September 21, 2011

10 tips for a successful fundraising event

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How to wow your supporters at your next event gathering

Target audience: Nonprofits, cause organizations, NGOs, event organizers, fundraising professionals, social media managers.

This is Part 8 and the final installment of our series on social fundraising. See below for other articles in this series.

Guest post by George Wooden
Founder & CEO, BW Unlimited

With so many fundraising campaigns taking place online these days, nonprofits have fewer chances to interact with their supporters face to face. And while fundraising events may no longer be the most important component of your organization’s fundraising strategy, it’s still a good idea to host an event for your supporters and take the opportunity to interact with your community.

Here are 10 key pointers to help you make your next fundraising event an extraordinary one.

1Pick the right venue. Your guests should be treated to a wonderful venue with an expert staff. As your guests enter your event, even in the parking lot, the appearance of the venue is vitally important to their overall experience.

2Plan as if you are a guest. When planning your event, examine it during the planning stages from the perspective of a guest and not as the organizer. This includes meal selection, items for your Live and Silent action (if applicable), as well as presentation length.

3Plan to plan.  Well before your event, meet with your event committee and discuss all aspects of the event. Go over your event time line over and over so that everyone is familiar with the flow. Ensure that everyone understands their duties and what they are responsible for.

4Meal should match the ticket price.  When reviewing meal choices for your guests, do not pick what you like or what is economical, pick the meal that your guests will truly enjoy. A fantastic meal is the cornerstone of a great event; a bad meal will ruin their experience.

5No lengthy speeches. When someone has a speech or some type of presentation, do not make it lengthy. No one is attending your event to listen to speeches, they are attending to have a good time, see their friends and enjoy a night out. Limit any speeches or presentations to a specified amount of time.

6Offer multiple ways to donate. Donations are just as important as attendance. Without the seats full, you will be unable to raise the funds you need. Diversify the ways that you solicit donations, such as holding a Live and Silent Auction, or holding a Raffle.

7Account for all donor levels. A successful fundraising event comes from several well planned fundraising platforms, such as a Live Auction. But remember, not everyone attending can bid on your items in the Live Auction. Account for lower bidders as well as those who would enjoy an entertaining raffle.

8Auction items that “wow” the crowd. As with any fundraising event, your guests will bid on items or trips that will excite them. Local donations are fantastic but larger more exciting items, such as “No Risk Auction Items,” are needed to urge on higher bids.

9Provide entertainment. While entertainment options seem like they cut into your event’s net proceeds, they can be productive investments. Background music provided by live bands can break up the time, as well as fill dead space. Furthermore, an entertaining Master of Ceremonies is a very valuable asset. Your guests will enjoy someone who is not afraid of speaking in front of crowd and can create excitement.

10Cover event sticking points. There are two sticking points during an event – Check In and Check Out. Ensure your registration table is adequately staffed to prevent your guests from having to stand in line when they arrive. As guests are leaving, ensure again that your check-out table is staffed so that your guests can pay for the items they purchased quickly. Make sure your staff understands their duties and that there are staff members assisting your guests in retrieving their items.

George Wooden is founder and CEO of event management consultancy BW Unlimited. Follow him on Twitter at @GeorgeWooden. This post originally appeared on Vivanista and is republished with permission. Follow @Vivanista on Twitter and register for the Vivanista Fundraising Summit.
Fundraising series on Socialbrite

What social fundraising means for your nonprofit

Social fundraising tools: Our top 5 picks

Fundly: Tap into your supporters’ social networks

GoodThreads: Custom T-shirts as a fundraising tool

HelpAttack!: Unleash the charitable power of social media

Rally: Raise money for your favorite cause

Mobile: The next frontier of nonprofit fundraising

10 tips for a successful fundraising event

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