Fundraising: Events

Fundraising events are the most labor intensive and time consuming way for your campaign to raise money, but there are other benefits that can make them worthwhile if you plan properly for your event.

What They're About

Events can be designed for all donor levels (the higher the donor level, the more exclusive the event). Tailor the type of event to the attendees in order to stay within your budget.

What They Can Generate

Events aren't just about raising money. A good event can generate local media coverage, excitement among your supporters, and momentum for your campaign.

What They Consume

They consume a lot of your fundraising staff's time. You should also expect to spend 10-20% of whatever you raise. The response rates are also traditionally low at only 15-25%.

Revenue Projection

A simple way to estimate your revenue is Total Invited Donors x .15 Response Rate x Ticket Price = Projected Revenue

Timeline

Events take time to plan. Begin approximately six to eight weeks out with finalization and announcement of the event date and location and the recruitment of a host committee. End after the event when thank you notes are sent and calls to attendees who did not write checks are logged.

Budget

Determine your anticipated revenue using the formula above. Keep costs under 20% (preferably closer to 10%) of projected returns.

Budget Checklist

You must account for all projected expenses, including but not limited to:

  • Space Rental & Catering
  • Tables, chairs, & linens
  • Nametags Invitations & postage
  • Decorations Banners & podium signs
  • Staging, podium, & microphone

General Tips

  • Ask a statewide official or local celebrity to headline the event.
  • Recruit a host committee responsible for selling or purchasing 5-10 tickets each, and plan on them meeting 40% of their goal.
  • Ask local progressive organizations to sponsor the event and mail your invitation to their membership lists or provide lists for you to mail to.
  • Keep costs down by designing the invitations in-house and asking for in-kind contributions of food, wine, decorations, printing, and event space.
  • Support local labor by securing union-friendly event space and hiring a union printer for any printing needs.
  • Mail initiations four to six weeks out and include a response envelope. Better yet, develop a solid email list and send electronic invites.
  • Secure a team of volunteers to work all aspects of the event.
  • Have staff take pictures that can be used on your website and in your campaign literature.