Strategies for Successful Fundraising Events (free template)

Money graph with upward trend

Events. Every organization hosts events, but are they effective? It’s important to be very clear about what the goals are for any event you host and have strategies in place to meet those goals. Fundraising events in particular require a lot of staff time and expenses can greatly reduce the amount of revenue received by the organization.

Before committing to hosting a fundraiser carefully consider the benefits and costs. (click to tweet)

While raising money is the main reason the event is being hosted it would be a missed opportunity to only focus on revenue and ignore other ways the event can support your mission.

For 10 event seasons, from 2005-2014, I managed 25 events a year that raised approximately $1,000,000 for a Boston-based nonprofit. To improve communication with my team I designed an event strategy form. These are the questions I considered before planning any fundraiser or donor cultivation event.

An event strategy form clearly outlines all the goals of the event and the strategies to achieve them. I recommend that the first draft of this form be filled in by the event manager and then discussed with key members of the development team. Once a plan has been created, document any significant changes on this form. Reference this document after the event to measure how well you succeeded at your goals and include your findings in a separate event debrief document.

Open letter to: Networking Event Hosts

photo of dimly lit event

I’m sure you would agree that not all networking events are created equal. Too often, it feels like the decision to have a networking event was the result of not wanting to hire a speaker – and that’s the end of the discussion. [click to tweet]

What should a convener do to enhance their guests’ ability to make great connections at an event?

Lighting
Maybe I’m starting to show my age, but I really appreciate it when a room is lit well enough that I can actually see my fellow guests. Dimly lit rooms may work great when you’re trying to get everyone to dance, but if the purpose of the event is for guests to talk to each other than adjust the dimmer switch just a bit.

Music level
“What? Could you repeat that?” Ever leave a networking event knowing you’re going to wake up hoarse and feeling like you’ve been singing your heart out at a concert? Being able to see and hear fellow guests is a really basic need and one that many conveners seem to disregard in an attempt to have a more festive environment. It’s important to define the purpose of the event and recognize it can’t meet multiple goals and do them all well. So if it’s an after party that you want at the end of the conference, then clearly communicate that. If you expect your attendees to want to stick around to keep chatting with each other and exchange business cards, then plan the space differently.

Name tags
The template for name tags should be decided well in advance of the day they need to be printed. This is not a task to leave to a volunteer or intern to create last minute. Some common mistakes: