New Year, Same Event?

Melissa EsteppNon-Profit Fundraising Leave a Comment

We all have heard the definition of insanity right?

When I sit with Non-profits to discuss their events I often hear this being uttered. ‘We want to take our event to the next level, we need to reach our event goals, but we somehow always keep hitting the same wall’’

Me: What have you done to reach your goals? 

Nonprofits: We have done things the same way for the last several years with no new results

“Doing your event the SAME WAY, won’t get you DIFFERENT RESULTS”
– Melissa Estepp

Understand that fundraising is a strategic plan on how you’re going to reach your fundraising goals. This starts BEFORE you even get to the event. Below I have listed some areas that can help increase your fundraising efforts.

How are you reaching your event goals?

Here are my TOP 10 tips to help you reach your


1. Fundraising Mindset

Fundraisers are about making money for your organization and that starts with your mind set. 

All to often I hear ‘Well that ticket price is expensive’ ‘’We want to have this event accessible to everyone’

My questions to you: 

Why are you doing this fundraiser?

What are you trying to accomplish with the money you receive ?

How will the funds be used once raised?

Do you believe your mission matters? Why?

If you believe your organization’s mission matters, then now is the time to be BOLD and tell people it matters. That you need them to partner with you to make the mission possible. We are not shying away from asking for money. 

2. Communication 

Most nonprofit organizations miss this opportunity, but your fundraiser starts the minute you put out your event branding, Save the dates and sponsorship packets. So make sure that everything that is sent out aligns with the mission and vision of your fundraising event. Your communication needs to be simple, clear and bold. Do not shy away from the fact that this is a fundraiser, we are boldly telling them from the very beginning that ‘Your mission matters and we need your help!’ INCLUDING how much you plan to raise at the event.

Your Organization’s Mission Matters! Be BOLD In your ask!

3. The Attendees

Huge misstep in fundraising events is the goal to just ‘put butts in seats’ The truth is every seat at your event MATTERS. Each seat is worth dollars coming into your organization. Your focus should not be on ‘Filling Seats’ to fill seats, but on finding the right people to ‘Fill the Seats’. It will be far more effective to have 100 people that are ready and willing to give to your organization VS 700 people that are volunteers, can not give, just  to be ‘Seat fillers’. From the beginning spend time on getting the right people in the room. Check out this for more info on attendees.

4. The Story You Are Telling

This follows communication, but the entire event is a story that you are leading people through. ‘Who you are as an organization, What you are doing in the community and Why it matters for people to give to your organization’. Bring to the story how there is a deep need for what your organization provides,  statistics of how many people you helped this last year, WHY you need people to partner with you financially to continue this amazing work.’

Storytelling is an essential element in a fundraiser

5. Event Length

As my old dance teacher would say about performing: ‘ Keep it short, sweet, to the point and have them wanting more’. Your length of your event matters.  Not having enough time for your silent auction can hurt your fundraising dollars. Having a volunteer award appreciation in the middle of your event can hurt your fundraising dollars. Appreciation and award ceremonies are wonderful! But they should not be a part of your fundraising event. Our team of experts can help you determine the right length for your fundraising event to keep it focused, to the the point and ‘Have them wanting more’

6. Realistic Event Budget

Working with nonprofits, there is a mindset that ‘We need to get everything for free’ Cutting the wrong elements can hurt your fundraising elements. I have seen the ‘ Well my Uncle Bob knows AV and he will do it for free’ then turns into – Uncle Bob either not showing up or with a disastrous sound issue that you can’t make your way back from.  Sound is a VERY IMPORTANT ELEMENT of your fundraiser and that is not one you want to skimp on. Event budget’s look very different from 100 people to 500. Carrying about your guest experience starts here. When guests feel cared for and appreciated they will buy into your mission. However there are elements in your event budget that can be lowered, gotten for free or negotiated. Understanding which element you need to spend money on and which one you do not is the make or break decision of reaching your event fundraising goals strategically.

7. Registration Logistics

Registration/ Check-In is the first impression of your organization at your event. You have several obstacles to overcome in people giving money to your organization.

 If people show up to a long line due to:  

1. There not being enough registration staffing 

2. The registration is not organized well enough with a seamless check in

3. You do not have the guest’s name on the list and 

A negative experience is the first mental block of your attendees with giving to your organization. Then you have to work EVEN HARDER to win them back at the event. First Impressions Matter! Make sure you have the RIGHT STAFFING TEAM on your side to execute a SEAMLESS registration and check out system.

8. Donor Retention and Relationships

It Happens all year long and should really start before your fundraiser. Thanking people that have already given by showing them that it does really matter to your organization that they are a supporter. Having Donor appreciation events where you just thank them with a special event just for them and at these you DO NOT ASK FOR MONEY, you just build relationships and appreciate. Donor’s that feel a valuable part of your organization are more likely to give again and give more than before. There should be a constant circle of being out in the community talking about your organization, which then brings in new donors, to which you appreciate and strengthen that relationship and well ‘Rinse and Repeat’

It can be overwhelming to plan and execute a fundraiser all by yourself

9. Doing It ALL Yourself!

You are amazing, you have been doing this event for years. BY YOURSELF. But, leading an organization and building a donor base is a FULL TIME JOB. If you are planning your event something will not get your attention because you have so many things coming at you. So you are either sacrificing your day to day operations within your company to focus on the event or you are sacrificing the experience with your donors to get the maximum fundraising efforts out of your fundraising event.

10. Not Having The Right Team

This is the one element that most nonprofits overlook. Not maximizing a team to excel your fundraiser and reach your fundraising goals. As mentioned above, there are costs that can be negotiated down and donated, however, having a fundraising expert on your team is not one that you want to skimp on! They will help pull your team together by laying out a well executed plan to get you the different results you are looking for.


Contact our team! Click HERE