Fundraising events can be a good source of raising money, but it takes a lot of organization and hard work to run one successfully. Here are a few things that a novice event organizer should know.
Many fundraising events lose money
A fundraising event that seems like a sure-fire winner in theory may carry hidden costs. For example, if a well-known band offers to play at your event for free, it looks like a priceless opportunity, but the band may be expecting the organizers to pay for their transport and accommodation. Once costs like these are taken into account, the band's generous gesture may be costing you more than it makes in ticket sales. Our page on special event fundraising gives advice on minimizing the financial risks.
Your budget may be limited by law
Some US states have laws about how much money a charity can spend on fundraising. You should find out if your state has any laws about this before you plan any fundraising events.
Fundraising events can have non-financial benefits
Some events have been nicknamed "friend-raising events" because they are aimed more at building support for a cause rather than at raising money. Qualities such as community support and publicity are worth a great deal to your cause. However, such intangible qualities are difficult to measure, and a large event is usually not the most cost-effective way to build relationships and improve your organization's profile. Your main aim in special event organization should be to raise money, as long as you never organize any fundraising events which could jeopardize the perceived integrity of your cause.
It's easy to underestimate the work involved
When you read about fundraising events in the newspapers, they often say that a certain amount was raised "in just one night". That one night is the tip of the iceberg, and usually represents months of work.
Originality isn't always a winner
You may think that you need to make your event stand out from the crowd to ensure its success. But many of the more successful fundraising events are based on tried and tested ideas. Try our fun quiz to help you decide what kind of fund raising event to hold.
The work doesn't stop when the fundraising event is over
When the event is over, it's time for feedback. Ask your team what they think should have been done differently, and make notes. The notes will be invaluable when you plan the following year's fundraising event.
You should also provide feedback to the people who attended the event, if possible. Provide a guest book for people to fill in when they arrive, or provide slips inside the programs. Ask guests to jot down their names and addresses in the book or on the forms, and provide a box for people to tick if they wish to receive more information about your cause. That way, you will gather a valuable list of potential donor details. The first contact you should make with all of them is a letter written a few days after the event, thanking them for their support and stating the amount raised.