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Why your fundraising efforts are squandered by an under prepared event.

Updated: May 29, 2022

Fundraising events are a great way at raising some much needed cash and awareness for your cause. Unfortunately, there are many fundraising events that actually loose money or barely cover costs.

With the sheer volume of charities and non for profit organisations in Bali alone how do you get your event to stand out, how do you make sure you get the much needed attention from your invitees and more importantly, how do you get them to put their hands in their pocket to help you realise your financial goals?

We have put together a list of most common mistakes made when organising a fundraising event and ways to avoid falling into the same traps.

charity gala dinner special event bali
Jungle gala dinner

Image via Viator

Waiting too long to start planning.

The first mistake we need to highlight is a rookie oversight, however easy to avoid. I mean we’ve probably all been there, overestimating our amazing event planning abilities and underestimating the complexities and hidden challenges of successfully hosting an event. And with just a couple of months till your big fundraising event you start throwing everything together and produce a half hearted, ill organised event.

We can guarantee that your organisation, sponsors and your invitees will not be impressed. Not only will your invitees be less likely to hand over that much needed cash but they will probably not attend your next fundraiser either.

Delaying the planning of your event doesn’t benefit anyone, least of all your organisation.

So when is the right time to start organising your event? Well, before we answer that question there is another question you need to ask yourself.

What is the goal? What do you want to achieve from this event?

If your answer is just “to raise money” then you aren’t thinking hard enough about the question.

Fully understanding the desired outcome of the event will provide you with the scope of what needs to be organised. If your goal is to raise 100.000.000Rp for one of your projects then you will know that the planning will take many, many, many hours to put everything together.

Your goal will direct your decision making process.

Once you understand the goals and scope of your event then you can start researching. Let’s say you’re wanting a silent auction. First you will need items that your invitees will want to bid on. So you will need to find sponsors (and enough of them) to donate, this takes time (a lot of time), and is only one element of your event.

While there is no actual formula of when you should start planning your fundraiser, give yourself more time than you think you will need. The more time you have then the more time you will have to be able to fix any issues that may come up during the planning process and make sure you’re not scrambling at the last minute to get everything sorted.

Not choosing a theme or choosing the wrong theme for the fundraiser

Underestimating the power of a theme can have a detrimental effect of your event. A theme has a great unifying power. It makes your event cohesive, fun and most importantly has a subconscious effect on your attendees.

There are always the stock standard themes like “The Roaring 20’s” or “Masquerade” and these have their place, but if the theme has nothing to do with your goal or your company then there are better ideas out there.

If your wanting to raise money, then your theme needs to come from an honest place. It needs to have meaning.

For instance, let’s say your raising money and awareness for the killing and loss of habitat of the Orangutan, while you could go for one of the more traditional themes why not think outside of the box. Imagine your attendees walking into a space filled with big palms, plants big and small, vines hanging from the roof and nature sounds playing from all around. Or even better actually holding your event in a jungle.

A correctly applied theme can be thought provoking, transporting your attendees frame of mind closer to your message and to your goal.

So no matter what type of fundraiser you are planning, remember that a carefully chosen theme can do wonders.

charity gala dinner fundraiser bali
branded products

Image via The Allotment Co

Not taking advantage of branded products

“Why would I have branded products at my event? I’m trying to raise money not spend it.”

Ok fair question, but for a relatively small cost you can have your name and message in the hands of every attendee for days, months or even years. The return on investment for branded products is astronomical.

Think about it for a second, you can get advertising for years. Your message and name can reach thousands of people. People that might ask “What’s that organisation all about?” People that might be interested in getting involved in your organisation.

You can also have the names and logos of your fundraising sponsors which can have a two pronged effect. One you are reinforcing the relationship with your sponsors, saying that their sponsorship is not just important to you but that you want everyone to know how important it is. And two it can also make your sponsors more likely sponsor your next event too.

Picking the right product to brand is also very important. It needs to have a usefulness to the consumer. Something that makes their life more convenient. It could be a metal drink bottle or a USB, whatever you end up choosing make sure you don’t over order.

Fumbling with sponsorship

Behind the most successful fundraising events there is a generally at least one large sponsor. A company that has aligned themselves with a worthy cause for the exposure.

Where most non for profit organisations stumble is asking for money. It’s not something that comes naturally to any of us. Walking into a business and asking them to sponsor your event can be awkward and embarrassing but it doesn’t have to be.

The reason behind the embarrassment and awkwardness when asking for money is the lack of research. To land the best sponsor you need to know what you’re talking about, who your talking to, why they are the best company to sponsor your event and what you have to offer them in return.

Your ultimate goal is to find out what your potential sponsors objectives are. Do they have a social or environmental objective they wish to achieve? Finding information like this will give you confidence when approaching the company for money. You will also need to have a clear understanding of what you can offer them. Remember that you are proposing a partnership so be clear with what potential sponsor stands to benefit with this arrangement.

Failing to be transparent about your goals

Your supporters love your organization. They would not show up at your fundraiser or find ways to donate to your cause otherwise. But everyone likes to know what you are planning on doing with their hard earned money.

Be honest an open with your goals. Make your attendees feel like they are part of the organisation by discussing your future plans and projects.

Tell your attendees all about your lofty goals and aspirations. Let them in on the planning of your upcoming initiatives. They are likely curious about the projects you plan to tackle. Moreover, they want to know how they can help — how they can get in on the ground floor of the good work that you are pursuing.

Ask donors for their help. Tell them that their donations matter and that every dollar counts toward achieving your non for profit’s dreams.

charity gala dinner fundraiser bali
Gala Dinner

Not getting professional help

We understand that the whole point of putting together a fundraiser is to raise as much money as possible for your cause and you’re probably thinking spending money on an event management company is going to hurt your overall fundraising potential. However, investing in a professional Event Manager can not only reduce your stress but can end up helping you raise more.

A professionally curated event will increase your reputation within the community, your hard earned sponsors are shown in the best light possible giving them more incentive to continue their partnership with you and your attendees are entertained throughout the fundraiser.

Professional event planners will make sure that none of the above list will ever become a problem for your fundraising campaigns. They are the professionals in everything they do. With incredible industry contacts and access to the best deals from suppliers and venues, they will give your event a polished feel that your invitees will notice.

If you’re looking at having a charity or non for profit fundraiser, please contact us at The Eleventh Agency to see how we can help you realise your goals.

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