Host Your Most Fabulous Fundraising Event:

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1 ebook Host Your Most Fabulous Fundraising Event: 7 Steps to Raising More Money

2 Host Your Most Fabulous Fundraising Event The Vision Thing...3 Step 1: Set a Goal that Makes Sense The Main Event...5 Step 2: Choose the Right Event for Your Audience Plus: The Incredible Missing Ingredient The Big Bucks...7 Step 3: Define Your Budget and Secure Sponsors That s the Ticket...9 Step 4: Design and Send Online Invitations Spread the Word...11 Step 5: Promote Your Event Online Show Time...14 Step 6: Host a Memorable Event Plus: Three Easy Ways to Bring Your Mission to Life What s Next?...16 Step 7: Assess What Worked and What Didn t Checklist...17 How to Plan a Successful Fundraising Event About Network for Good

3 The Vision Thing Step 1: Set a Goal That Makes Sense In this step, you ll learn: How to focus on a goal How to measure success for your event The first step to designing your event is so tempting to skip: Clearly articulate the grand plan. Keep in mind what you hope to achieve, who your audience is, what you want them to do, and how you ll measure your success. Think about: Should we even have an event? As much fun as events are, they re also a lot of work! Make sure you have a community of supporters in place, or start with a smaller event so people can get to know you before throwing that huge gala. Who is our audience? Is this for existing supporters or new ones? Determine who your target audience is before you start planning the event itself. What do we want them to do? Have a clear call to action for attendees. Are you trying to educate people? Seeking action to support a cause? Raising money? Is an event the best solution? Events can be time-consuming and expensive so make sure that hosting one is the best way to reach your goal. If your goal is simply to raise awareness, you may want to think twice. How much money would we like to raise and what can we spend? If you know how much you re willing to put into your event, it ll be easier to stay on budget and raise a surplus. Once you ve answered these basic questions, set one overarching goal. ONE! Focus is your best bet for success. Then, define metrics and success measures for that goal. Depending on the purpose of your event, you may be measuring very different things such as impact on local policy, growth of your supporter lists, or dollars raised. 3

4 How to Measure Your Event All goals should be SMART specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based. Sample Goal Raise $150,000 by accepting donations and selling tickets and sponsorships during the 6 months leading up to our silent auction. Metrics $ raised % existing donors attending % new contacts created Success Measures Raise $10,000 from 500 individuals and 5 corporate sponsors Get 10% of our top donors to attend Increase giving from attendees by 25% over the course of the next year If your goal is simply to raise awareness, please think twice about your goal. Is awareness your top goal as an organization, or is raising funds? Challenge yourself to set goals and success measures that truly advance your mission and meet the most critical needs of your organization. Your event is not a free-standing, one-off endeavor it should be part of your overall strategic engagement and fundraising efforts. Remember to keep in mind the fundraising goal for the event, the people you are inviting, and the facilities available when choosing the type of event you are planning to host. Choose a method that fits your audience, your budget, and your fundraising goals. Joe Garecht, The Fundraising Authority 4

5 The Main Event Step 2: Choose the Right Event for Your Audience In this step, you ll learn: Why people attend events How to choose the right event Before you consider what type of event you d like to host, ask yourself this important question: Why will people attend? Event360 suggests guests attend because of an 1. Affinity to Participants This is especially true for events like marathons, where attendees might come to cheer someone on, or if there will be a guest speaker or entertainment, a guest might attend to see that person or performance. 2. Affinity to an Activity If you host a golf tournament or a wine tasting, someone who loves that activity might attend to participate. 3. Affinity to a Third-Party Group Guests whose employers have a relationship with your nonprofit or a relationship with a corporate sponsor might attend to show support. 4. Affinity to a Cause Your guest might be passionate about the beneficiary of your event, such as animals or the environment. 5. Affinity to an Organization If someone is a dedicated fan of your organization, he is more likely to attend. Then ask: What type of event will my participants enjoy? What can meet my goal and fit my budget? Good events to host might be: Open house Lecture or seminar Book signing Gala Food and wine tasting Car wash Art fair Karaoke Carnival Local sporting event Performing arts concert or comedy show Milestone event or anniversary Holiday social Poker, golf, or baseball tournament Pancake breakfast or spaghetti dinner 5

6 When you ve come up with your final options, pick the one that best aligns with your: Staff and volunteer resources Brand and mission Goal Budget Available time Expertise And most importantly your audience! Once you decide on an event, set a time and a place for logistical planning to get underway. Create a plan for the event itself from start to finish and select the tools that will help you manage it. The Incredible Missing Ingredient at Most Events by Katya Andresen We ve all been there: You re at an event, and someone gives an amazing speech. There are tears in your eyes, and right at that moment, you d do anything for that person or their cause. You sit there, rubber chicken growing cold in front of you, feeling deeply moved and inspired. Then the moment passes and there s nowhere to put that energy. When you have or host an event, have your speaker issue a call to action that people can heed in the next 5 minutes. Make it something people can do right away to translate their emotion and support into tangible help, such as send a text to a policymaker. Or sign a pledge to help you. Or donate. So many nonprofits wonder how to build an list. How about by asking the people who re tearing up for their address so you can keep telling them amazing stories? People want to help, so help them help you by giving them a way to translate inspiration into action. 6

7 The Big Bucks Step 3: Define Your Budget and Secure Sponsors In this step, you ll learn: How to make a budget How to define the role of a sponsor 1. Create a realistic budget and be prepared to stick to it! Consider whether your ticket price matches the type of event you d like to host and if your attendees will be willing to pay it. Once you know how much you want the event to raise, what do you want to spend to bring in those dollars? Even super-sophisticated nonprofits sometimes forget to track exactly how much they are spending and compare that figure to the donations the event generates. This exercise will ensure your event will ultimately be worth the effort. 2. How do you get sponsors on board? First, identify prospective companies: how to divide your budget Staff Venue Invitations* Promotion Entertainment That can deliver on funds and publicity That know or have supported you *Want to save? Eliminate the cost of invitations with Where your board members, vendors, or a service like EventsNow powered by givezooks! supporters work (or have other ties) that lets you create and send invitations online. With a philanthropic or business agenda that is well-matched to your mission Whose employees have volunteered for your organization on a regular basis Next, answer the #1 question you need to secure a corporate sponsor: What s in it for the sponsor? If your answer is their logo on a totebag, or the good feeling of helping, it s time to think harder. A sponsor is looking for benefits such as new business and a halo effect that promotes brand loyalty and visibility. Corporate sponsors are like other donors: This isn t about what you need it s about what you can do for them. That s the real thing you re selling: a benefit to the sponsor. The cost of that benefit is your sponsorship package: Event Package Promotional + Package + Donation = 7 Food Sponsorship Package

8 So lead with Here s what we can do for you let s make this happen together, not Here s our sponsorship package please support us. When you approach prospective sponsors: Listen more than talk. Ask them about their goals and priorities. Show the benefit of being in front of your audience. Talk about the size and the demographics of the audience you ll reach. Show how they will be featured and promoted at the event. Create sponsor packages: Offer different packages and sponsorship levels to attract small companies as well as the big brands. Ask what is important to them and build a package around that. They may want less than you think. As you work to win over sponsors: Define what their role will be. It s critical to establish clear parameters that are ethical and appropriate from the start. Follow up with a contract. Create a plan with your sponsors that ll make you both successful. Involve the sponsor in planning and promotion so that they feel like an integral part of your event and so your event feels like part of their overall outreach strategy. Not only are corporate sponsors great partners for funding your event, they re also great sources of publicity. Knowing that a well-reputed business supports your cause will give your organization legitimacy in the eyes of a potenital attendee or donor. Put your sponsor s for-profit savvy and business sense to use for your event and beyond! Helpful Tip: Creating a digital invitation makes it easy to sell sponsorships and to display sponsors on your online event pages! 8

9 That s the Ticket Step 4: Design and Send Online Invitations In this step, you ll learn: How to create a dynamic and rewarding experience for your event supporters Who to invite to your event (and what that invitation should include!) The most important way to ensure lots of ticket sales, happy participants, and the achievement of your goals is this: Make your event a dynamic, engaging experience from start to finish. 1. Start with your guests. Who should you invite? Past donors Supporters on lists Past event attendees Friends, family, and contacts of your Volunteers staff, board members, and sponsors Program alumni Friends of anyone of the above! Board members 2. Then, clearly communicate on your invitation: Why them? What s in it for your guests? Why are they receiving your invitation, and why should it matter to them? What for? What s the impact of the event, and what s going to happen as a result of it? Who says? Do you make it clear who the invitation is from and why you re a credible source? Why now? Is there a date sensitive element you can include to encourage participation, such as early bird pricing for a limited number of VIP tickets? What will happen if invitees don t attend? Digital invitations are easy to customize with your nonprofit s branding. 9

10 3. Ready to send out invites? Think about going green and doing it all electronically. It s far less pricey, easier to track, and kinder to the planet than print invitations. You can also do lots of interactive things online to make your event engaging from the start. Don t forget, your invitation must: Make a clear case for why the event is worth the invitees time. Show how much impact the event will have. Include the critical elements of price, time, Using a digital invitation service lets you place, and attire. create invites and registration pages with the Remind people why they should care about your same look and feel as your nonprofit brand. organization (with online invites, you can convey this with photos and video very inexpensively). Provide price tiers that make sense for the audience and an incentive to buy now! Plus, it needs to be easy to RSVP and to buy a ticket. There should be a way for guests and supporters to donate even if they can t attend the event. 4. Send out reminders Once you ve sent your initial invite, follow up regularly until people respond. Tools like EventsNow let you set an automated reminder schedule with clear and progressive calls to action, such as: Save the date Tickets are going fast Last call for tickets We can t wait to see you 5. Create an acknowledgement process After guests have sent in their RSVPs, don t forget to thank them! Let them know how excited you are to see them at your event and how grateful you are for their donations. Tell them how they can get involved before the event. Remind them of special activities that will take place on the big day. 10

11 Package Package Package Spread the Word Step 5: Promote Your Event Online In this step, you ll learn: How to create a promotional calendar Which channels you should use to promote your event Donations + Awareness + Ticket Sales = ROI So how can you influence the ticketing life cycle and encourage more people to attend your event? Leverage these lessons on social media and the web from Ritu Sharma of Social Media for Nonprofits. 1. Create a calendar and a plan Begin planning your social media campaign 6 to 8 weeks before your event, plan backwards from the date of the event, and keep track of your digital communications with a social media manager like HootSuite or TweetDeck. You already know the name of your keynote speaker, where the event will take place, and other key details, so capitalize on this knowledge: Prescheduling messages now will save time as the event nears and let you focus on other areas. You should also begin posting this information to your website and local community calendars. 2. Use social media to maximize engagement and tie it all together with data Create a digital registration page with your branding using a tool that includes social sharing such as EventsNow. It s this last part social sharing that s the key: People are 60% more likely to share your event registration after they ve signed up. Create unique links for each of your social media sales sources ( campaigns, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) so that you can track registrations and donations from each. You can also create unique links for partners so that you ll be able to identify which ones were the most helpful, drove the most traffic, and brought in the most registrants and donations. Measure your results throughout the campaign in order to tweak your outreach strategy. 3. Launch your event Once your registration page is live, make sure people know about it! Create a Facebook event and cultivate your community with active posts and responses. If your weekly reports show that a specific platform is leading to the highest number of donations and ticket sales, focus your efforts that, on what s working. 11

12 4. Continue to leverage social channels When others interact with you, even to find out about an event, they want to know what s in it for them. By posting more useful, beneficial, and educational content than promotional material, you ll see the greatest response and be perceived as a group with value. It s this balance that will help grow your online community to propel you and your event forward. Promote on Facebook: Announce your event and broadcast it to all of your fans! Share pictures of last year s event and attendees, as well as this year s upcoming performers and activities. Update your wall with the latest news about sponsors and to tease special activities. Invite attendees to RSVP on Facebook after they register. Tag VIPs, attendees, and partners in your Facebook posts. Post to create urgency by telling fans how many days are left to register. Tweet it out: Spend time throughout the year cultivating a relationship with your cause s influencers. Retweet their content and send them messages so that they ll take note of who you are and you ll build brand recognition with them. Then, when you are gearing up for your event, they ll be more willing to share it. If you send these influencers a premade tweet, chances are high that they will share your message, but not if you haven t cultivated a relationship with them. If you have the resources, tweet multiple times per day (about three to five depending on your audience). You can post more often on Twitter than on Facebook because Twitter s feed moves faster. Create a hashtag for your event to include in all posts, such as #NFGgala. That way, your attendees can easily follow your event and tweet about it, too. If your registration rate is low, try a direct message Twitter campaign. Download a list of all of your followers to Excel, segment them by location, and then target them with an individualized message. When most Twitter users receive a direct message, they also receive an from Twitter. Don't forget to say thank you. Manners are always important, so remember to acknowledge everyone who helps promote your event. 12

13 Link up: LinkedIn is great for reaching communities. Members form groups based on shared interests and similar careers. Before you start posting in a group, look at the culture, and then look for ways to add value so that members will view you as a contributor and not as self-serving. You can also create your own groups for your community, organization, and event. Invite all attendees to your group on LinkedIn and share exclusive content with them. 5. Don t forget other forms of promotion Outreach to local media. Call influential supporters. Put a registration button and ads on your website. supporters about your event. Include it in your print and e-newsletters. 6. Keep the conversation going On the big day, prominently display your event s hashtag and project the Twitter conversation in real time using free services like Twitterfall.com. After the event, post videos and attendees stories on Facebook, ask for feedback or share an survey, thank your attendees on Twitter, and write recaps of the event on LinkedIn. As a final step, analyze your results to determine which channels were the most effective for getting registrants and keeping supporters energized. 13

14 Show Time Step 6: Host a Memorable Event In this step, you ll learn: How to encourage giving during your event How to bring your mission to life This might sound painfully obvious, but it s often overlooked by many nonprofits: Make sure to give attendees the option to give more at your event. Be appreciative of those who have purchased tickets and are attending your event, but recognize that a portion of your attendees will be ready and willing to do even more. Here are strategies for opening the door to more donations at your next event: Auctions & Raffles: Auctions, games, and raffles are popular ways to raise even more money. The best raffles and auctions feature items that tie back to your cause or reflect your community s unique interests. Mobile Donations: Channel supporters good feelings into more gifts by reminding them that they can give on the spot via their mobile device. (Don t have a mobile-friendly donation solution? Check out DonateNow s affordable mobile giving features.) Recurring Donations and Memberships: Create a Donation Station or membership kiosk that will help your loyal supporters set up a recurring gift or become members of your organization. Be sure to staff your booth to make this process personal, easy, and fun. Additional Gifts: Make it easy for attendees to not only register for tickets online, but to also give an additional donation. Illustrate Your Impact: When your donors feel like there is a real, tangible benefit as a result of their donation, they ll be more likely to give again. 14

15 Three Easy Ways to Bring Your Mission to Life by Terry Axelrod of Benevon Do your events raise awareness but no money? Are you struggling to turn participants into fundraisers? Here are three steps to move the focus of your event from attendance and awareness to fundraising: 1. Live testimonial. Who has your organization touched? What lives have you changed? Invite one of those people to share his personal story! This method is not reserved for only human services organizations. Say you re an eco-conscious nonprofit who s saved public lands from development: Invite a family who hikes there! 2. Quick speech from leadership. Your executive director or CEO is the visionary leader of your organization for a reason. Where does her passion lie? What changes have previous supporters enabled? Where is your organization going in the next year and how will that affect those in attendance at your event? 3. An invitation to come back for seconds. We re not talking about the buffet here. This step is your call to action! Have a board member invite folks to take a tour of your nonprofit s facilities, or provide a URL where people can learn more about next year s plans. 15

16 What s Next? Step 7: Assess What Worked and What Didn t In this step, you ll learn: How to solidify your organization s relationship with guests 3 critical event follow-up steps Whew. The event is over. You re finished. Except you re not! The week after the event is a great time to solidify your relationship with your donors and new supporters. Don t forget these critical steps for after the event. 1. Gather feedback Use the reporting tools from your event management system and feedback from staff, sponsors, and attendees to assess what worked and what didn t. Record and share this information within your organization so that you can follow up on loose ends, smooth any ruffled feathers, celebrate successes, and define what to repeat or change next time. 2. Contact supporters Reach out to everyone who participated to share photos and results, being sure to give them the credit for their impact. This includes: Sponsors Volunteers Attendees Staff members Non-attending donors Call every attendee and start a dialogue using these five tips from Terry Axelrod of Benevon: Thank them genuinely for attending. (And send out a killer thank you letter!) Ask them what they thought of the event be quiet and let them talk. Listen and identify their hot buttons. Ask if they could see themselves becoming involved with your nonprofit in the future. Find out if there s anyone else they think might be interested in getting involved or attending a future event. ***Notice that none of these steps involve asking for money this part is about trying to develop a relationship with a person, not an ATM! 3. Report on the impact In a few months, report back to everyone the impact of the event on your key issue and goal. If a shelter was built or a life was saved, they need to know about it! 16

17 How to Plan a Successful Fundraising Event Make a goal for your event It s important to keep in mind what you hope to achieve, who your audience is, what you want them to do, and what metrics you ll use to measure success. Determine the best type of event for your organization Your event should align with your audience, brand, mission, goal, budget, expertise, available time, and resources. Decide if you should have a gala, auction, benefit dinner, concert, tournament, reunion, etc. Draft a realistic budget Create a realistic budget and be prepared to stick to it! Consider whether your ticket prices match the type of event you d like to host and if your attendees will be willing to pay them. Secure corporate sponsors Define your value and look for sponsors through your board, supporters, and vendors. Map out an event timeline and communications plan Create a step-by-step plan for yourself from today until the day of your event that lays out everything from when you ll send out invites to how often you ll send reminders and s. Send invitations ideally online Make sure you invite the right people and pay attention to your invitation! Inviting people online will make selling tickets easier, cheaper, and greener plus, non-attendees will also have any easy way to contribute. Promote your event as much as possible! Now is the time to use every means possible social media, sponsor s websites, newsletters, s, print ads to promote your event and increase attendance. Thank attendees and share recaps Keep the party going by thanking everyone who attended or contributed to your event. Plus, share recaps of fun moments in newsletters and on social media. Assess your goal and event After your event, analyze each step from budget to promotion to determine what worked, what didn t, and what you'd like to do differently next time. Need Some Help? Learn how you can create customized event invitations and pages online (no big budget or HTML experience necessary!) with EventsNow powered by givezooks! visit or call , option

18 About Network for Good Network for Good powers more digital giving than any other platform. Since 2001, we ve processed over $1 billion for more than 100,000 nonprofits. We are Level 1 Audited PCI Compliant and accredited by the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance, meeting all 20 of its standards for charity accountability. Plus, we re registered in every state for online fundraising. We re a mission-minded organization, just like you, so we understand the challenges you face. We re here to help. Our suite of affordable fundraising solutions helps nonprofits raise money and engage supporters online plus we provide the training that will make you a fundraising superstar. 1. Online fundraising: Get an easy-to-use, branded, and secure online donation page with DonateNow. With built-in best practices and mobile-friendly giving options, you ll raise more than ever before. 2. Professional communications: campaign and newsletter tools by Constant Contact for sending and tracking s and telling you which messages work best. 3. Fundraising Fundamentals premium training: Exclusive access to Network for Good s expert advice with personalized reviews, step-by-step tutorials, fundraising templates, and more. 4. Online event management: EventsNow powered by givezooks! for accepting donations, registrations, and ticket purchases online. Free Fundraising Tips Get weekly fundraising advice delivered right to your inbox. Learn More Learn how EventsNow powered by givezooks! can help you easily manage your event online. Let Us Help Find out how you can attract more donors and raise more money online. 18

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