Seven Steps to Effective Nonprofit Event Planning
Posted on March 14, 2022
Many nonprofits leverage fundraising events to raise large sums of money to reach financial goals. A nonprofit organization can generate considerable funding for its mission with the right strategy. Since event preparation and planning can take time, we created this list to help you plan a remarkable fundraiser.
What we’ll cover
- Identifying a goal
- Assemble a planning team
- Pinpoint your ideal audience
- Set a budget
- Choose the event type
- Create the event’s specifics
- Create the follow-up plan
Benefits of Successful Nonprofit Event Planning
There are several benefits to successful nonprofit event planning in addition to raising funds – it’s really about relationships. Whether it’s creating new connections or strengthening existing ones, here are a few reasons to create a terrific event:
Generate awareness about your organization and its mission: Large organizations like the American Red Cross are strategic about audience education and spreading the word about their mission. Fundraisers offer an opportunity to have current and potential donors learn about you while simultaneously inviting them to participate financially.
Connect with new donors and volunteers: It’s typical to attend an event before donating their money, talents or time. Events offer an opportunity to demonstrate your nonprofit’s culture and create a relationship.
Enhance brand recognition: Name recognition is equally valuable for nonprofits and businesses. Can you imagine the benefits of your organization being a household name like the Susan G. Komen foundation or Coca-Cola? The more people know of and engage with your nonprofit, the more people they’ll tell.
Finding corporate sponsors: Inviting a business to sponsor an event is more straightforward than a company thinking about it and reaching out to you on its own. Fundraisers help build community and donor trust and find more sponsors if it’s done well.
iConnectX has tips on cultivating nonprofit-business relationships – check them out here.
How to successfully plan a nonprofit event
With so many details to successful event planning, it can get overwhelming. However, the proper organization makes it feasible to make the process less stressful. Here is iConnectX’s guide to creating a plan for a successful event. We want to help you reach your goals!
- Specify your goal
Yes, the goal is to raise money. Before you jump in and plan, take time to identify your goals and your vision.
Do you know what you want to accomplish with the money you raise? Consider whether the funds are for an internal need like facilities or an external one, like working on a particular cause. Think about other event goals – do you want to acknowledge and thank your volunteers and donors? Connect with new donors? Inform people of your mission?
These are all worthy goals, so identify them ahead of time to properly plan.
- Build your planning team
Many organizations use committees to perform most of an event’s planning and execution. A well-run committee owns the whole planning process from behind the scenes, marketing, entertainment and operations. We recommend building your team four to six months before the event.
- Find your target audience
Fundraisers can target and draw in several demographics. This step is to determine precisely which audience characteristics you’re looking for and plan the event to reflect those traits. For example, if you want to reach new supporters, you can plan your event around education and cause awareness. If you’re going to strengthen existing donor relationships, your event could honor successes around your mission.
Create a budget to invest resources judiciously; this helps you get an optimal return (ROI). Many nonprofits use the Return on Objective (ROO) metric. This flexible measurement tracks the event’s total benefits, not only the financial ones.
- Brand awareness
- Donor acquisitions
- Relationships with established supporters
- Volunteer participation
- Sponsorships and corporate engagement
Using the ROI and ROO metrics helps determine the full scope of your event’s success.
- Choose the event category
Once you understand your goals, target audience and budget, it’s time to get to the meat of your event plan. Consider what kind of events are appropriate to your organization and its goals – this helps your branding and helps your audience understand your mission.
- Dial-in event specifics
Now that you have a strong foundation for your nonprofit’s event, it’s time to arrange the event itself. There are a lot of details to work out, but with your first-rate event planning team, you can distribute the workload.
Here are essential details to help you get started:
- Set an event date four to six months out to allow enough planning time
- Book a venue. If your event is virtual or hybrid, set up an event hosting platform like iConnectX
- Obtain any necessary permits or licenses
- Choose a theme and create marketing materials
- Put sponsorship packages together and round up corporate or individual sponsors
- Find guest speakers or book entertainment, if necessary
- Promote the event on social media. Include the event’s details in all communications with potential and existing donors; send personal invitations if it’s feasible
- Make a custom online donation event page for audience members who cannot attend but want to contribute. A nonprofit fundraising platform like iConnectX offers customized landing pages and a secure donation portal
- Offer tickets online whether the event is free or tickets are for sale. When attendees register online, you’ll collect valuable guest data.
- Establish your volunteers’ roles and responsibilities; this mitigates the risk of missing important details
- Make a plan to follow up
When your event is over, the job isn’t finished. This is the time to send thank you notes, obtain guest feedback and build new relationships with potential donors and sponsors.
Many nonprofits add an event survey to get feedback from attendees to learn what guests enjoyed if they can recommend improvements and other feedback. Also, make sure to get the input of your volunteers and sponsors — feedback is critical to making every event better than the last.
The final word
Nonprofit event and fundraiser planning might seem overwhelming; this is why we recommend having enough lead time, like four to six months. A platform like iConnectX helps take the technical workload off your shoulders with features like:
- Customized landing pages with a unique URL
- Online ticketing
- Auction features, like secure bidding and payment portal
- Online and hybrid event hosting
- RSVP and guest management
- And much more!
We hope these steps help you and your team get your event rolling – iConnectX is here to help!