Last month, we looked at fundraising plans – a road map that helps you to establish fundraising goals and what types of events will help your organization reach those goals. Once you’ve chosen the kind of event that will best benefit your mission, the next step is to chart out how to make that event happen as smoothly as possible. With some forethought and effort, you can avoid many of the pitfalls and headaches that are brought on by a lack of proper planning.
Take a realistic look at your fundraising budget. As the old saying goes, it takes money to make money – how much has been allocated toward the upfront costs of making an event happen? Depending on the type of event you are planning, you may need to be able to cover the costs of space rental, transportation, catering, entertainment/food, and advertising. If a raffle drawing is in your plans, for example, you will need to budget for raffle ticket paper and software as an economical and convenient alternative to using a commercial printing house.
Consider the anticipated upfront costs, set aside a buffer amount for unforeseen circumstances … and then stick to your budget once it’s finalized.
Look ahead on the calendar when setting the date of your event. Give your group enough time to realistically meet its goals. Be sure to take the time to investigate what other events are taking place in your community to help prevent too much competition for people’s time, attention and dollars. Look closely at the calendar: a holiday might help your group’s goals … or it might interfere.
A special consideration for outdoor events is the weather, which doesn’t always choose to work with your best-laid plans. Have a rainy-day backup plan in place. Similarly, have a backup plan in case something goes wrong with the equipment, a performance, or any other part of your event. Rehearse as much as possible to help identify pressure points and deal with problems that may arise.
As you make your plans, it’s critical that you spend time working out the logistics of physically holding an event. Do your plans comply with local laws regarding health and safety, for example? Find out right from the start whether you will need special permits to carry out your plans. Your committee members may need to choose who will be responsible for conducting this research and ensuring that all regulations are being met.
Related to the logistics of holding an event are coordination of ticket sales. Selling tickets to an event can add up to a surprising amount of work, and you want to avoid burnout and frustration. Spread out the tasks of selling tickets among several people, and establish a single person who will be responsible for coordinating the money and sales figures.
When the event is over, do not forget one of the most important aspects of holding an event – thanking everyone involved, including the community. Members of the public have given you their hard-earned cash, and members of your committee and organization have donated hours and hours of their personal time to see that the event is a success. If the people who worked on the fundraiser do not feel appreciated, you can bet they’ll refuse to work on another fundraiser. And everyone who donated or participated will want to know how much was raised and what it is that your group will be able to do that you couldn’t have done without them. This bedrock of goodwill is a strong base on which to build future fundraising events.