When they’re done right, charity events can be your most powerful channel for fundraising. But if the event is executed poorly, it could reflect badly on your cause — and on your bottom line.
The Foothills Event Center has put together a step-by-step guide so that you can conceptualize, plan, and produce an event that captivates attendees and strengthens your charity!
Step 1: Determine Your Event’s Format and Theme
The main goals of your charity event likely are to inspire donations, participation, and awareness. To reach those goals, begin with an event format and theme that will encourage attendance. To help with your brainstorming, try asking yourself these questions:
- How will I accomplish my objective? For example, if you will focus on donations, do you have merchandise to sell? Or maybe you’ll be providing entertainment, dinner, or an activity for which you can charge admission?
- Who is my target audience? What is the demographic that’s most likely to join your cause? Would they rather attend a fashion show, participate in a 5K charity race, have a gourmet dinner, or enjoy a concert?
Your answers to these questions will help you come up with a format and theme which matches your goals.
Step 2: Set Your Budget
To help you determine the size and scope of your event, we recommend putting together a rough budget. More importantly, this budget will allow you to see what’s actually feasible for your non-profit. Make sure to do some research by looking into your past events and what they cost. You’ll also want to contact venues and vendors to ask for price quotes.
Leave some cushion in your budget for unexpected costs, since they will almost always appear. As you move forward in planning your charity event, continue to update your budget in real-time. This allows you to avoid surprises.
Step 3: Choose Your Venue
One of the most significant decisions you’ll need to make before you move forward with your charity event is where it will be held. The Foothills Event Center has proudly hosted many charity events. Many local non-profit organizations have held successful charity events here, including Music in the Mountains, Lifetime Adoption Foundation, and AnimalSave.
Here are some important questions to ask potential venues:
- Can the event venue accommodate the number of people who will attend?
- How much do they charge?
- Does the venue give a discount for non-profit events?
- What is included in the price? (Some venues include seating, staffing, décor, and photographers in their fee).
Step 4: Begin Marketing Your Charity Event
Once you’ve nailed down the details, it’s time to start building excitement for your charity event. There are several strategies for promoting your event, like:
Place social media ads on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
These ads allow you to target possible attendees based on their demographics, location, and what they’re interested in.
Build a Facebook Event
Those that follow your non-profit on Facebook will learn about your upcoming event. Even better, they’ll start spreading the word amongst their networks. Ensure that you include all of the relevant details of your charity event, plus a link to purchase tickets or register.
Start emailing once you know your event’s on-sale date.
Begin with reaching out to past attendees. If it’s a brand-new event, you can start generating excitement by sharing the announcement with your mailing list.
Create flyers to draw local attention. Distribute them broadly so you can create the maximum buzz.
Step 5: Approach Sponsors
To find sponsors for your charity event, begin with your inner circle, and work your way out. Target businesses you’ve already engaged with. If their customers are your attendees, too, it’s mutually beneficial for them to sponsor.
Then, check with your board members and stakeholders to request their sponsorship suggestions. Lastly, you might look into which companies are sponsoring other non-profit events in your area and reach out to them.
Step 6: Select Vendors
You’ll want to hire vendors that align with your brand and your event goals. Do your research to determine which vendors other event organizers in the area rely on. You might even try to find vendors who will offer a discount for their services to support your charitable efforts.
Step 7: Iron Out the Details
Once you’ve made all the major decisions, it’s time to nail down all the logistics. Create a plan of how your event will look, how the entry and exit flow will work, and how vendors will be set up. After that, create contingency plans, line up staffing for your event, and think through how you’ll handle any challenges that might come up. Throughout the process, keep the lines of communications open so that everyone involved in your event is well-informed.
Planning a successful charity event requires a strong game plan. We hope that this step-by-step guide helps you throw a well-attended event in support of your cause!