How to Plan a Fundraiser

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A fundraiser is an event thrown by a nonprofit organization in order to raise money for their cause. Oftentimes, a fundraiser becomes an annual event with a popular following in the local area. To be sure an create a memorable fundraiser, keep in mind the likes and dislikes of your local area. For example, a country western rodeo will not be as profitable in New York City as opposed to Dallas, Texas.

Gather together a committee of three to five volunteers to create a fundraising team. With this committee, decide on the event that you would like to throw. Keep in mind that the more elaborate the event, such as a black tie ball, the more time and energy that will be spent organizing the event.

Create a list of basic needs for the event: tickets, advertising, sponsors, decorations, rental items, food and beverage, security, logistics and so on. Assign each committee member at least one of these tasks to be in charge of for the duration of the event.

Check local community calendars to see when other annual and local events are taking place. Try to plan your event on a weekend that does not conflict with other area events. Also, once your date is set, be sure to notify those who publish local community calendars (such as the local Visitors Bureau and Chamber of Commerce) to ensure your event is added to the list as well.

Solicit sponsors, which are local businesses who would like to advertise at your event, first to ensure that your event will have all of its expenses paid for prior to ticket sales. If you can budget so that your ticket sales will be your profit, you will have a successful fundraiser.

Begin to advertise once the sponsorships are in place. The sponsorships will pay for the advertising, however, many local radio, TV, and newspapers should give you free advertising of some manner. Write a press release to send out to all media to get the word out further. Use flyers, email, Facebook and Twitter as additional avenues to get the word out about your event.

Meet with your committee on a regular basis to ensure all parts of the fundraiser are coming together in a timely manner. Set up deadlines prior to the event to ensure that all items are completed on time.


  • Have a "debriefing" meeting a week or so after your event to see what could be improved upon the next time the fundraiser is thrown. Create a best practices notebook for the next fundraising committee to learn quickly from, in the event that it is thrown by another group next year.


  • The goal of a fundraiser is to make money for your nonprofit. Budget realistically so that you do not spend more than you make in the first few years of the event.