Practical Planning Strategies for Marketing Your Fundraising Events
The biggest key to holding successful fundraising events is planning for success.
In practice, however, the seniority and experience of event planners vary widely. Many work from event to event, a veritable Groundhog Day. Some fundraising events require their full attention for weeks, and the number of events they handle varies greatly. Circumstances, such as the lack of a committed honoree or event underwriter, can easily derail schedules. Strategic planning is often forsaken in the name of the pragmatic “must-do’s” that eclipse other priorities.
This myopic approach actually leads to more work than if you started with a strategic plan. Once the initial plan is developed, modifying it across multiple events and into new fiscal years requires little additional time. In the end, taking the time to organize and plan actually saves time and maximizes the opportunity to raise more money.
Assess communication needs
To begin, develop your list of communications vehicles for you event. For a major dinner gala or benefit luncheon, this list might include (in no particular order):
- Invitation/RSVP cards
- Save-the-date postcard
- Sponsor Letter (new sponsors)
- Sponsor letter (renewal sponsors)
- Honoree requests
- In-kind vendor requests
- Auction/raffle letters
- Event website
- Online registration capabilities
- Journal (printed or digital/Web-based)
- Program book/menu cards
- Donor cards/ texting program for event
- Post-event tax letters/thank-yous
- E-mail messaging
- Event or honoree video
- Social-media pages
- Press releases
- Media interviews
Event planning calendar
Enter the planning calendar. An effectively planned marketing effort works backward based on the event date. All key dates should be added to the calendar in a color-coded format, and each task or deliverable should have clearly defined and assigned steps. Your planning calendar should be accessible to all team members (for example, in a Google Doc), so information required for its completion is always available.
Some tips on creating an effective planning calendar: