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Timing is Everything! What are you waiting for?

When it comes to planning events, you need time on your side. In fact if you google “How many hours does it take to plan an event?” The answer: “The average time it takes to plan a large event is around 300 hours!” That’s a lot.

When I add the word fundraising, the number of hours shoots up and the answer starts at more than 400+ hours to plan a fundraising event. If we translate that into staff time, this would be the equivalent of one person focusing solely on the event for 10 weeks straight (based on a 40 hour work week). 10 weeks - that is 2 ½ months. 

The number 400, representing hours to put on an event

Let’s face it, no one is going to work for 10 weeks straight on one event. They can’t do it by themselves. Planning an event takes a team. And just because the event logistics take 400+ hours doesn’t mean 3 months is enough time to execute an event. In fact, it’s not. If you have multiple folks working together, you may be able to divide and conquer, but some hours will be shared hours. The truth is, we want your team/staff bouncing ideas off each other and making choices that should appeal to a larger group of donors. This isn’t a party of one. Putting anyone on a time crunch is a recipe for burn out. 

Planning in advance has its advantages: 

  • With a group effort, you have more networks to tap into for auction items, sponsorships and those coveted individual donations. Your staff or volunteers can be thoughtful about what and who to include in the program. Decisions over time can help you craft a much more powerful and impactful program.

  • You’ll have more flexibility with vendor availability. We want to work with our favorite benefit auctioneer at our favorite venue with our favorite caterers who are serving the most delicious meal. These folks book up FAST, and anywhere from 6-12 months in advance. That favorite venue can only host one event per night with your favorite benefit auctioneer who can only be in one location - so you need to secure them simultaneously.

  • You will be able to secure a compelling storyteller for your appeal. Stories reveal themselves over time and we want you to be able to work with your storyteller to plan and craft a meaningful message that will inspire generosity. It’s important to note that we need to tell stories ethically. These are lived experiences are presented as stories to our audience and it is our job to make sure the storyteller feels safe and empowered.

  • You will need to capture your storyteller's message in a video format. A proper video story can take over 3 months to record, edit, review, edit again, review again, get approval from your storyteller and deliver a couple weeks before event night.

  • You need to allow time to cultivate donor relationships so you can then solicit their support. This is true for businesses that will sponsor your event as well as individuals who will support with auction items and cash donations towards your appeal.

Let’s talk about donor relationships. Donor cultivation is a really important part of the plan for your event. You will need 6-12 months to talk to potential donors about your impact in your community before you ask them to GIVE to your organization. Sometimes that looks like inviting your friend to come to your event one year so they learn about your work (the 12 months in advance method). Then, once they understand your impact, you can request a monetary gift for the next year's event. And soon you create a fan of the work, who becomes a committed donor over time/years. Nonetheless, you must educate and cultivate your donors before you ever ask for them to make that first generous gift. Remember the Golden Rule of Fundraising - Never ask for money the first time you meet someone. 

A clock reading Timing is Everything

Plan. Plan. Plan. Timing is everything. You need 400+ hours to plan the structured party. But you need WAY MORE time to cultivate your relationships with folks who will fall in love with all the good you do. Plan accordingly. And get started now. What are you waiting for?



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