Need to Know More About Special Events

Dear Kim,

We are considering the pros and cons of doing a special event versus other modes of fundraising. We’ve got a good thing going here but are financially fragile. Not enough people know about us yet, and many who do assume we already have the money we need. So this year we have allocated some staff time and budget for a special fundraising effort beyond the annual appeal, and we want to invest those resources wisely. Our goals for this effort are to generate $5,000-$10,000 and to maximize our exposure to potential donors. Can you help us think through our options? Is there any “Bible of Special Events” in your book?
—Cash Strapped and Under Exposed

Dear Strapped,

If you havent already, check out our article archive. Use the article finder to sort by the category and then scroll down to “special events”. Weve published some very helpful articles on this topic that are available for purchase and immediate download. There are also many excellent books about special events. My two favorites are:

1) “How to Produce Fabulous Fundraising Events: Reap Remarkable Returns with Minimum Effort” by Donna McMillion and Betty Stallings. You can order this from them at 1717 Courtney St, Suite 201, Pleasanton, CA 94588, or call 925-426-8335.

2) “Special Events: Proven Strategies for Nonprofit Fundraising” by Alan Wendroff, John Wiley and Sons, Publishers. You can order this online at Wiley’s website:

Either of these books will help you address the question implied in your letter — who are your potential donors? When a nonprofit does an event, they need to ask themselves, “Who should know about us or know more about us (who doesnt know us already)?” Sometimes an organization will say, “Everybody should know about us.” EVERYBODY is just a lazy answer. Be specific. What are their demographics? Where do they hang out? What do they like to do? What will bring them together? Clear and thoughtful discussion of these questions will help you find an event that can do all that you need it to do.
—Kim