One of the main standbys for fundraising is the Gala evening event, whether it is a dinner, casino night, or theme party. These things can be fun to attend, often with neat items at the auction, chances to see others who share the support for your work and to relax and socialize. Events are mainstays in fundraising because for the most part they work.
But It’s Not A Party
Fundraising events have lots of moving parts, and a successful event has to have those parts moving together seamlessly for your guests to go home with a good experience with warm and fuzzy feelings about the work you do. In order to ensure that, all the background work , the details have to be worked out in advance.
It is a not a party, the event must have a purpose. You musts establish right off the bat what your goals for the event will be:
- To introduce new people to your work and organization.
- To raise a specified amount of money.
- To interest potential new board members.
- To provide a greater depth and connection about your work with your supporters.
What are your true goals for this event?
Once these fundamentals are crystal clear, then planning for the actual event can begin. The first step for this are the logistics and the budget.
What everything you will need for the event, everything is going to cost. If you don’t have experience, look for samples of similar event budgets online. See what line items they have, just in case you might overlook one on your own budget. The obvious ones, such as venue and food are pretty straightforward, but others, maybe photography or postage for invitations can often be overlooked. Double check and come up with what it will cost in real dollars to produce your Gala, walkathon or picnic.
Where will the money come from, what are the income streams that will cover the costs and generate the target you have set? Some of these include:
5. Silent Auctions
6. Merchandise Sales*
*Don’t forget that in some states, you will have UBIT (This is a tax some states require on the sales of merchandise; California is one of them).
While it can be difficult to predict how well different elements will do, have a ballpark target for each of them. Have an approximation for each to see where the funds to cover the cost of putting on this event and where the additional funds that are your fundraising target may come from.
For instance, will your ticket sales cover the event costs? Do you believe that the sponsorship and silent auction will bring in the rest?
When Does the Fun Begin?
This may not be the funnest part of planning an event, but it is the most critical. By realizing that your casino night will require rentals, insurance, parking fees, food, drink, invitations, donation cards, programs, thank you notes, photography and whatever else, you will go a long way towards producing a strong fundraising event and not simply a party.
Of course there is much more than goes into a fundraising event, but beginning with your purpose, goals and hard numbers are the most important first steps to take.
The fun is achieving your goals and having not only a great event, setting up a template that you can use for future planning and all the nice comments from inside and outside the organization. The fun is avoiding unpleasant post postmortems with finger pointing and teeth gnashing when something goes wrong and goals are not met.
Want some help creating your event budget? Give us a call and we will be happy to help you make a solid and inclusive plan. 310 828 6979
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