Planning your events
Although there are many different sources of revenue you may choose to pursue, one of the primary sources of revenue for many nonprofits is fundraising through events. Consider executing one or two events each year.
1. Decide what type of event you will hold
- Research other local organization's website to see what type of events they hold. You want to make sure your event is not scheduled at the same time as an established ongoing event in your community, and likewise is not identical to another event already established in your community.
- You can also call and talk with someone from a similar sized agency to get tips and feedback on the lessons learned from their event. In general, other cancer organizations want to share their success stories and lessons learned.
- Explore different kinds of events, and take into consideration what fits best with your organization. Events can range from a bike ride or community 5k to an upscale gala to a picnic, barbeque or party with a silent auction.
- You can set a fundraising minimum that must be reached in order for your constituents to participate in your event. This will increase awareness about your organization and create a larger pool of donors.
2. Find resources to support your event
- Hire a consultant, if possible, or ask if they will donate their time to help with the event. Even if you cannot afford to utilize these services for the execution of the event, you can brainstorm with them and develop a plan.
- Small budgets require savvy shopping, getting donations and leveraging in kind support.
- Explore how much can be done online instead of in-person. For example, having people register for your event online may save staff time and resources and, potentially, reach a larger audience.
- Find any and all ways to get items, services and materials donated. Engage your board or local partners to donate items and services.
- For event purchases, secure as many non-profit discounts as possible through local vendors and companies. Also consider donations of goods and services in exchange for sponsorship benefits. Engage your board or, if available, steering committee members to solicit donated goods and services. Many companies do not advertise non-profit rates, so you never know unless you ask.
- Use your tax-exempt status to save on sales tax.
3. Gain community support
- Establish a clear target audience for the event and brainstorm ways to reach that audience. For example, if you are hosting a bike race, reach out to all the local bike stores to ask them to post flyers, start their own team or offer discounts to people registered for your event.
- Create opportunities for volunteers at your event. This will not only help you in the execution of your event, but will give you buy-in and support from the community and will allow those who may not be able to afford to attend to still give something back. They will also help connect to potential donors who may not be familiar with your organization.
- Learn how to best tell your story to get people invested. See the Marketing, Communications and Public Relations section for more details on how to best accomplish this. It is always helpful to share stories with donors that make their donation personal.
4. Make it easy for people to donate
- Consider ways to maximize your event and appeal to various donors by offering more than one way to donate. For example, you might include a silent auction at your luncheon.
- Establish sponsor levels that provide greater benefits as the level increases. For example, $5,000 entitles donor to 10 tickets; $15,000 entitles donor to 10 tickets and a full page ad in the program.
- Should you choose to have a more formal, gala-type event, ask your supporters to each commit to filling a table with their family and friends. Not only does this take the pressure off of you to fill the seats, but it is also a great way to engage new future donors and supporters.
- You can also encourage your supporters to organize their own events. Then conduct a contest where the event organizers ask for pledge donations and hold a contest to win donated items. The winning categories may be:
- Event organizer who raises the largest amount of money
- Event organizer who has the most individual donors
- Learn how to best accommodate credit card needs, including options for PayPal. Explore which option is the most cost effective, and do not hesitate to encourage your donors to contribute through that method.
- Consider using the evaluation of your programs to make a compelling case to donors – "Thanks to your donation of $100, we were able to..."
Free Management Library Fundraising page: http://www.managementhelp.org/fndrsng/np_raise/np_raise.htm