3 Tips for Creating Memorable Fundraising Events
When you run a nonprofit, fundraising events are the face you show to the world. Not only do they provide vital funds, but fundraisers also put a nonprofit's mission and purpose on a stage for your community to discover and explore.
Every fundraiser is a chance to share your nonprofit's message, spread awareness of a cause and get people involved. These events are a big potential source of publicity, new volunteers and partners—not to mention the donations that literally keep the lights on.
A nonprofit's existence relies so much on fundraising success that you can’t just throw events together at the last minute. They require top-notch planning.
If your fundraiser is poorly prepared—whether it's a lack of beverages and snacks, unhelpful team members or no backup plan for unpredictable weather—people will walk away with negative impressions, and they’ll be less likely to make the effort to support your next event. Good first impressions are hard to make, and falling short can completely derail a nonprofit's success.
3 Tips for Creating a Successful Fundraiser
Great fundraising is easier said than done. There’s no luck involved—it takes devotion and hard work from a lot of people. Here are my top tips for creating a fundraising event that attendees will remember for the right reasons:
1. Assemble a team of passionate people.
When you have a nonprofit, your team is everything. Team members are the individuals who stay late to help finish flyers or come in early to hang flags—all without getting paid.
The perfect fundraising team isn’t the one with the best qualifications or the most friends. Instead, an ideal team is made up of people who are extremely passionate about the nonprofit's purpose and projects. They get just as excited as you do about creating a great event, because they genuinely care about the targeted cause.
Most importantly, this passion shows. It translates into hard work and enjoyment. People who are passionate about your cause will be able to put in the long hours needed to make the event a success, and they won’t be put off when the going gets tough. They’ll also look forward to the event and have fun, which will come across positively to visitors—and help them have fun, too.
2. Choose the right event for your project and audience.
Fundraising is a huge opportunity to show people what your project is all about, so be careful in choosing an event that is relevant to what you’re doing. If your project is about saving whales, perhaps don’t use a football tournament for your fundraiser's theme.
Consider your target audience, too. You can do this by asking, "Who am I looking to attract to the event?" Make your event more memorable and effective for those select people by connecting ideas and actions together in a single theme.
For example, one of the nonprofits I run is called Kids4Community. It aims to help kids develop a love of helping others. With the nonprofit's goal in mind, I knew I needed to find an event that would give kids a taste of what it means to help others—and that both kids and parents would love.
Luckily, I’m a kid, so I'm a part of my target audience. I knew my friends at school loved learning about Guinness World Records, so I organized an event to build the world’s largest cardboard box mosaic, with donations going to help the homeless community in San Diego. Not only was the event super fun, but it also raised awareness about homelessness.
3. Market your event loud and clear.
Don't just tell people you are having an event; tell people whyyou are having the event. Both attendees and volunteers will get more passionate and involved when they can see that they’re having a real impact on a specific issue. So tell them loud and clear where their money and time are going.
When Kids4Community hosted a 5K race, we told people exactly why we were doing it. Our goal was to raise $20,000 to help alleviate homelessness and hunger in the community. In our marketing, we focused on the “what” and the “why,” with added shout-outs for the fun perks, like free food from local vendors and sponsors, and medals for participants.
At last, you've planned and created this inspiring event that volunteers and community members can get involved with. However, the work is far from over. This fundraising event is just the beginning of the next stage of your project. Make sure you take the time to collect people's email addresses during the event to help grow your database. These people could become loyal supporters, volunteers or even partners.
When I started Kids4Community, I wish I would have known how valuable fundraising events would be for building awareness of the project and gaining supporters. I would have started fundraising right off the bat. So don't hesitate. Get started creating memorable fundraising events today, and keep the ball rolling.