Fundraising events are important — and in many cases, invaluable — way to generate awareness, provide education, and, most importantly, create financial support for worthy causes that dramatically improve lives; and, in some cases, save them.
However, as anyone who has produced or coordinated a fundraising event will readily attest, there is an immense amount of work that goes on behind-the-scenes, and which often starts several months in advance of the big day—failing to make the necessary preparations can result in an underwhelming event that and fails to achieve its critical objectives.
According to noted philanthropist Johanna Klausen — who has either attended, volunteered or donated silent auction items for a variety of charities and causes including the Jewels of Life Luncheon, the Palm Beach Police Foundation, the RDK Melanoma Foundation’s Annual Luncheon, and Fashion Show, Cristo Rey Brooklyn High School, Achilles International for Veterans and many others — a successful fundraising event is based on the following key elements:
1. Defining The Vision
Before focusing on other critical aspects such as location and logistics, fundraising event planners need to take a step back and define the vision. Obviously, generating donations (cash, assets, and/or in-kind) is the central piece of the puzzle. However, there can be — and often are — other objectives that can be part of the event.
Commented Johanna Klausen, who is a retired/self-employed investor with a background in stocks, bonds and real estate: “An excellent example of having a clear, compelling vision is the RDK Melanoma Foundation’s 21st Annual Luncheon on January 20, 2020, and which I had donated silent auction items to the event.
The highly anticipated fashion event featured a world-class silent auction, a gourmet luncheon, and a stunning runway fashion show featuring designer J. Mendel. All proceeds benefitted the RDK Melanoma Foundation’s mission to save lives through education about the prevention and early detection of skin cancer, especially melanoma, which is its deadliest form.”
2. Setting A Goal
Fundraising event planners need to set financial goals to ensure that they accurately measure success and identify whether they need to make adjustments going forward — or perhaps, capture their highly effective previous efforts in templates and best practices.
According to Johanna Klausen: “It’s important to set ambitious, but fundamentally realistic financial goals. Otherwise, what is, in reality, a successful event can be perceived as a disappointment, and on the other side of the spectrum, an event that under-performs and underwhelms can be mistakenly viewed as a strong success. With it is always wonderful and inspiring when the target exceeds expectations.”
3. Developing A Robust Budget
Just as businesses need to anticipate, allocate, track and account for every dollar that goes into their various programs and projects, fundraising event planners — typically with the assistance of a committee — need to develop a robust budget that covers all of the details, including space rental (which is of course linked to choosing a location), catering, security, transportation, utilities, and the list goes on.
Any gaps or mistakes in this area could result in an event that fails to meet its fundraising target; or, in extreme cases, potentially even lose money when the dust settles, and the numbers are crunched.
4. Identifying The Team
Most fundraising events (save for the simplest and smallest) will have a host committee, which is led by one or more host committee chairpersons. It is essential to choose individuals who are fully committed to achieving the event’s fundraising goals.
Also, suitable volunteers need to be selected who have the time, training, and desire to be part of something special and important. It is essential for host committee members and volunteers to have fun and enjoy the experience and contribute to a positive environment.
Creating a great and successful fundraising event — especially one that is eagerly anticipated and for which there are very high expectations — can be a bit daunting, and the pressure at times can be somewhat high. Everyone, regardless of their role, needs to support each other and remain mindful of the vision.
5. Promoting The Event
Even the most established and acclaimed fundraising events need to have a comprehensive promotional plan that typically includes media announcements (online and print), direct mail, phone banks, and other tactics. Of course, the host committee also plays a pivotal role in getting the word out and ensure that the event has a high profile.
The Bottom Line
Designing and delivering a successful event that meets — or better yet, exceeds expectations — is not an easy challenge. However, it is not a virtually impossible one, either. Ultimately, success is rooted in preparation, plans, and people. Johanna Klausen has either attended, volunteered, or donated to many charities in Palm Beach, Florida, Wellington, Florida, or in the Hamptons, New York. “As a volunteer, I can speak to how gratifying and uplifting it is to be part of an outstanding fundraising event.
It can be hard work at times, and there are often a lot of moving pieces, but to see months of planning and effort come together is special. I wholeheartedly urge everyone to experience this for themselves by reaching out to a charity or non-profit organization in their community and discovering how they can help. I promise the only regret they’ll have is that they didn’t do it sooner!” concludes Johanna Klausen.
If you are interested in even more business-related articles and information from us here at Bit Rebels, then we have a lot to choose from.