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10 Tips As You Approach Your Annual Fundraiser


It’s finally spring. For many of us, things in the sector are beginning to slow down. As warm weather settles in and we start leaving the office earlier, it feels like we can FINALLY relax.

But this is only true for some of us. For others…it’s gala season.

If your event is around the corner, then you’re probably feeling a bit crazed. And I don’t blame ya!

Months of work is about to culminate in a 3-hour window of food and Powerpoint slides. The amount raised could set your org on track for the year, or create uncertainty. You may even have nightmares about it all falling apart.

(If that sounds extreme, welcome to Development.)

Still, don’t let the pressure get to you! Here are 10 ways to sail through this event season with poise and sanity.

Well, maybe not complete sanity, because it is still your gala.

10 Tips As You Approach Your Annual Fundraiser


1. Delegate like your life depends on it.

One person can’t do it alone. Gala season isn’t the time to worry about burdening others. Delegate where possible, to staff within and beyond your team.

It’s a good way to share the load, and begin familiarizing everyone with the event process going forward.

Tip: Consider writing a staffing plan, so that folks can reference it if/when they forget their duties.

2. Build a plan.

In the weeks leading up to your event, write down what needs to be done, by when and by whom. You’re giving yourself a mini project plan that will prevent things from slipping through the cracks.

Include everything – from confirming with the caterer, to arranging transportation for your speakers. Even the smallest missed detail can make for a giant disaster.

3. Continue to write things as they cross your mind.

When you don’t commit an idea to paper, you risk forgetting it. So keep a pen and notepad (virtual works too) on you at all times, so that you can jot down every last-minute thought.


4. Clear your desk.

If you tend to keep a stellar desk year-round, then kudos. Otherwise, carve out 20 minutes to clear your workspace before the chaos sets in.

It may seem mundane. But when your brain starts swimming with all the to-do’s, a clear workspace keeps you grounded. Plus, you don’t want to be in a position where you can’t find something because your desk is in shambles!

5. Set expectations with your colleagues.

It’s important that your team be on the same page: about what needs to happen, where they fit, and how they should expect to interact with you in the coming days.

My manager would always make it clear to my team that our capacity was limited during event season. Obviously be available where you can, but also be honest about where your head is at. This will prevent any miscommunications or hurt feelings during what is sure to be a hectic time.

6. Set expectations with your director.

Your Executive Director is key to this puzzle. Let them know what they can expect of you in the days leading up to the event, as well as what you need from them.

7. Manage expectations with your board and event committee.

Everyone’s relationship to their board is different. But to the extent that you can, put them to work! Invite them to spread the word to their networks, and task them with making introductions at the event to potential supporters.

Winspire has quick, actionable tips for getting your board engaged in this process.

8. Touch base with speakers prior to event day.

The last thing you want is to focus so much on logistics that you wind up neglecting the constituents, partners & special guests that you’ve invited to speak.

Take time to connect with these participants and bring them up to speed on how the day will work. TED has a short & effective list on things you can do to really prepare your speakers to shine.

9. Check in with your social media person.

Some orgs have a team dedicated to this, or maybe it’s fallen onto you, because #multiplehats.

Whatever the case, figure out your plan for spreading the word before, during and after the event. Network for Good has some great tips for starting to wrap your head around a social event strategy.

10. Always triple-check the collateral.

If you’re planning to list sponsors and other supporters on your event collateral, triple-check that everyone is recognized AND attributed correctly.

It will feel like a nightmare if a sponsor points out a typo with their name on the program, or if you forget to include that new board member on the slideshow.

I know I said 10, but I have one more…and that’s to take a breather! You’re working hard and you’ve planned this thing like a boss. It’s all going to come together.

Are you in the midst of your annual event season right now too? How do you keep yourself together?

Thanks for reading!
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4 responses to “10 Tips As You Approach Your Annual Fundraiser”

  1. Oh my god! As another non-profit professional, this is so awesome. The site is awesome as well and I am definitely adding to my reader!

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