One thing that all fundraising event hosts agree on is that organizing and executing a fundraising event is no small task. The process often involves many steps that must be carefully planned in order to deliver an effective and engaging fundraising event.
For someone running a fundraising event for the first time, this can be quite intimidating – which is why we’ve created our fundraising event checklist is a comprehensive guide to walk you through each step of the planning process.
We’ve even provided links to additional helpful content on many of these action steps, giving you further support and tips, if needed!
Fundraising Event Planning: Pre-Event
▢ Form Your Goals and Target Audience
Before you begin any other part of your planning process, we suggest that you take time to set the goals for your event:
- □ Identify the cause you are supporting
- □ Determine monetary and attendance goals
- □ Ticket Revenue expected
- □ Fundraising Revenue expected (auction, text-to-give, etc.)
- □ Choose the target audience that you will try to engage with your event
▢ Build an Amazing Fundraising Committee
Now that you have goals in place, it’s time to build the team that will help you achieve them. When building a committee, we suggest creating the following committee functions and teams:
- □ Fundraising team (sharing your story, engaging donors, collecting items for silent auction)
- □ Logistics team (contacting vendors, managing event venue setup, silent auction checkout)
- □ Sponsorship team (prospecting, contacting, and closing sponsorship)
- □ Marketing team (event promotion, creating digital and physical marketing materials)
- □ Finance team (managing budgets, submitting tax paperwork, and sponsor acknowledgement)
Helpful link to more information on building a fundraising committee.
▢ Set Your Budget
As your team secures your fundraising goal and estimates the monetary amount that you would like to donate to your cause, it’s important to begin to set a budget. Costs that will come into play as you set your budget include:
- □ Venue Cost
- □ Decor Cost
- □ Vendors
- □ Security
- □ Lighting
- □ Audio / Video
- □ Bar / Waitstaff
- □ Food & Drink Cost
- □ Entertainment
- □ Printing of Signage, Banners, etc.
- □ Fundraising Software
▢ Choose a Venue and Date
Now it’s time to select a venue! When choosing a venue, consider things like size (based on attendee goal), layout, parking, and cost. At this point, we would also suggest setting the event date and time – try to avoid holidays, if possible!
▢ Choose Your Theme (decor, food, etc.)
We suggest choosing a fundraising and venue theme that appeals to your audience. When considering your theme, keep in mind how this will affect your decor, entertainment, and food and drink.
▢ Event Sponsorship
Identifying, contacting, and closing sponsors can be one of the highest impact items to a successful event. As you may already know, the process is also a complex one. Some of the steps you will want to cover in the process include:
- □ Opportunity Identification – finding sponsors that fit with your event, based on:
- □ Size
- □ Target demographic
- □ Event location
- □ Building a Sponsorship Fundraising Package – include:
- □ Explanation of your cause / mission
- □ Event details
- □ Sponsorship tiers
- □ Contact info
- □ Researching and contacting sponsors
- □ By phone and email
- □ On social media
- □ Leveraging your personal network
- □ Creating an outreach plan
There are a ton of steps here, so be sure to check out our Ultimate Guide to Fundraiser Sponsorship in order to get even more information on this part of the process.
▢ Select Your Technology Providers
Technology has the potential to be a gamechanger at your fundraiser. Using mobile and online technology can help you increase your ticket sales, reach a larger audience of donors, and ultimately raise more money. As you plan your fundraiser, we suggest considering technology partners in the following areas:
- □ Event Ticketing
- □ Mobile Fundraising
- □ Text-to-Give
▢ Ticket Pricing Strategy
After selecting a ticketing provider that best suits your needs, it’s time to set your ticket pricing strategy. Here, you will want to focus on the trade-off between ticket prices, volume of sales, and your profit. To make things easier, we’ve provided our guide for creating an effective ticket pricing strategy.
▢ Create Production Schedule
As your event date approaches, creating a production schedule for the day of the event will help keep you, your committee, and your vendors organized and aligned with your event’s logistics. Some examples of items to include in your production schedule include:
- Times for your vendors to arrive and set up:
- Lighting assembled
- Stage setup
- Caterer and bar setup
- Times for your committee to arrive
- Committee stations and roles (check-in table, auction table, etc.)
- Emcee announcements and speeches
- Guests arrive
- Silent auction ends / Checkout
- Closing remarks
- Coat check and guest departure
▢ Event Promotion
In the the months leading to your event, promotion will be extremely important to spreading the word, creating interest in your event, and driving ticket sales. While there are many ways to promote your event, some of our favorites include using social media, email marketing, and word of mouth. For a full list of ways to promote your event, check out our post on 37 ways to promote your fundraising event.
▢ Venue Walk-Through
For the day before (or day of your event), we suggest scheduling a venue walk-through with your committee. This walk-through will allow everyone to familiarize themselves with your venue, prepare for the main event, and check to make sure all promotional materials and venue structures are in place.
During the Event
▢ Committee Roles and Training
Before your event starts, spend some time assigning your committee roles and training them on their specific roles. If you are using a mobile fundraising provider, giving a quick orientation can be very helpful. Roles to consider are:
- □ Check-in team
- □ Fundraising table team (silent auction assistance checkout)
- □ Fundraiser checkout team
- □ Coat check team
▢ Set Up and Man Your Stations
During your event, the check-in and silent auction tables will be the hub of fundraising activity for the event. Here, your guests will check in to the event, bid on items and submit donations, and check out if they’ve won an item. Here, we suggest setting up your silent auction / fundraising stations in an area with high foot traffic and maximum exposure. Don’t forget to assign your committee members to man the stations throughout your event (and rotate, if possible).
▢ Speakers / Hosts
We’ve found that having your event hosts or people close to your cause speak during the event can significantly increase engagement and support from your audience. As you prepare your event, plan on having your hosts or speakers deliver a quick message to your audience.
▢ Checkout Process for Fundraising
Fundraising event checkout is notoriously long and frustrating for guests. Luckily, if you prepare your committee ahead of time, you can improve the experience and keep guests happy. We suggest using a mobile auction provider, which would allow your guests to check out from their own mobile devices, greatly speeding up the checkout process.
▢ Sponsor Acknowledgement
Now that your fundraising event is over and you’ve reached your fundraising goals, it’s time to thank all those responsible for supporting your cause. These groups can include:
- Committee Members
Here, we find that email acknowledgment is great for your event attendees, while a handwritten note may be more appropriate for your event sponsors.
▢ Final Committee Meeting
Our final recommended step is to hold a quick wrap-up meeting with your committee, as close to the end of your fundraiser as possible. Here, you can debrief, discuss the elements of the event that worked well, and chat about ways to improve the event for next year.
We hope that this comprehensive fundraising event checklist will help you stay organized for your next event in order to help you achieve your best results ever. Feel free to contact us directly if there are any items you feel should be added to this list!