planning non-profit events

10 Ideas for Rockin’ Non-Profit Events


Many non-profits depend on their events and fundraisers to financially support their organizations year after year.  It’s extremely important for them to utilize their resources in order to keep their budget down and maximize their attendees experience in order to get the type of financial support they need.  Here are 10 things to consider when planning a non-profit event: {Provide Value} When people donate money, they want something in exchange.  Not necessarily a take home trinket, but they want entertainment and a good show.  Make the program entertaining, and ramp up the energy a bit.  This does not have to be an expensive endeavor, but make sure the content is relevant and the program is not stagnant.  A great example is the Summit County event, Dancing with the Mountain Stars. They benefit Flight for Life Colorado, and put on an amazing show with local residents competing for the winning spot.

{Show Them Their Money} Show your supporters where their money is going.  This means show them numbers, pictures, testimonials, and even bring in people who are personally benefitting from the organization.  People want to know that their donations are being used effectively.

{Ask Businesses For Help} Get all the help you can.  Ask people who are directly related to your organization to volunteer or provide a business service for free or at a discounted rate.  You get their help, they get their business promoted. It’s the best of both worlds.

{Trendy Advertising} Have someone professionally design your branding for the event.  Whether it’s a volunteer, local college student looking for volunteer opportunities, or a local graphic design firm, make sure it has some eye-catching value.  Once you have posters, email them out, post to Facebook, advertise on Twitter and Pinterest, and get your volunteers to do the same.  With social media, you can spread the word like wildfire if you just ask people to help.

{Donate A La Carte} During the event, provide donation stations with some kind of purpose.  Recently, I was involved with an organization who did a “Wine Wall”  where $10-$100 of bottles of wine were donated to the event and attendees could purchase $10 tickets for the wine drawing.  They were guaranteed a bottle of wine worth at least what they paid for the ticket, and it gave the organization extra donation money.   Be creative here!

{Monthly Donations} Make the “official ask” for monthly donations while at the event.  Provide donation slips that Visa or bank account information can be written on, and ask for donors to donate $10/$25/$50 monthly.  You then would automatically debit their account every month, and could cause a $100 event donor to donate $600 in a year.  Maximize your donations!

{Provide Food} Have your event catered, and/or ask for donations from local restaurants.  Make sure you have enough food for the event so the donors don’t feel like you are skimping.  They are taking their valuable time and donating their valuable money, so the least you can do is feed them well.

{Plan Few, Not Many} Don’t go overboard on the number of events you plan per year.  Often you invite the same people over and over again, and they get tired of you constantly asking for money every other month.  Also, carefully planned big events tend to bring in larger donations than smaller events, and you don’t over extend your volunteers or organization.

{Stay on Schedule} The people who have the most money to donate usually have very little free time.  Make sure you stay on schedule during the event.  Donors need to know their time is valued, and that you care about them getting to their next commitment as scheduled.  It also shows that the organization runs a tight-ship; something that donors will appreciate.

{Maximize Attendance} When picking a day, make sure there are no other conflicting events or holidays that might take your donors elsewhere.  Also, decide whether it would be best to plan a breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner event, depending on your typical donor profile.  Knowing your audience is key!