How to Plan Your Next Philanthropic Event
5 Steps to Making Your Fundraiser a Success
Your charitable foundation cannot do good work without the support of the community. Organizing a formal fundraising gala or dinner can help engage your neighbors, support a specific cause, raise awareness about the work, and raise a significant amount of money. Planning and executing a large, formal event takes a lot of work, and it can be difficult to know where to start. In this article, we walk you through the process from the initial stages of planning the black-tie affair to completion of the fundraiser. Continue reading to learn more.
Break Up the Work
Planning a formal event on a large scale requires all hands on deck. The first step is assembling a team or event committee to help brainstorm ideas, be assigned to specific tasks and be a part of planning and set-up. To ensure that everything runs smoothly, pay attention to the details. Creating subcommittees that focus on one piece of the event means that each aspect can be properly managed. These groups can be assigned tasks like managing the guest list and sending out invitations, booking entertainment, finding sponsors, marketing the event, and decorating the event venue, etc. If you are overseeing the whole event, your role should then become facilitating communication between these subgroups.
To attract the big spenders and create a memorable evening, the event will most likely cost a great deal of money. As a non-profit organization, you will need to find sponsors in order to raise this capital. Start by calculating your budget, which means creating a guest list and finding a desired location and catering services. Once you know your budget, you will have a better understanding of how many sponsors you will need to approach and how much you will need to ask for. Go to the sponsors with a plan that specifically addresses their business with clear price points and what kind of visibility they can expect to receive for their donation.
Make Your Invitations Clear
The success of your fundraising event is strongly correlated to who attends. While you can’t control everyone’s schedule, you can give yourself a fighting chance with a well-designed invitation. First, make sure you give your guests plenty of time to make their arrangements by sending invitations at least three months ahead of the event. Schedule the event for an “off season,” when people are not usually traveling. Finally, use the invitation to clearly state the purpose of the fundraiser, the dress code, and what guests can expect from the evening including food, drink, silent auction, and entertainment.
Create Incentive for Attendance
As much as we would like to think that the spirit of giving is enough to raise funds for a worthy cause, attracting the ideal guests--and therefore more donations--may require a little more incentive. One of the best ways to do this is by throwing a great party. Start with the entertainment. Book a live band perfect for dancing or maybe a standup comic to MC the evening. Develop a unique decoration scheme that will make the space special. Set up activities for guests to enjoy throughout the evening. Maybe you start with a theme and build the whole night around that. Make sure that your guests know about your plans so that you can create a buzz around your event.
Build Lasting Relationships
Besides whatever funds you raise via ticket prices or donations, consider your gala as an opportunity for networking. That evening, while you should enjoy yourself, maybe limit your drink count and focus on connecting with your guests--people you already know are interested in giving to charity. Creating a good impression opens the door for more donations down the road. Once the event is over, make sure that you send “Thank You” notes to all your guests to keep your organization fresh in their minds.
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