Fundraising events are a great way to bring in large donations and publicize your organization.
However, throwing an event that is both fun and profitable is no easy task. Successful event planners understand that the bulk of the work, from strategizing to budgeting to marketing, occurs before the event.
Improper budgeting and goal setting can result in a fundraising event that only breaks even or, worse, costs more money than you raised. Your budget and financial goals should be detailed and realistic. Account for all estimated costs, including the cost of supplies that might be donated, such as food or equipment. Be conservative in your donation estimates, and consider padding your budget by 5-10% for unexpected and last-minute costs.
A successful fundraising event is impossible without volunteers, sponsors, and guests, so it’s important to reach out to the community, businesses, friends, and colleagues early on. Sell people on the purpose of your fundraiser, and explain why participating or donating can benefit them. It also helps to offer incentives—such as a pizza party for your volunteers, recognition for your sponsors, and prizes and entertainment for your guests.
The right sponsors can provide prizes, catering services, venues, equipment, publicity, and more to offset the costs of hosting the event. Sponsors with good name recognition can also help you attract a bigger crowd. When soliciting sponsors, describe the benefits of participating in the event, and show how sponsorship can align with their business goals and brand.
On the day of the event, make sure that your team of staff and volunteers are well organized and understand exactly which tasks they’re responsible for. When your guests arrive, provide them with variety of ways to donate, including raffles, auction items, secure donation boxes, and so on.
When your event is over and the cleaning crews have returned the venue to its original state, take stock of what you’ve accomplished. Determine the event’s return on investment by comparing your total donations with your total expenses. Then, send thank-you cards to donors, volunteers, and sponsors to let them know you appreciate their support. If you give due recognition to both volunteers and business sponsors, you’ll form partnerships that you can tap for future events.