How To Host A Last-Minute Event Or Fundraiser
The term “last-minute” is very dependent upon your organization and the kind of calendar you have. It usually gets a bad rap because it is normally associated with messy and unorganized projects and programs. On the contrary; depending on the central mission of your nonprofit, a last-minute event or fundraiser could contribute largely to a fund to bring food, water, and other supplies to an area recently attacked due to civil war or to victims of a natural disaster. Whether you’re trying to power an event or fundraiser in a week or even for a month from now, we’ve got you covered with a few steps to help.
Putting it together.
- Create your game plan.
You may be putting together an event or fundraiser at the last minute, but that doesn’t mean that you can skip on this step and just jump right in. Having a good plan in place could mean the difference between a successful fundraiser or one that isn’t even worth putting in the books.
Assess you budget and construct a financial plan based on how much resources can be spared. Anticipate and list all possible expenses that will with putting everything together within this time constraint. Estimate how much money could be made during the even through registration fees, tickets, sales of branded products, etc. A well-thought out budget plan will make proceeding with your event easier because if there is one thing that can stop a fundraiser from even making it out the door, it’s money.
Lastly, and most importantly, set goals for your fundraiser/event. Maybe set a specific dollar amount you want to be raised or a number of new donors you would like to welcome to your nonprofit. Really center yourselves around the specific reason you are having this event/fundraiser that everyone can agree on, for example, currents events like a natural disaster. Maybe your nonprofit is putting this event/fundraiser together to raise funds for those who are suffering from a flood or major storm.
- Choose your target group, choose your fundraising event.
Thanks to donor management software, your nonprofit is (or should be) very well aware of the kind of people that make up your donor base. Are there specific groups in your donor base that you want to focus on attracting? What kinds of people do you want to participate? This will influence the kind of fundraising event you decide to organize. A fancy dinner banquet may appeal to those in your donor base who are older and might even attract the attention of those who are on the older side of the millennial group. Alternatively, a hiking event or color run would probably appeal more to teens, college students, and those in their 20s or 30s and may even attract older donors as well. Be mindful of what could be the most lucrative idea to pursue.
- Find your venue.
Depending on if you’re hosting a banquet or getting a group of your supporters together for a bike-a-thon or run, you’re going to need prime real estate to host those things. If you have done a similar fundraising event before, call the places who have previously hosted you. The time-constraint may prove difficult to schedule a place but be open to both daytime and nighttime event slots, you may get lucky and there may be cancellation. But be realistic and mindful of the challenges you will face because it is last-minute. You have to remember to be flexible and negotiate.
- Utilize your business network.
If you are able to, find new sponsors for your event. If not, reach out to companies and sponsors you have worked with before. See if they would be willing to sponsor your event, even just parts of it. Sponsors can also help with event planning, finding your venue (if the above step proves more challenging than you expected), donating supplies, and even bringing their own employees into the mix as well to participate either as supporters or volunteers. You can also ask for the help of restaurants, bakeries, and catering companies to give their time and products to your event. Don’t count out local business or larger corporations either. If you are already in communications with them or are already in a good relationship with them, see if they are willing to give “in kind” gifts. It’s always better when you get a little help!
- Call on your most loyal supporters and donors.
Literally, pick up the phone and give them a call. Have a short but productive conversation with them telling them about your fundraising event. If you’re not able to reach them by phone, or they prefer other communication lines, shoot them an email. Ask them for their participation in making it happen or in making a contribution. Peer-to-peer fundraising will really come in handy for this step as it is viable option that puts the fundraising in your donors’/supporters’ hands. Take advantage of your donor pool, staff, and volunteer’s social networks to get the word out there and attract more people to the event.
- Promote your fundraising event across all platforms.
When we mean all platforms, we mean ALL platforms. Advertise your upcoming event on all of your channels. Put it front and center on the homepage of your website. Post it on your social media outlets. Send out a newsletter to your entire mailing list, letting your supporters know about your event and that it is coming up fast. Use email to your advantage as well, setting up a schedule for automated emails and even social media posts to take some of the load off of those of your staff who monitor those. By having all of that in place, it frees up your staff to concentrate on other areas, such as building and supervising your fundraising page. Have your tech team make sure all of these platforms are ready to receive the sudden influx of activity, especially you donation page. Ensure that your donation page can handle the sudden flow of donations when they come from the fundraising event. The last thing you need is for any of your platforms, most especially your donation page, to crash.
- At the event.
It’s go time! Make sure that your troops on the ground know what the schedule is and what their tasks are to ensure a smooth fundraising event. During the event itself, find other ways to make it more fun and engaging, such as having set group activities or by having a guest speaker educate participants about the cause. Have some face to face time with your donors as well, match emails to faces, network and continue to affirm your relationships with all present.
- Wrap it up.
When the fundraising event comes and goes, tie everything nicely in a box by still maintaining communications after the fact. As always, don’t forget to say Thank You. Send the necessary emails or letters/cards through direct mail updating your participants about the success of the event and where the proceeds will go to. For those who were unable to attend, send them a message with a little summary (with images and maybe even a video) on how the event went and what came out of it. Doing this will keep them in the loop and allow you the opportunity to encourage them to participate in the next event,
Take a deep breath! You made it through, and now it’s back to the everyday grind of running your nonprofit organization. If you want to learn about more tactics to assist in that everyday grind, we suggest taking a look at our articles on increasing online donations, newsletter best practices, and even our nonprofit marketing strategies, to name a few.