Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 58 seconds

Staging a fundraising event is not a task for the faint of heart. Even the smallest event requires an enormous amount of planning and organization to make it successful. Davina K. Brewer of 3Hats Communications, “Anyone who has done an event will tell you: plan, plan, and plan. You can't start too early.”

Set the Date and Goals

Every fundraising professional will tell you it is important to start with clear goals, objectives and budget. Once those are established you can set a timeline for the event. Julie Bennett, Special Events Coordinator Irvine Nature Center recommends a timeline of 9 months from the event date.

While setting the date for the event sounds like a no-brainer, it is more than just picking a date on the calendar. As Bobby Valentine, Co-founder of Sociercise, an online platform that helps organizations host virtual charity races says, “Setting the date and having a list of goals that must be accomplished before the date lets you back off the event date to schedule marketing activities, put together the funds for any up-front costs, and determine the number of volunteers, staff, and participants you need in the event.”

Keeping track of everything can be a daunting task, but technology can be a big help. Consider an event-planning program or a simple spreadsheet to make sure no task is overlooked.

Committees and Volunteers

Your committee and volunteers are the lifeblood of your event, to that end, Julie Bennett, believes in recruiting enthusiastic committee members. For her events, she communicates with Chairs and Committee members on a regular basis, but trusts that they are getting their "jobs" done. She stresses that it is very important to “Be appreciative and thank committee members often, let them know how much their help means to the organization.”


All events, whether big or small, generate paperwork. The only difference is the bigger the event the more paperwork there is. If you are having the event off-site make sure, you have all the contracts and permits necessary to secure the location well in advance of the event.

Even a small on-site catered affair presents a wealth of paperwork from rental contracts and caterer agreement to insurance riders.


Your event won’t be successful if no one comes to it. As, Dana Humphrey, Whitegate PR, says, “You will need to sell tickets.” In order to sell tickets you have to let people know about your event. The best way to go about this is to have a comprehensive marketing plan. Now-a-days most organizations rely on a combination of email, social media and traditional media.

According to Dana she, “always posts the event online on Eventbrite or SmartCrowdz, this way you can easily sell tickets online, accept paypal or credit cards and share the link on social media so people can learn more.”

However, cautions, Kelen Carlock of the Reynolds Group, Inc. "Don't turn your sponsorships into a ticket-a-palooza: The more free tickets that are distributed, the less value the tickets have.” He also advises organizations to start slow and grow their event thoughtfully.

Last thoughts

Daniel Rothner, Founder & Director Areyvut, Inc. advises, “Make sure you have a backup plan in case of inclement weather and a way to reach attendees and inform them of any changes.”

Last but not least, the most important thing is not to forget the reason for the event-making contacts. Advise Karen Wagener, President, Los Angeles Fire Dept. Foundation, “At the event, work the room. A warm handshake and eye-to-eye contact with sponsors and prospects makes them feel welcome and valued.”


Last modified on Friday, 30 August 2013
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