How to organise a fundraising event
Fundraising events are a great way to support a cause, unite communities and celebrate the work charities have done throughout the world. But how do you ensure your event raises enough money and genuinely makes a difference?
When it comes to planning a fundraising event, you need to really think about what you’re expecting from attendees. What will make them donate and connect with the charity and its cause? Fundraising events inspire action, and in this guide we’ll help you organise a successful event that will truly make a difference.
What is a fundraising event?
With fundraising events, everything is aimed at raising a certain amount of money. The reason for hosting an event is to donate towards a particular cause or organisation, so maximising budgets is key.
Fundraising events also raise awareness of a charity organisation’s work and overall goals. Whether it’s a local charity fundraising for better opportunities in your area, or a national charity that concentrates on larger issues, charity fundraising events do a fantastic job at supporting a charity’s mission in a more active way.
They’re also an opportunity to meet potential donors, recruit volunteers and spread awareness of all the ways people can support a cause.
Types of charity fundraising events
Fundraising events vary, with there being many different types to choose from. Some of the most popular types of charity fundraising events include:
- Galas and balls
- Talent shows or competitions
- Auctions or raffles
- Art exhibitions
- Masquerade nights
- Casino nights
- Trivia tournaments
When organising a fundraising event, you should decide on the type of event as early as possible. There are two things you should keep in mind: your cause and your attendees. What would appeal to attendees the most? What would encourage them to donate? Also consider, what type of event you can host within your budget? Choose a theme that will get attendees excited about your event, and leave them feeling inspired and eager to take action.
Organising a fundraising event
Once you’ve decided on the type of fundraising event you’ll host, it’s time to start organising the event itself.
Setting a fundraising goal
Fundraising events include two goals – raising awareness and raising money. You’re aiming to get people behind the cause and to be a part of your fundraising efforts, and you’ll need specific goals and targets to succeed.
When goal setting, you need to make sure that you set achievable, measurable goals to better gauge the success of your event. Think about:
- All costs associated with your event – fundraising will be a lot harder if you’re struggling to pay expenses.
- How long you’ll be accepting donations for.
- The highest and lowest amounts you can achieve – sometimes, it’s best to aim for the lowest amount of money first, so you can raise your target if needed.
You then need to think about how you can measure your results. This could be through the amount of money raised, tickets purchased, regular donation sign-ups or even an increase in website visits or social media followers. Make sure everyone is aware of your targets in the lead up to the event, so all staff, speakers and donors know what it is you’re all working towards.
It’s also worth noting that, if you’re opening donations before the event itself, then break down the goal for before, during and after the event. This way, you can measure just how successful the event and accompanying marketing channels were later on.
Budgeting for a fundraising event
Fundraising events are about raising enough money as you can to donate to the cause. So, you’ll need to budget carefully to ensure you make the most out of your event. Careful budgeting plans are needed so that you can maximise donations.
You can read our guide on keeping costs down when organising a charity event here, and in the meantime, here’s a few short tips:
Use event software to help keep track of budget and accurately measure your success – we’ve listed our recommendations later in this blog.
- Finding sponsors for charity events help cut costs, provide resources and help promote your event. If your event raises money for the community, it’d be great to get local businesses involved to help you reach your fundraising goal.
- Recruit volunteers for your event.
- If providing free merchandise, rethink what you’re giving attendees. Instead of water bottles, t-shirts and tote bags, could you give out free coffees at your event, or vouchers for your event sponsors? These would be cheaper alternatives that you know attendees would make good use of.
- You can also try hosting a hybrid or virtual fundraising event. Many charity fundraisers take place online as they’re more accessible and there’s still plenty you can do to keep attendees entertained, such as:
- Online auctions, webinars or conferences
- Virtual galas
- Happy hour – for this, you would need to send out drinks and ingredients beforehand.
- Virtual classes or workshops
- Virtual open mics
By keeping track of costs and getting creative, you can easily stay within budget and reach your event goals.
Choosing your fundraising event venue
Your chosen venue has a significant impact on your charity fundraising event. Ideally, you should start looking for a venue as soon as possible, allowing for more flexibility and to find the best option for you.
When hunting for your charity event venue, make sure your venue ticks all the boxes:
- Size – your venue should be large enough to accommodate all attendees, but also provide enough space for performances, networking and stands.
- Facilities included – does the venue provide the right equipment and support, if needed? How flexible are the space layouts? Is there a bar included for refreshments?
- Accessibility – can all attendees access the event spaces?
- Location and transport links – can attendees find your venue easily? And access all areas of the space?
Always try to visit the venue and visualise what your fundraising event would look like. Are there any high-traffic areas that might disrupt the flow of the event? Will attendees be able to find the venue easily, and get settled in time? Once you think the venue is suitable, confirm that it fits within your budget and you can transform it into the ideal space for your charity fundraising event. If so, get booking!
At 20 Bedford Way, we’ve hosted our fair share of fundraising events, including Hope and Homes for Children’s ‘Night of Adventure’. Attendees listened to renowned explorers share stories of their adventures in our flagship venue Logan Hall, followed by drinks and socialising at charity stalls in our Crush Hall and breakout rooms. Each space met the requirements of this fantastic event that helped raise awareness of the cause.
Finding speakers for your fundraising event
The key to a successful fundraising event is the ‘why’ – why should attendees donate? Or, why should they even care? Your speakers will be the ones who inspire them into action.
When fundraising for charity, you should include a spokesperson from the organisation in your line up, if possible. Other speakers should include people who have a connection with the charity and/or its cause, including local businesses. Choosing local speakers can also help reduce costs, as you don’t need to pay for accommodation or travel.
You can also reach out to charity ambassadors to host your event, too. This could be either someone from the organisation itself, your business, or even a celebrity – many big names are often associated with charities!
In the lead up to your event, regularly communicate with your speakers to ensure that each talk is different and inspiring. You’ll also need to check if there’s any tech requirements beforehand, so there’s no issues on the day. It’s also important that all talks fit within their time slots.
By telling their stories, expressing the importance of the event and captivating their audience, attendees will feel inspired and more likely to donate. If you feel speakers feel nervous or need some presentation tips, then take a look at our guide on delivering a good presentation.
Charity Event Management Software
For many fundraising events, tickets can form a significant amount of fundraising. However, you still need to raise money throughout the event, and you’ll need the right systems in place for this to happen.
There are many platforms that you can use to collect donations, starting before the event and continuing throughout, including:
Attendees will be more likely to donate if the process is quick and simple. During the event itself, you can use contactless devices such as GoodBox to collect donations quickly and easily. Another option is to create a QR code using platforms such as Just Giving, which attendees can easily scan using their phones to donate. Find out how to set up a QR code here.
As tickets and donations pile in, it’s a sign that your event is doing well and you’re on track to meet your goals. But to get a clearer picture of just how close you are, make sure you’re collecting the right event data for a detailed outlook.
Fundraising Marketing Strategies
When creating your marketing plan for a fundraising event, you need to keep in mind that you’re not just promoting your event – you’re also spreading awareness of the cause.
You want to inspire attendees to both attend the event and donate. So share stories across all marketing channels, from social media to your event website and newsletter. Hearing from the people directly affected by your cause will demonstrate its importance and encourage ticket sales and donations.
Also, don’t forget to regularly share your fundraising target. Remind attendees what it is you’re aiming to achieve, especially if donations start before the event. Keep updating them on your progress – as you get closer to your target, attendees will want to help push you over the edge.
Launching an event website to support your charity event fundraising will help spread awareness, track donations and keep attendees up to date with any changes made in the lead up. Just make sure the site includes:
- Ticket information
- Your donation target, and how close you are to reaching it.
- Venue location and public transport recommendations
- Regular updates about speakers, prizes, and even news from the organisation you’re supporting.
- If asking for donations for prizes, auction, equipment, volunteers, this can also be advertised.
As your site is updated, make sure to share any changes on social media, so users know to check in.
It’s also worth getting the local community involved in your event. Advertise the event on local radio and news publications, and see if they’re interested in donating prizes, if possible. That way, the business is then promoted at your event in return.
Rehearse your fundraising event
While you’re organising your fundraising event, make sure you include time for rehearsals. Try and have a run through the event the morning before, if possible.
This is an opportunity to identify any potential issues and that everyone is 100% ready for the fundraising event. Does each staff member know where to be and when? Do your speakers need any extra tech support? Does anyone need help using the software? Is each room in the venue easy to find for attendees? If you feel that extra information is needed for attendees, now’s the time to update your website and inform them as soon as possible.
You’ll also need to double check all numbers, especially when there isn’t long to go. Have you ordered enough promotional merchandise? Name badges? Has enough food and drink been ordered? Numbers can change in the lead up to the event so you should always check them at least twice. These can be frustrating problems to deal with as an event planner, but sorting the issue quickly will keep your fundraising event going strong.
Finally, make note of your fundraising target just before the event, especially if donations have been open all this time. If you feel that you’re not as close as you’d like, then it’s time for a regroup. Is there anything else you can do as a last-minute push for donations? Will the initiatives at the event itself be enough? Can you keep donations open after the event?
By checking these last minute details, you’re ensuring that your fundraising event will be a success.
Post-event marketing plan for a fundraising event
Marketing doesn’t stop once you’ve finished charity event planning. When the day is over and you’ve all had a good rest, it’s time to determine the success of your event.
It’s always worth keeping donations open for a few more days or so. Attendees may not have had the chance to donate during your event, or they might even want to top up their donation. If you go ahead with this, then make sure you promote this across all channels.
Announce the amount raised during the event, thanking everyone who donated. You can share another announcement once donations are officially closed. It’s also important to personally thank all donors, vendors and sponsors. Without them, your fundraising event would not have been as successful as it was.
Your next step is to send out a post-event survey to see how successful your fundraising event really was. This is how you’ll receive detailed insight into the day that you can learn from – but only if you ask the right questions. Try including questions such as:
- What was one thing you learned?
- What do you think could be improved on?
- Would you attend again?
- What topics were not covered that you expected to see?
- Which presentation resonated with you the most?
Questions such as these will provide you with the valuable feedback you need to determine the success of your event.
When it comes to your fundraising total, compare how much you raised before, during and after the event. These figures should tell you which channels were most successful in marketing your event and how much weight the event itself carried in encouraging donations. Areas of improvement are highlighted, which you know you’ll need to work on next time.
Planning a charity event with 20 Bedford Way
With 20 Bedford Way’s affordable fundraising event venues, you can get the most out of your fundraising efforts. Our flagship Logan Hall is a 920 seater theatre space located in Bloomsbury available to hire with our Crush Hall bar and breakout spaces. We offer a flexible range of spaces that have all the facilities to host a unique event, from AV equipment and tech support to green rooms and a piano. With a central location and adaptable rooms in an iconic venue at affordable rates, you can really maximise budgets and donations.