Event Planning: Stay On Track

As your event draws near, stay on task by creating to-do lists to keep track of everything you still need to accomplish. Here are four things you will want to take care of in the 3 months prior to your event:

Recruit event volunteers: You are going to need plenty of help on the night of the event to free up your time so you can  socialize with donors. It’s always better to have too many volunteers than too few. Volunteers can help you with the event registration; greeting guests as they walk into the room; assisting with the auction; item pick up; decorating; and cleaning up.

Try utilizing different social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to advertise that you’re looking for help. Ask board and committee members if they have family members or friends who would like to volunteer. Perhaps someone’s granddaughter is in a community service club at her high school or college. Many local companies have community service teams who look for ways to help out in the community.

To ensure you are free to talk with donors during the event, try appointing someone on your committee with enough knowledge about the event to manage your group volunteers. Establishing a point person for your volunteers to go to will make it so you only have one person coming to you with questions during the event instead of the entire group.


Find specific stories that relate to your Nonprofit Mission: Audiences connect better with real stories– not statistics. Search for a few real-life examples of how your charity has specifically helped someone or something. Try to find stories that will tug at their heartstrings. Donors are more likely to donate and tend to donate more when they are emotionally invested in the cause.

Maybe an employee of your Nonprofit has a personal experience they would be willing to share. Or better yet, ask a long-time donor who has a personal connection to your cause. Attendees who hear why other donors started supporting your mission may be more willing to contribute. Probably the best people you can have share testimony, however, are those who have received services and directly benefited from your Nonprofit.


Assign auction items to live and silent categories: Once you’ve secured a solid portfolio of benefit auction items, it’s time to decide which items belong in the live auction and silent auction. Make sure you limit your live auction items to between 5-10 items so the event doesn’t drag on.

Items almost always perform better in a live auction, so this is where you want to highlight your biggest and most expensive items, such as unique experiences and travel packages. Use your silent auction tables to display your smaller items like gift baskets, dinner certificates and gym memberships.


Keep promoting your event: You can never spend enough time and energy getting the word out about your event. If you still have some money left in your advertising budget, look back on your strategy and see what else you can do. Look for new avenues you haven’t tried yet. If you don’t have an advertising budget, look for opportunities to promote your event for free:

  • Check your community’s social calendar and see if there are any events where you and a group of volunteers could go distribute flyers.
  • Create and send press releases about the event to your local media outlets.
  • If local businesses have donated to the auction, see if they will let you promote the event at their store with flyers or posters.


The closer you get to an event, the more frantic planning can get. Allow your busy schedule to fuel your passion. In the last 1-2 months, reach out to your team and drive them to stay on schedule.

Stay positive, stay engaged, and don’t let the little stuff get to you.

The end is near – are you ready to host a successful fundraising event? Stay on task with a timeline to help you stay organized and on top of the planning process.


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Talk to one of our professional Event Consultants for more advice on how to throw a successful fundraising event and strengthen your donor relationships.


Winspire Communications Director
About Ian Lauth

With an extensive background in marketing and design, Ian’s role at Winspire is to develop external communications, brand expansion and product delivery processes to help Nonprofits maximize their fundraising revenue.

Ian serves as the Editor-in-Chief for Winspire News, creating and managing blog content,  newsletters, eBooks and other resources for Nonprofit fundraising professionals. You can also find Ian on Google+.

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