10 Important Steps to Planning a Fundraiser

Fundraiser planning is a big job! Rosterfy has pulled together our top 10 recommendations for coordinating a successful fundraiser.

Fundraising events are vital to ensuring charities and non profits can help as many people as possible. But as well as raising much-needed funds, a successful event also gives organizations a chance to spread awareness, build a community and network, and have a bit of fun too!

One important thing to remember during fundraising planning is to keep it simple. Far too many fundraisers pull important operational resources away from the organization, which then go missing for weeks or even months as the fundraiser takes over! So it’s important to be clear on your goals, available resources, and timelines before finalizing any plans.

In this guide, we’ll show you how to plan a fundraiser in 10 steps.


How to plan a fundraiser checklist

Fundraiser planning is a big job! Follow this planning a charity event checklist to ensure your fundraiser is a success:

  1. Define the purpose of the fundraiser
  2. Decide on the type of event you will organize
  3. Set a budget
  4. Rally a team of volunteers or staff to help
  5. Use efficient software to manage all the moving parts
  6. Promote it
  7. Sell tickets or raffle tickets online
  8. Run the big event
  9. Wrap up and review
  10. Send out thank yous.

Now we’ll look at each of these steps in further detail.


Fundraiser planning in 10 steps

1. Define your purpose

So you know you need to raise funds, but the first step is defining exactly how much. What do you need the funds for? If it’s to buy a new item, find out exactly how much that costs. If it’s to keep the program running for another year, work out how much that is.

Setting an exact amount for your fundraising goals will make it easier to communicate with donors, as well as provide a clear objective to strive for.

You may have another purpose for the fundraiser, such as spreading awareness, generating press coverage or thanking volunteers. Whatever it is, make sure you consider how you can achieve those goals. The next section will help you refine your idea.

2. Decide on a fundraising idea

There is no shortage of great fundraising ideas that can help you raise money. But when it comes to picking one, you should consider your overall objectives of the organization, time frame, and how big your fundraising team is. You also need to consider your ideal target audience. The table below will help you understand how to plan a fundraiser that fits your goals.




Great for

Fun Run /Marathon/ Bike Ride

  • Community building
  • Raises awareness
  • Promotes health and wellbeing
  • Can raise a lot of money
  • Builds positive brand recognition
  • Long lead time
  • Resource intensive
  • Subject to weather/traffic/ lockdown restrictions
  • Competitive market
  • Large health non profits 
  • Could be done on a smaller scale at schools or sports clubs

Trivia night

  • Fun event
  • Can be organized in 3 months or less
  • -Could double as a thank-you event
  • -Celebrity host makes it appealing
  • Success is dependent on partnerships and sponsors for prizes
  • Maximum number of people means limited funds raised
  • Most organizations

Donor match donations drive

  • Simple and quick
  • Tap into existing donor base
  • Can be done online
  • Low cost
  • Need one large donor to match donations
  • No community interaction
  • Purely sales/comms based
  • Most organizations

Online crowdfunding

  • Simple and quick
  • Can spread awareness
  • Low overheads
  • Few resources needed to implement
  • No networking or community building
  • Small impact
  • Most organizations

Music festival- Read our guide to planning a music festival here.

  • Great fun
  • Community building
  • Opportunity to spread awareness
  • Create a yearly tradition
  • Press coverage
  • Could be affected by restrictions
  • Long lead time
  • Very resource heavy
  • Dependent on securing musicians and great venue
  • Expensive tickets may alienate some people
  • Outdoor event is subject to weather/lockdown restrictions
  • Large organizations

Silent auction

  • Can be conducted online or in-person
  • Could raise a lot of money
  • Can outsource to third-party
  • Build awareness and partnerships
  • Can be combined with a thank you event
  • Low overheads
  • No community building
  • Not very original
  • Funds raised depends on types of prizes donated
  • Most organizations

Direct mail

  • Can be conducted by email or post
  • Cost-effective
  • Reach new markets
  • Can purchase databases to reach out to
  • Low conversion rate
  • No community building
  • No chance to meet donors
  • Most organizations

Gala dinner

  • Great fun
  • Community building
  • Opportunity to spread awareness
  • Create a yearly tradition
  • Press coverage
  • Could be affected by restrictions
  • Networking
  • Potential to raise a lot of money
  • Long lead time
  • Very resource heavy
  • Expensive to run
  • Dependent on securing a great venue
  • Reliant on a large database of donors
  • May not recoup a lot of costs
  • Large organizations

Market stall

  • Spread awareness 
  • Easy to organize
  • Could sell cakes/plants/merchandise/BBQ
  • Low cost
  • Localized engagement
  • Low returns
  • High competition
  • Small impact
  • Schools, charity groups or sports clubs

Face painting

  • Easy
  • Make people smile
  • Low cost
  • Localized engagement
  • Need WWCC
  • No networking
  • Hard to build connections
  • Small impact
  • Schools, charity groups or sports clubs

Giving days

  • Create momentum and sense of urgency
  • Create an annual day
  • Generate press
  • Generate social buzz
  • Simple and low overheads
  • Virtual
  • Could raise a lot of funds
  • Dependent on a great communications plan
  • No community building
  • Charities

Guest speaker

  • Online or in-person
  • Inspirational
  • Directly connected to organizations mission
  • Sell tickets to raise funds
  • Easy to organize
  • Dependent on a great speaker
  • Small audience
  • Low impact
  • Most organizations

Raffle tickets

  • Easy and simple
  • Can be done anywhere
  • Few resources needed
  • Not original
  • Reliant on good prizes
  • Most organizations


  • Spread awareness
  • Ongoing revenue stream
  • Can also be used as thank you gifts
  • Not very sustainable
  • Wastage
  • Need a way to post or transport
  • Initial investment is high
  • Most organizationsBudget

3. Budget

Once you’ve decided on a fundraiser idea, you need to set a budget to make it happen. If you don’t know what costs to expect, how do you know how much to sell tickets or how many prizes to organize?

Start doing your research and collecting quotes from suppliers. Of course, it pays to ask suppliers if they are able to offer a reduced charity rate, or even donate their services in return for free advertising, but don't rely on it.


4. Prepare a team

If there’s one task that requires dedicated and passionate volunteers or committee members, it’s fundraiser planning. Reach out to your volunteer network, donors and contacts to recruit a team of helpers. Make sure you define the role, by giving as much information regarding times, locations or skills needed in the volunteer job description.

Use a volunteer management tool to identify skill sets and relevant experience so you can get the most out of your volunteer team. Everyone possesses unique skills and may just have a graphic designer, face painter, motivational speaker or an IT guru within your volunteer network that will be happy to offer their skills for free. If you are organizing an event with prizes, make sure to ask your network for help sourcing donated prizes from their wider network or employer.

Our tip: Check out our guide to implementing a successful volunteer recruitment plan


5. Use efficient software

Fundraiser planning is a huge task which requires a lot of organization to be successful. Using quality volunteer management software will help everything run more smoothly and efficiently. By allocating volunteers to roles, encouraging them to check in and check out online and sign up for shifts, you can reduce a lot of the administration headaches that arise around staffing events. 

If you are planning a large scale event you may want to take advantage of event management software to highlight key deliverables for all parties to ensure that everyone is clear on timeline expectations. 

Event project planning tools like monday.com and Asana are great places to start!

Our tip: Check out this guide to planning a successful non profit event.


6. Promote

If you can identify the target audience you’re interested in, you will be able to employ your marketing efforts more effectively. 

Does your charity appeal to a particular interest group, such as animal lovers? Then perhaps you could advertise on dog blogs or Facebook pages. 

Is the fundraiser event in aid of a local cause? Speak to the local paper or radio station, or even hang posters in the shopping centre. 

If it’s an exclusive, black-tie affair, how can you attract high net worth individuals or corporate groups?

By defining your audience, you can determine the best ways to reach potential attendees and donors. From there, your fundraising event planning may include the following marketing channels:

  • Social media marketing
  • PR
  • Printed collateral
  • Paid advertising
  • Partnerships
  • Radio
  • Email

Many of these jobs can be taken on by volunteers with some skills or experience using the internet. You may even recruit virtual volunteers or students to help.


7. Sell tickets

If you are raising money through ticket sales, use a reputable ticket seller such as Ticketek or Eventbrite to ensure that when people are ready to buy tickets to your fundraiser, they can do so quickly and simply. Decide on a ticket price early in order to monitor your fundraising goals more easily.

If you are selling raffle tickets, you could either buy paper colored raffle tickets, organize printed books, or sell online through Rafflelink.

Our tip: Charity professionals and event organizers can now give volunteers the ability to fundraise directly from their Rosterfy volunteer portals thanks to GivenGain.


8. The big day

All your hard work has led to this moment - it’s time to begin fundraising. Whether it’s a small market stall, an online raffle or a black-tie gala ball, there will always be a lot of last minute things to sort-out. Outsource as many tasks as you can to your army of willing volunteers.

Hold a briefing with the entire team before the event gets underway and share as much information as possible to ensure everyone feels confident in their role. Encourage everyone to use this opportunity to ask questions, share information, or double check key details such as times and roles. Use a volunteer management software such as Rosterfy to enable volunteers to conduct training beforehand, check-in and checkout easily, and update details in their volunteer portal, freeing up valuable resources.

Don’t forget to always keep the lines of communication open. Two-way radios are great, or set up a group message chat on WhatsApp - just remember to keep those phones charged! For online events, you may want to set up a chat group somewhere like Microsoft Teams or Slack to keep everyone on the same page.


9. The wrap up

Fundraising planning is a big undertaking, so once your event or campaign finishes, make sure you take the time to celebrate your success with the team. 

It’s also a good idea to take the time to discuss what worked, what didn’t and what could be improved upon for future events, tracking the progress of your volunteer and workforce program. This information will be invaluable when it comes time to plan your next event.  

While there are a number of retrospective frameworks available, keep it simple with just three prompts: What did you like? What did you wish for? What if we tried…? You could also send out surveys using SurveyMonkey to collect feedback from everyone involved.

And last but not least, was it a successful fundraising event? Were you able to meet your fundraising target and your other goals for the event? If you did, make sure you shout it from the rooftops - social media, email, newsletters and media stories. It’s a big achievement, and those funds will help you create even more impact in the future.


10. Thank you

Today, it’s easy to automate many administrative tasks that are repetitive. Sending out post-event emails to attendees and donors can all be done in the click of a button through CRM software and thank you emails can be sent to volunteers through volunteer management software. You may also want to show your appreciation through volunteer rewards, a process that can also be managed automatically with Rosterfy.


How do you create a successful fundraiser?

The key to good charity event planning is preparation. Take the time to really work through your organization's goals and plan a fundraiser that will achieve those goals. As we said earlier, it’s important that the fundraiser doesn’t take too much time and resources away from your organization's impact. 

Recruiting volunteers to help with the delivery is a great way to ensure staff can stay on top of their regular workload.

Rosterfy exists to connect communities to events and causes they're passionate about through our end to end volunteer and staff management solution. 

Want more info on how to plan a fundraiser or event? Keep reading more on our blog:

Similar posts

Join our Newsletter Mailing List

Be the first to know about new Volunteer Management insights, news and feature updates to Rosterfy.