Fundraising events are a staple of most non profit development programs. But far too many organizations are leaving money on the table with their non profit events. In this article, we’re going to look at four ways your non profit can raise more money at its next fundraising event.
#1: Focus on Where the Money Really Is
The single most important thing that you can do to raise more money from your non profit events is to understand where the money really is when it comes to events. As a general rule of thumb, the fundraising formula for your events should look like this:
Sponsorships > Ticket Sales > Other Revenue Streams
The majority of the money raise from your events should come from sponsorships. This includes traditional, corporate / business sponsorships as well as individual leadership gifts for the event. The most successful fundraising events I have ever managed raised a minimum of 50-60% of their revenue from sponsorships.
The next most important source of revenue for your non profit events is ticket sales. Then comes other revenue streams. These revenue streams can include things like live or silent auctions, raffles, fund-a-need tables, and any other ideas you come up with for your event.
Because sponsorships and leadership gifts are so important to the success of your fundraising events, your team should spend the majority of the time you set aside for the event trying to cultivate and ask major donors and companies to sponsor the event. This process should start well in advance of ticket sales.
#2: Set Up a Host Committee for Your Non Profit Events
Another great way to raise more money from your events is to set up a host committee. A common misconception for non profit events is that the host committee should be primarily focused on event logistics (things like choosing the menu, coordinating volunteers, set up, clean up, etc). This isn’t the type of committee I am referring to when I say “host committee.” Yes, these things are important, and you can put together a volunteer committee to handle them… but in my mind a true host committee focuses on the one thing that is the most important to the success of your event: raising money.
Good host committees help you find sponsors for the event by connecting you with companies and donors in their networks. They sell tickets to the event, spread the word on social media, and reach out to businesses to find live and silent auction items for your event, if you are holding an auction. In other words, they help you with the fundraising for your event. A good host committee is invaluable for supercharging your non profit events.
#3: Reduce the Number of Fundraising Events You Hold
Many non profits hold too many fundraising events for any one of them to be truly successful. Non profit events take lots of time and energy from your staff and volunteers. If you’re a small or mid-sized non profit holding five or six fundraising events per year, chances are that your team is suffering from event burnout.
But it’s not only your team that can get burnt out. Your donors, too, can get event fatigue. If your donors are constantly getting invitations to events, there’s a high likelihood that they have started tuning some of your events out because they simply don’t have the time to attend that many events.
My suggestion is that your organization focuses on holding one big “signature” event per year, and then supplements that event with a maximum of one or two smaller, more focused events (e.g. a golf tournament, walk-a-thon, young professionals event, or other niche fundraisers).
#4: Begin Planning Your Non Profit Events Earlier in the Process
I have found that it takes a minimum of six months to plan a successful large fundraising event. Thus, for your non profit’s signature gala or other fundraising event, you want to start planning very early… in fact, many organizations start planning next year’s gala only a month or two after this year’s gala ends. Even smaller events, like golf tournaments, take time to plan effectively.
The first step in planning your event is to put together a host committee for the event. The next step is reach out to last year’s sponsors (if this is a recurring non profit event) to ask them to renew their sponsorships at a higher level this year. Then, you can focus on finding new sponsors and selling tickets.
Fundraising events can be hugely profitable for your organization. Be sure to maximize your revenue by planning your non profit events early, focusing on finding sponsors and leadership gifts, setting up a great host committee, and reducing the number of events you hold each year.
Photo Credit: Peabody Awards