Non-profit organizations face a great number of challenges, not the least of which is organizing and executing a successful fund raising event. A great fundraiser takes a lot of planning, a good deal of hard work, and a fair amount of financial support. When successful, a fundraiser can do more than simply raise money for a worthy cause. It can also increase public awareness for that cause, and promote the goals and activities of the non-profit organization itself. Both of which can lead to long term donations that will continue to support the organization’s mandate. If you have been tasked with planning a non-profit organization’s next fundraiser, here are five essential tips to help you get started.
Setting Your Goals
The first step in planning any fundraiser, is to understand the ultimate goal of your event. As a non-profit, your overall goal is to raise money and awareness for your cause. But beyond that, you need to have a solid fund raising target in mind for your event. This will become even more important when you begin to set a budget for your event, and make the final decision about the nature of the event itself. For example, if your organization’s goal is to raise $1000 for a local soup kitchen your event will be more contained and will have a smaller operational budget. However, if your goal is to raise $20,000 for the local children’s cancer clinic, your event will need to be more elaborate and your operating budget will be larger.
Matching Your Event to Your Goals
The goal you have set for your fundraiser will dictate the type of event you decide to stage. Using the previous example, if you need to raise $1000 for a soup kitchen, this can be accomplished with a few strategic bake sales. If, on the other hand, you are trying to raise $20,000 for a cancer clinic, you will want to stage an event that is more likely to attract wealthy business owners and patrons of the city. In other words, the more money you are trying to raise the more your event must appeal to those people who have the money to donate to your cause.
If you are planning a major fund raising event, you will need to consider securing some corporate sponsorship. Approach local businesses, both large and small, and explain your organization’s mission statement and fund raising goals. Be prepared to demonstrate to these local business owners the value of your core demographic, and the public relations advantages of sponsorship. Design a number of different sponsorship packages that are suitable for a wide range of sponsors.
Choosing the Right Venue
With the backing of your new sponsors, you will be able to create a working budget for you event. The next step is to find a suitable venue for your fundraiser. While it may be tempting to try and conserve money by using a church hall or other civic auditorium, consider this: A successful fundraiser must be run professionally, and spending the money to hire a respectable and efficient event space will pay greater dividends in the long run. Look for professional event spaces that offer all of the amenities you will need to make your event a success. Review a few different venues, and compare costs as well as location and services. Choose the venue that is most suitable for your event, even if it costs a little more. Remember, a black tie affair set in an elegant banquet hall will do more for your fundraiser, and for your organization’s reputation, than trying to cut costs by choosing a venue of lesser quality.
Once you’ve decided what type of event you will be staging, and you have secured the venue, it’s time to get the word out. The success of your fundraiser depends on the number of guests who attend. Send personal invitations to your sponsors, and to the well known patrons and philanthropists of the city. Send invitations or emails to any regular donors to your organization, and advertise your event though print, radio, and online.
Organizing a successful fundraiser takes time, and yes, money. To get the best results, you need to approach the planning of your event with care and an attention to detail. These few tips should get you off to a good start, and will help you lay the groundwork for a successful fund raising event.