If you’re about to host your first nonprofit fundraising event, your stomach might be doing somersaults. Don’t worry! It takes nine steps to hold a well-organized, smoothly-executed, and hugely successful fundraiser.
Here is a basic outline of everything you will need to do as you begin planning your first nonprofit fundraising event:
1. Form Your Team
Gather a team that will be responsible for running the event. One person should be the chairperson, and others should be responsible for particular tasks.
Responsibilities include, but are not limited to, budget, logistics, marketing and ticket sales, entertainment, and sponsorship.
2. Define Your Fundraiser and Set Your Goals
Clearly define the purpose of your fundraiser. Are you officially opening your doors? Launching a new program? Make it clear with a theme and a tagline.
Make sure each new plan you make is “on the theme” so that when people attend, they clearly understand your objectives. Also, set your overall fundraising goal. What is a realistic amount that you can raise with one fundraiser?
3. Make a Budget
Please record every expense you can think of, leaving a cushion for unexpected costs. Budgets for fundraising events should include staff costs, event space rental, entertainment, refreshments, transportation, advertising, and miscellaneous supplies.
4. Settle on a Date and Event Space
You can research event spaces that can accommodate your expected number of guests. Some places might be willing to donate to the area or offer a steep discount for nonprofits, so be sure to inquire.
When considering a date, ensure it doesn’t conflict with another significant local event (or even a sizeable televised sporting event or awards show). You want to ensure you can pull in as many attendees as possible on the big day.
5. Design Fundraising Strategies and Coordinate Sponsors
Identify fundraising strategies, such as selling tickets, holding a silent auction, or selling raffle tickets at the event. Ask local businesses to donate items to be auctioned off or awarded as raffle prizes.
You can also try to find a corporate sponsor who will agree to fund the event in exchange for prominent marketing on your part.
6. Book Entertainment and Speakers
Increase ticket sales and attendance by finding appealing entertainment and a powerful keynote speaker. Entertainment can be anything from a strolling string quartet to a rock band. Your keynote speaker should have a genuine interest in your cause.
You’ll use his or her name and bio when you promote your fundraiser, so please try to find someone who is well-known in his or her field or who has a reputation for cause work in your area.
7. Market Your Nonprofit Fundraising Event and Sell Tickets
Promote your event through email, direct mail, and social media. Spread the word so as many people as possible will learn about your fundraiser.
Give people the option of buying electronic or paper tickets, so they can select the option that best fits their needs.
8. Expand Your Reach with Mobile Fundraising
Provide a mobile fundraising link when promoting the event on social media so that people can still donate from their current location if they can’t attend your fundraiser in person.
Offering mobile fundraising options is crucial to the success of your event, as it captures donations you otherwise wouldn’t receive.
9. Run-Through and Implementation
Before the event, type up a detailed order of events for your planning team so everyone knows who’s doing what and when. This is your chance to identify holes and problem-solve. On the event day, arrive early to oversee set up and ensure everything runs smoothly.
After the event, send thank you notes to all your attendees and donors. Explain how their contributions helped your cause, and invite them to join you in other ways, such as volunteering at an upcoming event.
Remember to keep notes of everything you did as you’re planning, prepping, and managing your fundraiser. You can review your notes before your next nonprofit fundraising event to improve them!
If anything goes wrong, you can learn from it and make adjustments the second time around. As you plan more events, they will continue to become better and more successful — and eventually, you will become an expert!
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