Typically, the first thing people think about when it comes to fundraising is holding an event of some kind.
Since it’s such a common strategy and since so many aren’t nearly as successful as they could be, I thought I’d post some tips for making them better, especially if you’re working on your first on.
Be careful with events or little fundraisers. It’s tempting to want to hold several, but you really only want one. Choose one event that you can put all your time and energy into and make it as successful as possible. Then move on to other strategies like monthly giving.
You can’t fully fund your nonprofit through events and you shouldn’t try.
But, you can bring your young nonprofit some wonderful awareness and publicity through a special event as well as make new friends and get new donors.
5 tips for maximizing your special events
1. Clearly define the event.
This is so important! Is the event a friend-raiser or fund-raiser? Are you holding the event to raise awareness? Or do you have another goal? Knowing your purpose will help you set the direction and expectations for the event to ensure success. It will also help you narrow down the list of donors or potential donors you invite to the event so that you are getting the people that will help you meet your expectations and goals for the event. Also consider the type of event and the vibe you want the event to have (family friendly, upscale, party, serious, etc.).
2. Host ONE event.
Be careful not to overload your staff and volunteers with multiple events. You want your events to be well-planned and effective. One or two big events that are broad-reaching into the community are much better than lots of little events that use up all your time and energy. Make sure that the events you do are a big deal to your staff, volunteers, donors, and the community.
3. Use special events as a chance to involve local businesses.
Event sponsorships are a great way to involve local businesses and corporations in your special events. If your event garners publicity, particularly through the media, you can probably secure at least one corporate sponsor. Good candidates for sponsors are banks, communications companies, and other businesses that have broad target audiences.
4. Use a planning timeline.
Once you set the date for your event, use a timeline to back up from the event to plan all the details. You can include things like sending a press release to the local media a week before the event, confirming with a caterer two days before the event, and so forth. This great planning tool can help you keep track of all the details and avoid letting things fall between the cracks. Make sure to include when you’ll send out “save the date” info, when you’ll start selling tickets, and when you’ll hold a lessons learned meeting.
5. Use a committee of volunteers to plan the event.
Recruit a committee of volunteers to help you plan and execute your event. You can get help pulling the event off and you will probably get some good ideas, too. It will be much easier tending to all the details with extra hands. Plus, involving volunteers in the work you are doing is a great way to get to know them and build a relationship. After all, it’s all about relationships!