Throwing a large fundraiser for a school or non-profit can be a daunting task. It takes many hours of work and ingenuity for things to go off without a hitch. There are some things that cannot be planned for, including: weather, emergencies, or guest cancellations. The aspects that are in your control, however, have the power to make or break the success of your event.
This is one of the most important choices you will have to make. Venues can create talkative, friendly guests or make them silent and uncomfortable. The atmosphere is critical to what kind of group you are entertaining. Keep in mind what the fundraiser is for, and be sure that kind of passion is reflected in your atmosphere.
Most venues provide their own menus and kitchens. You will be able to choose from their pre-selected options what suits your group the best, but again keep in mind who you are feeding. If you are raising money for an animal protection or saving group, you may want to ensure there are vegetarian options on the menu.
Another huge aspect of the venue is choosing what time of day to host your event. A dressy evening group can have totally different expectations than a business casual lunch crowd. In some ways, it may be more cost effective to host a lunch, but be sure this is not offensive to any of your guests. You do not want them to think you are “cheap” when they are supposed to be funding you.
Your speaker can have the power to greatly influence your crowd. If they are passionate about what you are fundraising for, it can be contagious to the audience. Fundraising is all about getting your donors excited about this passion and wanting to help the mission. On the other hand, if your speaker is not enthused about the goal, it will cause your guests to doubt their belief in your success.
While it is nice to be able to invite people you are certain would donate, it can create a very limited demographic in your audience. In some events that could work out, however, when everyone is the same the conversations can be a little dry. Ideally, you will invite other people who are passionate about the group’s mission; even if these people are not able to offer a lot of money. Many of the people working on the front lines in non-profit groups can be motivated by change, not money, and will not have as large of an income as your other patrons. But if their enthusiasm and first-hand accounts can allow others to be excited, invite them!