July 2, 2008
When you are planning a fundraiser, you need time to plan and promote your event. Leaving yourself too little preparation time could hurt your attendance and cause you to make less money. At the other extreme, if you plan and promote too far in advance, attendees will forget about your event. Also, it is a psychological fact that deadlines that are too far in the future have a way of suddenly creeping up on us.
It takes at least 2 months to plan most fundraisers. You may be able to get away with a simple event, like a bake sale, with only a month to plan, but as a general rule, you should give yourself 2-4 months to plan your event. A great way to make sure everything gets done in a timely fashion is to use a planning timeline. The timeline provided below can be used as a guide when you formulate your own timeline, specific to your event.
- Brainstorm about a name for your fundraiser.
- Set a date (or deadline for raising funds).
- Brainstorm about possible marketing ideas, and decide what media you will use to promote your event.
- Start promoting your event immediately through word of mouth.
- Pick a venue for your event and reserve it if necessary.
- Set your fundraising goal and budget.
- Design your promotional materials.
- If you need volunteers, start finding them now. If desired, you can use a marketing letter to find volunteers for your fundraiser.
- Concentrate on marketing your fundraiser.
- If you are sending out a fundraiser marketing letter, you should mail it now, about one month before the event.
- Finalize the plans for the day of your event: make a list of supplies, double check the venue to make sure you know how you will set up, and make sure you have all the personnel you need.
- Continue promoting your event until the last minute.
- Confirm the date and time with all of your volunteers/staff members.
Note: You can adapt this timeline to your specific event. All of the most preliminary planning can be done very early, but it is recommended that you redouble your marketing efforts in the last month before your event. The idea behind this is that the event will stay fresh in people’s minds, leading to better turnout.
On the Day of the Event
Be prepared for last-minute emergencies. Even if you’ve double-checked everything and everyone involved in your event, there will be a few things that don’t go as planned. Don’t be discouraged. Remember that to your guests, your event is nothing but an enjoyable affair. It doesn’t matter if everything is not completely perfect. Try to maintain a positive attitude and in the end, your event will be a success.
On the day of your fundraising event you should be focusing on maximizing your profits. As the host, your primary focus during the event should be interfacing with the guests. It is your job (along with your volunteers) to make sure that people are having a good time. Try to make time to mingle, thank people for attending, and point out the features of your event. For example, if you are selling merchandise or running a raffle, mention it to every guest you greet. This will increase participation in your event, which will increase your earnings.
Gather Contact Information from Your Guests
At every fundraising event, you should gather contact information from everyone in attendance. You can ask people to add their names to a list as they walk in, or you can create a sign that invites guests to sign up for updates on future events. Most people are willing to give at least an e-mail address, which allows you to stay in contact with potential donors and guests for future fundraising events. Since many of your events may draw upon the same crowds of people, a contact list can provide you with a quick invite list for your next event.