To have a successful nonprofit fundraising event ultimately means that your organization will come out ahead or get a positive return on whatever is invested.  

Unfortunately, fundraising events are often very costly, which makes careful and timely planning necessary.  You should have an event plan established, drawn out, and distributed to your staff, board members, and anyone else involved, well in advance.

Plan Your Fundraising Event in 8 Steps!

1. Define the Intent of your Event  

  • What are you trying to achieve through this particular event?  
  • Is this solely a fundraising event or does it also involve volunteers?  
  • Are you trying to gain media or community attention through this event?  
  • Who is your target audience for this event? 
  • Write down all the details of what you aim to accomplish through the event

2. Create an Event Budget & Agenda

  • List every required expense for the event
  • Include the cost of your staff, marketing materials, space rental, etc.
  • Include a buffer for any unexpected expenses
  • Create an event agenda with the date, location, itinerary, catering, etc.

3. Set a Fundraising Goal

  • Your event budget and purpose should help inform your fundraising goal
  • Collaborate with your staff, board members, and fundraisers 
  • Your goal should factor in all event expenses 

4.  Establish your Fundraising Pioneers

  • Round up accountable supporters to donate to & promote your event
  • Inform supporters early; get them excited for the event in advance 
  • Fundraising pioneers are the first to make donations & promote you
  • Get any other major players from the community involved as well

5. Plan Your Event Promotion

  • Tailor the marketing of your event to your target audience
  • Put time and energy into making your event attractive & exciting!
  • Have a marketing plan developed in advance 
  • Reach out to your existing network to help you promote the event  

6. Provide Donation Options

  • Have a simple & secure way to accept donations both online and offline
  • If you’re selling tickets for people to attend the event, decide what the minimum contribution will be to cover the cost of a ticket, whether or not to have donation levels, and if higher donations grant special V.I.P. event access or if the same access will be granted for all ticket holders  
  • Decide when you’ll start & stop accepting event-related donations 
  • Will the tickets be electronic, physical, or will both be available?   
  • Assign responsibility for organizing information from ticket sales  
  • Provide donation options for those who want to contribute but not attend

7. Hold an Event Rehearsal

  • Practice makes perfect, or at least less chance for error!
  • Assign everyone their “roles” for the event in advance
  • Have everyone “act out” their roles in a mock event to see how it plays out!
  • Provide a script or itinerary of where people need to be & when, along with their task assignments

8.  Don’t Forget Stewardship!!     

  • Don’t wait until the last minute to develop a thank you strategy 
  • Assume all contributors will notice if they’re not shown appreciation
  • Donors, volunteers, vendors, board members, your staff, and anyone else who helped the event be successful should be sent a personalized thank you! 
  • Do what is most reasonable for your organization, but at the very least send a personalized email
  • Consider providing a thank you gift at the event itself for those who attend
  • Don’t forget to thank those who couldn’t make it, but still contributed

Remember, happy supporters are loyal supporters! 🙂

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