3 Strategies to Plan Top-Notch Fundraising Events

For nonprofit groups to stand out, fundraising events are key. Whether you’re hosting a gala, a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign, or a silent auction, fundraising events bring donors and supporters together in a fun, exciting way that fosters community and social networking.

In today’s competitive philanthropic environment, these events must be well-executed to produce maximum results.

The right planning, marketing, and event management tools help ensure event success, but the right strategies must be in place for the plan to go off without a hitch. Here are three foolproof strategies for planning top-notch fundraising events.

1. For best results, start planning early

The phrase ‘plan early and often’ rings true in the nonprofit world for good reason. When it comes to planning charity events and fundraisers, there are so many moving parts that it can be hard to keep everything straight.

Start planning your fundraising event at least 3-6 months out to give you and your team enough time to get organized and excel. This also gives your donors time to plan for your event.

To get ahead of crunch time, complete as many tasks as possible as early as possible, including:

  • Identifying and segmenting your donor and supporter list
  • Dealing with event logistics and planning for the day of the event
  • Organizing employees and volunteers
  • Running your financial and non-financial event goals by your board

While planning early is a best practice for any kind of fundraising event, it’s especially critical for success when events and campaigns are centered around specific days, like Giving Tuesday.

2. Know how to connect with your target audience

Everyone loves a fundraiser, but the only way to get people there is to invite them — preferably with a creative and unique invitation idea. In the world of fundraising events, marketing effectively to your supporters and donors is important for two reasons:

  1. It ensures that people register for and attend your event.
  2. It drives attendees to donate time or resources to your cause.

Let’s look at these communication channels a little further.

Registering and engaging with attendees

Registering people for an event can be a nightmare without the right tools. However, there are countless event registration platforms out there with endless features.

To take the guesswork out of event registration, look for a few baseline must-haves in your registration technology:

  • The ability for attendees to customize ticket sales, packages, and individual donations with ease
  • A sponsor-specific registration page that can be easily customized
  • Easy check-in functionality for your event team and attendees
  • Back-end organization capabilities for seating arrangements, promotional activities, financial data, and more

Reaching out and engaging with attendees also requires a strong donor management platform to hold all relevant donor contact and outreach details. Your team can leverage a nonprofit CRM solution to easily contact new and returning donors and spread the word about your upcoming event.

Encouraging donations

Once the event is in motion, it’s time to maximize donations. Carefully explain to your supporters how your online auction site works. Additionally, you should keep your supporters updated on the status of auction items throughout the entire auction time period. Explore the OneCause online charity auction guide for more information about the steps you should take to ensure a smooth user experience.

When hosting a fundraising event, the best way to attract donations is to have clear call-to-actions (CTAs) on your website and in your social and email communications, as well as clear call-outs on your event registration page and even on the tables at your event. This way, people can easily add a donation during registration, or donate in real-time during your event with a Text2Give solution.

3. Create a seamless omnichannel experience

The best fundraising events are the ones attendees reminisce about for days or weeks after the event concludes. This means creating a true omnichannel campaign around your event instead of a simple one-and-done approach.

While the word ‘omnichannel’ is most closely associated with marketing campaigns, the concept also rings true for nonprofit teams looking to spread their message to a wider audience.

For your next fundraising event, create an omnichannel experience for attendees before, during, and after your event.

Before:
  • Set up social media accounts specific to your event, as well as an event microsite with all relevant information.
  • Include these social and web links in every single promotional email or direct mail communication you send.
  • If you are hosting a charity auction, open up your online auction site a week or two in advance so attendees can start bidding on items early.
During:
  • Ask event attendees to include your event hashtag in any social posts they share from your event.
  • Hire a videographer or professional photographer to capture content for a post-event production.
  • Provide instructions for text donations during your event to truly intertwine the in-person and online elements of a modern fundraiser.
After:
  • Send a thoughtful follow-up email to all attendees and single out high-profile donors or sponsors.
  • Include some videos or pictures from your event for a personal touch.
  • Think about extending the time period on some high-ticket auction items for even more impact down the road.
  • Include CTAs to donate on all follow-up communication to keep your charity top-of-mind.

Elevate your fundraising with technology

From nonprofit-specific CRM platforms to innovative text-to-donate solutions, the incredible growth in technology has opened doors to nonprofits that were previously reserved for other forward-thinking organizations.

To truly take your next fundraising event to the next level, you must be willing to invest the time and resources necessary into taking your event online, at all stages of the planning process.