Gather donations for a worthy cause and improve your business’s relationship with the local community by planning profitable fundraising events.
However, making a fundraiser profitable requires careful preparation and a thorough understanding of your target audience. Here are the best practices for planning successful fundraising events.
Solidify Your Mission and Goals
All successful fundraisers take their missions seriously and establish clear goals for the event. Gaining a certain amount of donations is the primary goal, but you should also aim to accomplish the following:
- Raise awareness for your brand and the cause the fundraiser supports
- Foster relationships with donors
- Acquire new supporters
Set a number for each goal, so you have a way to measure their success. Quantifiable targets allow you to accurately track the success of your fundraising strategies during and after the event.
The fundraiser’s mission, or the “why” behind the event, is also essential to understand. Take the time to learn about the cause or organization you’re supporting. Learn what kinds of people donate to it.
Choose a Fitting Event and Venue
You can choose a more fitting event and venue for the occasion when you identify with the fundraiser’s cause, know the donors, and set clear goals. Answer these questions to guide your decision:
- Do the donors have a shared demographic or lifestyle?
- How do you think they like to support their cause?
- Where do they live?
- What events can your venue accommodate?
Your answers will help narrow down the list of potential events to a few options. Here are some popular choices:
- Sporting event
- Walk or run
- Community breakfast, lunch, or dinner
If your donors are mostly older folks, an auction or community breakfast will suit them better than a 5K. On the flip side, an outdoor sporting event might be perfect for families with young children.
Naturally, the event you choose will determine the fundraiser’s venue. Some events, like concerts and auctions, only need a stage and sufficient space. Walks and other sporting events require more specific features. You might find a suitable host at these locations:
- Athletic fields
- Community centers
- Small businesses
Contact the host organization or property owner as early as possible, so you have ample time to prepare the venue and account for risks that arise as the planning moves forward.
Start Planning Early On
Fundraisers have many moving parts, so you need to begin your event planning months in advance. Start by setting a budget with a spreadsheet of all potential event expenses:
- Food and beverages
- Tables, chairs, and utensils
- Sound and lighting equipment
- Planning software
- Promotional materials
Your budget should have some flexibility in case any unforeseen obstacles arise. Something unexpected usually happens, so give yourself enough time to adapt on the fly.
Next, set a date and time for the event with careful consideration. Choose the best weekday and time for the donors and make sure it doesn’t interfere with other events in the area. The fundraiser should stand alone and give people time to RSVP.
Organize Your People
Timely planning also allows you to gather all the hands necessary to execute profitable fundraiser events and establish a chain of command. Interpersonal communication is vital to the event’s success because each role is interconnected. You might find it helpful to organize a leadership committee to delegate responsibilities. Fundraisers have a lot of them:
- Securing the venue
- Hiring caterers
- Gaining sponsorships
- Marketing and promoting
- Invitation distribution
- Donor registrations
- Ticket sales
- Volunteer coordination
- Auction item acquisition
- Venue setup and cleanup
- Event follow-up
Give everyone on the team a clearly defined job. This focuses their attention and effort on that single task and creates a well-rounded event from start to finish. An established hierarchy also streamlines communication and helps keep everyone on the same page.
Use All Available Resources For Profitable Fundraising Events
An early start allows you to take advantage of all available resources to promote the event. Effective marketing can drastically improve the fundraiser’s attendance, reception, and overall success. With that in mind, you should use these communication channels:
- Print ads
- Email newsletters
- Local radio stations
- Website content
- Social media
You should also apply the same strategy for gathering donations and selling tickets. Make the process as convenient as possible for the attendees by including these options:
- Website donation page
- Third-party finance apps such as PayPal and Venmo
- Third-party donation websites such as GoFundMe and Change.org
- Mail-in donations and tickets
- Mobile transfer tickets using apps like Stubhub, Eventbrite, etc.
- Multiple ticket packages and bundles
- In-person sales and collections
When your target audience can easily find information about the event and register for it through multiple avenues, attendance will improve and bring you closer to achieving your goals. Event planning software can help keep your list of attendees, donations, and ticket sales organized.
Execute the Big Day
All your plans come together on the day of the event. Before you open the venue to attendees, make sure you remember these final preparations:
- Setting up the entertainment
- Decorating the venue
- Preparing food and beverages
- Organizing volunteers
- Finding locations for ticket sales and registrations
Out of all these tasks, organizing the volunteers is perhaps the most important. Take them through a test run of the day’s planned activities. Allow them to get familiar with the venue and establish a few areas to store tools and regroup throughout the day. Similarly, check the technology and equipment to make sure everything works.
Once you have all the pieces and people in place, you’re ready to begin. You must pay close attention to all aspects of the fundraiser as they play out. Keep the volunteers occupied, track the food and beverage counts, and ensure all registrations and donations come in smoothly.
Most importantly, engage with the guests. Make them feel welcomed and encourage them to participate in the event’s activities. You should also consider livestreaming the program so people who could not attend can still watch the fundraiser unfold.
When all is over, follow up with each guest and express your appreciation for their support. Ask them for feedback, such as the high and low points of the event. Find out how they heard about the event and why they decided to support the cause. This feedback will help you improve your fundraising strategies in the future.
Plan Your Most Profitable Fundraising Events Yet
When it comes to planning profitable fundraising events, there is a naturally flowing process. You must fully understand the fundraiser’s mission and establish clear, quantitative goals. You can identify a target audience and select an event and venue suited to their interests. Nailing down those major details in a timely fashion lets you establish the budget, calendar, and team responsibilities.
When everyone knows what to do, they can effectively utilize all resources to raise awareness and prepare the venue. Volunteers will understand their roles, and you can focus on keeping the guests entertained. Thorough preparation takes time, so make sure you start the process well before your desired date. Follow this template, and you can count on planning profitable fundraising events.
Cora Gold is the Editor-in-Chief of women’s lifestyle magazine Revivalist, and she enjoys keeping up with the exciting world of event planning and hospitality. Follow Cora on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest for more life, style and home inspiration.