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Fundraising Events: 5 Ways to Take Events to the Next Level

by Josh Meyer
Fundraising Events

Fundraising events boast remarkable potential for your organization’s fundraising strategy and donor relationships. That being said, it’s easy to understand just how much hard work goes into any event a nonprofit plans.

Between setting a date, organizing seating arrangements, and collecting items and donations, there’s a lot that can get overlooked when planning your fundraising event.

Luckily for you, we’re here to ease the administrative burden and help you host a stellar event. Check out our 5 ways to take your event to the next level:

  1. Decide on your fundraising event goal.
  2. Recruit help for your fundraising event.
  3. Establish your fundraising event’s date, time, and venue.
  4. Promote your fundraising event.
  5. Thank your fundraising event donors.

If you’re stuck deciding on what type of event to host, check out OneCause’s Phenomenal Fundraising Event Ideas for some inspiration.

If you’re ready to learn how to take your event to the next level, let’s dive in.

1. Decide on Your Fundraising Event Goal

The first step to hosting any successful fundraising event is determining your fundraising goals. Ask yourself how much revenue you are looking to bring in from this event. How does this event tie into your overall fundraising strategy? Where will this event fit into your fundraising efforts? Is this event kicking off a capital campaign or concluding a crowdfunding campaign? Is it a recurring event or a one-off event?

What other goals do you have for this fundraising event? Your organization can acquire new donors, raise awareness for your cause, and engage existing donors. Consider stewarding individuals with major gift potential. Aside from the monetary value, ask yourself what else your organization can gain from this event.

Set numerical values for your goals so you have a way to measure your event’s success moving forward. You’ll want to know how close your organization was able to get to your preset goals if you don’t reach them.

The Bottom Line

Your fundraising event goal is the first thing you’ll need to decide on when planning any event. Make sure you have a way to measure your event’s success at completing these goals.

2. Recruit Help for Your Fundraising Event

You’ll need help when it comes to implementing your plans. You can’t run everything by yourself. Your organization will want to recruit volunteers for planning, marketing, and setting up your event.

You can ask the following individuals to volunteer at your upcoming event:

  • Board members
  • Loyal donors
  • Staff
  • Previous volunteers
  • Other involved individuals

You’ll want volunteers who have a strong connection to philanthropy, and understand your organization and the importance of your cause. You may even consider hiring an executive director to take the lead for your fundraising event by handling budgets and developing different concepts.

Plus, having a director means your volunteer teams will have someone to turn to with any questions they may have about their roles or the event. Keep in mind that your organization can minimize the risk of miscommunication by planning out your leadership teams and individuals in advance.

The Bottom Line

Hiring a director to take control of your fundraising event will relieve you of stress because they’ll be in charge of creating separate teams for different aspects of your event and making sure everything is completed on time so your event can run seamlessly.

3. Establish Your Fundraising Event’s Date, Time, and Venue

Before you can continue planning, you’ll need to establish the logistics of your event. When and where will your event take place?

When planning a date and time, there are multiple factors your organization will need to consider. First, when is your preferred venue available? Once you have the dates your location is free, you should then think about what days are best for your donor base.

Depending on the type of event you’re hosting, you may be limited to mornings or afternoons. For example, a 5k run simply can’t be hosted on a weekday evening. You’ll need more sunlight and time than an evening allows for. On the other hand, if you’re hosting a charity auction, a Thursday evening might be the perfect time.

While choosing your date and time, remember to leave enough time for donors to RSVP. Most nonprofits allow a minimum of 4-6 weeks for responses, with social media and other advertising running 8-10 weeks before the event date. If this event is an annual occurrence, try to schedule it for a similar time as last year’s event so your donors will know when to look for it.

The Bottom Line

Think about your event’s logistics and your donors’ schedules when determining a date, time, and venue. Catering to your donors’ availability allows for a higher attendance rate.

4. Promote Your Fundraising Event

A fundraising event is only as successful as its promotion. If your guests don’t know about your event, there’s no potential for donations or improved relationships.

Put together a marketing strategy for your marketing team and volunteers to implement. Make sure your approach is a multi-channeled advertising plan to cover all your bases and reach as many individuals as possible. You can spread the word through a multitude of communication methods, like the following:

  • Direct mail
  • Phone
  • Newsletter
  • Flyers
  • Email
  • Your website
  • Social media

Your organization should consider creating a microsite for this specific fundraising event. This site would serve as a primary promotion outlet, including plenty of background information on your organization and your cause, while providing visitors with the details of this event. If your software doesn’t have Event Registration built in, like Aplos does, you can use this site to sell tickets to your event.

It will be helpful to use your CRM for the best event promotion. Take a look at your donor profiles, and determine the most popular methods of communication. You’ll want to target your audience, after all. Each channel will need a slightly altered approach to promotion. What works perfectly for Twitter won’t work well for your phone call script or direct mail pieces.

The Bottom Line

Promoting your fundraising event shouldn’t be limited to just phone calls and letters. Your marketing approach should span across every platform possible in order to reach the largest audience available.

Bonus: For more help, check out Double the Donation’s Top Marketing Software for Nonprofits to see which providers can help you properly market your event and organization.

5. Thank Your Fundraising Event Donors

When your event concludes, you’ll need to thank those who attended. Just because your event is over doesn’t mean your work is.

Thank everyone involved with your event—attendees, sponsors, executive directors, and volunteers alike. While sending out your acknowledgments, you can also ask guests for feedback. Provide them with a short and easy survey so you can see what worked in your fundraising and what needs improvement to engage your donors. You can use your guests’ opinions to improve your strategy and future events.

Your thank you emails or notes should be sent out sooner rather than later. Don’t wait more than a week to acknowledge the individuals who gave to your cause or helped make your dream event a reality. In addition, you’ll want your guests to complete your survey while your event is still fresh in their minds for the best data.

The Bottom Line

Any fundraising action your organization takes should be followed by a thank you to your participating donors. Thank everyone involved in your event so they are recognized for whatever support they provided—whether it was financial, moral, or physical.

Now that you have our 5 best ways to take your event to the next level, there’s nothing holding you back from hosting a fundraising event that you’ll love managing and your guests will love attending. All that’s left to do is plan and collect your donations.

Ready for software that can help you reach your fundraising goals? Try Aplos free for 15 days.

Free eBook: Jumpstarting Your Fundraising Efforts

Most nonprofit organizations, regardless of their size, have too many things to do and too little time or not enough people to do it. Balancing daily tasks and trying to raise money can be challenging and overwhelming, so Aplos put together this eBook to help you build strong foundations of sustainable fundraising and financial accountability.

This free eBook provides info on:

  • Reviewing your donor database
  • Building better relationships
  • Reviewing your fundraising plan
  • Creating a specific donation page
  • Publishing an e-newsletter
  • Growing your sustainable giving
  • Engaging and mobilizing your board

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