Fundraising events are a tried and true way to raise funds for your organization. Most non profit groups don’t have event managers on staff and rely on volunteers to manage the planning of their event. While most contract out some of the work to professional event planners, having a good understanding of the elements involved in a successful event will ultimately lead to a more successful event.
We spoke with Caroline Kay, COO and Event Planner Extraordinaire at BECAUZ, about the most important things to consider when planning an event that is successful, productive and memorable. The objective is to create an event that people will be willing to pay to attend AND contribute to the cause during the actual event.
Theme. Selecting a theme is key in making your event come together. The theme should be included in all aspects of the event. Decor, invitations, and table layout should all reflect the theme. How about having your waiters dressed in attire to match the theme? Have fun with it.
Team. A good team can make or break your event. Just remember the phrase – too many cooks… Each committee member should have a specific role in the planning process. Communication between each member is crucial to ensuring all team members are on the same page.
Budget. Net proceeds are the ultimate goal for all fundraising events. Figure out what you are going to offer your guests, what the cost will be and how many tickets you plan to sell. Sponsors are a great way to increase your proceeds without blowing budget. Entice sponsors with signage, social media and marketing mentions and announcements at the event.
Negotiate. When working with vendors, ask them for their non-profit rates and be prepared to share 501c status documentation. Not only will you be getting the most bang for your buck, but they will get a tax break, too! Who doesn’t love a good deal?
Contracts. These legal documents protect both the vendor and you. Read through them carefully – and don’t be shy about asking for help from a contract specialist or getting clarification from the vendor on terms. You don’t want to get caught off guard when the final invoice arrives.
Agenda. Creating an event that is fun and engaging will ultimately lead to success. Nobody wants to attend a boring event! Auctions, wine tasting and photo booths are popular interactive activities. Be careful not to over plan!
Communicate. Provide clear information to EVERYONE. This includes your vendors, planning committee and even your guests. Everyone will appreciate it! Guests will especially thank you for sharing pertinent information. Share location specific details with them. They will appreciate knowing the room has a draft and to bring a sweater or that the outdoor location is all grass and flats are the best option for footwear.
Final thoughts….as the event date nears, do a walk through of your entire event as if you were a guest. Ensure there is ample parking for all, signage for coat checks, activities are well marked and seats are easy to find. It’s much simpler to make changes before the event than to discover an issue the day of.
Have you planned a successful fundraiser? Share your best tips with us in the comments!
Chief Operating Officer at BECAUZ
A seasoned operations leader and an international convention and event management consultant, Caroline Kay directs BECAUZ’s international operations, the BECAUZ Accelerator Program ™ and the firm’s global team of facilitators, coaches and consultants. Caroline joined BECAUZ in 2010.
To enable BECAUZ to meet the expanding demands of its global client base, Caroline blends big ideas and creativity with meticulous operational management. Excellence in execution is balanced by ingenuity and energy—enabling BECAUZ to deliver tangible, measureable business results for clients.
Much of Caroline’s career has focused on the creation and management of large-scale international leadership programs, conferences, and events for multinational clients including British Telecommunications, HP, Avanade, Microsoft, GSK, Lexus and Compaq. With deep cultural understanding, she has directed nearly 1,500 events and conferences across Europe, the Americas, Asia, and the Middle East that were exciting, memorable, and delivered measurable ROI for her clients and partners.
Prior to joining BECAUZ, Caroline was Chief Operating Officer and Director of Conference and Events for a high-profile international training and development organization. She received her education in the United Kingdom at the Southampton University in Hampshire, England.