3 Event Planning Steps You Can’t Afford to Skip

Fundraising events are a nonprofit mainstay, but they take a lot of time, money, and effort to produce. Creating a solid plan before you launch your campaign, will help create an event that your guests will remember—and won’t break your bank!


What’s the first thing you need to decide when planning your event? Date? Location? Sure, those are important. But, the first step in designing an event is one that is so often overlooked. The first thing you want to think about when it comes to events is what you want the overall purpose of your event to be.

Key questions to ask yourself (or your event committee):

  • Who is my target audience? Is this for Major Donors, Young Professionals, New Donors?
  • What is the purpose of the event? Am I trying to educate people? Inspire action? Raise money?
  • What’s the key theme or message that will prompt my audience to take the desired action(s)?
  • Where is the best place to stage the event given the audience and purpose?


Now that you have a clear vision of your event’s purpose, turn your attention to your goal. Challenge yourself to set goals that advance your mission and meet the most critical needs of your organization. Your event is not a free-standing, one-off endeavor. Incorporate it into your overall strategic engagement and fundraising efforts.

How will you measure success? Depending on the purpose of your event, you may be measuring very different things. For example, if your event’s goal is to raise money by engaging existing donors and recruiting their friends, family, and colleagues to your cause, you’ll want to track:

  • Dollars raised
  • Percent existing donors attending
  • Percent new contacts created

What else would you want to track? Tell us in the comments below.


It might be tempting to start with your budget and create an event that matches the funds you have, but don’t let your finances hinder your imagination. Remember the saying…“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”

Decide on your event’s vision and goals, then create a budget to help you achieve success. You may need to get creative and adjust your scale, but you can still achieve greatness on a budget!

Remember, events are meant to be fun—and not just for your guests. Use this time to plan an event that will show off your achievements, celebrate your victories, and rally your supporters.

For more on how to throw the event of the season, download The Ultimate Guide to Nonprofit Fundraising Events today.

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