There are two ways to plan for an efficiently successful new fundraising event. One, of course, is to have Vivanista plan it for you, but as a second alternative, you can also follow these basic guidelines, as exemplified by Melissa Lamkin, one of four co-chairs for a first-time fundraiser this past May. A fashion show, Girls Night Out: Glamour and Giving, raised funds for Ronald McDonald House in Charlotte, N.C. The non-profit provides housing for families with seriously ill or injured children, accommodating them while their child is receiving medical treatment at a local hospital.
It is also very important to have as many inside connections as possible, such as with the venue that is hosting the event, or better yet, with the non-profit. Ari Harris, one of the co-chairs of Girls Night Out, worked for the Ronald McDonald House,
and therefore was able to help spearhead the event, curving it to really mirror the goals and fulfill the needs of the non-profit, which should always be the number one priority. Connections with the venue, which Girls Night Out also had, is additionally very beneficial and can lead to discounts.
While accumulating donations is the main purpose of throwing a fundraising event, the money should not be the main focus of a first time event. Building up a well organized, fun event should be the main priority. Money will follow if the event is successfully entertaining for the donors. “One of the highlights that evening was when a mother staying at Ronald McDonald House thanked us for including her in the Fashion Show. She explained how her world centers around her child and it was nice, even for a few short hours, to lift that burden and make it about her”, Lamkin said.
While Girls Night Out had over sixty-five volunteers, it’s expected that for a first time fundraiser, the chairs would be doing a majority of the work and therefore should not depend too heavily on volunteers. However, to avoid an overload of work for the chairs, it is important not to bite off more than you can chew. Start small; you can always layer on more facets at the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th annual version of your event. It is always better to build up over time rather than starting with a huge goal and having to cut back or having something fall through.
And give yourself time! Six months should be the minimum for the amount of time it will take to plan a notable, enjoyable event. Lamkin told us, “We had enough time to execute our event in an organized fashion and we sold-out at around 300 attendees.”
As for Girls Night Out, Lamkin is looking forward to planning the next one, especially after such a successful first event. With ideas like having mothers from the Ronald McDonald House model on the runway, Lamkin and her co-chairs have designed, organized and hosted a unique yet relevant fundraiser for their community.
5 Easy Steps to Starting Your Own Fundraiser:
1. Do Your Research: Check the calendar for events that are going on in your community. Also, make sure this event
does not compete with any other fundraisers the Nonprofit may already implement.
2. Set Goals: Be conservative and realistic as to what you want to accomplish. Remember to KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid)!
3. Rally the Troops: Get the Chair(s), subcommittee Chairs and volunteers in place and make sure they know what they’re supposed to accomplish.
4. Execute the Plan: Expect the unexpected at first time events! Unforeseen things will happen, but try to stay on track, keeping in mind your ultimate goals.
5. Follow-up: If you hope to do another one, make sure you thank everyone along the way and let them know how their participation helped your nonprofit.
Photos courtesy of Cunningham Photo Artists