How to Host Successful Nonprofit Events in 2018


So if you’re like many non-profit leaders, you’re wrapping up the end of this calendar year and preparing for the future. And many non-profits kick off the new year by digging their hands deep into planning their next spring special event.

Non-profits and small business continuously ask the same questions about fundraising events:

Do you think it would be a good idea to host a dinner party in our venue?

How do you feel about having a costume party around the holidays where our consumers and community members could meet our staff?

Do you think cute little Tervis coffee mugs would be a good giveaway to event attendees? Wouldn’t that be a great gift?

My response is always, yes, yes, yes, but…. please don’t.

Often non-profit volunteers, agency board members, and non-profit staff just keep spinning their wheels creating fun events, that, in the end, net less than $2,000. This amount barely covers the cost of the staff time it takes just to hold the event. My personal pet peeve is multiple staff people, during staff time, discussing t-shirt colors for 20 minutes.

People keep coming up with great ideas for events, but they don’t approach the event with any clear goals.

Is the event a fundraiser or a friendraiser?

Decide first if you have a goal to raise money or new potential donors. Approach the event keeping this goal in mind.

Don’t be “THAT” non-profit that makes a list of events that “FAILED”.

Take a step back and really assess things. Was it the event concept that was the issue or the planning, execution, and followup?

There are so many good ideas out there for fundraisers and donor engagement. But, the first step is ALWAYS to be positioned where you have the infrastructure in place for attendance to be good, ROI to be high, and your donor follow-up to be stellar.

It’s great to hold a fun event, but, you need to tell the right story of your agency while you have a captive audience. You only get one first chance with potential donors. Do it right.

If you want to engage new donors face-to-face, here’s my advice:

  1. Look at your calendar.
  2. Pick a date 5 months from now to hold a “friendraiser”.
  3. Get a budget of expenses in writing.
  4. Set a clear goal of what you want to achieve by hosting the event.
  5. Start planning the execution of the event AND the follow-up after.


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