As you may know, the Accelevents platform was inspired by the Fall Formal, a local fundraiser that the current founders of the platform host in Boston each year. The event is still going strong, and we even hosted our 5th anniversary of the Fall Formal this past November!
Running this event over the past five years has taught us many valuable tips and tricks to ensure smooth and successful fundraising events.
In this post, we’ve created an outline, based on our experience, showing what the day of your fundraising event may look like in the hours leading up to and during the event – we’ve also thrown in our helpful tips to make sure your next event is a huge success. Enjoy!
9 a.m.: Arrive at Event Venue
In the morning, the two Fall Formal event hosts arrive at the venue. The main point of arriving early is to do a final walk-through with the venue staff in order to go over any last-minute updates and emergency details as well as covering the schedule for the day and night ahead.
Event Host Tip: Always try to schedule at least one venue walk-through prior to the day or night of your event.
10:30 a.m.: Vendors Begin Arriving / Sponsor Product Drop-Off Begins
At around 10:30 a.m., the first of our vendors begin to arrive. These include our catering staff and lighting staff as well as the event team in charge of “setting up” the venue (pipe & drape, dance floor, etc.). At this point, our fundraising committee has met with each of the different vendors to cover the game plan for the event and go over our general production schedule, and this means they can get right to work.
At this time, product deliveries from some of our key sponsors begin to arrive as well.
Event Host Tip: Provide all your vendors with a full production schedule and venue floor plan prior to the day/night of your event. If possible, schedule at least one meeting with all vendors included to cover what will be expected from them to make the event successful.
11 a.m.: Committee Members Arrive
Now that our vendors have begun to set up the venue, our committee arrives. Just like our vendors, we’ve already run through an entire schedule of events with our committee prior to the day of our event so that everyone knows what is expected of them. We typically break committee tasks into different groupings to be as efficient as possible. See a few examples below:
- General venue setup – setting up coat check, check-in area, etc.
The committee can also help with any questions that vendors or catering staff may have about the event such as start times, location of different stations at the venue, and more.
Event Host Tip: Create a production schedule for your committee members and review the schedule at least once during a committee meeting that takes place prior to the day of your event. We like to do this at least two weeks ahead of our event.
12 p.m.: Lunch Break
Time for everyone to take a break and refuel!
1 p.m.: Audio / Video Arrives
Around 1 p.m., the remainder of our vendors arrive at the event. These vendors will include the audio/video team as well as staff that help run our event venue.
3 p.m.: Committee Sets Up Auction, Opportunity Drawing, Wishing Wall
At 3 p.m., our fundraising committee will begin setting up our silent auction, opportunity drawing, and wishing wall. It is crucial that we leave plenty of time to set these up as they will be our primary revenue drivers during the event. We focus on placing our silent auction and opportunity drawing in a prominent section of our venue where there will be plenty of foot traffic at all times. For our event, this means locating them in close proximity to our dance floor and near the main bar.
Once this setup is complete, the committee will head home for a break and to get ready for the event!
Event Host Tip: Package your auction & opportunity drawing items ahead of time! Our committee insists on finalizing all auction and opportunity drawing items at least one week before our event. This means that on the day of the event, the only organizing still required is simply setting up the items.
Bonus Tip: Use a mobile fundraising platform to make your auction setup easier – and to raise more money! We use the Accelevents platform for our auction, opportunity drawing, and text-to-give appeal, allowing us to attract donations from a much larger audience. We even open our auction about a week early in order to drive interest, bids, and donations before the night of the event!
5 p.m.: Catering and Bar Staff Arrive to Complete Setup
With just over three hours to go before our event, the remaining catering and bar staff arrive at the venue. These staff members will finish any food prep and setup and also set up the bars around the venue.
Event Host Tip: Do your homework on catering staff! Over the years, we have worked with some amazing catering companies – and some that were not so great. The quality of the service at your event will be a memorable component for your attendees. A friendly and professional staff can go a long way during such an important event!
7 p.m.: Committee Arrives (Dressed for the Event) to Help Complete Setup / Final Vendors Arrive
At 7 p.m., our committee returns, fully dressed for the event in formal attire. The team will walk through the venue, helping with any finishing touches. These may include setting up the projections for our donation goal and silent auction updates, helping set up the check-in area of the event, or keeping the staff up-to-date on when guests will begin to arrive.
At this time, our final vendors will also arrive. These include our photographers, videographers, and the band!
8 p.m.: Committee Photo
Once we are nearly ready to open the doors for our guests, we take a committee photo. During the event, our committee is typically scattered throughout the venue, making this the best time to do so!
Event Host Tip: We always suggest taking a committee photo. This photo will be a great memory for your committee, and it can also be used for PR purposes if local publications are interested in publishing a story about the event.
8:30 p.m.: Doors Open – Check-In
Doors open promptly at 8:30. At this point, we use the Accelevents app to scan and check in our guests. Because we use the platform for both event ticketing and fundraising, all guests instantly receive a text message at check-in with the link to our mobile silent auction, opportunity drawing, and text-to-give campaign. This helps us drastically increase participation and raise more money!
Event Host Tip: Combine your event ticketing and mobile fundraising platforms! This strategic move helped make our event setup more organized and helped us create a more streamlined process for our attendees, from ticket purchase to donation.
9–11 p.m.: Greeting, Encouraging Bidding and Donations
For the next two hours, our event will be in full swing. Our committee will typically help with event check-in, greeting guests and sponsors, and encouraging everyone to continue supporting our cause by donating or checking out our great silent auction and opportunity drawing items.
11 p.m.: Event Hosts’ Thanks to Attendees, Sponsors, Call-to-Action on Donating
With a little over an hour left in our event, the committee and event hosts will take the stage for an announcement. The purpose of this announcement is twofold. The first reason we make an announcement is to thank our attendees and sponsors and to help the audience relate to our cause. In the case of our event this year, we actually had a cancer survivor speak about how the organization we support helped her win her battle with cancer.
The second goal of our announcement is to give a live call-to-action for our attendees to continue donating. At this point, we are usually pretty close to our goal, so we motivate our audience to get us over the finish line.
Event Host Tip: Try to display your fundraising goal and current progress prominently throughout your venue. We use Accelevents’ fundraising thermometer functionality to show our fundraising progress throughout the event venue, and we also include signage with our event phone number and the website that attendees can use to donate.
11:30 p.m.: Event Hosts Announce Fundraising Goal Has Been Met and Encourage Further Donations
About half an hour later, we make one final announcement to let our audience know that we’ve reached our fundraising goal. Of course, this announcement is also crafted to encourage additional bids and to let everyone know our auction and opportunity drawing will be ending soon.
12 a.m.: Silent Auction & Opportunity Drawing Ends – Check-Out Begins
At midnight, our silent auction and opportunity drawing end. Using Accelevents, all winners are instantly notified and can make their payment from their device. Our event staff and committee members can also see all payments that are made in real time.
Event Host Tip: We highly encourage using a mobile fundraising platform for your event. Not only will a platform help you raise more money, but it will make item check-out significantly faster.
12:30 a.m.: Event Ends
After a whirlwind of a day, our event has concluded. Our committee helps usher guests out of the venue and begins to clean the space after a successful night of fundraising!
We hope this look into the day and night of a fundraising event is helpful. For most content from the POV of an event host, check out our Millennial Fundraising Q&A. Feel free to comment on this post with any questions or to share tips from your own event.