19 Fundraising Event Planning Tips
(You Wish You Knew)
Fundraising Event Planning Tips and Tricks from the Experts
Preparing your fundraising event plan for your organization? Fundraise like a pro without breaking a sweat with these preliminary steps and advice. Expert fundraising event planning specialists and fundraising software firms shared their fundraising event ideas to make your organization’s next big event go as smooth as possible.
Fundraising Event Ideas: What To Do First
Once you've done that, the fundraising style(s), event type, theme, budget and venue options will fall into place. Having a structured overview, which doesn’t have to be huge or complicated, will keep you on track throughout the planning process.
Set up a mobile fundraising platform to collect and track the goal you are trying to raise with your event.
Mobile fundraising allows you to easily make adjustments at any time to event keywords used to donate, live event thermometers and donation pages, which can be updated instantly from any desktop or mobile device.
Know your limitations
As you proceed through planning your fundraising event, be aware of what you will, and will not, realistically be able to do. Starting early gives you time to counterbalance shortcomings with creativity, do-it-yourself work and budgeting so your supporters have the best experience at your event.
– Susan Ruderman, Ed.M. Fundraising Expert with 25+ years of experience in nonprofit management and VP at Veritas Information Services, a fundraising consulting firm
Budget: How to Pay For Your Fundraising Event Plan
Sponsors are invaluable.
Reach out to local and big businesses to see if they would like to sponsor part, or all, of your event. When you pitch to potential sponsors, underestimate your event turnout so they will be pleasantly surprised when your event delivers a higher attendance.
Create an estimated financial plan and expense budget.
Estimate the funding you expect to receive from sponsorships and ticket sales, as well as how much money you believe your event will raise from each fundraising approach (text to donate keyword, ticket sales, live auction, etc.) Then make a comprehensive list of all expenses you foresee incurring so you can highlight items towards which potential sponsors can contribute.
Partnering with brands and business sponsors saves your organization money and resources while providing them great exposure.
An impressive 81% of consumers switch to brands that support a good cause.
Start soliciting “in-kind” donations from local businesses early on to allow time for approvals and contributions. Ask the event venue, local catering companies, restaurants or bakeries, and entertainers/artists to support your cause with the charitable donation of their time and services.
Remember to thank partners and sponsors in writing and display their information in printed and digital material before/during/after the event. This is one of the most important part of charity event planning due to the fact it will impact future events.
Getting People to Attend
Consider peer to peer fundraising prior to your event.
Set up a campaign and empower current supporters to become ambassadors for your organization. A ticket to the event could be an incentive to reach a minimum donation amount. Peer to peer fundraising and crowdfunding allow individuals to set up custom donation pages that are easily shared with friends, family, colleagues and social networks.
Each individual raises an average of $568 versus an average traditional one-time gift of $139 setting you up for a successful fundraising event from the start.
Determine what will make people want to attend your event and support your cause.
What will attract them? Is it an expert speaker, or a celebrity honoree? Also, a great fundraising planning idea is to incorporate a transformational activity that educates supporters about your mission, helps them to connect to your cause and clearly see the impact they can make through their generosity. By combining attraction and purpose you’ll be able to pull together a fun and memorable event to which your supporters will be happy to RSVP.
The early bird catches the worm.
Offer incentives like discounted tickets or gift bags when people register early instead of waiting (and forgetting).
I don't like taking that much risk. It's better to get sponsors to cover all the event costs *before *the event starts. An easy way to figure that out is to use a tool like the free www.GiftRangeCalculator.com. You can put in the entire cost of the event and see what levels of sponsorships to ask for. Or even better, put in what you hope the event will raise. Then get sponsorships in line with that.”
- Marc Pitman, author of Ask Without Fear, international fundraising coach and keynote speaker
Start using them before the event so followers and supporters become familiar with your event. It is a good idea to search Twitter first to make sure it is not already in use. Then encourage attendees to use the #hashtag or Tweet button by placing them on your site, donation form, event registration and in digital event collateral.
Use mobile-friendly registration
The easiest way to scare people or give them a reason to not register is by using paper registration (aka old-school) or online forms that are not easily completed on a mobile device.
Who Is Going to Help?
No matter the size of your organization and number of volunteers, always try to delegate responsibilities. Let people take control of the areas they most enjoy, and they will likely carry out their duties with great success.
Check in early and often to make sure volunteers, staff and vendors are on track with their event duties. Upload mobile numbers or have the team sign up with a subscription keyword to receive mobile messaging that will allow you to quickly send updates before, during and after the event.
- Adrienne Mazzone, President of TransMedia Group, an award-winning public relations, crisis management and media training firm
Event Day: Pulling it Off
Practice, practice, practice
Have the master of ceremonies, host and any key speakers run through their presentations the day or morning before the event. Test the technological equipment and make a test pledge to your live event thermometer to make sure it all works. The more prepared you are, the better.
Set expectations for attendees and deliver
Ensure that the audience has a GREAT (not just good) experience.
Pay attention to crowd reaction
Talk to attendees to see if things are going well and get their feedback during the event. Capture the list of compliments received and suggested improvements for your next event.
Validate mobile numbers or use a subscription keyword to communicate with participants after the event. Customize a survey form to send in a text message to get feedback.
Plan B: What to Do When Things Go Wrong
Outline the event plan, step-by-step, in a 2-column list
What could go wrong in one column, and your contingency plan in the second. Be prepared for the unexpected before the event even starts. Maybe the sound system fails. Maybe your keynote presenter bails. How will cope and move on? Having and sharing a backup plan for major event components will eliminate stress the day of.
Memorable events don’t just happen. Whether you're planning a walk-a-thon, awards dinner or gala benefit, and whether you have 2 weeks or an entire year to plan it, your event’s fate is in the details and how you pay attention to them. Make your event an across the board success that no one will ever be able to forget.
Recent Event Fundraising Articles
WRITTEN BY SARAH BAKER With Fall event season just around the corner, it’s time to review the more granular details of your upcoming fundraising event. From confirming floral arrangements and entertainment to drafting the perfect script for your fundraising call to...read more
WRITTEN BY Kristina Brunnler When it comes to fundraisers, it’s easy to get lost in all the planning and lose sight of the event’s original goal: to raise money for your nonprofit’s cause. However, the most effective fundraising events are planned around the most...read more
WRITTEN BY COREY BLAKE Competitions are a fun and engaging way to get motivated people to help your organization by spreading awareness and raising money. Hosting your own local Dancing with the Stars is a unique way to get your supporters involved. Based on the...read more
WRITTEN BY Kristina Brunnler A sponsorship for a nonprofit fundraising event usually entails a business providing financial support in exchange for some form of public recognition. There are numerous benefits for sponsorships to both your nonprofit and the sponsor....read more
WRITTEN BY SARAH BAKER If your organization holds an annual athletic fundraising event like a 5K run/walk, golf tournament, bowl-a-thon etc., then you already know they can be a great way to bring attention to your cause. They are an effective tool to attract new...read more
WRITTEN BY LINDSAY HALLADAY Great fundraising events are an important component to any nonprofits’ annual calendar. They connect your organization to the community, grow your mission and can be loads of fun...but they can also use up a lot of resources. When...read more
Set up their first fundraiser and achieved great success.read more
FREE BONUS: See MobileCause software in action. Get a FREE personalized demo for your nonprofit and learn how to increase your fundraising revenue by up to 57%! Your organization's charity events are crucial to your overall fundraising strategy and success. Your...read more