When you need to raise a substantial amount of money quickly, nothing is more effective than a fundraising event. Whether a formal gala or a casual car wash, fundraising events are ideal for raising some quick cash while also building awareness of your cause and a community of supporters.
Yet the sad fact is that a significant number of fundraising events aren’t as successful as they could be — or even outright failures — because organizers don’t take the time to adequately plan the event and attend to all of the details. There are some things that even experienced fundraisers can do for their next event to help ensure that they meet their goals and gain the money they need to complete their projects.
Set a Goal
Setting a fundraising goal serves several important purposes. First, it helps you gauge your success. Second, it helps you to create a budget, and set event prices; for example, if you’re hosting a gala with a limited number of tickets, an ambitious fundraising goal means that you’ll need to set a higher ticket price than a more casual event where you hope to raise a more moderate amount of money. Setting a goal can also help increase donations. When event attendees see how much money you’re hoping to raise – and you share your progress toward that goal – they may be more willing to make generous donations to get you closer to your goal.
One mistake that many new fundraisers make is feeling like they have to do everything themselves for a fundraising event, including paying for the event. Even small events incur costs, which can take a bite out of the money that you raise. As you plan, approach businesses and individuals who might be willing to help support the event in a sponsorship role. The venue might be willing to donate the space, for example, or a supporter might be willing to write a check to cover the cost of paper goods or snacks. Even if you can’t have every expense covered by a sponsor, every little bit helps —and represents dollars that stay in your coffers.
UseFree, Cloud-Based Planning Tools
When it comes to fundraising and event planning, there are plenty of high-powered organizational programs and tools you can use to keep track of committee assignments, donors, to-do lists and more. However, for a small organization that’s just starting out, investing thousands of dollars in software is probably not in the budget. Instead of investing in expensive fundraising software, use one of the many free, cloud-based services to keep your planning team on track. In fact, when used effectively, such software can even cut down on the number of in-person meeting you have to have, saving time in addition to money.
MakeIt Easy to Make Big Ticket Donations
Every organization wants to the see the donations for hundreds or even thousands of dollars at their events. Unfortunately, not all donors have the resources to make such gifts. However, many people have items, including cars, trucks and boats, that can be donated and then sold for a substantial donation. When planning your event, work with an organization that manages such donations, and make it easy for attendees to donate their unwanted vehicles. You could even hold an event specifically geared for vehicle donations, helping your friends and neighbors clean out their garages while supporting a great cause.
Use Social Media
With almost half of the American population on Facebook, it only makes sense that social media is an important part of any fundraising effort. And it’s not just Facebook. Twitter and YouTube have also proven invaluable when it comes to fundraising; according to one study, those who used social media to reach out to friends and family for help with fundraising raised 40 percent more money than those who didn’t. When planning your event, use social media to not only build interest and awareness, but make it easy for those who cannot attend to give and for those who are supporters to share with their friends and followers. A well-thought-out social media strategy can do more for your event than spending tons of money on advertising.
Planning a successful fundraising event is one part strategy, and one part trial and error. By following these tips, you’ll take some of the error out of the second part, and see a much higher level of success and meet your fundraising goals.
About the Author: James Patrick is a successful fundraising professional who recommends organizations such as Boat Angel if you wish to sponsor a fundraising event.