Blog #12: Special Events for Non-Profits

In my first service-learning class, I was able to help with the planning of a fundraiser event for the Student Cupboard on campus. However, non-profit events are not all the same. All events should have an answer for the questions who, what, when, where and why. If the event doesn’t have a clear goal, you won’t have a buy in from potential event attendees.

Network for Good  outlines tips to have a successful fundraising event, because let’s face it–organizations need donor or member support. The outline is similar to the PR planning process that we are encouraged to use in our major. It starts off by setting a specific and measurable goal, and setting a budget that works for you and for your target audience. Also, think about the expertise your staff and volunteers can provide, how the event aligns with the brand and mission of the organization, your timeline, how to create buzz about your event, and what type of event will help achieve the organization’s purpose for the event.

When reaching out to sponsors, pick sponsors whose mission and values parallel your organization’s. Create different sponsorship levels so small and large businesses can be involved. Talk up the audience of your event, providing:

  • Number of guests anticipated.
  • Number of guests in previous years.
  • Number of invitees
  • Sex
  • Socioeconomic range
  • Age range

Decide how the sponsor will be featured–ad in the program, branded merchandise, speaking opportunity, name on the signage, etc. Offer them a package that they cannot resist. This is a great way to build mutually-beneficial relationships.

Invitations and tickets are also important details. Provide early bid prices, sell e-tickets online, and make paper invites an alternative.  has a creative way to attract more guests and potential donors with a two-pack strategy. There are no individual ticket sales, so each purchase requires the buyer to bring a guest. This is good for a non-profit who wishes to grow their network. Give guests an option to donate without attending, or even donate beyond the price to attend. Network for Good also suggests encouraging attendees and sponsors to go social with their RSVP and sponsorship so their networks know about the event. As always, say thanks to those who help you champion your cause!

Analysis and follow-up is important with fundraising events. Have a list of all guests and donors to thank for their support, but also to keep in your network for future events. Share with guests other ways to connect with the organization. Use both qualitative and quantitative data to show the impact of donations. If applicable, a survey can be helpful to evaluate if the event met its goals. For an example event planning checklist, visit .




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