Skip to content
We are now Bonterra

4 steps for organizing a successful year-end event

December 09, 2020
This image shows a group of young nonprofit professionals sitting around a table discussing their year-end event.

Year-end fundraising can be a rewarding process for nonprofit organizations, especially when you’re including an event. As you start the planning process, you may be wondering how you’re going to get from start to finish.

There are a few steps you’ll need to take between generating your first idea and congratulating your team and thanking your supporters for a successful event. With a clear plan to keep you organized and on track, a year-end event becomes much simpler. 

Here’s our four-step plan for hosting a year-end fundraising event that gets your nonprofit the results it needs to meet its fundraising goals and further its purpose.

1. Set a goal

Fundraising goals help you identify where you want to go, what you want to accomplish with your year-end fundraiser, and which initiatives matter most. 

The SMART framework is an excellent tool for setting goals that are both possible and ambitious for your organization. SMART goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. By setting SMART goals for your campaign, you’ll be much more likely to arrive at your target destination as you can frequently check your fundraising metrics to identify whether you are on track to complete your goals. 

2. Pick a theme

Your fundraiser’s theme serves as a unifier and motivator for your team and your supporters. The theme you choose allows supporters to quickly grasp the purpose of the fundraiser and know how they can participate in your fundraising efforts. 

A strong theme also helps to generate energy and excitement around completing your goal. For instance, people might be highly motivated to give to your animal shelter’s year-end campaign if all the proceeds will give your organization the final push it needs to purchase new kennels.

There are several ways to identify a theme for your fundraiser, such as:

  • Consider your goal. Your goal could be a great focus for a theme. Are you working to raise money for a specific project or program? Is your goal oriented around serving a particular community? Specifically aligning your fundraiser with your goal by highlighting it in marketing materials will make supporters feel like they are working toward a tangible outcome. 
  • Reflect the type of event you’re hosting. Your event type may lend itself to a particular theme. For example, if you’re hosting a silent auction, holiday party, or New Year’s celebration, your theme may reference the event itself and get people excited about attending.   
  • Invoke your founding story. If your fundraiser’s purpose is broader or more general, consider your organization’s founding story. Highlight the things that inspired your founders to start a nonprofit, describe your organization’s history with key milestones, or tell a specific and inspiring story. A theme that connects with your purpose can help inspire donors who care about your cause. 

Keep in mind that many peer organizations will be fundraising during this time. Creating a strong, unique theme will catch supporters’ eyes and make your campaign stand out.

3. Segment your audience

Segmenting your list of supporters into groups that share similar characteristics allows you to tailor your messages to your donors’ preferences. Segmentation also helps you get the right messaging to the right groups, all while saving your staff time.

You can customize your communications by donor level, the programs or projects they donate to, communication preferences, and more. When you target each donor segment with customized messages, your supporters will feel that your communications were designed especially for them, and your messaging will generate higher engagement. 

4. Set milestones

When it comes to year-end events, timing is crucial. Identifying milestones you need to reach before launching your campaign will help you ensure that you’re ready when the big day arrives. 

First, create a list of all the milestones involved in planning and executing your campaign. Then, with the day of your flagship fundraising event in mind, work backward to assign target completion dates to each milestone. Finally, assign roles to specific staff and board members (along with a deadline for each task) to ensure every responsibility gets covered.

Skip the stress with a step-by-step plan

Having a step-by-step plan for your year-end event makes planning and execution much more streamlined, limiting stress and ensuring your event goes smoothly. With a clear plan and a virtual event and auction platform, nonprofits of any size can successfully host effective and engaging year-end events.

Ready to Get Started?

  • Nonprofits
  • Digital communications & marketing
  • Fundraising ideas