Welcome to the final installment in how to be a fundraising superhero, or how to plan a fundraiser from the ground up! In first part we learned about the tools that superheroes have at their disposal and coming up with your own clever name that people will remember. In the second part we worked on building our league of fundraising superheroes. In part three we looked for the perfect superhero pad for the event. For our last part, our superhero will work on honing in on her superpowers and determine what her goals for the fundraiser are.
When superheroes go after the bad guys, they don’t go in thinking, “Hey, I’d like to get into a really good fight today!” (Ok, so *maybe* a couple do, but that’s besides the point.) Usually they go in with a plan of fighting the villain du jour to stop him in his quest for destruction, with the ultimate goal of keeping the people of their fair city safe for another day. If all superheroes did was go in with the mindset of just kicking the villain’s ass, then a) they wouldn’t have a very good plan of how they would ultimately save the people of their city, and b) they might not actually succeed in saving anyone.
Good superheroes go in with a plan, and always work toward the ultimate end goal of protecting people.
Who specifically they are protecting and how that plays out might differ, but it in order to succeed they need to know exactly what their end goal is.
Similarly, when planning a fundraiser, it is important to know what your end goal is. Sure, on the surface it is to raise money, but that alone will not be a clear enough goal in guiding you toward success, or even in helping you to decide if your fundraiser is successful.
Initially when I started thinking about the fundraiser that I was planning, I was super focused on how much money we could raise from it. I’ll admit my fundraising goal was probably a bit unrealistic (not to mention was a recipe for feeling like it was not successful), not to mention a bit short-sited. Obviously we wanted to raise money, but our mission was so much bigger than that. Together our team decided that our goals were to:
- Make back enough money to cover the cost of the event (since this was our first time doing an event on this scale, we weren’t sure how much money we would actually bring in from it)
- Create an event that in the long-term had larger fundraising capacities than the events we had been doing up until this point
Having a budget and knowing how much our event would cost, we had a concrete number of people we needed to attract to the event (which was a very attainable number). Not only were we able to reach this goal, but we were able to surpass it and actually make a profit from the event. Yippee!
We also created an event with a lot of buzz around it (appropriate, given that our event was called The Bids & The Bees!). By the end of the evening, we had people talking about how excited they were to attend it again the following year. We knew that because people had enjoyed the event so much that year, they would likely return the following year, and tell others about it, which is turn would help grow our reach and the amount of money we would be able to raise in the future. Additionally, and as an unattended side effect, this event really put our small organization on the map within our community in a way that we had not previously been able to do.
When planning your fundraiser, it helps to set out with concrete goals to guide you in your planning and determining if your event is successful. These things could be:
- Number of tickets sold and/or money raised from ticket sales
- Number of people who attend the event
- Money raised after the event
- Growth in awareness for your organization
- Attracting new donors
- Attracting new volunteers
Even though in retrospect our goals were not as concrete as they probably could have been, having done the event and seeing what made for us a successful fundraiser, moving forward I know how important it is to have set goals, particularly ones that are attainable. But just like every superhero doesn’t start out knowing exactly what she is doing or how to fight the bad guy, planning a fundraiser from the ground up is a learning experience. I know I personally learned so much a great deal about fundraising from planning my first event from the ground up, and made a couple mistakes along the way. But with a little foresight, some planning and a whole lot of passion, you too can join the League of Fundraising Superheroes!
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What lessons have you learned from planning a fundraiser, or any event?