As we head into the spring months, many organizations are preparing for annual fundraising events with the hopes that the events will generate much needed funds to support the work of the organization. And while we hope that the event will generate funds (and be worth the amount of time we put into it), there are times when our hopes fall flat.
Special events can generate funds for the organization; however, there are key steps that every organization needs to take to increase the likelihood of success.
Perhaps it goes without saying, but sometimes we tend to forget the simply things. Set a goal. How much are you seeking to raise through your event? What will the funds be used for? Once the goal has been set, get staff, volunteers and others associated with the organization on board. Share progress toward the accomplishment of the goal—get everyone excited. When we get excited, we get motivated and work harder.
Develop a “signature” event. In other words, hold the same event every year so that people in your community and in your donor-base associate with your organization. Will you hold a benefit gala with a silent auction? A golf tournament? A 5K? Or something unique? Each of these has the potential to generate funding. Your signature event will come to be associated with your “brand.”
After you determine the event that the organization will hold, check community calendars maintained by the local Chamber of Commerce or the Department of Tourism to determine which dates are not likely to be successful. For instance, if there is a large community event the same day as your event, you don’t necessarily want to compete with it. However, if there is a regularly scheduled community event that you can “piggyback” on, then by all means do so.
One such example is a small town that holds an annual Christmas parade the first weekend in December. The parade brings out the entire community and puts everyone in the “holiday” spirit. A local housing organization decided to use the momentum and presence of everyone in the town to host a Gingerbread House Tour. The event includes gingerbread houses made by local restaurants and bakeries; these are judged and prizes are awarded in various categories. The event also provides children and families an opportunity to “build” a gingerbread house that they take with them. A fun event that increases community awareness and raises money to support the work of the organization!
Develop sponsorship levels! Very few events will generate the amount of money that you are hoping to raise with ticket sales only. Sponsorships can significantly boost the revenue generated. Create levels that will be appealing to businesses of all sizes. What could you offer them in exchange for their sponsorship? Publicity? Good press? Think outside the box, get creative in your sponsorship offerings.
Does your organization hold an annual fundraising event? What questions do you have? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.