Nov 15, 2021

How to run a successful nonprofit fundraiser when plans change quickly

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how to run a successful nonprofit fundraiser when plans change

Even the best-planned events can experience changes that cause organizers to shift how the event looks and operates. When facing changes on short notice, it’s important to communicate with donors and create proactive plans to help revitalize your event. 

What can cause a fundraiser’s change of plans? 

Many factors can cause a fundraiser’s plans to shift suddenly and unexpectedly. Plans can change in ways that cause organizers to cancel or postpone their events because of a lack of options. Poor weather might lead to rescheduling a golf tournament. Venue capacity limits can affect a gala that sells more tickets than you were expecting. Vendors might experience delays and cannot deliver goods for a silent auction. 

When planning your event, it’s crucial to prepare for scenarios that may lead to event cancellation so that you and your team can devise backup plans to best handle each of those possibilities. 

The impact of canceled fundraisers 

When faced with challenges for your event, it’s important to remember all the options you have beyond canceling. Canceling can have a negative impact on your organization, which may rely on fundraisers as its primary source of income. In 2020, 83.1% of charities that canceled an event experienced financial troubles due to a lack of funds. These economic problems led to 64% of organizations cutting options and programs they offered, even though there was an increased need for those services. 

What to do to keep the fundraiser going 

When plans change for your fundraiser, you have options to reschedule and restructure your event to meet the best interests of your organization and donors. Depending on the factors that lead to the changes, your solutions will look vary. However, you can utilize several options to address different factors. 

Host a virtual event 

With the growth of virtual streaming technology to help large groups of people communicate from remote locations, nonprofits and organizations can utilize virtual events to maintain their original time, date, and donor attendance. Virtual events work well when you have little room for rescheduling due to a high attendance rate or auction items that donors need to receive by a specific time. Additionally, if your cause is time-sensitive, you can host a virtual event within your initial schedule. 

Even though these events take place online, you can still create personable and interactive experiences for your attendees. There are many online programs that you can use to make engaging presentations about your cause or your key speakers. You can schedule small events like giveaways and Q&As.

Postpone for a later date 

If you’d prefer to engage your donors in person or other factors are preventing you from hosting your event on the original date, you have the option to postpone to a different date or time. Postponing is a great way for your team to take time and regroup so you can create an actionable plan. 

Postponing allows your team to evaluate the factors that lead to the change. If there’s poor weather, maybe your team will consider a tent or canopy where your guests can go if the weather turns on your new date. You can upsize your venue if more people want to participate. If your vendors need more time, you can promise your donors the highest quality of goods, and you’ll know to better accommodate those vendors in the future. 

fundraising options

Postponing of virtually hosting your event can help your organization flourish under different circumstances. In 2020, 70% of organizations that used an alternate option for fundraising thought of the experience as a success. 

Tips on postponing a fundraiser 

When postponing your event, it’s essential to take the necessary steps to communicate with all of the involved parties. Every fundraiser has many different parties involved, from the volunteers to the guests. As soon as you know you’ll need to postpone your event, it’s key to communicate clearly. 

Develop a plan with your fundraising team

When deciding to postpone your event, the first thing you should do is sit down and create a plan with your event team. Determine the vital information to share with others, like new date, time, and location. You should also decide who you need to alert about said changes and how to deliver new information. 

If there’s information that you don’t know yet, like future venue availability, develop a plan to get answers to those questions, communicate with all teams and set a specific goal. 

Alert your venue and volunteers

Once your internal fundraising team develops a plan for how to proceed with a postponed fundraiser, you can reach out to external parties, like your venue, caterers, key speakers, and volunteers. Here, you can gather more information that you were unsure about earlier, like the future availability of parties to continue planning your rescheduled fundraiser. 

Good communication with your external parties is essential to keep good relationships with your partners. 

Repurpose your perishables 

If you need to make changes in fundraising plans last minute after your vendors deliver food or other perishables, you can repurpose those items to get the most use out of them. Consider donating or gifting food to help further your cause and help those who would benefit from the food. 

The importance of communication among attendees 

When you reschedule a fundraiser, communicating with your attendees is one of the most critical parts of ensuring a smooth transition to your postponed date. Your guests are the center of your event and they help you reach your fundraising goals. As soon as you realize you need to postpone your event, you should prepare to spread the news to your attendees. 

As you use your various communication outlets to spread the news of changes, be sure to highlight the importance of your attendees and how they make your goals possible. Express your thanks for their flexibility and support as you develop plans, and share as much information as you can at every step of the way. 

How to run a successful fundraiser 

You plan many aspects when determining how to keep a fundraiser successful. There are several different approaches and features that you can use to increase the success of your fundraising efforts: 

  • Frequently update your attendees: As you collect money for your cause, use a progress bar to visually show your advancement towards your goal. Your donors will feel accomplished throughout the fundraiser as they watch you move towards your goal. 
  • Celebrate along the way: You can further engage your donors by celebrating smaller goals along the way. Observing at the quarter, half and three-quarters marks will keep donors motivated and eager to keep giving along the way. 
  • Establish a match period: During your fundraising period, you can set a period where you’ll match all donations your donors make. This promise will push you further towards your goals, and your donors will feel the excitement as they watch the numbers drastically increase.
  • Highlight your cause throughout: Through the duration of your fundraising campaign, continually remind your donors of your cause and what their money is going towards. You can include videos, testimonials, speeches, and presentations to highlight your cause and remind donors that they’re making a difference. 
how to run a successful fundraiser

You can implement several good practices for your fundraising campaign to keep your cause’s best interests and donors in mind. 

Attribute your success to your donors 

After your campaign ends, be sure to thank your donors for their help in achieving your goals. After all, you couldn’t have done it without them. Your attendees will appreciate your gratitude and feel good about their efforts towards the cause. 

Schedule a virtual fundraiser with GiveSmart  

When uncontrollable factors pop up, it’s important to address those changes and find solutions to continue with your event. Virtual formats allow flexibility for your event so you can please your donors and attendees. 

At GiveSmart, we offer various services and tools that you can use to ease the virtual fundraising process, including our mobile software for bidding and silent auctions. Contact Givesmart today and see how we can aid your fundraising event. 

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Hope Chest for Breast Cancer

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Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County