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Planning your large-scale fundraising event

Group of people playing cornhole
Choose the right type of fundraising event. 

When you’re brainstorming ideas for the event, it’s important to choose an event where you already have a community of supporters in place who will attend.

Here are a few things to consider:

  • Will the weather impact your event? An outdoor event might draw more attendees in warmer months. 
  • Does your cause have a specific demographic? Family-friendly versus parents' night out, for example. 

Make sure the event is an experience that is fun to participate in. You could have guest speakers, a band, activities, or anything else you can come up with that will keep guests entertained and engaged!

Create a fundraising committee

When planning any event, don’t try to go at it alone. There are numerous details involved in running large-scale fundraising events, and you will burn out if you try to carry the entire load. You would be surprised how many family members or friends will be excited you asked!

Here are a few tips for this process:

  • Provide clear instructions and oversight so volunteers know what their role will entail.
  • Provide day-of details to ensure they can make the full commitment.
  • Reward them for their time.

Find a venue and schedule a date and time

Look for large indoor event spaces like wineries, restaurants or conference centers if your event will be held inside. Search for outdoor spaces like parks or sporting fields if you are hosting an outdoor event.

Keep the following questions in mind as you consult your calendar:

  • Are we planning far enough in advance?
  • Will this be an annual event?
  • Does our fundraiser conflict with other major events or holidays?
  • Should our event be on a weeknight or weekend? Day or night?

Create a budget and set attendee costs

Make a list of all the things you know you will need to spend money on for the event. Try to plan for as many costs as you can before marketing the event as you will probably be charging supporters to attend the event. You want to make sure you cover all the costs and have a profit margin for each patron.

Every event is different, but here are a few examples of what you should include in your budget:

  • Event space, entertainment, catering/food, promotional items.

You may be able to get services, items and even event space donated by local businesses or organizations. Explain to them that you are hosting a fundraising event for your charity and that they can help a worthy cause and get exposure for their business by donating to your event.

Selling tickets to your event

Now that you’ve identified the costs associated with your event, you’ll need to figure out how much to charge attendees and how you’ll handle ticket sales or registrations. You should start selling tickets to your event as soon as possible.

Before you begin selling, there are a few considerations to keep in mind:

  • Will you offer a flat price or offer early bird discounts or different packages?
  • Where will you sell tickets?
  • How will you manage attendee information?

Market your event

You’ve started to pin down the details for your perfect event, but something’s missing—your guests!

To get the word out to your constituents and guarantee a packed house, you’ll need some kind of marketing strategy. The most effective promotional plans involve multiple channels of communication, both online and off.

Let’s look at a few of the many ways you can spread the word about your upcoming event:

• Flyers in local business, direct mail, event website, and social media platforms.

To maximize your promotional potential make sure to ask family and friends to share all your communication to their family and friends as well!

Preparing for the event

It’s time to put all your preparation to work on the big day (or night) of your fundraising event. For complex or large-scale events, make sure you create clear day-of guidelines for everyone involved. A clear plan of action will ensure that all members of your team—from full-time fundraisers to event volunteers—are aware of their responsibilities and prepared to pull off a successful event. 

Remember: the more prep work you put in, the less you’ll have to worry about on the day of your event!

  • Let your team know when to arrive, where and details on their tasks. 
  • Coordinate with entertainment (a practice run might be a good idea if time allows).
  • Arrange for day-of ticket sales or registration (raffle tickets, 50/50 raffle, last-minute attendees).

Host your event

Now you can relax a little and get the most on event day!

During your event, be sure to:

  • Engage with guests
  • Broadcast your event online
  • Most importantly ... have fun! Show your donors how excited you are to have put together such a
    successful event (and how grateful you are for their attendance!). Smile, have fun, mix and mingle
    when you can.


Still don’t know where to start or have questions?

Contact a member of the UMass Fundraising Committee. They are more than happy to schedule a time to meet and chat to get some idea’s flowing! Many of them have already hosted these types of events and are happy to share some tips and tricks they have learned along the way!