How To Plan a Dinner Fundraiser

Fundraising is the way to go when pushing a cause that you believe in, but you should have the passion to convince donors to part with their money for this cause. Truly there is such a thing as donor fatigue that often sets in when donors feel used and discarded after they’ve parted with their money. If you want to plan a fundraiser, the first question you should answer is what’s in it for the donors. The next question is how you can make your donors feel valued long before the fundraiser is over. Take all these into consideration plus the suggestions below when planning a dinner fundraiser.

  1. Hold a formal dinner at a hotel or fine dining restaurant. Choosing dinner to hold your fundraising is a good start. People love dressing up for a formal dinner at a hotel or a fine dining restaurant. Book the venue as soon as you decide on a date.
  2. Make a list of your donors. Separate your list according to major and minor donors and be realistic when making your list meaning include donors who you feel will enthusiastically back and support your dinner fundraiser.
  3. Plan the event way ahead of time. This is very important because your donors are busy people ergo planning ahead of time will enable you to announce the event to them so they can reserve the date and time for you. As much as possible let your donors know six months prior to the date and then keep them updated regularly about developments so the event is kept fresh in their mind.
  4. Mail the handwritten invitations. All the handwritten invitations should be out and into your donors’ receipt a month before the day of the event. Ask your donors to RSVP you as soon as they receive the invitation and follow-up on those who don’t RSVP. They might have overlooked your request. By the way, all your donors will make up the headcount of your guests at the dinner fundraiser along with the officers of the benefiting organization or charity.
  5. Open your fundraiser to the public. Post your announcement to an official website and link it to Twitter and Facebook. Leave your contact details so that interested parties can contact you for donation details and dinner reservations.
  6. Keep the headcount to maximum but realistic numbers. The last things that you want are donors and guests feeling disillusioned by the obvious fact that you invited a lot only to cram them in one ballroom. Of course you want to get as much money into the cause but you must never sacrifice the comfort and goodwill of donors. This won’t be your first fundraiser but it might just be if you turn people off. No one wants to deal with a greedy fundraiser.
  7. Generate buzz. Look for creative ways to actively campaign for the fundraiser through promotions. Ask the local radio station for help. Ask permission from the city council to post event posters. Send promotional materials to your donors. Regularly update your official website. One fundraiser thought of sending glass jars to their donors where people can donate spare change. These glass jars can be collected on the day of the dinner fundraiser.
  8. Start and end on time. Just because your guest of honor hasn’t arrived means you delay the proceedings of the fundraiser. This won’t be fair to those who came on time. Start on time so you can end on time, too.

To make the fundraising truly unforgettable, try to inject raffle and bidding segments into the program.


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