – All your efforts would be moot if no one would be able to attend the gathering. Security and utilities are also crucial to the event’s success.
When setting a budget, you must make sure that the amount of the fundraising goal is taken into account. Keep the amount above the expenses and, again, leave some room for unexpected costs.
Step #4: Pick a Venue and a Date
Ideally, you must pick a venue and date for the event at least six months in advance. This way, you’ll have some liberty in choosing a prime schedule to get the highest attendance rate possible.
Before booking a location, make sure to consider the following with respect to the type of fundraising event you’re planning:
- Audio-visual support
- Permits and licensing
- Internet and cell service
As for your date, it will partly depend on a venue you picked. Talk to the coordinator of the event space you plan to hire and seek out a date that could work for your event.
You would also need to think about the dates that would attract a higher attendance for your donors. This means weekends are most ideal since more people don’t have to go to work. However, you must keep in mind to avoid scheduling the event in a way that overlaps with major holidays.
Step #5: Establish a Schedule
To make sure that everything goes as planned, you have to set a schedule and put it into writing. This will keep your preparation progress on track while reminding the staff of the different tasks that still need to be accomplished.
Creating a list detailing the day-to-day goals is an excellent way to stay organized during the planning and preparation stage of the fundraiser. You should also offer an accessible timeline or calendar for each subcommittee to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
Step #6: Seek Out Sponsors
Sponsors are perhaps the most important factor when it comes to a fundraising event.
Make sure you let people know what donors can give to help. Beyond financial support, you’ll also require in-kind donations. When doing a silent auction, for example, you’ll need several items that people would want to buy. Unlike in live auctions, items that can be considered as “needs” and “wants” are best suited as auction items for a fundraising event.
You might also need extra pairs of hands to raise more funds, which means volunteers who offer free labor are very much welcome.
More Than Just Raising Money
Planning a fundraising event is more than just raising money – it also entails making the entire experience worthwhile for those who will attend. Make sure you plan your next fundraiser like a pro with the help of this article.