Choose Event Dates Wisely!
It’s one of the first things you’ll do when planning a fundraiser – pick a date and time. Easy enough, right? Not so fast – it’s essential you choose wisely, as it’ll make a HUGE difference in how much money you raise. Here are our guidelines for Best (and Worst) Times for Fundraisers.
Know Your Demographic
Who are you raising money for? If it’s a school benefit, think Spring! Autumn isn’t ideal, since the school community is still settling into a new year and a new curriculum. The period between February through early May is optimal for a school auction. Is it a health issue? Maybe there’s a tie-in – for example, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. It’s easier to market your event if you can link it to a nationally-known observance. Knowing who is in attendance goes a long way towards choosing the ideal time for your next event.
Plan WAY Ahead
No matter whom or what your event is supporting, select a date (and venue) at least a year – ideally even a year and a half – in advance. This will give you time to secure your preferred date, venue, your fundraising auctioneer and other favorite fundraising vendors. Venues and benefit auctioneers typically book at least a year in advance, so set yourself up for success by acting as soon as possible to finalize your contracts. Make sure a competing nonprofit isn’t having a fundraiser that same night. Contact your major donors to verify they’re not otherwise engaged.
Avoid Holidays + Most Days Off from School
Avoid dates that conflict with major religious holidays, like Easter, Yom Kippur or Ramadan. No point in trying to serve dinner to people who are fasting or can’t eat the food because of dietary restrictions or worse yet, being culturally insensitive without ever having considered it. People often have their own holiday traditions that they’d rather not forgo for a benefit, even if said benefit event supports a mission that’s important to them. Also, avoid in-service days for local schools. If kids are off from school, suddenly parents are distracted from what was previously on their agendas.
What Day and Night?
Traditionally, most fundraisers take place on Friday and Saturday nights. If the majority of your supporters work Monday-Friday, consider Friday evening. Folks are already dressed in business attire and don’t have enough time to go home and change their minds! If it’s a black-tie event, or if there’s a costume theme, Saturday may be more suitable. Having said that, remember weeknights like Wednesdays and Thursdays are also popular nights for more casual and succinct events. Many vendors and venues even offer discounts on weeknights so don’t overlook them. Donors have the opportunity for some midweek philanthropy while preserving their weekend nights for their own hobbies. Sunday afternoons can also be a lovely choice. Last spring, we had a fantastic time at an elegant Sunday brunch with Portland Playhouse.
What’s the best time for YOUR fundraiser? Ask us. We have more tips on how to catch donors at their high, leading to optimal fundraising. Contact us today!