Fundraising events have become increasingly popular for nonprofit organizations, schools, churches and any community organization looking for a creative way to raise money while spreading awareness of their cause and building relationships within the local community.
Fundraising events not only bring in money for your cause, but by hosting an event you also provide a place for participants, sponsors, media and local community members to engage and have fun. Fundraising events also provide value in return to the donor—whether that’s from the memorable experience they had attending a gala event, or the fun activities offered at a fundraising carnival, or the physical benefits they receive after participating in a 5K run or walk-a-thon—a fundraising event leaves donors with the “experience” of the event (in addition to feeling good about their financial contribution)
Fundraising Event Planning Tips
- Be prepared! Events take months of planning and many negotiations with vendors including sourcing appropriate licenses needed for serving food and alcohol, as well as permits for using public parks, venue rentals, creating promotional materials, soliciting sponsors, attracting volunteers, etc. You may want to create an event timeline and checklist to help keep you on track (you can download a sample for free from our walkathon resources)
- Understand your target donors – Target potential donors who have a personal or vested interest in your organization and cause, and offer an event theme that will appeal to this group (i.e. fundraising carnival vs. gala dinner vs. walk-a-thon). Then create a marketing plan to help you reach out to your target market (via advertising, PR, promotional activities, social media, etc.)
- Increase Efficiency with online fundraising software: Once you’ve chosen your event theme, you’ll need to determine the best way to manage all the details for your event including: participant registration, collecting online donations, sponsor management, product sales, tracking progress and generating reports. With your chosen software solution, you’ll also receive a fundraising event website where participants, sponsors, media and community members may engage and learn more about the fundraising event. This website also tracks progress in real-time by comparing current achievements to final fundraising goals. Monitoring this “gap” can help encourage donors to make larger donations and also motivate participants to step-up their game (especially when top-performers are highlighted)
- Secure Sponsorships: Events provide an opportunity for sponsorship! Consider pitching fundraising event sponsorships to local businesses and like-minded organizations. This is a great way for your organization to raise more money for your cause by securing some large-dollar donations. It also helps you reach a larger audience as you now have access to your sponsors’ databases and supporters.
- Make it fun – Fundraising isn’t just about “raising money”. Consider hosting games and contests before and after the fundraiser. Plan a fundraising raffle and award ceremony as a fun way to wrap up the fundraiser, and thank participants, sponsors, donors, etc.
- Provide tools and training to help participants promote the fundraising event and be more effective in their efforts to raise money for your cause. Provide simple online registration tools, sample donation request letters, “how-to” fundraising tips, and a personal fundraising website to safely and easily collect donations.
- Volunteers Matter: Don’t underestimate the importance of volunteers! These important people help make events successful by spreading the word and helping out. It is important to recruit volunteers early, and to have clear task descriptions.
For more fundraising tips, helpful planning guidelines and free templates, visit our fundraising resource center.