7 Steps To A Successful Charity Fundraiser
Fundraising events can be a daunting experience but following certain tips can help ease some of the anxiety. There is no foolproof way of assuring you will reach your fundraising goal but following these “rules” will put you on the right path:
You would think this would be a given, but you’d be surprised how many well-intentioned people throw events without having a specific mission. Who are you raising money for? Where will that money go? Why are you raising money? Questions like those should be the first things you should decide. Throwing general events just because you are a well-intentioned philanthropist never works.
Many idealistic people go over budget because they have not planned for unexpected expenses (or even expected expenses)! Be realistic about what you can actually spend on venue, food, speakers, etc. Don’t wait for Murphy’s Law to happen, assume that it will. When working on a budget, make sure you set aside funds for mistakes, inclimate weather or no-show keynote speakers.
How much money are you hoping to raise? Consider that with larger events, expenses related to staff, hosts, food, “overhead” can reap unexpected expenses. To throw a successful event, it is wise to let potential patrons know that you are organized and know what you’re doing; it elicits trust which leads to more donations.
Who is your target audience? Who can be expected to attend, who will want to attend and who will care about your charity’s cause? When throwing an important fundraiser, don’t talk in general terms. Be sure, be organized and be focused. Knowing your audience is a huge part of the battle. Raising funds is hard on its own. Targeting and inviting people who may not be your target group can be an uphill battle.
“People eat first with their eyes” and that applies here. Your charity is important, but patrons may lose interest at the front door if the aesthetic of the event, the venue, the staff looks cluttered, scrambled or unappealing. If budget is an issue, do simple hors d’oeuvres. Keep the colors neutral and the furniture classic. Barebones can evoke a white table cloth feel if you keep things simple.
Many people who throw events like these are idealists, not marketers. Among the many challenges, this may be one of the most challenging for green roots organizations. Suggestion? Social media, social media, social media. With KickStarter and GoFundMe options, an organization can potentially raise their entire fundraising goal without an event, but it is also a good resource to start adding to the fundraiser pot. Social media is a great, free tool like a modern day “virtual flyer” you can use to get the word out about your function.
Thank yous and Follow Throughs
Be sure to thank your patrons with thank you notes, even if it’s an online one. It may seem old-fashioned, but the hard copy version can double as a nice gesture and a souvenir for your guests. You’d be surprised how many repeat patrons you’ll get for next year’s event with a simple thank you!
Throwing a fundraiser isn’t an easy undertaking but it can be done. Aside from all these fundraising steps, the most important to remember is: Don’t get discouraged!