Fundraising for Nonprofits: Promoting Your First Event Like an Old Pro


Promoting your first event can be nerve-racking. There are so many things to think about and plan – where do you start? Here are a few tips to get you going.

Plan 3 to 6 Months Ahead

Plan your event well in advance – about 3 to 6 months in advance. Why? Well, if this is your first event, something will go wrong. It almost always happens. And, even if it doesn’t, there’s a learning curve you’ll have to overcome.

Caterers, figuring out door prizes, and getting the venue nailed down may take longer than you think.

Choose A Good Venue

Choosing a good venue is difficult. The old adage holds true: location, location, location. A good venue will get people excited about the event. But, it also has to be relevant to the type of event you’re holding.

Think about events that people would want to go to and be involved with. The big draw to an event is going to be how fun it is. If there are a lot of games, good food, the scenery is nice, and there’s lots of interesting people to talk to, then people will likely enjoy themselves. You’ll have a large turnout, and the whole thing will be a success.

If it’s not fun, you don’t plan out the food selection very well, and there are no games, don’t expect people to show up. And, if they do show up, don’t expect them to stay very long.

Choose Great Prizes

Door prizes and raffles are still major draws for community events. People just love winning things – it almost doesn’t matter what it is.

For example, if you’re hosting an event to raise awareness about a cause you believe in, it might be difficult to give away something like pens and pencils as prizes, but a deck of custom playing cards might work. Here’s the thing. If you make the prize interactive and engaging, it will make people want that prize even more.

Games, like playing cards or customized board games, are inherently interactive. Depending on the size of the event, you could organize a table game competition where the winner wins a deck of custom cards.

Or, you could make the cards a door prize.

Choose “Easy” Food

Simple food is probably the best way to go if you’ve never catered an event before. You’re going to have a lot on your plate already. Don’t make food another hassle you have to deal with.

Most community events, for example, don’t host formal “sit down” style meals. Instead, they host buffet style meals where people just stroll up and get their food.

It’s easy. It’s inexpensive (relatively speaking). People love it.

Send Out “Save The Dates”

Don’t forget to remind people of your event at least 3 months out. Even if you’re sending formal invitations, send out “save the dates” so that people can plan to attend your event. This is probably the single biggest factor in increasing response and attendance rates (assuming you’ve done everything else right).

If people don’t know about, and can’t plan for, your event, they won’t show.

Teresa Baker has held numerous management roles in non-profit organizations. She enjoys sharing her views and advice online. Her thoughts and valued knowledge has already been shared on a number of different websites relevant to community service and helping others.

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