You have gone through and completed your fundraising event checklist and have concluded your hugely successful fundraising event. You had strong attendance, an engaging experience for your guests, and you raised a ton of money for your nonprofit or cause.
After such a worthy effort, take some time and reflect on the work you’ve done. Maybe even take a day off! Then, get ready to come back refreshed and ready to complete your event wrap-up.
While it may not be the first thing you think of when organizing a fundraising event, your event wrap-up can be as important as the actions leading up to your event, as it will both conclude your most recent event and also help you transition into the next year.
As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, the team at Accelevents runs a large 1,000+ person fundraising event each year in Boston. This year’s event ended about two weeks ago, meaning we are just finishing our event wrap-up.
In this post, we will walk you through the best practices that we’ve learned over the years, in order to successfully conclude each of your fundraising events and set the stage for future success!
Hopefully, you’ve taken some time leading up to and during your event to thank all of your supporters.
Once your event has ended, this acknowledgment will be one of your most valuable tools to build long-term success for your event. Thanking your supporters frequently and in a unique fashion will allow your fundraising event and committee to create a lasting relationship with your donors. The result? Repeat guests, sponsors, and donors!
As you think about thanking your supporters, there are three major groups to consider:
- Guests – Your event guests are the lifeblood of your fundraising event. Without them, there is no point in holding an event at all. In order to conclude your event successfully, we suggest thanking your guests frequently and in multiple ways. For our fundraiser, we thank our attendees mostly on social media and via email. To make things interesting, we use different content pieces to engage our audience while we’re thanking them. This content includes:
- Post-event surveys
- Photos from the event
- Our event video
These different elements provide further entertainment to our guests and allow them to relive the great experience we provided at our fundraising event!
- Sponsors – Sponsors are also critical to your event’s success. For most fundraising events (ours included), any proceeds from ticket sales are used to offset event costs. Therefore, a large portion of your final donation amount will come from the fundraiser sponsorship that you’ve secured. Sponsorship will also be a key factor in helping you grow your event and its proceeds over the years. For these reasons, you should be as diligent at thanking sponsors as you are in thanking your guests. In similar fashion, be sure to thank your sponsors as personally as possible. Some great channels for acknowledgment include:
- Phone Calls
- Handwritten Notes
- End-of-the-year gifts
Again, the key here is to build a lasting relationship with your sponsors so that they return to support your cause year after year.
- Item Donors and Vendors – Did your fundraising event include a silent auction or raffle? If so, you must already know the importance of these fundraising tools in increasing your bottom line for the event. In addition, for most of us, all silent auction and raffle items are donated by local businesses, friends, and supporters.
These people should also be acknowledged and thanked for their generosity, for they have taken a valuable item and donated it to support your cause free of charge!
On a similar note, be sure to thank any vendors who may have donated their services, or even offered a discount on the services they provided at your event. Great vendors can be hard to come by, so show your appreciation in order to be able to work with your best vendors each year!
As we discussed before, you can use many different channels to thank your supporters, including social media, email, written letters, phone calls, and more. When thanking your supporters, always try to include some kind of engaging content (photos, videos), as well as updates on how the event performed. If you have updates on how much money you donated or what the proceeds are being used for, be sure to share this information with your supporters so that they can share in the pride associated with such a generous act!
In the early morning and days after your event, you and your committee will want to be thorough in conducting your event wrap up. Some of the key focus areas should include:
- Venue Clean Up / Break Down – Is your committee responsible for some or all of the venue cleanup? If so, make sure you coordinate this properly with your team in order to fulfill your commitments to the venue.
- Final Venue Walk-Through – Before leaving your venue, be sure to do one final walk-through in order to identify anything that may have been broken or left behind during the event. This will also ensure that you are not overcharged for damages.
- Lost and Found – There will always be a few people who have left a jacket or another valuable item behind at your fundraising event. Once your event has concluded, we suggest having one committee member in charge of organizing and delivering items that were left at the event.
- Silent Auction & Raffle Item Delivery – Hopefully, most of your silent auction and raffle items were given to your guests during the event. If not, try to designate a few members of your committee/staff to aggregate the remaining items and ensure that the proper item winners receive their prizes.
- Update Your Website – Do you have an event website? If so, you can update the site to thank your supporters and post any of the great content you have generated as part of the event (photos, videos, etc.). You can also post your event survey here.
- Post-Event Survey – We also suggest creating a post-event survey for your attendees to take. This survey will be your most valuable tool in learning about what worked and what didn’t work for your event. Be sure to ask questions about ticket prices, the venue, lines, and the general satisfaction of your attendees.
- Final Vendor Invoices – As you complete your event wrap-up, always be sure to pay any final invoices from vendors!
- Write a Check – Finally, it’s time to write your check and submit your donations to your nonprofit or the cause you are supporting – enjoy the feeling!
Looking Forward to Next Year
While you may be getting a bit tired of your event, the best time to begin reflecting and applying learning for your next event is in the few weeks following your fundraiser – this is when your experience will be the freshest in your mind!
When reflecting on your event’s success, keep in mind that fundraising events will always be works in progress. Even the most successful events have room to grow and build on the experience and success they have created since their inception.
To start, begin discussing the general success of some of the major elements of your event:
- Timing – Was your event at the right time of year? Is there a time that might work better for next year?
- Venue – Did you choose the right venue? How was the event staff? Did the layout work for your guests?
- Theme – Will your event have a recurring theme, no theme, or a different theme each year? Our event is always the Fall Formal, but we change our venue and theme each year!
After you’ve discussed some of these major topics, it’s time to reflect on some of the finer details of your fundraiser. These may take a bit more time to discuss:
- Committee Structure – Was your committee structured properly in terms of the roles delegated to each member? Did you choose an all-star fundraising team, or were there some members who did not contribute? How can you do a better job motivating your committee for next year?
- Sponsorship – How successful was your team in securing sponsors for your fundraiser? Could your team begin soliciting sponsors earlier for next year’s event? Are there different potential sponsors you can target?
- Silent Auction & Raffle – Did you include a silent auction, a raffle, or both? Did you have the proper mix of items at your event?
Finally, you can pull all your learnings together with the post-event survey that you send out to your attendees. This survey will provide hard data about most of the elements mentioned above, and will also give you the freedom to ask your audience specific questions about your event.
Once you’ve completed the steps above, you are finally ready to take a breather. Don’t forget to take some time to celebrate with your committee and your supporters and recognize the feat that you’ve accomplished by running a successful fundraiser AND supporting an amazing cause. When next year’s event comes along, don’t be afraid to go back to the future and do another quick debrief!
Now it’s time to make next year’s event even better!