How to Run a Fundraising Event

2nd July 2019

Linda Cantillon-Guyatt

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Everyday, all over the country, organisations like yours are holding successful fundraising events. They are a great way to raise the profile of your organisation, to bring everyone together, as well as raising much needed revenue.

It can feel like a daunting task and we worry about a whole host of things:

  • What happens if no one turns up?
  • What if the weather is bad?
  • Have we got enough volunteers to manage the event?
  • What if we spend more money running the event than we raise?

In this blog, I will outline some tips for ensuring your event is well organised, enjoyable and hopefully results in extra funds for your organisation.

 

So, what makes a fundraising event successful?

I think there are five key considerations:

  • What is the purpose of the fundraising event?
  • What resources have you got to support the event?
  • Who is responsible for planning the event?
  • Where and when will the event take place?
  • How do I market the event?

 

1.    What is the purpose of the fundraising? Do you have a fundraising target?

Start with the end in mind,” as Steven Covey (an American author) would say!

Is the funding to buy some equipment (capital spend); to support a specific project; or towards general running costs?

The general public like to see an achievable target, something which can be solely funded from the event. It gives that feel-good factor for those who attended, knowing their money has contributed towards something good.

Set your target to include the cost of the fundraising event, as well as the amount of money needed for whatever project or item that has been identified. This will then give you the target amount for the whole event.

Mind you it’s also good to have something else in the background should you exceed the target.

 

2.    What are the resources you need to run the event?

Running a fundraising event will require some resources. Before you start planning your event you should consider:

a) The cost of ‘person power’, be that volunteers or paid staff. While they are working on an event they are not carrying out their day-to-day tasks.

b) Preparing a comprehensive budget for the event is critical. You will need to consider all of the expenses. E.g., hire of room/field, promotional materials, refreshments, insurances, hire of equipment and payment of extra staff or security. Having a clear and comprehensive budget will enable you to manage costs and remain profitable at the end.

It is also important to consider what would the cost be to the organisation in the unlikely event that no one turns up on the day? Can your organisation afford to lose that money?

If the answer is no, look to another means of fundraising, e.g., funding applications. Additional resources need to be considered here.

Also consider recruiting a sponsor for the event, i.e. local businesses often like to help out as a way of giving back to the communities they work in (#CSR).

 

3.    Who is responsible for planning the event?

It would be a good idea to set up an event planning group/committee or identify one person to oversee the plan in consultation with others in your team. When doing this, consider their skills, ability and experience. Have they coordinated something like this in the past?

This event planning group/person will be in charge of the behind-the-scenes planning before the event, i.e. taking care of event logistics, such as venue and catering.

Ideally the event planning group/person will prepare a comprehensive plan. Some people use a Gantt chart to list event tasks and who is responsible for each one and by when. An Excel spreadsheet can do much the same thing once it’s set up.

While the event planning group/person may well initiate the planning, there may well be other volunteers, staff or members of your group who will be involved on the day. The smooth running of the event and it’s success will rely on good internal communication.

If you are a Groop user, all your event documentation can be stored in your central Cloud storage, which can only be accessed by any registered user with the appropriate permissions. And GroopChat offers a quick and easy way to communicate with your people.

Whoever is responsible for the planning, make sure they are given enough time to plan properly – these things often take twice as long as you think.

4.  Where and when will your event fundraising take place?

Location of fundraiser

Finding the right venue can be critical to any fundraising event success. Do you know what the access is like? Will it be big enough? Is it within budget?

What time you should hold the event will partly depend on your target audience. If you hold it during ‘office hours’ during the week, members of the local community may not be able to leave work to attend.

If you hold it during the evening local business people may not attend; consider if you need to take the local community’s religion/s into account so you don’t clash with religious holidays.

It is always worth checking to make sure your event doesn’t clash with any other relevant events locally.

5.    How to market your fundraising event 

Promote your event well – make sure all your people ( management committee or trustees, staff, volunteers, and members) know about it and encourage them to promote it through their own networks.

Then you can promote to the wider community and general public, through social media, local community networks, leaflets and or posters.

Don’t forget to contact your local newspapers, they are often happy to promote community fundraising events and will sometimes come out and interview you and take photos which they will publish. This gives your organisation valuable, coverage.

Summary

If this is the first fundraising event your organisation has undertaken, keep it simple, give sufficient time to plan and publicise it well.

Finally, always review any event you run, learn from them and celebrate your successes!


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Written by Linda Cantillon-Guyatt