Organizing charity events is a great way to raise money and awareness for your favorite non-profit. Zeal for the cause will certainly help get you started, but it’s only going to take you so far. You need to channel that enthusiasm into planning and preparation in order to hold a successful event.
But with so much to do, it can be hard to know what steps to take to get your project off the ground. If you’re in need of a little guidance, you’re in luck – we’ve provided this quick guide to show you the best way to organize successful charity events.
Step One: Define Your Mission
The first thing you need to do is clarify your goals. Why do you want to organize this event? Is your primary mission to raise money? Or are you more concerned with gaining publicity or reaching out to potential donors?
You can accomplish all three goals with one event, but it’s a good idea to have a specific purpose in mind. In fact, you should set a clear goal such as “raise $2,000” or “add 100 names to our mailing list.” Keeping this mission in mind will help you stay on track as you plan your charity event.
Step Two: Recruit Some Help
It can be tempting to try and go it alone and do most of the preparation yourself, but you’ll be better off in the long run if you find help early on in the planning process. Form a committee to help you make decisions and get things organized. It doesn’t have to be a large committee – just 6 to 8 people will do.
Try to select a diverse group of people with wide ranging experience; you don’t want everyone on the committee to have the same strengths. It would also be helpful to find committee members who are connected to a large network of friends and business associates; the more people they know, the more potential donors you can invite to your fundraising events.
Step Three: Choose the Type of Event
The next step is to determine what type of event you want to hold. Will it be a sporting event like a golf tournament, mud run, or a walk-a-thon? Maybe galas and awards ceremonies more in line with the charity you’re supporting? Or something celebrating the arts like a dance competition, concert, or art exhibit? A little research on creative fundraising events may provide some new ideas you.
If possible, try to select an event that’s tied to the charity’s cause. Good examples of this would be your city’s historical society hosting a tour of local historic homes or a gardening association selling seeds, plants, or flower arrangements. Creating fundraising events that are relevant to the charity are especially helpful because they tend to draw in people who are more enthusiastic about and generous towards the cause. And speaking of generosity, the Nonprofit Research Collaborative (NRC) conducted a Nonprofit Fundraising Survey that showed the most increase in charitable giving in the Arts and Health areas. The survey reveals a great deal of information that will be useful in planning for charitable events.
Step Four: Set a Budget for Your Fundraising Events
Every organization has limited resources; so make sure that you’re not overextending yourself. You need to set a budget for your fundraising events and make them as detailed as possible. Don’t overlook small expenses thinking that they won’t make much difference; they’ll quickly add up and throw you off budget. Estimating costs can be difficult and all the more reason to create an event budget worksheet. You don’t have to have everything perfect, but the goal is to plan ahead so you have a guide to follow and keep costs under control.
One way to help with financing for your charity events is to seek out sponsorship. Many local businesses understand the advantages that accompany partnering up with a charity. And the benefits are mutual – they get good press while you get the funds you need.
Again, it would be best to find a sponsor that’s related to your cause. If your event is similar to the historic home tour mentioned above, you could find a local contracting company to provide support. Likewise, the gardening association could ask a nearby nursery for sponsorship.
Keep in mind that the sponsor doesn’t have to be related to your charity – it’s perfectly acceptable for a car dealership to lend support for a golf tournament, even though there are no discernible similarities between the two. As long as there’s a company willing to step up and help, then you’ve found yourself a quality sponsor.
Step Five: Pick a Time and Place
Now that you know what kind of event you’ll be staging and how much you can spend, you’re ready to set a date, time, and venue for your event. The type of event you’re planning has a big influence on where and when you schedule your event.
For example, if you need a venue for an awards ceremony, you should rent a large room that can accommodate several tables without feeling overcrowded. For a concert, you’ll have to contact local theatres to check on their availability. And you obviously wouldn’t hold a golf tournament anywhere but at a golf course.
In determining when to hold your event, there are a few things to consider. For starters, you need to try and avoid scheduling your charity events at a time when people are usually busy, like the beginning of the school year or the week between Christmas and New Year’s.
You also need to factor in the weather – you don’t want to plan your golf tournament for the dead of winter or have a walk-a-thon in the heat of the afternoon in August. The goal is to attract people, not repel them. Plan accordingly and you’ll improve the odds of holding successful fundraising events.
Step Six: Market Your Charity Events
The next step is to let people know about your event. But who should you contact? Is this event open to the public? Or is it for a select group that already has ties to the organization, like past donors and volunteers? Make sure that you’re clear about who you need to market to before releasing information about your charity events.
Once you have defined your target audience, you can then determine the best way to reach them. If the event is for everyone in the community, you can make announcement on local radio, create a Facebook event, broadcast it over Twitter, and add it to the calendar on your city’s tourism website. For a more select audience, try sending personal invitations in the mail.
Step Seven: Set Up and Execution
Your planning is now complete – it’s time to actually hold your event. Make sure that you have more than enough volunteers. Do you need people to help set up tables for your awards dinner? Or helpers to pass out water during your mud run? You need to have plenty of volunteers on hand to keep your fundraising events running smoothly.
You also need to keep your registration area organized. Nothing will irritate attendees more than having to stand in a long line just to check in. If people show up to your fundraising events and the first thing they’re met with is disorganization, it will give them a poor impression of your event right off the bat. And a bad first impression will be difficult to overcome.
You need to take steps to prevent bottlenecks at the beginning of your charity events. One great way to do this is by keeping attendees name tags well organized. Locating the right name tag is a major cause of registration delays. If you have a self-service name tag organizer like the Name Tag Tamer®, you can keep the check-in process moving along and avoid back-ups. And the name tag organizers make registration easy at charity events.
Step Eight: Give Thanks
Now that your charity event’s over (and was a rousing success, of course), you can just sit back and relax. Right?
Well, not exactly. It’s a good idea to thank everyone who helped plan, fund, and stage your fundraising events. You can hold a small get together to celebrate your success or just send out “thank you” cards. Whether it’s a big or small gesture, your supporters will appreciate knowing that you’re grateful for them and their contributions.