At Hello Productions, we have worked with a variety of non-profit and for-profit organizations to handle all types of event and fundraiser details, from writing press releases and booking local caterers to sourcing entertainers and sponsors. The fall seems to be the perfect time for fundraisers so below we have some tips to help you plan yours.
Set the Scene
The first decision to make about any event is to determine the date and time of the fundraiser, as well as the location or venue where you will hold it. While Saturday is always popular, consider another day of the week to encourage maximum attendance. Thursday, Friday and Sunday are also days to consider. It’s also a good idea to check the local community calendars to make sure your event won’t coincide with another big event.
If you decide to have an outdoor event, make sure you plan for rain or cold weather. Also, some venues will offer a discount on the rental fee if you are a non-profit organization, so be sure to ask!
The next decision to make is about your attendees – who will you invite? Determine if this is a public event and you will invite everyone in the community or if it will be a private event, with invitations only being distributed to certain groups. If you do decide to have a private event, remember that you will need to have some sort of registration process. You may not need attendees to check in, but you may want to put a system in place so attendees have to respond as to whether or not they are coming so you know for how many to plan. For many events, we recommend doing a combination of a public and private event. Make the event open to the public, but also take the time to personally invite certain groups and people.
While you’re determining your attendee list, ask yourself if you will need volunteers. Have a separate line in your promotion asking for volunteers or contact local organizations or schools to see if they have any programs that correspond to your fundraiser or students that need volunteer hours (or resume material).
Depending on your budget and fundraising goals, you will also need to consider if you are asking for sponsors for your event. If the sponsors are companies, decide if you are extending the invitation to everyone in the company or allowing each sponsor to invite a certain number of guests. This will depend on your location space and budget.
Promote Your Passion
Your fundraiser will only be successful with promotion! Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get the word out. Announcing your event too far in advance will have people put off their responses, but attendees have a higher chance of scheduling conflicts the closer to the date you announce your event. While it depends on the event, giving people notice 2-3 months in advance is typically a recommended amount of time.
Need flyer ideas? Here are templates you can download to create custom flyers for your event:
Cost: Free (use with Microsoft Publisher or Word)
If you are inviting the public, consider local avenues to promote your event such as the newspaper event calendar (print and online), flyers in shop windows, chamber of commerce event calendar (if you belong), and bulletin boards at libraries, churches, tennis courts and other public venues. In addition, promote your event online with Facebook and Twitter (if applicable). Here’s an article with additional online promotion ideas: http://www.digitalaptitude.com/blog/social-media-marketing/20-ways-to-promote-your-events-online. It’s also a good idea to arm your friends and family with flyers to share with their friends and family.
If you’re just inviting a certain group or list of people, you can have invitations professional printed, or you can create and print one yourself, or use one of the many online invitation services. Have someone in charge of following up with anyone that doesn’t respond so you can have the most accurate number of attendees.
Don’t forget to alert the local media to your event – they may be interested in covering it. Call your local papers or radio stations. You can also submit a write-up about your event beforehand and one after (include photos) to your local newspaper. This is especially important if you plan on making your event an annual fundraiser.
There are all types of entertainment you can have at your fundraiser, such as a DJ or musician, inspirational speaker, raffle or silent auction, food and beverages, games or contests, or other performances. If you have a limited budget, ask for donations from local restaurants for food and local shops and businesses for the raffle or silent auction. You can also ask local musicians or performers to donate their time in exchange for publicity. Compensate them with signage promoting their business or a line in your program, as well as lunch!
You may want to have a theme for your fundraiser, which can make it fun for everyone as well. We like Roberta Falkner’s blog about why a good theme makes fundraising easier (http://blog.wepay.com/2012/02/15/why-finding-a-good-theme-makes-fundraising-a-lot-easier/).
Make it Special
Not only do you want your attendees to have fun, but you want them to help you fundraise at this event, so make it memorable. For some organizations, a motivational speaker or famous entertainer will do the trick. Here are a few other ideas:
Have attendees participate in a fundraising-related activity in addition to just collecting their donations. For example, if your event is raising money to feed children, have event attendees decorate or pack lunch bags for local schools. Supporting families of soldiers abroad? Have attendees build bicycles for local children or pack care packages to send abroad.
Designate donation amounts to tie directly to supplies. For example, if you’re raising money to build a new animal shelter, designate each amount of donation to a different building supply ($25 for dog food, $35 for each new window, $45 for each kennel door, etc.).
Give attendees something meaningful with each donation. This could be a t-shirt, beach towel or water bottle with your organization’s cause on it. For example, you could give a t-shirt for everyone who donates $25 or more, or have different tiers for different donation amounts ($25 donation includes a t-shirt, $50 donation includes a t-shirt and water bottle, etc.).
Whether you’re planning a large-scale fundraiser or a small event to help out a friend, remember that no event is too big or too small for Hello Productions! Request a quote for our help planning and promoting your fundraiser today.