Organising a Charity Event: A Complete Guide

Learn how to expertly organise your charity event with these essential steps. Plus, get valuable tips on recruiting, managing, and training volunteers.


Set up your next charity event for success

Charity events play a crucial role in helping nonprofit organisations raise awareness and funds for important causes. However, planning and executing a successful event requires thoughtful strategy and coordination. 

COVID-19 dealt a heavy blow to fundraising events, with many cancelled over the period of the pandemic. As the economy continues to rebuild, nonprofits must make the most of limited time and resources to organise events that attract attendance and donations.  

This article offers practical guidance on key things to consider when coordinating your next charity event. By focusing on critical areas like establishing goals, building your team, promotion, and creating a seamless attendee experience, you can set your organisation up for an engaging and high-impact event. With some strategic planning and creativity, your next event can help your organisation achieve its mission. 

Why organisation is the key to thriving charity events

Careful coordination and planning form the foundation of any successful charity event. This is especially critical today as many nonprofits continue facing constrained budgets and teams stretched thin. Effective planning helps optimise limited resources including funds, volunteer hours, and community goodwill.

Planning a charity event may seem daunting, but breaking down key considerations into an organised checklist makes the process manageable. Preparation and foresight around elements like venues, permits, vendors, volunteers, marketing and donations can be the difference between an amateur event and a thriving occasion that delights your community while furthering your mission.

Laughing women wearing pink for breast cancer in parkland

Key steps to plan a fundraising event

Define your cause

Selecting a cause that authentically aligns with your nonprofit’s vision and community role is key. Rather than chasing “trendy” issues, focus on addressing ongoing needs your organisation is uniquely positioned to solve.

Conduct in-depth research on the problem’s local scope and impact. Quantify how many people are affected and what outcomes your fundraising will drive. Use data to substantiate vague issues. For example, if raising money for “education”, demonstrate specifically what $5,000 or $25,000 can provide classrooms lacking supplies.

Interview those directly impacted by the problem you are trying to address and produce emotional collateral showcasing real-world stories. Put faces to figures when illustrating who will benefit. Audiences connect more profoundly with an individual teacher’s challenges than bureaucratic budgets.

Visiting related program sites to capture compelling photos and videos brings the importance behind your cause to life visually. For example, images of animals waiting for adoption make the need for expanded shelter facilities more easily understood.

Defining the cause and then clearly articulating localised impact helps build trust that donations will effectively advance your mission, rather than vaguely just raise awareness. It focuses messaging on those served rather than organisational agendas and administration.

Create a budget

Creating a detailed budget is vital for any successful fundraising event. It is crucially important to thoroughly estimate all potential expenses when establishing event budgets.

Common costs often overlooked initially include liability insurance, parking attendants, volunteer t-shirts, signage, payment processing fees, and contingency funds. It is advisable to build in buffers for instances when expected costs are underestimated. 

Income sources for events can extend beyond just ticket sales. Popular options for additional income include raffles, games, merchandise sales, concessions, and live or silent auctions. 

Event sponsorship is another form of potential income. Tiered sponsorship packages can be offered. For example, sponsorship of $500 may provide branding on all materials, whereas $5,000 includes VIP seating and speaking opportunities. Sponsorship helps to incentivise larger corporate donations.  

Indirect revenue streams like affiliate partnerships can also be included. A hotel could offer discounted room blocks for attendees while paying your nonprofit a referral fee.  

Once the budget has been established, it is important to closely track actual expenditure against estimated expenditure, and adjust future plans as needed. With strong financial oversight, shortfalls in one area can potentially be offset with gains elsewhere.

Identify your target audience 

Use Rosterfy's profile feature to understand the demographics, motivations, and interests of your event attendees. This insight allows you to tailor messaging and activities to uniquely resonate with each specific audience. 

You can develop customised selling points and calls to action targeted to each attendee group. For example, when recruiting event volunteers, highlighting autonomy and learning opportunities may appeal to student volunteers, while an emphasis on networking will help to engage those with more experience in the workforce. Rosterfy’s messaging functionality can help to reach each attendee with targeted communications in their preferred channels. Fine-tuned event coordination leveraging the Rosterfy platform can lead to higher engagement across all your supporters.

Select an accessible venue

Venue choice factors into every attendee's experience. When comparing options, conduct site visits to review critical event elements like capacity, layout, equipment, catering capabilities, and pricing.

The venue should be evaluated for accessibility for attendees with disabilities. Ensure the venue meets accessibility compliance standards with ramps, elevators, and bathrooms able to accommodate wheelchairs. You may need to hire sign language interpreters who can clearly be positioned near speakers and performance stages to be seen by deaf guests.  

If hosting a fundraising walk, consider the route. Can it realistically accommodate elderly participants and strollers? Are rest areas and water fountains available along the path or will aid stations need to be set up?

Transportation access should also be reviewed. Consider whether the venue is serviced by public transport. Is there sufficient parking? Can rideshare vehicles easily access entry points?

Improve how you collect out-of pocket expenses

Volunteers sometimes incur personal costs related to transportation, gear, supplies, and other expenses while volunteering at events. With Rosterfy, organisations can create customised forms to simplify expense reimbursement through the volunteer portal.

The user-friendly digital forms can record receipts, incidental costs and other expense items, which your volunteers can conveniently submit online. Both volunteers and managers then receive real-time notifications as reimbursement requests are filed.


What You Should Measure From Your Volunteer Program

Creating a solid framework and process for measuring the impact of your well-run and successful volunteering program is the key to making it even more effective and sustainable.


Establish an engaging theme

Brainstorming creative themes that tap into emotions can bring your cause to life. If fundraising for cancer research, "A Night of Hope" stirs more inspiration than "Annual Cancer Research Benefit."  

Incorporating symbolism and imagery tied to your mission into the theme can help achieve maximum impact. For example, the logo for an animal rescue fundraiser could feature a cat and dog with a heart in between.

The event’s theme can be creatively woven through event branding and communications for a cohesive experience. Feature it prominently on the event page and all email outreach communications. Visual motifs and logos can be replicated across event signage, presentation slides, promotional items, and décor. 

A creative theme can often lead to increased media coverage and social media engagement. Attendees become walking advertisements as they wear branded merchandise long after the event ends. When people voluntarily continue to promote your messaging, it extends your nonprofit’s reach exponentially.

Recruit aligned sponsors

Rosterfy’s impact reporting feature provides tools to produce tailored proposals quantifying the reputational benefits and goodwill value sponsors will receive from sponsoring an event. The reports offer clear metrics substantiating your nonprofit's track record and community influence. This can help to justify compelling sponsorship packages at various investment tiers. Rosterfy’s impact summary reporting makes it easy to provide sponsors with ongoing recognition and updates, highlighting the collective change enabled through their partnership.

Promote strategically

Rosterfy’s event features help you to share key event details plus use your own branding assets and compelling content to build event anticipation. Rosterfy’s templates make it easy to customise event pages to highlight specific calls-to-action for different audiences. Sponsor logos and promotional graphics can be uploaded and used to maintain a consistent brand across all materials. The events tool in Rosterfy allows you to track page traffic and ticket sales to gauge campaign effectiveness.

Rosterfy’s email templates can be leveraged to deliver targeted messaging to different attendee groups. This helps ensure everyone receives relevant instructions and reminders leading up to the event. And posts and graphics can be shared to your nonprofit's social channels directly from the event page to expand your digital reach.

Make donating easy

Enabling straightforward donations is key for nonprofit events to meet income goals. Rosterfy offers seamless integration with today's most widely used fundraising applications, meaning there is no need to maintain separate donation portals.

By directly connecting your Rosterfy volunteer portal to leading platforms like PayPal and Given Gain, in just a few clicks you can be set up to receive one-off and recurring donations.

Hand taking receipt from pos terminal-1

Recruiting, managing, and training volunteers as a foundation of event management

At the core of every nonprofit event is its volunteers. No amount of planning and coordination alone brings a vision to life. It is the volunteers' steadfast commitment, the hours they devote, and their passion that transforms plans into tangible outcomes. Recruiting and empowering the right volunteers provides the foundation to execute a memorable, impactful event that benefits your cause.

Rosterfy can be used to track volunteer history across events and the automated messaging feature helps to nurture relationships between events. This retention allows you to easily re-engage your most dedicated supporters while continuously expanding networks by highlighting first-timer accomplishments.

You can strategically grow your volunteer base through social channels, email outreach, and community partnerships like corporate volunteering. The Rosterfy platform simplifies assigning volunteers specific, meaningful roles matched to their skills. Targeted volunteering opportunities like graphic design, outreach assistance or event photography can attract volunteers with specialised skills that may be unlikely to participate in a volunteer role not aligned with their skills and interests.

Streamline training using the Rosterfy training module where materials can be customised to each role, ensuring everyone understands their responsibilities and feels confident to contribute in a meaningful way. 

On the day of the event, Rosterfy can manage shift check-ins and provide a library of support materials. With Rosterfy’s robust tools empowering on-site volunteer managers, more attention stays on the event experience and less on distracting logistics.

Do you need a licence to hold a charity event?

When coordinating any fundraising event, it’s important to understand what legal permits or licenses may be required. Regulations vary based on the location and type of event being held. Understanding licensing requirements early allows you to properly budget for associated fees.

Common permits typically involve venue operation, food service, noise levels, security staffing, insurance coverage, liquor licenses, and raffles/gaming. 

Many councils waive or subsidise fees for nonprofit events supporting charitable community causes. Be proactive and communicate how funds raised at events will directly aid residents in need. Providing background on your organisation’s history and financial arrangements also helps build trust when requesting licensing fee waivers or discounts.

How much does it cost to organise a charity fundraising event?

When planning a nonprofit fundraising event, one of the first questions is often “what will this cost?” Expenses can add up quickly however, with careful planning and cost management, even large events can maintain reasonable budgets.

Typical expenses incurred when coordinating events include:

Venue – Venue hire fees often make up the largest single line item, especially for galas or conferences. Costs vary widely depending on factors like location, capacity, amenities offered, and time of year.  

Catering – Feeding attendees represents another significant cost. Negotiating pricing per plate based on guaranteed guest numbers and simplifying menus helps control catering costs.   

Entertainment - Whether music, games, or speakers, entertainment always complements events nicely but scaled options are available at every budget level.  

Staffing – Depending on the event scope, extra temporary staff like security, parking attendants or check-in personnel may be required. Volunteers can offset some personnel costs.

Promotion - Effective marketing ensures people attend and donate at events. Free or low-cost options like social media can be leveraged to minimise marketing and promotion expenses.  

Décor/Supplies – Expenses for items like program printing, table centrepieces, audio-visual rental and signage often quickly accumulate. Clear budgets for each sub-category should be developed.

Streamline your charity event planning now and book a call!

Planning and executing a successful nonprofit fundraising event requires thoughtful strategy across many areas from compliance and budgeting to promotion and volunteer coordination. However, with proactive planning and the right tools, organisations of any size can deliver meaningful events that raise funds and advance their mission.

Rather than juggling endless event planning checklists, simplify coordination with one centralised platform like Rosterfy. Book a demo to see firsthand how Rosterfy’s software saves time, saves money and helps set your organisation up for success.

About Rosterfy

Rosterfy is used by non-profits, charities, sporting federations, and more to better manage their volunteer programs by improving how they can recruit, screen, train and retain volunteers.

Our market leading technology helps you create engaging experiences throughout the whole lifecycle of your volunteer journey.

Book a call today.

Keep reading more on our blog 

Read more helpful articles 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.