Making a Difference: How to Organize a Fundraiser for Your Cause
Reginald A.T. Armstrong • Lifestyle
We understand the important role philanthropy plays in our clients’ lives, and hosting a fundraising event can be another rewarding and impactful way to contribute your time, talent, and resources outside of your regular donations. Whether raising money for a nonprofit organization, a community group, or a personal cause, hosting a fundraising event can be a powerful way to bring people together and make a positive impact.
Identify a Cause
Before you get started, it’s important to identify the cause you are passionate about and want to raise funds for. Research the organization or cause to ensure that it aligns with your values and that the funds will be used effectively. You should also consider the resources you have available and choose a fundraising event that is feasible to execute.
Set Your Goals
Most fundraisers are held to raise a certain amount of money. If that’s the case with your fundraiser, set a target for how much you’d like to raise for your cause. But consider other potential goals as well. Would you like to acquire a certain number of recurring donors? Or a certain dollar amount of pledged recurring donations? Maybe, in addition to other goals, you’d like to generate publicity about your organization. Whatever they are, describe your goals in writing as specifically as possible so that you stay focused on them as you plan and execute your fundraiser.
Choose Your Event Type
There are many types of fundraising events you can host, depending on your interests and resources. Some popular options include a charity walk or run, bake sale, car wash, gala, sporting event, auction, or concert. Consider the type of event that will appeal to your target audience—the types of people you hope to garner donations from—and align with your strengths and skills. For example, a bake sale might be a good fit if you are a talented baker, or a charity run might be a good option if your donors are avid runners.
Choose a Date and Venue
The date for your event should be at least six months out to give yourself time to plan, and to provide both volunteers and potential donors with plenty of notice. You also want to choose a date when most of your donors will be available to participate. Try to avoid major holidays when people tend to be out of town and dates when other large fundraisers typically occur. For example, if your local Heart Walk takes place the first weekend in October every year, you probably shouldn’t plan your fundraiser for the same weekend.
The major considerations for what venue to choose are price, location, occupancy limits, parking availability, and the venue's amenities, such as WiFi and a/v equipment. Of course, you should also consider your audience when choosing your venue.
Make a Plan
With the venue and date set, your next step is to create a timeline of tasks and deadlines, working backward from the event date. First, just write down things that need to be handled, like renting equipment, paying caterers, purchasing supplies, contacting media, getting permits, etc. Then, create a timeline or a calendar that you and everyone involved can easily review. Planning a fundraiser is a big undertaking, and you don’t want important details to be forgotten.
Another important aspect of planning is creating a budget. Managing your expenses will ensure that as much of your fundraiser’s income can go to your cause as much as possible. Consider seeking out sponsors for your event, and don’t be embarrassed to ask vendors to donate services or supplies. While you may get some “no’s,” you may be pleasantly surprised by the companies that are willing to support your cause in exchange for their name on a banner or program. In fact, many corporations have a budget specifically for supporting causes that impact their community.
Promote the Event
Create a marketing plan to promote the event to your target audience. This could include creating flyers, posting on social media, and reaching out to local media outlets. Create a press release that you can submit to local newspapers, television stations, and bloggers. Consider setting up a website to give people easy access to information about your fundraiser and, if appropriate, to accept donations.
Gathering volunteers or making a committee to help with the event is also essential. Recruit friends, family members, and other supporters to assist with not only the promotion of the event but also with completing tasks such as setting up, running activities, taking pictures, and cleaning up after the event. Consider offering incentives or rewards to motivate volunteers, such as a t-shirt, dinner, or a small gift.
During the Event
During the event, be sure to thank donors and volunteers for their support. Consider setting up a table where attendees can learn more about the cause and how they can get involved. You may also want to have informational materials or brochures available for attendees to take home.
After the Event
After the event, follow up with donors and volunteers to thank them for their support and report on the event's success. Use this opportunity to encourage them to continue supporting the cause in the future. You may also want to share photos or videos from the event and highlight any particularly memorable moments online. Also, consider a post-event survey for volunteers for feedback on ways to enhance it for next time.
Hosting a fundraising event can be a challenging and time-consuming endeavor, but it can also be incredibly rewarding. By bringing people together to support a cause you care about, you can make a positive difference and inspire others to do the same. With careful planning and hard work, you can successfully start a fundraising event for a cause you care about and make a lasting impact.