Organizing Your First Fundraising Event

hand writing showing Fundraising

You took a quick walk around the block to clear your head. On the way back to the office, you passed by a store that has Bogner ski pants on sale. You quickly got into the store to buy your son a pair. You just remembered that he’s joining a skiing competition and he needed a new pair. That was a short but impromptu retail therapy to take your mind away from office matters.

You didn’t want the role, but the board has decided that you oversee the next fundraising event in cooperation with a charity your company is supporting. This is the first time you will handle this type of project. How does fundraising work?

An Overview of Fundraising

Non-profit organizations and charitable institutions are usually the ones doing the fundraising. Donating money to philanthropic causes, like community shelters or disaster recovery organizations, also has benefits for the giver. Donating to charity usually carries with it tax benefits.

Feeding America, the Salvation Army, and Habitat for Humanity are just examples of organizations doing charity work in America. Bill Gates and wife Melinda have dedicated a significant portion of their wealth into funding their foundation.

Your Next Steps to Fundraise

Fundraising Support

Charities go through cycles of raising funds, which means their efforts are already planned out for years. Your job is perhaps to do a short-term or one-time activity or maybe a series of events over a shorter period. Here are a few things that you need to know:

  1. Plan and budget. To raise the money you’re going to have to spend money. You’re going to organize a dinner event or a fun run or a benefit concert. For example, you’ll need to print tickets, pay service providers like caterers, hire photographers, etc. You need to draw up a plan and create a budget for the things that you will be spending. If this is a pre-programmed activity for your company, then there are probably line items for each of the department’s budgets under marketing.
  2. Be clear on your cause and your goal. Part of your plan is to define your purpose, and that goal will be in support of a specific cause. These two things should be clear. For example, your goal is to raise $20,000 to support the purchase of new beds for a community shelter. People should know where their money is going.
  3. Your event and audience. The event needs to match the audience. Will you go for a quiet dinner-concert event with 30-40 people who will pay $1,000 a plate? That’s $30,000 – $40,000 right there. Or will you go for an outdoor event, say a fun run, where 200-300 people will register and pay $25? There are advantages to both strategies, and both require different kinds of resources.
  4. Partner with other sponsors. Organizers of commercial events, like big concerts, know that ticket sales are mere gravy in terms of the revenue. It’s corporate sponsorship that significantly pays for these types of events. You can follow the same principle by collaborating with big corporate sponsors. Maybe you can request a beer company to donate an amount for your cause.

Finally, you’re going to have to go all out to promote your fundraising campaign. Use both traditional media and digital platforms to create a buzz for your event. Your audience needs to feel excited before and during the event.