I Love Planning Parties - but not Fundraisers

?exclaimed the new Board Member after being selected to run the annual fundraising Gala dinner for a community health clinic.

Her energy and enthusiasm were infectious and soon everyone was buzzing with ideas for linen colors, favors and goody bags.  This was going to be the best Gala dinner ever, how could it not make money?

Err, well?

With all the focus on the event, nobody on her team had sat down and established a budget.  Actually, nobody on her team had given a thought to anything when it came to raising money:

  • No solicitation of corporate sponsorship
  • No invitations to local community leaders
  • No review of what had worked well in the past

Remember, this was going to be the best Gala dinner ever, how could it not make money?

Best party ever?

The evening was amazing: the room sparkled, the food was fantastic, the band serenaded the board and everybody left agreeing that it was indeed the best Gala dinner ever.


With no clear budget, extravagant spending and no focus on raising money before the event, the whole thing cost more than they actually took in.  The fundraising event left a significant dent in the annual budget that took quite some time to recover from.

The Lesson

Be clear about what the purpose of the event is – if it is indeed a fundraiser, have a well-defined financial target.  Tickets to an event generally barely cover costs, and expenses can and should be controlled. A budget is critical to know the limits for expenses and is essential to deliver positive results.

The best fundraising events may not always be the best parties, but with good planning, they can be!

Got a war story of your own?  Leave it in the comments below.

If you’d like some help with a fundraising event you’re planning, get in touch.

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This is part 2 of an 8 part series in “What not to do when planning your Fundraising event“.

1 – Death, Taxes and the other Unavoidable, the Weather

3 – Plan Your Work, Work Your Plan, then Drink

4 – Volunteers are Not Paid Staff

5 – Not Managing the Schedule

6 – Not Managing the Date

7 – Not Thinking of the Small Picture

8 – Not Saying Thank You

Image Credits:

Crazy Lady by OrangeCounty_Girl on Flickr