Do I Have Time to Plan A Successful Fundraiser?

shutterstock_58942066Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Time is certainly moving at a fast clip and we are already in the second week of February. At this pace spring will arrive before we know it.

Recently a member of a community-based organization inquired if there is enough time to plan a fundraiser in May, which is three months away. This will be their first major event and they are feeling a bit anxious. The date and venue will be finalized this week.

For me, this question cannot be answered with a simple yes or no. As a professional, my role is to outline the steps involved, create a strategy to ensure a successful outcome and help set the stage for future fundraising efforts. Last week, I met with the organization’s leaders to discuss their needs. I created an agenda and posed questions to guide our meeting and serve to set the stage for internal conversations.

Today I am sharing some takeaways from our discussion. If you find these tips to be helpful, I hope you will add them to your toolkit when planning your next fundraiser.

  1. What is your budget for this event? How much money would you like to raise? How much do you need to raise to break even? This will help determine how much to charge for underwriters and lead sponsors, tables and individual tickets.
  2. Do you have a list of donors and prospects? If so, what shape is the list in? Is it current? When was the last time it was updated?
  3. How engaged are your Board members and stakeholders? Can you count on them to identify additional prospects, make appropriate asks and provide their personal financial support?
  4. What is your vision for this event? Would you like to host a luncheon or dinner? If you plan to host a dinner, is this a formal or semi-formal occasion?
  5. Do you envision a special time before the event so that Board members and organization leaders can personally thank underwriters and lead sponsors?
  6. Have you thought about your support team? How will the event be managed and executed? In addition to partnering with a fundraising and event management professional, who will help with public relations and communications?
  7. What is the call to action? How will you engage supporters in your work after the event? Who will create the follow-up plan?

I will provide the answers to these questions, along with tips on how to plan and executive successful events, in future blog posts. Until then, if you have questions or if I can be of assistance, please contact me at

With kind regards,


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