Tips For Planning A Fundaising Event.
Decide What The Purpose Of The Event Is
First you need to know what your goal is, before you can put your plans in place. Is it to raise money for a particular cause, to spread awareness of an organisation? Some events have more than one aim, so figuring out the details of just what you hope to achieve will allow you to focus in on the details of your event.
If your event is purely about raising money, then you need to set a goal. An amount that you are aiming for after all of the expenses and incidentals have been accounted for. This is something that should be worked out between the people involved, the fundraising committee, staff, anyone else involved.
•Budgeting - "It takes money to make money"
One of the most important facets of the whole event. You need to be realistic here with what things are going to cost. Quite often staff on the day such as stewards etc, can be found from a pool of volunteers working for free, but you will still need to feed them and provide refreshements, all at a cost. There may be invitations, promotional costs, room rental, catering, transport, entertainment.
Some venues and companies, may provide cut price or very occasionally free services, but thats not something you can count on. You also need to be realistic, going to a local 5 star venue that is booked months if not years in advance and asking for a free use of their premises isnt going to work. A local community centre that is occasionally used would probably be much more ameniable to your requirements.
Don't forget to leave some extra room in your budget for unforeseen costs, there will almost certainly be some.
•Committee and Champions
You will have a committee or groupd of people that are responsible for planning and running the event. Everyone should be clear of what exactly they are expected to do and when. Let people take jobs on they want to do, usually they give their best work when doing something they enjoy.
You should also be looking to recruit a host committee or "Champions". Basically these are people that are responsible for attracting and encouraging people to contribute to the event. They may be wealthy donors or business leaders, perhaps even local celebrities, who can leverage their prominant position to to not only contribute substantial amounts to the event but pull in others to do the same.
•Decide On Who You Are Targeting
Once you have narrowed down exactly who you are targeting, everything else should fall into place. There is little point holding a Ballroom Dance-a-thon if you are targetting todays instagram generation, equally a concert filled with the loudest Death Metal bands will hold little appeal for the pension generation. O.K. no doubt there are some kids who are fabulous Ballroom dancers, and I know of an elderly gent who loves heavy rock, but they are the exception. You need a clear focus on just who you are targeting.
•Event Set Up
You need to have planned the set up well in advance. If you are using companies for part of it such as a marquee providor, talk with them to determing how long their part will take, obviously if you have 2 days worth of interior setting up to do, its no good the marquee not being ready until the morning of your event (we have seen it happen, more than once).
Draw up a sensible itinery of what needs to be done and when, if possible build extra allowance in for delays, the 6 hour set up time for a funfair dodgem ride, might not work if the access is so tight it takes them 3 hours to get on site. If the rest of the outdoor entertainment cannot be set up until after the dodgems are finished then everyone is going to be late.
Probably one of the least thought about, but possibly most important parts of the event. You need to let people know about it and attract them to it. Draw up an entire plan for the event.
It begins with word of mouth, then explodes into the multitude of channels now available. Email, snail mail, phone calls, and of course, the biggie Social Media. There are many pros and cons to sites such as Facebook, but when it comes to spreading awareness sites like this provide an outlet tailor made for fundraising. If you can put together something capable of going viral, or better yet convince a celebrity to share details of your event, you can gain the sort of exposure that would have cost hundreds of thousands in the past.
Social media loves imagery, so make sure your posts contain lots of pictures, ideally with some of the volunteers pictured, to give it a human feel, research has shown that fundraising appeals raise more on average if images are included in the promotions.
It might be an idea as well, to have a fundraising target on a social media page, this can go live before the event, and be updated as donations come in, this helps prompt people to donate as they see the total climbing towards the target.You need to be creative to stand out in today's market.
Whatever method you use, it needs to be persued aggressively to your target audience.
There may be multiple opportunites you can take advantage of. From entrance tickets, to merchandise sales (T shirts can be ordered online, in small batches, fairly inexpensively), catering, sponsorship. You need to put into place a method for making actual ticket sales, or accepting sponsorship/donations to the event. Again, much of this can be put in place with online systems fairly inexpensively.
Someone needs to be put in charge of selling the tickets, and you need to sort out how they will be delivered. Depending on the type of event, it may be possible to gain some extra revenue by creating a VIP experience, perhaps free drinks, or an exclusive section of the event to justify an increase in the ticket price.
When asking for sponsorship, you need to be realistic. Approaching a local entertainments company and asking for a free full sized fairground to be provided, for an event with 150 guests coming, isnt going to work, the operating costs will far outweigh any possible benefit the agency would derive from the event. At the end of the day you need to be giving your sponsors something for their money. Some of the larger companies such as supermarkets may have a scheme in place to provide funding for local events so its worth investigating that avenue.
See if you can take advantage of the gift aid scheme, this increases your donations at no additional cost to either yourselves, or the person donating the money.
Don't forget about some of the digital fundraising opportunites, crowdfunding, online donations sites, donation buttons for your webpage, all of these can be leveraged to help draw in donations.
"They never even said thank you", is an oft heard complaint from charitable doners, similarly taking the time to pen a short note, or email thanking your volunteers, makes them feel it was all worth while.
Chances are you are going to run more events in the future and may well be asking the same people for help, so make them feel appreciated for their efforts, a simple thank you goes a long way.