How to Organize a Fundraiser

Five Parts:Planning Your EventBuilding a TeamFiguring Out Your FinancesPlanning LogisticsGetting the Word Out

Organizing a successful fundraiser can be a colossal task, especially for an inexperienced planner. You'll need to plan every detail of your event, build a team to help you realize it, figure out your finances, and plan every part of your logistics and advertising. However, if you take the time to work through each of these steps beforehand, and bring on good help, you'll find that bringing a fundraiser to fruition can be a manageable process. Though each fundraiser will be different, use the following steps as a general guide for your own.

Part 1
Planning Your Event

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    Set objectives. Your objectives are what you hope to achieve with your fundraiser. This may seem obvious, but your first step should be to answer exactly why you are doing the fundraiser. Are you spreading awareness for a cause? Are you trying to raise money for a certain type of research or project? Is it some combination of objectives? Define in the clearest possible terms exactly what you hope to achieve with your fundraiser.[1]
    • For example, imagine that you want to hold a fundraiser to raise money for cancer research. It's best to identify a specific type of cancer, research facility, or charity that you will donate money to. This can help target your efforts from here on out.
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    Identify your audience. Decide who will be the focus of your marketing efforts. That is, what group of people are likely to want to donate to your cause? You can define your demographic by age, gender, interests, or anything other criteria you can imagine. The important thing is that you clearly define who this group is. This will allow you to tailor the rest of your planning and organizing to meet their needs.[2]
    • Your target audience can also be groups, like families, or simply include everyone.
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    Decide on a fundraiser type. First you need to decide what general category of fundraiser yours will fall into. Are you simply raising money for a cause through soliciting donations? Or will there be an event along with your fundraiser? An event can be anything from a dinner to a concert or race. There are virtually limitless options for what type of fundraiser you can organize.
    • Choosing a creative and different fundraiser will improve the amount you raise. Bake sales and car washes work, but aren't that original. Completely original fundraisers will attract more people.
    • Another fundraiser type to consider is online crowdfunding through a platform like Kickstarter or Indiegogo. Campaigns on these websites are relatively easy to set up and can give you an easy way to offer rewards for different donation levels. In addition, sites like Causes and Crowdrise focus specifically on crowdfunding campaigns for non-profits.[3]
    • Your event should be specific to your audience. It may also reflect your own experience as a fundraiser and the cause you are supporting.[4]
    • For example, you could choose to organize a 5k run for your cancer research fundraiser. From here, you could add creative elements like making it a donut run or a paint run.
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    Identify a deadline. If you are holding a fundraising event, you will have an obvious deadline in the date of the event. However, if you are organizing a fundraising effort online or soliciting donations in another way, you will have to set a deadline. This will motivate your team and donors to get donations in quickly. This will also inform other efforts, like getting rewards to donors (if applicable).[5]
    • Consider creating multiple deadlines that correspond to different steps in the organizational process. This will create a sense of urgency that will help your team get motivated to reach each goal in time.
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    Study other successful fundraisers of a similar type. Look back at other fundraisers in your area. Think about where they succeeded and what they could have done differently. Try asking around for others' thoughts on this matter. Make a list of what you come up with and use it to improve your own fundraiser design.[6]

Part 2
Building a Team

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    Seek out volunteers. Work in your church, workplace, or other community group to locate volunteers for your cause. Have people that you bring on spread the word to friends or family they think might be interested in helping out. If you need certain skills, like an accountant or advertiser, consider asking around for people known to have these skills.[7]
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    Delegate authority. For large or more complicated fundraisers, it may be nearly impossible for you to make every decision yourself. For this reason, you should split up your responsibilities among a core group of trusted team members. For example, think about asking someone good with money to be in charge of the fundraiser's finances. Another person could be in charge of promotional efforts. For many segments of the fundraiser, you may need someone in charge so that you can coordinate the fundraiser as a whole without focusing on the smallest details.[8]
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    Split up tasks. Divide up tasks to different volunteers or groups of volunteers. This will not only increase your fundraiser's chance of success but also take some of the pressure off of you as you delegate complicated tasks to skilled volunteers. Just make sure that you have a structure in place for these different groups to coordinate with each other. To accomplish this, you might want to set up regular meetings of the entire fundraiser team.[9]
    • Form a committee to make sure all the planning and gathering of materials is accomplished.
    • For example, for your charitable 5k, you might want to have one group in charge of post-race refreshments and another for setting up the course. These two groups would have to communicate to make sure there is enough room at the finish line for the refreshments.
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    Think about other professionals you will need to have on site. For some types of fundraising events, you will need other professionals present to make sure that your events runs smoothly. For example, a concert would need sound and lighting technicians. Alternately, a 5k race would need medical professionals present in case any of the runners are injured. Think about your need for these individuals and incorporate the cost of bringing them on into your budget.[10]

Part 3
Figuring Out Your Finances

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    Define your fundraising goal. Your fundraising goal can be a highly subjective amount, after all, it's easy to just think, "I want to raise as much as possible." However, you should set a high but achievable goal. Think about similar events in your area from the past and analyze how much they raised. Then, set your goal a bit higher.[11]
    • In some cases, a clear goal can be defined. For example, if you are raising money to build a school, you should have an estimate of the costs to do so and build your goal from there.
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    Think about cost. If you decide to make it a public fundraising event, think about cost, sponsorship, and participation. An example would be a car wash, which is a very common fundraiser for youth groups and clubs. Cost would include soap, washcloths, and use of a facility to hold the event.
    • If you host an expensive event, you will need equally expensive tickets to cover the cost.
    • You can go over on your donations, but not on your expenses. Be frugal in your planning.[12]
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    Solicit sponsors. Sponsors can provide venues, refreshments, products, free services, or money to help your fundraiser. However, to get these sponsors you will have to convince them that your fundraiser will be successful and your cause is worthy of their effort. Think about local businesses that share your values and might be willing to support your fundraiser. Then, contact them by phone or in person and make your case.
    • You may also be able to take advantage of contacts within your team to gain the support of business. Hold a brainstorming meeting with them to figure out potential sponsors.
    • Consider having sponsor levels (gold, silver, etc.) that reflect the amount of involvement sponsors have. They may be willing to pay more to have better placements of their logo around the event.[13]
    • For example, your charitable 5k could try contracting local cancer-focused charities, hospitals, and athletics stores around town. These organizations share a common interest with your cause and the people who will be attending your event.
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    Figure out how you will accept money. When you start accepting donations, you will need a way or organizing and storing that money. For physical transactions (cash or check), you will need a charity bank account to store the money while it builds up. In addition, you can use the bank account to accept bank transfers from donors.
    • For online donations, you will need to set up some way of accepting money electronically. This can be done through PayPal or through the use of a crowdfunding site like Kickstarter or Indiegogo.[14]

Part 4
Planning Logistics

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    Pick a time and date for the event. Car washes, cookouts, and yard sales are more profitable and enjoyable in good weather, but they may not be suitable for mid-winter or the middle of summer in very hot locations. Attendance will be higher on Saturdays, but look at the community calendar to be sure no other event is planned for the day you choose that will have people busy doing other things while you are holding your fundraiser.[15]
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    Find a good location. Many retail businesses allow different groups to use their premises for car washes, bake sales, and other fundraising activities if they are compatible with their values and they support what you are working for. For other types of events, like concerts or carnivals, make sure you have enough space for setting up your event.[16]
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    Create schedules. Create a schedule for the day of the fundraiser, with each individual event having its own well-defined start and end. In addition, you should also create a schedule for getting tasks done leading up to the date of the event. For example, pick a day where you want to have your sponsors in and a later date for printing sponsorship banners.[17]
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    Plan for following through. What following through refers to will depend on the nature of your fundraiser. For a purely donation-based fundraiser, your follow through would be contacting donors personally to thank them. For an event, on the other hand, you would need to specify who will stick around afterwards to help clean up.[18]

Part 5
Getting the Word Out

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    Make use of the internet. The internet is the best resource for reaching large groups of people at low cost. For starters, every fundraiser should have a Facebook page that is filled out with relevant information and updated regularly. Then, you can use Twitter or Instagram to further spread the word and connect with potential donors. For more advanced fundraisers, consider creating a website that includes a donation link.
    • You may be able to get help from a local website designer at a lower price if they believe in your cause. This will allow you to have a professional website without the cost.[19]
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    Advertise. This can mean placing signs around town and at community bulletin boards, spreading information through word of mouth, or talking to broadcast media to see what type of advertising they offer. Many radio stations and local television outlets have community bulletin boards and public service announcements for nonprofit groups.[20]
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    Get help from local businesses and organizations. Ask sponsors and other local businesses to help spread the word by buying up some of your tickets or posting a poster for your event in their shop. Other businesses may be able to help you in other ways; you won't know how until you ask.[21]
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    Enlist the help of your team. Your team can be a great resource in getting the word out. Tell them to talk about the fundraiser whenever possible and make an effort to let their friends know about the event. In addition, they can email faraway acquaintances that may be interested and post about the fundraiser on social media. Any way that they can get the word out will only help your cause.[22]


  • Bake sales and cookouts should be managed so that the food is safe and handled properly.
  • Make sure you are not breaking local laws with your efforts.
  • If your efforts involve door to door sales, travel in teams for safety.

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