Carefully planning your variety-show fundraiser may mean the difference between producing a blockbuster or a bomb. There are more than 1.5 million nonprofit organizations in the United States -- all competing for the same charitable dollars -- according to 2009 data provided by the National Center for Charitable Statistics. To set the stage for your variety show, you must juggle talent, volunteers and lots of logistics. While event-planning checklists often include pages of action items, understanding the big-picture concepts will help you plan a successful variety-show fundraiser.
Recruit volunteers and create a committee to plan your variety-show fundraiser. The energy and expertise of volunteers is critical to the success of any fundraiser, according to authors Barbara L. Ciconte and Jeanne Gerda Jacob in "Fundraising Basics: A Complete Guide."
Choose a theme for your variety show. Consider the nature of your charity or cause, as well as your target audience, when selecting the theme. Unlike a talent show, which features one unrelated act after another, variety-show producers try to tie acts together.
Select a date for your event and develop a timeline. Event fundraisers with an expected attendance of approximately 500 people typically require four to six months to organize. Book your talent within 60 to 90 days of your event.
Create a budget. Gather cost estimates and set your ticket price. Base your price on the number of tickets you must sell to cover expenses and generate a profit. Fundraiser Insight, an online magazine for fundraisers, advises selling tickets ahead of time, as well as at the event, to provide a revenue stream.
Book a venue. Factors to weigh when you choose a venue include location, the availability of on-site audio/visual equipment, technical support, staging, seating capacity and insurance.
Audition and book your talent and master of ceremonies. Showcase amateur talent, along with one or two professional variety show acts. Possible performers include musicians, magicians, dancers, jugglers, speed painters, impersonators and comedians.
Write a script for your master of ceremonies and order the acts in your show. Limit your show to no more than 90 minutes. Each amateur act should last no more than five minutes.
Work with your performers to create theme-focused acts. For example, a variety show with a 1980s theme might include a medley of hit songs, a presidential impersonator and a skit poking fun at the decade's fashions. Rehearse the entire show at least once to make certain everyone is ready for the main event.
Promote your variety-show fundraiser. Because event-based fundraisers rely heavily on ticket sales to generate funds, publicity is essential. Use social media sites to promote the event. Send a press release to media outlets. List your variety show in community calendars. Include information about your organization and its mission each time you promote your variety show.