A fundraising dinner can be a profitable way to raise funds for a charitable organization when it is planned and managed effectively. Whether you’re looking to host a small gathering to support the expenses of a Little League baseball team or you’re preparing to plan a gala evening to benefit a hospital or museum, the same basic planning principles apply.
Establish a budget for the event. The budget should include the costs for:
• Space Rental • Food/Beverages • Decorations • Printed Materials (programs, etc) • Equipment Rentals • Entertainment
Set a target for revenue. Once you have totaled the expenses, you can set a target for your revenue. Set your ticket price by making sure that the total expenses for the event don’t exceed 25 percent of the total revenue that you raise through ticket prices and sponsorships. Any more than this and donors may be uncomfortable that their contributions are not being used for their intended purpose.
Establish an attendance goal and an invitation list. Develop a list of potential invitees to the dinner. Include full contact information for each person such as name, title, organization, email address, and telephone.
Develop an invitation. The invitation should contain the following information:
• Name of the Event • Information about the Organization • Why the Fundraiser is Being Held • Date • Location • Time • Cost to Attend • Payment Instructions • RSVP Requirements
Look to email your invitations a few months in advance, if possible. People are very busy these days and will appreciate the advance notice (plus, you want to get on their calendar before someone else does). Follow up on the email by making personal telephone calls, especially to VIP donors, to encourage attendance at the dinner.
Complete the logistic arrangements for the dinner:
• Work with the facility you have secured for your event to draw a floor plan and create a table diagram for the dinner • Work with the caterer or event location staff to finalize the menu • Decide who will speak or participate in the program and invite them to prepare remarks • Finalize audio-visual equipment requirements • Finalize the entertainment • Finalize the décor – floral arrangements, centerpieces, signage, staging, etc. • Determine a seating plan (open seating or assigned seating)
Using Fundraise.com all of your RSVP management will be handled, as will your backend reporting for after the fundraising dinner. Fundraise.com also emails a “thank you” and a tax deduction email directly to your donors after they buy a ticket to your event, however, you may want to reach out to specific donors who bought tickets but didn’t attend, etc; your Fundraise.com reports will be allow you to view such data.