The Fundraising Event Planning Guide For Beginners

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Written by Tim Grable

March 4, 2017

Every nonprofit wants to plan a successful fundraising event and raise a lot of money to support their cause, but, generally speaking; this is easier said than done.  There is no universal recipe for success, but there are some key “ingredients” you can rely on when it comes to your fundraising event planning guide for the perfect charity event.

A successful nonprofit fundraising event needs proper planning. Due to lack of experience, many organizers make mistakes or overlook crucial aspects. This diminishes the effects of their fundraisers. Experience can only be gained in time, but with proper advice, your first event can be a huge success. 

Golden Rules for a Fundraising Event Planning Guide

If you are about to organize a fundraising event, you already know that there are plenty of things to consider and be aware of. The key to a successful event relies on accurate planning. Here are 7 essential fundraising event rules that should be a part of your event plan and will help you organize a great non-profit fundraising event.

1. Clearly determine your goal and set your goals carefully

Before you do anything else, make sure you know exactly what the purpose of your event is. Is it just raising money, increasing public awareness or gaining attention?

It is not uncommon for these type of events to have multiple goals, but it is important to know precisely what they are so you can plan your event accordingly.

Every practical project starts with a written plan, and every program begins by setting the right objectives. Make sure you know where you are headed before actually embarking on this trip. Here are two questions that will help you define the goals of your fundraising event:

a. What is the purpose of your event?
Figure out which is the expected outcome of your efforts and the causes you are raising money for.

b. How much money does your nonprofit plan on raising?
Every charity event aims to gather funds for a particular purpose. You need to have a clear idea when it comes to the exact amount of money you want to collect from your donors.

The first thing that needs planning is the objective of the ceremony. You can help your cause in many ways. Some fundraisers focus more on spreading awareness. Others focus on getting a large number of volunteers. Of course, the primary goal could be simply to raise funds.

It is paramount that you set a clear direction for the event.

Many fundraisers have little effect because they send mixed messages. After you set a goal, everything else should be planned with it in mind.

2. Get to know your audience

The one question you always need to ask yourself when planning a fundraiser is this: Who is the target audience for your event? Whom will your donors be? Answering these questions will help you determine the best kind of event to host for a particular cause.

Based on your previous experience or predictions, try to distinguish who your target audience is. Most fundraising events are aimed at almost anyone who is willing to donate, but according to your cause, you might need to target a very specific audience, such as business people and professionals who have a high income.

Define your target audience before sending out your invitations, because they also need to be crafted accordingly.

People will be more willing to show up and donate if you can find a way to make them feel a connection with the cause of the event. Moreover, that means you need to know what makes them tick.

The more guests attend your fundraising event, the more successful it can become. That doesn’t mean you should mislead or pressure people into coming. The attendees have to be interested in the cause and open to your message.

To reach as many guests as possible, advertise the event on social media as often as you can. You can also tell attendees to bring a “plus one” or even more.

Send the invites well in advance. Don’t forget to send reminders a few weeks before the fundraiser takes place.

After you get a response from most invitees, see how many guests there will be, and do some research on them.

The Fundraising Event Planning Guide For Beginners

Find out what they like and dislike. The rest of the fundraising event must be planned with that in mind as well.

3. Your Volunteers and Sponsors

Organizing and hosting a fundraiser without having outside help is tough. Luckily, it’s almost never necessary.

In the first stages of your fundraising event planning guide, you should reach out to local businesses. Most companies will gladly offer support since they are promoting their brand. 

Get as much help as possible with things such as catering and gift bags.

To save money, reach out to friends, family, and colleagues. They may be willing to assist during the event or even in the planning stage. You can also find volunteers on social media, so make sure you ask.

With the support of sponsors and volunteers, your job will be much easier.

4. Make sure your audience will be entertained

Extreme seriousness is no longer a must for this kind of events. People expect to be entertained at a fundraising event since it makes them feel less formal. Also, donating becomes more pleasant.

If you want to make sure your donors will remember your event, hire professional entertainers. If you need some suggestions, I would personally recommend Bob Nelson for his unique and ingenious ways to keep the audience engaged throughout an entire evening.

The essence of any fundraising event is people’s desire to give. No matter how much or often they donate, every effort counts, so don’t forget to make them feel that they’ve made a difference, and thank them.

People are more willing to donate if they feel like they are getting something in return. Your job is to make the event such an incredible experience that your donors will feel it is only fair to donate even more.

An excellent way to do this is with entertainment. If your audience is entertained throughout the event, they are more likely to support your cause.

People attend fundraisers because they want to help the cause but also for the entertainment. Providing them with fun activities and quality acts is necessary if you want the fundraising event to have a powerful impact.

Raffles, tournaments, and fair attractions are ideal for entertaining attendees while also raising money. Find an activity that fits the audience and the cause you are representing.

Booking a professional entertainer is also vital. Fundraisers are generally lighthearted events, so comedians are always a safe bet. If you want your guests to have as much fun as possible, consider booking a talented comedian.

Another great idea is to hire a motivational speaker. They will inspire attendees to give more. Speakers show just how important the cause is and why it deserves people’s attention. The right person can fascinate guests and turn them into loyal supporters of your organization.

If you are not sure what to look for in an artist, don’t worry. Read our article on the qualities an entertainer needs for an extraordinary fundraiser.

5. How Much Time You Need to Dedicate to Planning

Depending on the size of the event, the planning process could take anywhere from six months to more than a year. Many things need to be thought out. Rushing anything is a surefire way to make a mistake.

Take your time use your fundraising event planning guide each step to ensure your event is a success. To save time on choosing entertainers, work with an agency. They will know who is best suited for the job.

6. Know Your Budget

It takes money to raise funds, so one of the factors that will most likely influence your event planning is your budget. Starting out with a realistic sense of the expected expenses and revenues will help you avoid future pitfalls.

Also, keep in mind that your budget should include staff, invitations, location, catering, entertainment, utilities and anything else that you think will be needed to make the event a smashing success.

Once you have that figured out, you can start getting creative and pick out an awesome theme for the event.

If you want to avoid unpleasant surprises while organizing a fundraising event, calculate your budget as accurately as possible. Take into account all necessary expenses your event requires, such as room rental, staff, transportation, and so on. Then make sure also to put something aside for variable costs.

6 Golden Rules for a Successful Fundraising Event

7. Nail the theme for your fundraising event

Let’s do a quick recap. By this point, you should be clear about your goals, your target audience, and your budget. If you have all those things under control, you can begin to shape up your event. Moreover, that starts with picking a theme.

Think about what it is you want the audience to experience. Moreover, more importantly, what would they want to experience? Choosing a theme that matches your audience is a crucial step in planning a successful fundraising event.

8. Make sure the chairperson has all the skills needed

If you wish to organize a memorable fundraising event, you should consider having a responsible management committee. Most event planners are drawn to familiar figures, big business owners, or prominent donors who have made significant donations in the past.

Before you make that choice, keep in mind that this person will play a key role throughout your fundraising event. 

This individual’s primary purpose will be to convince the audience to donate money. They are more likely to be successful in accomplishing this task if they have donated themselves and can offer a personal example. It is important you make sure the person representing your nonprofit is as passionate and involved in your cause as you are.

9. Promote your fundraising event

Every project requires marketing, and the best fundraising events are mainly influenced by the marketing strategy you choose to implement. If your endeavor fails, you risk hosting an event that won’t gather enough donors and funds.

Use whatever means seem suitable for your target audience: call them, email them, use social media, or send out written invitations, just make sure you spread the word, and that people will be willing to spend their time and money attending your event.

If you want to impress your guests and create an unforgettable experience, contact us. Our artists will ensure that attendees will have the time of their lives.  We can also help you book high-quality entertainment, so don’t hesitate to call us as soon as you can.  We manage a select pool of artists and entertainers who can help you host a memorable fundraising event. We only represent the best in the industry, so you can be sure your guests will enjoy quality shows.

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