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Did your stomach just drop because of the title? Are you in the midst of fundraiser fog and ready to wave the white flag? Pump the brakes, because your friendly neighborhood event coordinators are here to help.
Planning a fundraiser can be stressful, but if done correctly it can be highly rewarding for all involved. There is no better feeling than raising more money than expected for a great cause. Take out a pen and pad (or open the notes app on your smart phone) and take some notes. It’s about to get real.
Here are 7 things you’re doing wrong while planning a fundraiser.
7. Unrealistic Goals
Let’s get this one out and in the open, first! Start smart. If this is your first fundraiser as an organization, don’t bite off more than you can chew. Raising a million dollars on the first go would be great, but highly unlikely. It takes years to build a donor list and it doesn’t make you a terrible nonprofit if your dollar amount isn’t astronomical. Remember, every little bit matters when you’re trying to be the change you wish to see in the world.
6. Not Thinking About Your Guests
Consider your guest’s experience from the moment they leave the house to the moment they get home. How likely will your guests fight traffic and would complimentary valet lift their spirits upon arrival? Would a hosted bar add to the night and enhance your guest’s time or does your donor crowd appreciate a dry event? Try to make their ticket price include as much as possible without denting your bottom dollar.
Also keep in mind your guest’s experience throughout the event. If you can’t host a 4-hour event, don’t. Keep it short and sweet, nothing will kill the night faster than forcing a longer event than needed. A swift timeline will keep the event popping from one entertainment factor to the next, and your guests WILL appreciate it.
5. Lack of Sponsorship
Tap into your loyal donors. Ask them to sponsor parts of the night and don’t wait until the last minute to inquire about their collaboration. Ask them to sponsor valet so it’s complimentary for your guests, or an entertainment group to keep guests engaged in-between silent and live auction announcements. You never know who your people know, so don’t forget to ask!
4. No Hosted Bar
Actually, if we’re speaking about sponsors, have one of them sponsor a hosted bar for your guests. A hosted bar or drink tickets to cash is a great way to make your supporters feel welcomed. Who doesn’t like being greeted with a champagne toast?
This plays right into the nickel and diming phase of your event. If guests are required to pay for every single drink they need, they are less likely to raise their bid card for the real reason you’re hosting the event.
3. Wrong Guest List
Remember when your mom told you quality over quantity, or maybe it was your math teacher; I digress. Whomever it was with the good advice, apply it to your guest list. Yes, it’s great if 500 people attend, but how many of those 500 are really out to make a difference and help you help others?
We’re not being snobby, promise, we’re simply being ballsy. The secret to raising the big bucks is by inviting the right people who will contribute. Be wery of how many comps you doll out, those seats you’re giving away for free better be worth it for your organization in the long run. You want it to be a ‘party’ where guests have a good time, but it’s not a party. It’s a fundraiser.
2. No Marketing Collaboration
Marketing efforts should be split, evenly. The more people assisting with getting the word out, the better, and remember the number one rule when conquering marketing; communicate, communicate, communicate.
Have you made graphics? Share them. Have you paid for advertising? Let your co-collaborator (if you have a charity partner) know and encourage they assist with promotional advertising. The more board members, sponsors and regular donors you have promoting your charity event, the better.
1. Bottom Line Negligence
The more effort spent on staying within budget, the better. It’s easy to go over board and want to make the night an extravagant memory for all, but don’t forget the real reason we’re all here. To raise funding for a specific charitable cause.
Maybe you can’t get the fancy chiavari chairs and have to stick with the black banquet chairs instead. No matter, think of the positive. They’re more comfortable anyways.
Planning a fundraiser can be hectic, but it doesn’t have to be when you pull from all the right ends. Don’t burn the candle from both ends and take care of those who are taking care of you.
It’s okay to ask for favors, but remember to make those who donated feel special, because after all, without the people who are able to give, your organization wouldn’t be able to thrive.
Happy fundraising and let us know if you have any more tips to add in the comment section below!
The Marconi Automotive Museum is a class 501 ©(3) nonprofit located in the heart of Orange County. A portion of the net proceeds from booked events goes to various at-risk children charities throughout Southern California. We are open to the public for museum visitors Monday through Friday 9:00am – 4:30pm, double check our event calendar before visiting.
If you would like to get more information about hosting an event at #TheMarconi please fill out our online form, or give us a call at 714.258.3001. Dare To Be Different. Book at The Marconi today!