How To Organize A Non Profit Fundraiser
Has your non profit organization decided to take the next step in building a successful donor program? Do you want to rely on more than just grant proposals and word of mouth for your program dollars? It might be time to consider planning a fundraising event. Be prepared; it is not as easy as it sounds. By remembering the 5 W’s, your planning should get a whole lot easier.
Why are you going to have a fundraiser? Is it to generate awareness of a specific program or your organization as a whole? Is it going to be an opportunity for you to sell a particular product or service? Have you thought about how much it might cost to host such an event? Remember that many of the types of fundraisers you can plan will require funding up front. More importantly, remember that most grant awards prohibit the use of grant dollars for fundraising events. If this is an opportunity to raise public awareness about your organization, you can keep it more low key and invite your partners to help sponsor the event. One housing organization hosted a community day in the park and had various levels of sponsorship- all named for building materials. In kind donations and direct sponsorships help non profits keep the overhead on fundraising events low.
What kind of event are you interested in doing? A silent auction? A golf tournament? A recognition dinner? These are all things to think carefully about. Does your community already have several charity golf tournaments? If so, that might not be the best plan. Look at what other charities in your community have planned. Four holiday auctions might be more than your particular market can handle. Look at what is already being done in your community and try and find a niche you can fit into. By researching and finding out what other non profit events are out there, not only can you help decide which type of event to host, you can discover when to host it and you can even find out who to invite.
When will you have the event? Will be a quick two hour event or an all day affair? A fundraising dinner takes a lot less time than a golf tournament and can be handled in the space of an evening. Find an opportunity that isn’t crowded with other non profit events. You want the action all to yourself. It is hard to spread the word about your mission and services if no one is there to hear it. Once you have narrowed down what you want to do and when you want to do it; next you have to decide where.
Where you hold your event will largely depend on what kind of event you are hosting. If you are hosting a golf tournament, obviously you need to have access to such facilities and do you have a budget to pay any facilities fees that might be associated with your venue. Once again, look for sponsors and partners who might have the space. Anywhere you can save money on your event helps you raise more funds for your organization. Your local City Government is also a resource you can use. They frequently have large spaces that go unused. If you have Colleges and Universities in your town- check with them for space and sponsorship. They frequently have printing departments that will help with any signs and posters.
Who will you invite to the fundraiser? Will it be open to the public or will you only invite those that have previously donated to your organization. Will you be using the event to friend-raise as well as fund-raise? If so, you will want to open up your invitation list. If you have the capacity, you could always do some prospect research and identify potential funders in your community that might be interested in your mission and the services you provide. If you did your research on other non profit events in your community, you might have come across brochures and other materials on line. Who were there sponsors? Whose names are listed in the program? You can frequently find other donors that might be interested in your organization and mission-- especially if they are similar.
Don’t be afraid of the work. Once you have the first one done; the rest tend to be easier. Just do your research and make your plans.
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