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Timeline for Planning a Profitable Fundraising Event

May is Party Month here at Fired-Up Fundraising!

And we’re gonna help you create the most profitable – and most fun – events ever.

Can you throw the best party in town?

Can you throw the best party in town?

Raising money from events is the hardest money you’ll ever raise.

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, fundraising events are here to stay. They are part of the scene for many nonprofits.  And there’s tons of internal political support to keep them, whether they are really making money or not.

Since you and your organization are committed to an event, let’s make sure it is the BEST event ever.

The Best Fundraising Event is a Profitable Event

That’s the only reason you do events – to make money. If you want PR and community visibility, there are other less painful ways to generate good press.

Here is your path to a sane, efficient PROFITABLE event: a timeline that lays out what needs to happen when in order for it to all come together and make the most money possible!

You can download your Profitability Planning Timeline here.

If you’d like to find out How to Create an Events Strategy with Real ROI that enhances your ENTIRE fundraising program, join my webinar with Ann Goldman and Leslie Allen’s  on Monday May 19 at 2pm.

Your Leadership

Who’s in charge of the event? What is the staff’s role and what is the role of your volunteers? Be sure you are absolutely clear on who has what responsibility!

Especially clear up who has what decision making authority – that will prevent conflict and hurt feelings down the road.

Nothing upsets a hard-working volunteer more than making a decision and then having it reversed by someone else. I know – it has happened to me!

Let's create this kind of excitement at your event!

Let’s create this kind of excitement at your event!

Your Volunteer Committee

I am all for a huge volunteer committee! Why?

Because they:

  • Bring their friends to the event! Your committee gives you reach into your community.
  • Are the “Social Stamp” of your event. Their names say whether the event will be full of fun people – or not.
  • Help bring in sponsors. Your committee’s connections open the door to many more sponsorship opportunities.

My tips: Have a big committee of folks who are well-known and well connected. (Well-liked  helps too!)

Bring in committee members of different ages, social and professional networks, regions of your community.

Don’t let your committee be a little social group – that will limit your organizaton’s reach via the event.

If you’d like to find out how to get the very MOST out of your committee, join Joe Garecht’s webinar May 21 at 2pm ET:  How to Supercharge Your Volunteer Committee and Sell-Out Your Next Event.

Your Budget

Early on, you need to set important financial parameters for your event:

Your financial goal – never hold an event without a goal. It helps everyone focus.

AND with the goal, it’s best to say “all proceeds from this event will go to a specific program.” For example:

  • All proceeds from this event will underwrite our programs for hungry kids on our community.
  • Or will help bring meals to lonely older people.
  • Or will help underwrite our fall performing season.

Be sure to put a limit on your event costs – invitations, postage, etc, or those may go out of control too!

Let's make it FUN for everyone - and highly profitable for YOU!

Let’s make it FUN for everyone – and highly profitable for YOU!

Your Sponsorship Committee

Getting those sponsorships is probably the most important thing you’ll do.

And securing bigger sponsorships requires tons of lead time:

  • You’ll need to enlist your committee members,
  • Draw up a prospect list and sponsorship benefits,
  • Decide who calls on whom,
  • Make your calls on the prospects,
  • Followup to close the “sale,” and
  • Get it all done in time to get on the invitation!

If you’d like to learn how to Secure High-Dollar Sponsorships For Your Fundraising Event, attend Shanon Doolittle’s webinar Monday, May 19 at 3:30 ET.

Your Venue, Food and Beverages

Your venue can make or break your event. Don’t let it be too large! Otherwise it will feel like there is no energy!

Be sure your food and beverages are ample, even if they are simple! You don’t want to be known as the party that ran out of food or booze.

Don’t forget to negotiate! You have more power than you think when securing a venue!

It's time to sit down for the auction!

It’s time to sit down for the auction!

Your Auction (Live and Silent)

If you are including an auction at your event – be careful – don’t go overboard with the silent auction stuff. Lots of tiny, cheap items are more trouble than they are worth.

I think the money is in the live auctions. But you need the crowd seated and pretty quiet and you need an auctioneer who understands nonprofit and charity appeals.

If you’d like to Create a High Profit Fundraising Auction, join Sherry Truhar, professional auctioneer from Red Apple Auctions’ webinar on Wed May 21 at 3:30 pm.

There are many, many decisions to make waaaaay ahead of time that can dramatically increase your event’s profitability!

What do YOU do to add extra money to YOUR events’ bottom lines? I’d love to know!  Leave me a comment and share your tip with us all!

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  • Kiffy Werkheiser

    Gail, I took your tip from a workshop about creating a big committee for our 25th anniversary. It’s been a huge success in bringing new volunteers and potential board members into the mix. We are planning a raffle and casino night in November that is well on its way to being a success. Love your stuff – thanks for the support!

  • Reese Beeler

    I like to add something fun in the invitation – such as a key they need to bring with them or a ticket of some sort that unlocks a big prize. The bring along creates something for them to do when they first get to the event, and creates excitement before the event even arrives. I always make sure to have extras on hand for people who pay the day of and for people who forget theirs at home. You can also sell the extras for added revenue.

  • gailperry

    Love love the idea of a contest or a prize. Great way to add fun to your event!! Gail

  • Mark P Trotter

    Sorry Gail don’t agree with your opening paragraph, never had that problem every event has raised more money than we set out to without the whistles and bells.
    Three things always stand out at a well thought through event:
    1 relevance
    2 value
    3 Benefit
    Get that formula right and you can literally change a garden party or coffee morning into a vibrant occasion where people are prepared to give generously.
    So the volunteers who don’t have the infrastructure you refer to the key point has to be simplicity.
    For the organisations who have a fund raising budget spend it wisely and make every penny count.
    I started as a volunteer fundraisers 30 years ago still love it but have never caught the theatrical bug.
    Interesting points though thank you

  • gailperry

    Hi Mark! I love a debate! Thanks for your opposing point of view.
    Here’s my perspective: I have a major gifts background – and I’ve personally seen that it’s a whole lot easier to raise 50K by cultivating and asking 3 prospects for that amount, than it is to organize an event.

    All the major gifts people will say that the only way to raise huge money is one-on-one – by finding deep pockets who believe in your cause. Events certainly have a place, but they are not where I look for the big bucks.

  • gailperry

    Hurray and I’m so glad! I love big committees because they bring in more folks!

  • Mark P Trotter

    Hi Gail I too enjoy a debate and I would say from the outset I understand exactly what you mean. Please don’t think I was saying that you are wrong just my experience is different.
    Raising 50k at an event takes some simple planning and understanding of your guest list (Yes I have done it in the past). The answer was only invite those who could be prompted to be competitive in what they gave. Not a game I like to play.
    My experience comes from both large and small projects having to raise £50 over 35 years ago as a teenager was difficult in fact more difficult than raising £1million just 5 years later.
    It is always easier to work with knowns and a really strong reason for them to support but events are generally used for an unknown audience and organisers look to engage people on as many levels as they can through entertainment.
    So I think it is clear that we need to pick the right tool for the job.

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