How to Plan a Nonprofit Fundraising Event

How to Plan a Nonprofit Fundraising Event

An exceptional fundraising event requires months of planning, organization, and networking. To plan for a successful nonprofit fundraising event, consider the important factors of the event such as the nonprofit goals, budget, and sponsors.

Since planning a fundraising event is a multi-step process, we’ve created this 3-part series to ensure that every base is covered for a worry-free planning strategy. We’ll start with how to plan a nonprofit event, move to marketing an event, and finally hosting the event.

Before You Start, Ask Questions about your future Nonprofit Fundraising Event

  • What’s the goal of this event?

  • How should this event better our nonprofit?

  • Which cause do we want to promote within our larger mission?

Pick Your Nonprofit Event Teams

The key to creating an unforgettable and seamless fundraiser is a strong team -- and to truly have an event that works well, you’ll need multiple committees. Be sure to create these committees early on in the event planning so that everything can be delegated at its beginning stages. These teams will handle the planning, hosting, event day activities, and any other details.

Host Committee

A host committee provides substantial finances to support the event and often is instrumental in gaining funds from other influential persons. In most cases, a host committee is a group of community leaders, wealthy donors, and local celebrities. While this committee is not responsible for planning or running the event, it is crucial to ensuring that your fundraising goals are met.

Planning Committee

This group manages the behind-the-scenes planning of the event—details such as event logistics, venue location, parking, catering, and the planning calendar. They create the structure for the event, working together so that the event goes as planned.

Event Day Committee

This day-of team will carry out the plans that have been carefully constructed for the event. For the event, this committee will help manage the people, such as volunteers, staff, and arriving guests.


When planning an event, you’ll need to know what other facets are vital for the success of your fundraiser. Once you know what’s important, you can choose other subcommittees to handle decoration, marketing, social media, and entertainment.

Set a Goal

Having a measurable and specific goal is crucial in creating a nonprofit fundraising event because it gives your committees a baseline to return to when making decisions for the event. Focus on that goal to ensure that your event has the greatest chance of success. Before you can set an appropriate fundraising goal, you’ll want to ask a few key questions, assess your nonprofit’s needs, analyze your ability to fundraise that amount based on previous events, and then calculate a fundraising goal that’s about 30% higher than what you actually need.

Choose the Event

The type of event that you choose to plan must fit your audience, goal, budget, expertise, and available volunteer help. In some situations, it might be better to hold a few smaller events in preparation for a larger event. These smaller events can be a great way to build a network, increase hype and attract a bigger volunteer platform before the big shebang.

Plan a Budget

Before you determine your budget, you need to consider how much your event attendees are willing to pay. Your ticket price will also be impacted by the type of event that you’re planning on hosting. For example, a fancy event can have a higher ticket price while a festival event may have a smaller entrance fee. Once you know how much you can charge, you can determine your budget. Your budget must include all the costs and have a fundraising goal that will be above and beyond all expenses.

Possible Expenses

  • Venue

  • Crowdfunding software

  • Event software

  • Catering

  • Marketing materials

  • Invitations

  • Entertainment

  • Decorations

Sign Up Sponsors

When seeking sponsors for your event, you need to be able to clearly communicate what about your nonprofit is different and special—but most importantly what makes your nonprofit a good fit for that sponsor. Be sure to tell potential sponsors how they will be featured and promoted both before, during, and after the event. Also, offer different package and sponsorship levels to attract businesses of all sizes. You may want to even ask sponsors what’s important to them and build your sponsorship options around those desires.

Plan the Attendee Experience

Event attendees will be more likely to give of their time and resources if they are inspired by your nonprofit’s work. Look at your nonprofit’s work and consider how the event can highlight it even more, making it even more personal.

Ask nonprofit event planning committee

  • What do our donors relate to?

  • Where do our donors interact most? Social media?

  • What types of values are near and dear to our donors?

  • How can our event target these values and associations?

Mark Your Calendar

Choosing the right date for your big fundraising event is crucial. You want to be sure that the event won’t conflict with holidays, summer travels, and big sporting events. Also, it’s crucial to choose a date that makes sense with your event.

Create the Guest List

Your event’s inclusivity or exclusivity adds an extra level to your nonprofit fundraiser. When you know your audience, you’ll be better able to create an event that will meet their expectations and standards. This helps people to be more open with their resources.

These steps will help you to know how to plan a nonprofit fundraising event that will help you network with current and future donors. Be sure to check back for part 2 of our series to learn how to market a fundraising event.

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