Organizing a fundraising event can be an exhilarating but complicated endeavor. And having a ‘fundraising event planning template’ will make the planning as smooth as butter. Whether you’re a seasoned event planner or a first-time organizer, the key to orchestrating a successful fundraiser lies in meticulous planning – and we have you covered.
In a fundraising event, every detail matters, and every dollar raised contributes to a greater cause. This article aims to be your go-to companion, offering a step-by-step template to navigate the multifaceted landscape of fundraising event planning.
Step 1 on the Fundraising event planning template: Setup (4-6 months before the event)
Always remember that the goal of your fundraising event is not just to raise money; it is also about creating awareness or recruiting new members.
That’s where this fundraising event planning template will help you focus on these aspects – rather than focusing entirely on how to plan an event.
Establish your goal
Having said that – you still need to have an end goal defined. Everything you do for the event will be centered around the goal. So put a number on it.
For instance, if the goal of your event was to raise $2 million and your fundraising event had 500 attendees who had raised $1.2 million – your event was (still) a failure. On the other hand, if your goal were to bring more attendees and cultivate a relationship with them, your event would have been successful if you had collected 400 contacts. So it is all relative.
But this can have a huge domino effect – from future events to things like staff morale. So pick a goal that helps advance your cause. It can be a monetary goal, but it doesn’t have to be.
Budget: How much money should you spend and when?
Many decisions you make in your event planning will depend on the budget. That is why an essential part of this fundraising event planning template is first to have a budget, and then the rest must be planned.
Here we have to share an important caveat – do you have any money?
Most campaigns hope to raise funds first and then use some of the funds raised to host these events or make them pay for themselves. Which is a perfectly acceptable way.
However, we recommend having an event to raise funds, even though you must initially put in your money to host the event. It may result in more bang for your buck as attendees can contribute on the spot, capitalizing on the enthusiasm and energy of the event.
Allow yourself to be more flexible when it comes to budget. You may have planned for 1000 dinners – but have some money in reserve in case 1200 show up at the last minute. Or if you suddenly have to extend the event for another two hours, and now have to pay overtime to the staff and catering.
Keeping 15% of all expenses in a separate emergency fund is good practice – so you can deploy it in case something goes wrong.
Volunteers: Go beyond your staff and recruit with new-age methods
In ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People,’ Dale Carnegie said that the only way to get someone to do something is if he or she wants to. A fact that has remained true since the dawn of human history.
Recruiting volunteers can be difficult because you must encourage people to leave work and support your cause. Clearly outline the roles and responsibilities of volunteers.
Provide a detailed description of each role, the expected time commitment, and any specific skills or qualifications needed. This clarity will attract genuinely interested individuals suited for the tasks at hand.
Leverage social media, volunteer websites, and community forums to spread the word about your volunteer opportunities.
You can give them the option to choose what type of volunteer activity they want. This helps you assign volunteers based on their skill set and also keeps them more engaged in the whole activity.
Take a look at an example of one such SMS campaign below.
Remember to express gratitude to your volunteers and recognize their contributions. Building a positive volunteer culture not only aids in successful event execution but also enhances the overall impact of your fundraising efforts.
Get that event calendar created and assigned
An event calendar is pivotal in ensuring organization, coordination, and effective communication throughout the entire process.
An event calendar helps you establish a clear timeline for your fundraising event, outlining key milestones, deadlines, and tasks. This is vital for keeping your team on track and ensuring that every aspect of the event is well-executed and on schedule.
So once you have your goal, volunteers, and budget, the next step recommended by our fundraising event template is to make an event calendar and assign tasks.
By breaking down the event planning process into specific tasks and assigning responsibilities, an event calendar ensures that everyone on your team knows their role and when their contributions are needed. This promotes accountability and minimizes the risk of tasks falling through the cracks.
Determine the date and venue
Finalizing the venue and date well in advance gives you many options regarding availability. This is critical since most of your further planning revolves around the venue and the experience donors will get when attending your event.
For instance, if your organization promotes science-based education for underprivileged kids, a venue like London’s Earth Hall is perfect since it’s practically a science museum – only if you can book it early enough.
A well-defined theme can make your event more appealing and memorable. Align the theme with your cause and the interests of your audience. A compelling theme can also aid in marketing and promotion.
Fundraising event template pro tip: Evaluate whether the event type suits one-time fundraising or can be repeated or adapted for future campaigns. Long-term sustainability is essential for building a consistent donor base.
A one-off go-karting event may be fun, but building a relationship with a venue to host an annual donation dinner, will work better in the long run. And it will be cheaper eventually as well.
So keep a four-month buffer, and ensure the venue is booked. Consider the time of year and any relevant holidays or local events affecting attendance. Consider whether an indoor or outdoor event is more suitable based on the season.
Also, if you’re uncertain about the best event type, consider running smaller pilot events or seeking input from your community. Feedback can provide valuable insights into what resonates with your audience.
Remember that the venue is also determined by the scope of your fundraiser. For example, if you are planning a rally and expecting a massive turnout, the venue option would have to be a big open-air ground.
Also, do have a backup option. For instance, in case of rain during your event, you can shift the venue from an open-air ground to a hall.
Because the venue will also play a significant role in the event’s marketing, having a venue will help you plan everything around it smoothly. And a well-planned fundraiser is the first step to a successful one!
Step 2 on the Fundraising Event Planning Template: Registrations and Promotions (2-4 Months before the event)
Setting up guest registration
Setting up a guest registration for your fundraising event is crucial to ensure a smooth and organized experience for attendees and organizers. This will also help you decide how many guests are committing to attend.
If things go far better than you expected, then this is the time to consider upgrading the venue, getting more volunteers, or arranging for more food.
Things you need to do include:
- Determine the information you need from attendees. This may include names, contact details, affiliation with your cause, dietary preferences, and other relevant details.
- Select a registration platform or tool that suits your needs. Something like Google Forms is free, but you can also use the CRM your organization already uses to create a separate database for this event.
- Clearly communicate event details on the registration form, such as date, time, venue, and special instructions. Ensure that attendees know what to expect.
- Encourage early registration by highlighting any incentives or limited-time offers.
Fundraising event template pro tip: Set up automated confirmation emails to be sent to attendees upon completion of registration. Include event details, payment confirmation (if applicable), and any additional information they may need.
Use tools like CallHub’s Workflows to automatically re-engage contacts by sending them personalized follow up communication at the right time, on the right channel to maximize engagement.
Here’s an example of such an automated email:
Ensuring attendees can donate smoothly
Once you have finalized your goal, you must decide how to collect funds to reach that goal. Remember, all financial transactions require time to set up and test to ensure no failures on the big day. This has to occur in parallel with building the guest list – so they have a place to buy tickets first and donate later.
Consider that you may have to open a new bank account, register with a digital or online payment tool, or develop a donation page and ensure you comply with financial regulations.
Since these donations are the main point of these events, our fundraising event template recommends you sort out the donation systems before marketing the event.
For example, would it be a ticketed event?
Then you must have –
- A secure and straightforward way of accepting donations.
- A payment method for your event tickets.
- A plan for how long the tickets will be available for sale.
- Would you sell merchandise at the venue? Ideally, yes, as it boosts the fund collection.
Furthermore, don’t forget that your fundraising event tickets must be priced right – according to your goal. For instance, to raise $50,000, you must sell 850 tickets for $60 each.
Fundraising event template pro tip: Never be limited to one mode. Have at least 3-4 modes for accepting payments. You can have full-service payment processing software and provide enhanced options like reserved seating and direct deposits into your bank account.
For online payments, you can always go to any digital and mobile payments in advance.
You can also use SMS to collect donations (over and above the ticket price) from the event attendees. Here is an example of how SMS can be used to collect donations:
All the donors have to do is send your designated keyword to your number, and the donation process kicks off. You can advertise this keyword right at the entrance, during halftime, or between breaks in the entertainment.
Whatever the event, promotions will be key. And don’t make the rookie mistake of depending entirely on ‘word of mouth’ and ‘social media.’ Ensure you have a promotion plan in place a few months beforehand.
Marketing your fundraising event
How you market your event, i.e., the channels you want to promote it in, depends upon the target audience you want to reach.
For instance, if your fundraiser is focused on millennials and the objective is to raise small donations from a number of people, the promotion would be digital-aggressive.
Social media (Instagram, Facebook, etc.), emails, and promoting your event on YouTube are the best channels to reach this audience segment.
For a slightly older generation that prefers mailers and phone calls, you can focus more on offline channels. TV, radio, print ads, and posters will also come under this bracket.
Remember that a successful marketing strategy combines a good mix of both offline and digital targeting. The extent of using a channel (i.e., whether you should go digital-heavy or focus on offline marketing) is determined by your target audience.
Your promotional materials and the marketing plan have to be according to the audience that you are planning to target. The content has to convey what the event is about and how it can make a difference.
Ensure that your content fits the channel you use to promote the campaign. This will help make your ad more powerful.
Regardless of your channel, you can always reinforce the message using texts and phone calls.
Here you can see how a peer-to-peer text campaign has helped reach out to a supporter interested in attending your event.
You can see how informal and one-to-one the conversation is. This encouraged Sophia to be more excited about the event. It convinced her to attend the event and take her mom along!
Step 3 on the Fundraising Event Planning Template:- Remind (1-7 Days before the event)
Follow-ups are important, as this will help reconfirm those who signed up about their participation. Make sure that you send them reminders at least once before the event.
Text Broadcasting would be the perfect tool over here. You can send reminder messages to all the groups of people who have agreed to come to your event. You can select a keyword in the text that the people can send back for their confirmation. From this keyword, you can have a rough count of the people who will be attending the fundraising event.
You can also attach a link to give them the directions and more information about the event.
Step 4 on the Fundraising Event Planning Template:- Thank and Engage (1-7 Days after the event)
The event might be over, but your work is not.
Thank your volunteers and donors
It will help if you show appreciation as soon as the event ends. Everyone should be appreciated; therefore, you ensure that your volunteers, vendors, staff, and board members are recognized.
You can also ask them to give their feedback on the event. This will help you to have a different perspective on the event’s success. You can understand how the event was executed on the ground level. You can use this feedback in the next event.
Also, don’t forget to thank the donors, those who purchased the event ticket, and anyone else who contributed during your event. Sending out an appreciation message will make them more involved in the cause.
It will also help you tap into your supporters’ good feelings, which will eventually help you build a long-term relationship with them, which will be useful when you are doing other events.
Fundraising event template pro tip: You can send a broadcast message to them to thank them for their help in conducting a successful event. Scheduled text broadcasts or bulk texting allow you to send text messages to your audience at a specific time and date.
Evaluate your results
Once the event is over, do a full review of the event.
This is the time for you to check whether you have met the goal you had set initially. You can use this fundraising event planning template to make this step easier.
It will help you determine the success of your event, such as:
- Whether your budget allocation worked.
- If your promotion and marketing strategy attracted the desired number of attendees.
- If you were able to collect enough funds that were required.
- If the turnout was better than the last event.
- If you repeat the same mistakes that you made last time.
Well, here you have a fundraising event planning template that you can use to get more out of your fundraiser.
Remember, the heart of any successful event lies in the passion of its organizers, the dedication of its volunteers, and the support of its community. As you embark on this rewarding journey, embrace the challenges as opportunities, and view setbacks as stepping stones toward growth.
Best of luck!