Party Ideas

How to Plan a Successful Fundraiser

By Matt Holland

Looking to make a meaningful impact? Planning a fundraiser may seem daunting, but with the right strategies, organizing a successful fundraising event can be achievable and rewarding. Whether you’re a seasoned event planner or a first-time organizer, get ready to learn key strategies for bringing your fundraising ideas to life and making a meaningful difference in your community.

Paint the big picture

Your first step when planning a fundraiser should be outlining the big picture. Identify your goal, your audience, and the ideal budget. Then, everything else you plan will be based on a strong foundation and a clear vision.


Of course, your primary objective will be to raise money, but you may also have additional goals, such as acquiring new donors or raising awareness for a nonprofit organization or the cause. To succeed, it’s important to have clear targets that will help you keep your eye on the prize and guide your other decisions. 

To create a successful strategy, set a SMART goal. A SMART goal is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based.

🔍 Specific: Set an exact monetary amount and a clear purpose. 

📏 Measurable: Make your goal quantifiable and trackable. 

🎯 Achievable: Create a goal that is realistic and attainable. 

🔗 Relevant: Align your goals with your organization or community’s present needs. 

⏰ Time-Based: Choose an end date for the fundraiser. 


After you create a SMART goal, it’s important to consider the audience. Your primary audience should be those most likely to donate, support your cause, and help you reach your fundraising goals. For example, if you plan a fundraiser to support arts education for all, your target audience will consist of artists, educators, parents, cultural organizations, and advocates already working on this.

By knowing the audience, you can more clearly research the demographics and interests to choose an appropriate theme, entertainment option, and location. Look to your current donors as a starting point. Where do they live? What are their interests? What is their income? Age also plays a role, as 77% of households aged 61-75 donate compared to 60% of households between 26-45 years old.

🎤 Inspire your guests: Use a Spoken Word Artist to Make an Emotional Impact at Your Event


Creating a detailed budget will allow you to maximize your fundraising potential. You should know exactly how much you’re spending so you know what to request from sponsors and how that will ultimately impact your monetary goals. To successfully plan a budget for your fundraiser, consider all of the following costs:

💰 Additional staffing (overtime costs, extra support, etc.)

🎤 Entertainment (bands, interactive performers, etc.)

👥 Event services (catering, waitstaff, security, etc.)

🔑 Event space rental (venue, party rentals, etc.)

💻 Marketing materials (printables, clothing, online advertisements)

💸 Miscellaneous expenses (raffle prizes, giveaways, contingency expenses)

📱 Software and technology (ticket sales, donation applications)

🚚 Transportation and logistics (travel costs for performers, vehicle rentals, shipping)

Hone in on the details

Once you have a vision and a budget, you’re ready to focus on the details. The type of fundraiser event you want to host will help guide everything else. Once you decide on an event type, you can start to find the right space and people to support you.

Fundraising event ideas

From intimate dinners to concerts to outdoor sports, there are nearly endless possibilities for fundraising events. Ultimately, the fundraising idea you pursue will depend on the cause, your audience, and your budget. Consider how the event complements your nonprofit’s branding or the cause to maximize impact and awareness. 

🎵 Benefit Concert: A live music event featuring performances by bands or artists with ticket sales benefiting a specific cause.

💰 Charity Auction: Auction items, experiences, or services to the highest bidder to raise funds.

🎉 DIY Fundraiser: A fundraising event organized by individuals or groups to raise funds independently, such as bake sales, yard sales, car washes, trivia nights, or community fundraisers.

🍔 Food Festival: A culinary event featuring tastings from local restaurants, food vendors, and chefs, with proceeds benefiting charitable organizations. Or get the community involved and have a cook-off competition with baked goods or foods like wings or chili.

🥂 Gala Dinner: A formal evening event featuring dinner, entertainment, auctions, guest speakers, and classy live music, such as a jazz band or string quartet.

Golf Tournament: Hosting a golf tournament is a fun and interactive way to raise money. It offers participants an enjoyable outdoor activity while also supporting a charitable cause. 

🐶 Pet Fashion Show: This is a fun event where pet owners dress up their furry friends in creative costumes and compete in categories such as “Best Dressed” or “Most Creative.” Attendees pay to participate or spectate, and the proceeds benefit animal welfare organizations.

🎭 Theme Party: Everyone loves a good themed event, so this fundraising idea is a great way to attract both guests and sponsors. Consider fun and engaging themes, such as a costume party, masquerade ball, Hollywood party, or casino night.

🍷 Wine Tasting Fundraiser: An event showcasing wines from local wineries, often accompanied by gourmet food pairings and silent auctions with donated items and services.

🚶 Walk-a-Thon: Host a charity walk or 5K to raise money for your cause. This peer-to-peer fundraising idea invites supporters to recruit their own sponsors and collect donations on behalf of your nonprofit.

Event space

Choosing the right event space is crucial for the success of the event. Carefully consider important factors such as capacity, atmosphere, amenities, location, cost, flexibility, and reputation to find a place that meets the needs and objectives of the fundraiser. It’s recommended that you book your venue approximately six months before the event date, as you’ll want to start your search as soon as possible. 

To avoid a stressful day or a potential cancellation, have a backup plan for bad weather so your fundraiser will go on rain or shine. If possible, find a venue that can work in any weather situation. Being proactive will provide peace of mind for you and the attendees.

Blog post about planning a festival as a fundraising idea


Sponsors play a huge role in successful fundraising efforts and can often eliminate costs that would otherwise detract from the funding goal. Companies, local businesses, restaurants, or even a generous individual looking to support your cause can become sponsors. Many companies have a budget for donations like this each year, so start your search early for a better chance of catching those big fish.

Get creative with your search for sponsorship. Let businesses know that your event can be a great advertising opportunity for them and that any help is appreciated. Local restaurants may be open to food donations or even catering for your event, and businesses can provide goodie bags for prizes and giveaways.

💡 Pro tip: Use a website like Zipsprout to connect with local sponsors seeking brand recognition. 

Hire entertainment and event services

Entertainment is vital to the success of a fundraising event because it increases interest and engagement. Compelling performers can attract a crowd, resulting in more ticket sales. Proper entertainment can also motivate guests to participate in fundraising activities such as auctions, raffles, or donation appeals. 

Musical Performers

Music can set the tone for the entire event. The style or genre of the music should resonate with the audience and complement the fundraiser’s theme and objectives. Find a tribute artist that suits your audience’s demographic, a DJ for lively events, or a jazz band for intimate gatherings or events like silent auctions or a gala dinner.  

💵 Read these tips: 6 Reasons for Choosing the Best Entertainment, Not the Cheapest

Interactive Entertainment

Adding an interactive element can keep your audience engaged and excited. Performers like strolling magicians are a great fundraising idea as they can entertain guests and invite them to open their pocketbooks in a fun and unique way.

If children will be present, consider booking costumed characters for fun photo ops. And you can never go wrong with a photo booth so people have a keepsake to take home. You can also set up games like scavenger hunts and obstacle courses to add some friendly competition.

🎈 Want more kid’s entertainment ideas? Read this: Children’s Entertainment for Any Budget in 2024

Event Services

If you plan on serving food or drinks at your event, it can be helpful to hire staff to assist. Book a bartender to make high-quality drinks for you or a waitstaff member to assist with serving or cleaning up tables. Consider having a professional photographer to capture the event so you can share its success and more easily make marketing materials for annual events.

🍽️ Check out these tips: 31 Essential Questions to Ask a Caterer

If you’re planning a nonprofit fundraising event, be sure to let those you’re hiring know about the cause. Some performers and companies may be willing to donate their time or services or at least lower their asking price to help increase your profits.

Maximize your fundraising success

Once you’ve got a clear plan and an idea of the entertainment that will be present, you can begin spreading the news about your event and working out the logistics of recruiting volunteers, handling tickets, and organizing.  


Plan to use as many marketing tactics as possible to spread the word and ensure high attendance. Email marketing, social media, press releases, and classic flyers each provide their own unique benefits. By employing diverse marketing tactics, you’ll broaden your event’s reach and generate excitement, ensuring a successful turnout and heightened impact for your cause.

Using the web platform Canva, you can easily create captivating images that can be shared widely on social media or printed as flyers. Consider partnering with local celebrities or influencers to promote your event. To increase ticket sales, offer early bird specials like lower ticket costs or exclusive perks to incentivize early registration. 

🤔 Unsure about event planning? Read this: 5 Tips for Nonprofessional Event Organizers


Volunteers are the life of a fundraising event, allowing you to raise more money. To ensure your volunteers are efficient and have a good experience, plan to host an orientation, designate a volunteer lead, and offer incentives like free tickets and food at the event.

Recruit volunteers who fit your mission using online tools like Volunteer Match. These tools allow you to find volunteers passionate about your cause. Filling your event with volunteers who have a positive attitude and are excited to be there will improve the experience and promote donations. 


Managing the big and small moments of your fundraising event can be challenging. If you’re charging admission to your event, you’ll need to decide how to process these payments along with methods for accepting donations. Additionally, with volunteers, vendors, performers, and more to communicate with on the event day, you’ll need a method for controlling the components you’ll be juggling. 

To sell tickets, utilize an online platform such as Eventbrite or Ticket Leap. This will help you keep track of tickets sold and share the success with your team. Manage your event and all of the minute details using Planning Prod, which will help you make checklists, create schedules, track budgets, and more.

❤️ You might also like: 5 Tips for Planning an Unforgettable Charity Event  

Reflect and look forward

After your fundraiser is complete, take some time to show your appreciation for all who supported you and your cause, reflect on what went well, and begin planning for future fundraising events!


Your guests and sponsors are giving their time and money to support your event, so be sure to thank them! During the event, remind your staff and volunteers to be gracious and thank the contributors. Keeping your donors happy is key to a successful fundraiser and to maintaining relationships for other events down the road.

Send thank-you notes to everyone involved in your event to let them know how significant their role was in its success. Invite your staff and volunteers to sign physical cards to add a personal touch. 

📤 Want something unique? Send a Charity e-card to raise more funds while showing appreciation!


When reflecting on your recent fundraising event, take a moment to delve into what went well and what could be improved for future gatherings. Consider the financial performance, attendance, and level of participation. Don’t hesitate to seek feedback from attendees, sponsors, donors, volunteers, and staff — they can provide valuable insights!

Consider using a digital system to streamline the feedback process. Options like a Google Form or a service like Survey Monkey can help gather and organize feedback efficiently, making it easier to track and analyze. By taking the time to reflect and gather feedback, you’ll be better equipped to plan and execute successful fundraising ideas in the future.

Future Goals

After collecting feedback and reflecting, start looking toward the future. Meet with your board members or colleagues and begin outlining your future objectives while considering areas for growth.  Prioritize goals based on their potential impact on the success and feasibility of future fundraising events. Align your ambitions with your mission and develop an action plan with a timeline.

Fundraising is a journey of continuous improvement, so embrace the process and celebrate each milestone along the way. With determination and vision, your organization will continue to make a meaningful difference in the lives of those you serve

Find entertainment for your fundraiser on GigSalad

By carefully considering every aspect, from venue selection and marketing strategies to volunteer engagement and storytelling, you can create an unforgettable experience that leaves a lasting impact on your cause and community. We hope these fundraising ideas will help you plan an event that is remarkable and meaningful. Here’s to a future filled with fundraising endeavors that create positive change! 🫶😊

Book something awesome for your fundraiser! Find the best entertainers and service providers on GigSalad.

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