Organizing a Charity Event for a Non-profit Business

If you work for a non-profit organization, very often that means that in order to continue in operation, your organization will need to raise funds, increase the donor base and gain publicity, typically by putting on a charity event. That is why planning a charity event is so different from planning other types of business events and that's what makes it important to do properly.

To help you through the organization and planning of a charity event, here are five areas you need to keep in mind:

Organize a Committee
This is not a project that can be done single-handedly. You need assistance. So you need to start at the beginning by gathering together a group of volunteers to create the special event committee. This group will be responsible for determining the type of event and handling all the planning involved. Be sure to select a chairperson who is motivated and has the time available to get the job done.

Once your organizing committee has identified the big picture concept of the event, you will then need to create subcommittees to handle all the details. Actively recruit volunteers who can help on such subcommittees as:

  • Ticket sales
  • Gift solicitation
  • Publicity
  • Printing
  • Supplies
  • Risk management
  • Venue
  • Logistics
  • Hospitality

It is important to define the scope of the responsibilities of each subcommittee in order to ensure that all duties are covered.
For instance, if you need seating for the event, which group is responsible?

Select the Event
Depending on your organization, you might choose from several types of special events. Some of the more popular include:

  • The Silent Auction puts donated goods and services on display for guests to bid on while allowing your organization to receive donations. Guests can help a cause and be immediately rewarded.
  • Special Guest events allow attendees to see a popular public figure for an evening of entertainment at the cost of the ticket price.
  • Monte Carlo Night provides guests an opportunity to mingle and play games with "play" chips that they receive for a donation.
  • Golf Tournaments are a great way to allow your guests to donate to the cause while getting a bit of exercise.

Plan Your Event
In order to plan your event carefully, you'll need to develop a master plan that will help you stay organized, track your budget and expected funding, and handle logistics. If your organization has a history of fundraising events, you can look at what has been successful in the past.

Depending on the type and size of your event, you should consider giving yourself a three to nine month lead time. One of the best ways to identify drop-dead due dates for completing each step of your planning is to work backwards from the date of your event.

You may also want to plan to:

  • Create documents such as publicity releases, event signs, and gift solicitation letters
  • Set time limits, if your event involves presentations or speeches
  • Hold a dress rehearsal to walk through each step of your event
  • Hire an outside event planning company

Promote Your Event
The only way to encourage attendance to your event is to promote and advertise in every way possible.
Here are ten ways to promote your fundraiser:

  • Website: Promote your event on your website along with the success of past events AND promote your website on all your event materials.
  • Media: Be sure your organization's or fundraiser's PR team gets the word out via any public forum available and invite the local media.
  • Press Releases: Send out press release kits and provide photo ops.
  • Announcements: Have individuals make announcements at other events to get the word out.
  • Flyers: Post your event wherever and whenever you have the opportunity.
  • Newsletters: Write about the event in your organization newsletter or local community paper.
  • Bumper Stickers: Create bumper stickers and proudly display them.
  • Make Calls: Start a phone tree – have one person call three people and each of them call three people and so on.
  • Emails: Send announcements out by email.
  • Direct Mail: Send information via a direct mail campaign or have volunteers walk door-to-door and hang door-knob announcements.

At All Times
No matter where you are in the planning and execution of the event, remember to always thank everyone who volunteers their time, money, services or supplies. If you have any great suggestions about how to organize a charity event for a non-profit, we'd love to hear from you!