Tools and Tips

Fundraising Event Planning Timeline and Checklist

Fundraising Ideas at WorkMany schools and nonprofit organizations host fundraising events as a way to raise money for their cause. Some common fundraising events include walk-a-thons and peer-to-peer events, fundraising galas, charity golf tournaments, online and charity auctions, conferences, and breakfast or lunch meetings. If your organization is looking for a sample fundraising event timeline or checklist, you may already have a fundraising event in mind.

Be sure to get started out on the right foot with your fundraising event planning by carefully considering the type of event that you want to host. You’ll want to consider many factors in choosing a nonprofit fundraising strategy that works for your organization and constituents.

Some questions to ask of your planning committee or leadership team are included below.

What is the budget for the fundraising event?

Budget for the fundraising eventIf you have a small operating budget, then a large fundraising event such as a gala is probably not the answer. This type of fundraiser requires an initial investment for items such as: securing a venue, paying for permits, paying for marketing/promotional expenses, catering down payments, decorations, entertainment, and more. Be sure to prepare a detailed fundraising event budget before you embark on a large-scale fundraiser. Remember your goal is to raise money, not spend more than your organization can afford.

How much time do you have to plan the fundraising event?

How much time do you haveIs it Q4 and you’ve realized you are 20% shy of your annual goals? If so, you need to do something quick! With little lead-time, you’ll likely be looking at more of an online fundraising initiative that could possibly be spread with the help of all of your networks. You have little time to facilitate planning a fundraising event or securing in-kind donations or prizes for a raffle or auction, but it doesn’t take long to get a fundraising website up and promote your online fundraising campaign via social networking. With our Sample Fundraising Event Timeline and Checklist, you can review an ideal situation for a conference, fundraising gala, or another large-scale event, to see if you have a reasonable amount of time to make the event come off successfully.

How big is your team of supporters?

How big is your team of supportersIf you have a number of participants that can help you raise funds, a peer-to-peer fundraising event such as a walk-a-thon fundraiser might be a perfect choice. Here each participant can help raise funds by creating a personal fundraising page they can share throughout their personal and social networks. Whereas a small group of people planning the fundraiser may lend itself to something a bit less labor-intensive such as a fundraising raffle.

Does your event benefit your mission?

Fundraising that works with your mission is the most successful, as your volunteers and supporters can really get behind the campaign. Read more on mission-driven fundraising.

What tools do you have to help accomplish your fundraising goals?

This is an important question. How do you intend to execute your fundraiser? Our fundraising software for nonprofits can be extremely helpful, especially if you are low on resources. The easy-to-use tools take a lot of the legwork off your administrators while simplifying the process for your constituents. Participants can easily register for events, donors simply click a button to make online donations, event details are seamlessly updated and shared via a fundraising website, and communications are automatically pushed out to your supporters. In addition, numerous reports can be generated to help with tracking progress, database management, and evaluating the success of your campaign.

online fundraising platform for event planning

Although great event management software can help keep you organized and track important data (i.e. attendees, sponsors, donations, etc.); you can’t just plug it in the week before your event and expect event success. You’ll still need to start planning way in advance.

Successful special events are typically planned at least six months to one year in advance. A good way to begin is to create a Fundraising Event Timeline and Checklist. This will help guide your actions and keep you moving in the right direction. We’ve started this sample timeline one year in advance of a conference or other fundraising event.

Sample Fundraising Event Planning Timeline – Use for a Conference or Similar Event

Fundraising Event Planning Timeline : Up to One Year Prior to the EventUp to One Year Prior to the Event

  • Select conference event planning committee
  • Reserve site location & date
  • Reserve hotel block of rooms for attendees
  • Prepare a fundraising event budget  with fundraising goals in mind
  • Set event theme
  • Review any documentation available from the previous year’s event

Fundraising Event Planning Timeline : 9 Months Prior to the Event9 Months Prior to the Event

  • Identify & contact keynote speakers
  • Prepare sponsor proposal & begin soliciting sponsorships
  • Reserve necessary vendors and entertainment
  • Set registration fees & tentative conference schedule

Event Planning Timeline: 6 Months Prior to the Event6 Months Prior to the Event

  • Start recruiting volunteers
  • Go live with fundraising event website
  • Create promotional materials
  • Distribute flyer with registration materials
  • Begin selling tickets online

Event Planning Timeline: 3 Months Prior to the Event3 Months Prior to the Event

  • Set menus & decorations
  • Manage logistics (reserve AV needs for speakers, table rentals, tents, etc.)
  • Determine room set-up (or event map if outdoor event)
  • Confirm event/conference schedules with speakers, volunteers, etc.
  • Send Email campaigns promoting event & ticket sales
  • Social marketing & PR campaigns

1 Month Prior to the Event1 Month Prior to the Event

  • Prepare printed event brochure
  • Preliminary meal confirmations (based on ticket sales)
  • Print event signage

2 Weeks Prior to the Event2 Weeks Prior to the Event

  • Final tallies & registration confirmations
  • Send volunteer schedules, sponsor details, etc.
  • Meeting / ”run-through” with employees / volunteers
  • Final promotional efforts

1 Week Prior to the Event1 Week Prior to the Event

  • Assemble conference packets
  • Print registration forms & name tags
  • Report final quantities to the caterer

Tips for Event/Conference DayTips for Event/Conference Day

  • Keep a file on hand with all vendors & contracts
  • Communication plan for employees/volunteers (mobiles, walkie-talkies, etc)
  • Have fun!

Post-Event Wrap-upPost-Event Wrap-up

Below we provide a sample Timeline & Checklist you can use as a template or guide for preparing for your own upcoming fundraising event.

Fundraising event planning timeline

Hosting Fundraising Events

Regardless of the type of fundraiser your nonprofit organization decides to host, organizing any event requires careful planning and preparation. One great way to help you manage all the details is by using fundraising event management software. DoJiggy’s fundraising software platform helps organizers manage the entire event life cycle of a fundraising event. Within one integrated web application, event organizers can :

  • Post all event information (speakers, schedules, maps, etc.),
  • Manage online event registrations & donations,
  • Promote and market the event,
  • Manage sponsorship promotion and sales,
  • Sell products and event items,
  • Solicit in-kind donations,
  • Share the campaign via embedded social media links
  • Pull detailed financial reports,
  • Manage check-in and day-of-event operations

Fundraising Event Types

Start Fundraising Now


More Special Event Planning Resources

DoJiggy is the leader in free fundraising resources. We offer affordable fundraising software and free resources for walk-a-thon fundraisers, organizing a charity golf tournament, and a specialized auction timeline and planner. We also offer The Ultimate Guide to Nonprofit Event Planning and a great fundraising event budget to assist with your event planning needs by helping your committee to anticipate income and expenses. See what we can do for your organization!

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About Lisa Bennett

Lisa is the Sales Director at DoJiggy. She joined DoJiggy in 2006 and loves her job. Prior to working with DoJiggy, she worked at several non-profits and managed special event fundraising.
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