Special Events Fundraising

When I began my nonprofit career, I was tasked with starting three new fundraising special events within a five-year period. I had some success with the events, but it certainly wasn’t smooth sailing — one event generated significant income, but the organization’s board did not support it; one event had great committee involvement, but ultimately didn’t meet its fundraising goal; and the third event was tons of fun and garnered great feedback but made exactly $0 over its two-year life. At the end of the day, I wasn’t really sure why one event worked any better than another, and I didn’t have a clear understanding of how to build upon the successes that I did have with special events in order to grow my organization’s fundraising efforts. 

Since that time, through research, trainings and more a lot more experience, I have a clearer picture of what organizations need to create successful fundraising special events that lead to increased revenue now and into the future. While it’s easy for some organizations to focus on the transactional nature of special events, there are three key areas that organizations should focus on to maximize special events fundraising: 

  • Create a Special Event Fundraising Plan. This goes further than creating an organizational development plan. A special event fundraising plan includes a competitive analysis, sets the event’s income goal, and provides a clear understanding for staff and volunteers on how to get to goal. 
  • Create an Event Fundraising Committee. Organizations that I have worked with as a consultant usually have committees that fall into two categories: a committee who wants to plan the event, but not fundraise; or a committee that will fundraise, but its members don’t know how. By understanding the role of an event’s fundraising committee members, providing them with clear expectations, and keeping them on track, organizations can celebrate successful events with their volunteer leaders. 
  • Create Sponsor Solicitation and Recognition Materials and Opportunities. Developing sponsorship materials goes beyond creating a document with standard platinum-gold-silver-bronze pricing. Solicitation and recognition are most successful when organizations understand who their event attendees are, as well as which potential sponsors are interested in engaging those attendees and how to so so. 

To learn more about the strategies and tools needed to build successful fundraising events, join me on Thursday, January 24 for the Special Events Fundraising training from 9 AM - 12 PM. 

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