Levy, Pazanti’s Judy Levy says the most common mistake orgs make when planning fund-raisers is not thinking them through sufficiently. “Don’t assume money is going to come in simply because you have sent invites,” Levy says. “You have to follow through.” Her ideas on how to stretch dollars and ensure a successful event:
- Use printed invitations, accompanied by a personal note. These get the most attention.
- Follow up with emails.
- Schedule a weekly conference call with all those involved in planning the event: This creates a sense of a teamwork and shared responsibility.
- Consider and review all expenses. Look at the overall budget and figure out where to cut without losing the integrity of the event.
- If it’s a dinner, don’t spend extra on the centerpiece, specialty linens or gifts for participants. Go with an upscale starter and dessert and a less expensive entree.
- Have an educational component: Attendees should learn more about the org and where the money will go.
- Work with sponsors and underwriters to give credit, but also manage expectations. Don’t provide free commercials for sponsors.
- Search out in-kind donations to defray expenses, including printing, mailing, liquor and food. Barter ads and use listings in ads or invites as leverage.
- Use texting. It’s what direct mail used to be. At events, ask participants to turn on their phones and give.
- Use CDs/DVDs instead of printed adbooks. At the event, present the adbook on a video screen.
- Instead of a silent auction, expose org and donated items via online auction sites such CharityFolks.com, CharityBuzz.com or eBay.