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fundraising events

Non-Profits’ Budgeting & Planning Maze

It’s that time of the year again: Time for the dreaded budgeting exercise for non-profit organizations. The mismatch between wishes and what is realistically feasible.  The ambitious plans and how to pay for them. 

Does this all sound overwhelming? You are not alone. More than 85% of executives (corporate and non-profits alike) view the annual budgeting exercise with trepidation.  Governments are no different. 

In the specific case of non-profits, the difficulty lies in having to project revenue streams that often seem so elusive. Revenues are, for the most part, derived from memberships, if applicable, donations and fundraisers—none of which can be taken for granted. In the process, non-profits are confronted with so many unknowns: Will all our membership renew? How can we do a better job in our outreach programs? What kind of fundraiser can we plan for to guarantee success?

Small to medium size non-profits lack in required financial means to fund a full slate of professional staff to help them out with the needed tasks that can guarantee success. Lack of resources often leads to curtailed efforts; which, in turn, results in less-than-satisfactory performance when it comes to raising needed funds.  

This is where the expertise of a professional planning firm comes into play.  The organization can be overwhelmed by the day-to-day tasks to be able to plan for the future in an objective and proactive manner as in the proverbial “too close to the trees to see the forest.”  A professional planning agency can weed out the superfluous steps and guide the organization with a focus in the direction that is guaranteed to bear fruit.  

A professional planning firm can remove emotions out of the budgeting process and guide the organization in a direction that is both realistic and feasible.  Relying on internal staff alone may at times pose a conflict if the organization may be facing a staff reduction and/or fine-tuning of tasks to achieve its desired goals. The management can spare itself the agony of dealing with otherwise unpleasant tasks that at times is required in the process.

The budgeting exercise is not only about matching expenses with realistic revenue streams, it is also a unique opportunity to step back and look at the organization’s existing mission, stakeholders, modus operandi, and outreach efforts.  One of the most common sources of securing a portion (or all of) needed funds is a fundraising gala function possibly coupled with an auction of sort.  Some non-profits opt to plan and hold such events entirely with internal staff—which often times has to juggle many functions within the organization. This is where the proverbial “penny wise and pound foolish” expression holds true.  An event planning company with expertise in fundraising events can not only reduce—or entirely remove—the burden of organizing such a make-or-break event, it can practically guarantee financial success—not to mention an opportunity for positive exposure in traditional and social media.  

To start with, a professional planning firm can shed better light on the importance of fundraising events and how best to organize a successful one.  Non-profits too often view fundraising only as a means to making money to accomplish their agendas and pay their staff, so much so that they neglect to integrate fundraising into their long-term planning process. Non-profits that do incorporate fundraising and development into their organizational strategy are the ones that guarantee their long-term survival and longevity.  Here are a few important reasons to view fundraising with a broader perspective: 

1. Fundraising forces non-profits to plan

Sadly, many small and midsize non-profits rarely start the year with planning, which often leads to chaotic work plans and disjointed focus.  Planning for fundraisers should help non-profits to take a step back and think about how they are going to accomplish their mission with what resources, and in what time frames.   

2. Fundraising allows non-profits to see where they are vulnerable

In the process of planning and asking the question of how they are going to accomplish their mission (or a project) a planning firm can help a non-profit to realize that they may have gaps in their internal resourcesto meet their goals. Identifying weaknesses and vulnerabilities in organizational structure is a critical step in strengthening non-profit organizations.

3. Fundraising makes non-profits work as teams and align goals

Often, non-profit staff and volunteers are disjointed by project areas. Fundraising acts as a glue for different project areas, unifying the team and its different project goals into one holistic mission. A non-profit will be stronger if its different components are brought together under a solid mission base.

4. Fundraising makes non-profits sustainable

The most important contribution the planning process can make to a non-profit organization is ensuring its sustainability.  Without a sizable injection of funds, most non-profits remain vulnerable to economic fluctuations, how their mandate is viewed by their stakeholders, and general increases in operating expenses.  The reality is that nothing is permanent in the non-profit world and the sources of funds can disappear very quickly. A proper mix of revenue sources, such as donations, grants, gifts, and sponsorships is the best way to ensure sustainability of the organization’s cause.

Fundraising is so much more than raising funds. If done right, fundraising can help a non-profit develop and evolve into a high functioning, networked, sustainable, impactful force for community good.  

In closing, don’t let the budgeting and planning process paralyze you. Brace it as a unique opportunity to evergreen your mandate; and view it as a means (even if forced) to strengthen your organization’s foundation and modus operandi. Invite a professional planning company to review your strategies, and operations with a critical view and help you separate wheat from chaff to ensure a sustainable mission.

Let professionals at Your Great Event lend you a hand in evaluation your strategies, finetuning your budgeting exercise and offer constructive suggestion in planning successful fundraisers.

YGE helps FF raise more than $500k

YGE helps FF raise more than $500k

At a star-studded event in the heart of Beverly Hills, Your Great Event rolled out an actual red carpet to welcome a celebrity crowd that had gathered to show their support for a very worthy cause. Face Forward has set as its mission to provide emotional support and pro bono reconstructive surgery for victims of domestic violence, war crimes and any other degrading criminal acts. To raise needed funds for this worthy cause, Face Forward recruited the services of event planning professionals at Your Great Event, that took care of all logistical needs of an event of this caliber including celebrity lineup and silent and live auctions of prized donations. 

The emcee for the event was no less than Jeremy Piven, the comedian and the Entourage star, who had the pleasant task of calling to stage such big names as The Grammy award winner Ne-Yo, who got everyone on their feet to boogie the night away. Caitlyn Jenner gave a moving account of what the trans members of our society have to endure in their everyday lives. 

For this one-of-a-kind event Your Great Event had secured Beverley Wilshire, a Four Seasons Hotel, which proved to be a fitting venue given the caliber of the audience. “It was gratifying” said Hanson Ansary, CEO of Your Great Event, “to see our client FF CEO Deborah Alessi, being recognized for her heart-warming commitment to this cause. At Your Great Event, we draw a great deal of satisfaction from our non-profit clients’ success at their fundraising events. We remain committed” continued Ansary, “to help our clients with their outreach programs.”

Founded over 20 years ago, Your Great Event is the only event planning company solely dedicated to helping the non-profit sector.

Press:

The Hollywood Reporter

Fox News

Just Jared

Getty Images

5 Keys to A Great Event Design

Planning for a “perfect” event?  Make sure your event design includes these five critical elements.

A great party, a great event, a great wedding – all include the following elements in their design:

  • Lighting

  • Color

  • Texture

  • Movement

  • Scale

First among these is lighting. No other element can transform a boring space into a wildly spectacular one. LED up-lights for the walls can brighten the room and, when paired with your theme, begin to take your guests to the place you’ve envisioned. Gobos – your logo or graphic elements from your invitation – can make your dance floor or your backdrop exciting. Bathe the entire room in color – blue for a soothing effect or red for a Cirque feel. Use your imagination so your guests walk into your space and say Wow!

Hand-in-hand with lighting is Color. Don’t be afraid of it - use it to evoke the mood you want. Bold colors for a Latin themed event are perfect. Pastels for a wedding say romantic. Black and white says Old Hollywood. What would a Valentine event be without red?

You can bring texture into your design in a number of ways. The most obvious is your table scape. Your table linen and napkins, whether they be polyester, jute, brocade, or sequined, will give your guests a feel for your theme. A beautiful wooden table topped with succulents bring an entirely different texture to your event. Your centerpieces should complement your theme and your table.

Nobody wants to sit still for 3 or 4 hours. Plan your party with movement in mind. Your guests enjoy a cocktail hour or silent auction in the first space they enter. Plan something fun to move them into the dining room – a conga line, a flash mob, percussionists – all inviting guests to follow them to the next space. Schedule an interactive audience element during the program – a salsa or Charleston lesson. Have guests use the flashlight app on their phones (most everyone has one) to wave during a particular song. And finally, move your guests to the dance floor.

Lastly, choose your event venue carefully. Does the space have low or high ceilings? Is it too big for your guest count? Will you need tall elements to fill a large space? Will you have to section off a portion of the space to make it less cavernous? Although it seems counterintuitive, for rooms with low ceilings, tall plants and arrangements of boughs or other organic elements will draw your eyes to the plants and not the ceiling.

Take these five key elements into account next time you plan that special event and sit back and witness a much more impactful result or let the professionals at Your Great Event take all that burden away from you to guarantee you an unequivocally-successful event. 

Branding Your Fundraising Event with Graphics That Make an Impact!

The goal of your fundraising event is to attract attendees and sponsors to help raise money for your cause
and organization. You want your fundraising event to not only attract a lot of donors, (yes!), but, equally as important, showcase your organizations’ mission within the community, and raise awareness as to its good works.

Great graphics can bring attention to both your event and your mission!

Artistic and meaningful design can enhance the stature of your event, enticing the very attendees and sponsors you wish to attract! It promises your guests fun and excitement and a sense of what the mission is, all dressed up in a beautifully designed presentation.

The event design should sparkle, intrigue, and make an impression! 

Choosing a theme and carrying it out graphically throughout your key artwork and collateral pieces lends
cohesion to your marketing. It begins to brand your event in your potential donors’ minds. 

Always hire a professional designer. The event company you have wisely chosen to produce your event will have recommendations. Listen to them.

Good event design begins with your theme. The designer will take your ideas and design the concept artwork.
The primary goal: to make it a signature special event that shouldn’t be missed!


1. Development of theme and key art. Generally, two concepts are presented. Working with a professional designer can help to develop and produce a polished vision for the event. The designer should be practiced in professional design, budgets and deadlines, and empathetic to the larger cause of the organization.

Once the final art is approved, it is now branded into the following collateral pieces used at each stage of the marketing campaign.

2. Event logo and header: These initial graphic elements are used in all your early solicitation efforts. This will start to create a visual connection to the event for potential guests and donors.

3. Save the Date/Digital Eblast: This piece, whether a printed postcard or in a digital format, announces the event well in advance of the event date to start building interest, and get the date marked on people’s calendars.


4. Invitation package. This signature piece presents the event details in an attractive and well-designed presentation.  And also, importantly, delivers the sponsorship opportunities and donor levels, as well as the RSVP. The invitation can also include an insert with the “sponsors to date”, to spur others to donate as well. This is generally the most impressive and important piece of your event marketing.

5. Program Book: This is the journal that commemorates the event!  Within its pages there is valuable information about your organization, your event sponsors, advertisers, and vendors. This item goes home with the attendees. This can be a selling point for contributors and advertisers to the program. A PowerPoint sponsor loop during the event, and additional advertising both before and after the event also carries the brand to the audience.

A fundraising event can and should be branded from the original concept design, throughout the marketing and solicitation stage, and on to the event itself. Exciting and interesting graphics work in tandem with your organizations fundraising effort to create excitement for potential attendees and donors.

After all, your signature fundraising event plays an important role in raising money for your organization, and in
developing relationships with new and returning donors that carry into the future.

Impactful professional graphic design can brand your event.  This in turn enhances the success of your organizations fundraising, ensuring that your event is both successful and memorable! 

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By Elizabeth MacFarland -  Graphic Design

By Elizabeth MacFarland - Graphic Design