tug of war during fundraising event

How to Plan a Fundraising Event – Tips & Checklist

Fundraising events are a great way to raise money for and bring awareness to a cause in your community, nonprofit organization, or any larger social issue. However, there’s a lot of work that goes into planning a successful fundraising event, and it’s important to stay on top of things to motivate your target audience to donate to the cause.

If you’re planning your first fundraising event and need a little guidance, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading to learn how to plan a fundraising event that will be the talk of the town. As a bonus, you’ll find an event planning checklist to ensure you’re prepared and organized for the big day.

How to Plan a Fundraising Event in 7 Steps

Event planning takes a lot of work, but a fundraising event requires extra attention to detail to ensure that you maximize how much you raise for your good cause. Luckily, if you stay organized, planning a successful fundraising event goes smoothly and is a lot of fun!

Here’s how to plan a fundraising event that everyone will be talking about in a few simple steps.

1. Be Clear About Your Goals

If you’re planning a fundraising event, you likely already know what you’re planning this event for. However, it’s important to be clear about your goals. For one, your audience will not tune into your fundraiser and donate if they don’t know where exactly their money is going.

The more specific your fundraising goal is from the beginning, the more streamlined your planning of the fundraiser will be throughout.

For example, having a fundraiser to raise money for the homeless has good intentions but is too vague to work off of. Narrow it down to raising money for homeless people within a specific community or work with a certain organization to give your potential event attendees a better idea of what your fundraiser is all about.

From there, choose an appropriate theme to get a better idea of who your audience might be and who to invite.

2. Know Your Audience

Once you have a clear idea of what your event will look like, you can begin to determine your audience as well.

If you’re planning a private event, start compiling your guest list of people who would be interested in your cause and prepare to send out invitations, whether it be through the mail, in person, or by creating a website.

If it’s a public event, figure out how you want to advertise your event in a way that will captivate your target audience. Different ways that you may consider advertising your fundraising event include:

  • Through social media
  • Street advertisements
  • On your website
  • Word of mouth

Before you begin to advertise your event, you should have a budget in place as well as a venue. This will help you determine how many people you can invite.

donation collection for an event

3. Budget

Creating a budget is one of the most important steps in planning a fundraising event. This is especially important because you want to be able to spend the money you raise entirely on your cause and not on any overhead, so you must create a tight budget early on in your planning and stick to it.

One way to make sure your charity event stays under budget is to sell tickets. If you sell tickets or have some kind of event registration ahead of time, you will have a better idea of how many people to plan for.

Here are a few key elements that your budget should include:

  • Invitations
  • Ticket sales
  • Venue
  • Catering
  • Staff and volunteer incentives
  • Rentals
  • Security
  • Permits

4. Pick a Venue

The event space or venue can make or break your fundraising event.

One of the first venue decisions you must make for your event is whether it will take place indoors or outdoors. There are different considerations you should keep in mind for both.

If your event takes place indoors, consider:

  • The size of your space, as you’re much more limited indoors due to fire codes and will need to use event registration or ticket sales to determine how many people are coming
  • The layout — how many chairs you need, whether you need tables, if there’s a stage, etc.
  • The noise level permitted

There are additional considerations if you choose to host your fundraising event outdoors:

  • The weather, including a contingency plan in the event of rain
  • Whether your caterer will be able to accommodate an outdoor event

Beyond that, other things you should consider include the location of your venue relative to where your guests may be coming from and how accessible it is.

5. Plan Food and Beverages

One of the best parts of every event is the food and refreshments. It’s safe to assume the food you decide to serve at your event may even be the deciding factor for some of your guests.

Your budget largely determines the food you will serve. You may want a three-course sit-down meal, a simple cocktail hour, or to serve no food at all. Once you understand your audience and your specific goals, you’ll be able to find a caterer that will meet your specific needs.

It’s important to have enough water at your event, especially if it’s an outdoor event or one where you’ll serve alcohol. Consider a water station rental, such as a Quench Buggy, to ensure your guests can access fresh filtered water throughout the event. Plus, you reduce the use of plastic by encouraging them to bring their own water bottles.

6.  Train Your Staff and Volunteers

Before your fundraising event, you’ll want your staff and volunteers well trained and prepared for the day.

To stay organized, make sure that each person has a specific role. This is easier to do if you have a set schedule for your event that tells everyone where they should be at any point throughout the day or night.

Allow everyone to ask questions and clarify their roles, and if you need to update the event or make changes, let everyone know as soon as possible.

volunteers collecting for charity

7. Do a Practice Run

Finally, in the days leading up to your fundraising event, it’s a good idea to do a practice run with your staff and volunteers to ensure everyone is on the same page and everything is prepared to go smoothly.

More likely than not a practice run may reveal some blind spots or elements that may have slipped through the cracks throughout the planning process. Don’t worry if this happens – that’s why you do a practice run! Remedy the situation and understand that you’re one step closer to having a smooth and successful event.

Conclusion: Fundraising Event Planning Checklist

To recap, here are the seven steps to planning a successful event:

  1. Have a specific fundraising goal
  2. Know your audience
  3. Stick to your budget
  4. Pick a venue
  5. Plan your food and drinks
  6. Train staff and volunteers
  7. Have a practice run

No matter what size your fundraiser may be, don’t forget to rent your Quench Buggy water trailer to keep your attendees hydrated at your next fundraising event!