Choose a fundraising event that reflects your church's values.

The what, when and where of fundraising events

Planning a fundraising event is a large undertaking. It's lengthy and time-consuming, and an event's success is a reflection of the effectiveness of your organization in the minds of attendees. A simple way to make it through the initial stages of event planning is to break it down into what, when and where.

What should the event involve?
Plan a fundraiser that aligns with the services of your ministry. This gives newcomers a chance to see what drives your organization and discern whether they'd like to participate further. Create a mission statement and brainstorm related ideas. Keep a cohesive theme and focus on the talents of your volunteers. Event management software will help keep track of volunteer positions and manage tasks.

A ministry focused on community health could hold a fundraising race.A ministry focused on community health could hold a fundraising race.

If your organization has held fundraisers in the past, consider what has or hasn't been successful. A productive one-time experience can become an annual occurrence, but there's no need to abandon an idea that suffered low turnout. Instead, evaluate why the event failed and what elements showed potential. Take the good, leave the bad and try again.

It's important to make sure neither volunteers nor attendees get too complacent in whatever the event entails. Don't make the activity just part of another day to them – make it special and get everyone involved. Offering people the chance to experience something new and different gives them a reason to participate.

When should the event take place?
Constant Contact advised setting your fundraiser at least six months from the start of the planning process. This gives ministries enough time to secure a venue, inform attendees, promote the event and deal with unexpected setbacks.

Keep in mind how a person's mood changes throughout the year. People enjoy getting out and active during spring and early summer, fresh from the confines of the colder months. Similarly, crowds rush to savor the final days of fall before the chill comes back. People are less likely to travel far in the winter, but churches can capitalize on the holidays as a time of gathering and celebration.

Try to schedule your event for a time when calendars are clear. Parents will be atypically busy during the beginning and end of the school year, but young children will have endless time during the summer. Once the date is set, nonprofit software can help with scheduling and coordination. If circumstances call for the event to be postponed, inform everyone as quickly as possible. Avoid rescheduling too many times lest people lose interest or get tired of fluctuating plans. 

Where should the event be held?
Location is tied to the "when" of your event – it's difficult to host a barbecue in the middle of winter, after all. Outside versus inside is simple to decide, but create a backup plan just in case. If the youth soccer game is rained out, where and what will you do instead? 

"Set your fundraiser at least six months from the start of the planning process."

Determine the expected number of attendees and find a venue that accommodates more. There's no harm in extra space, and no one wants to be turned away from a fun outing because the building is at capacity. This is especially true of those who have suffered a lengthy commute. Look for locations that are close, have easy access and available parking. The less struggle your attendees have in getting to the event, the more easily they will have fun. Lastly, remember to check the venue's resources. Bathrooms are an essential, and don't overlook the importance of numerous electrical outlets.

Constant Contact suggested making the event into a special occasion by holding it somewhere interesting. This can be as extravagant as an exclusive hotel ballroom or as simple as a new restaurant – all that matters is that people are excited to go and try something a little different.

Once a place is chosen, Nolo.com recommended creating a contract between your church and the vendor owner to establish guidelines and intent. This ensures both parties are on the same page and understand the nature of the area and the occasion.

The details of an event are endless and easy to get lost in, so start with a basic overview of what the event is, when to have it and where it should be.