Planning a Fundraising Event – Goals

Part 3 of our Fundraising Planning Series

Every fundraising event starts by determining a fundraising goal. This is the purpose behind the event and the driving force that generates all activities surrounding the fundraising event. Although it might seem obvious, there are many who interpret a fundraising event as a general effort to raise funds for the overall functioning of the organization. Although this can be a goal, it is more critical to identify a concrete goal.

Have a Plan

The fundraising goal must have a plan. The entire committee must be involved in this plan. This includes inviting the committee members to come to the first committee meeting with a goal.

Goals can vary, but examples include variations of the following:

  • $15,000 to cover costs for a summer program
  • $20,000 to address capital repairs or purchases (property or building repairs)
  • Obtaining a larger donor base
  • Support a gift matching campaign offered by another donor or corporation

After all goals are on the table, the committee will decide what is most important to focus on. One fundraising event can cover multiple needs if planned well. Ensure the larger picture is cohesive and that the needs are in conjunction with one another. Do not hold a fundraiser that covers your summer programs and the building of a new facility. Prioritize what can be accomplished first, and make this your target campaign. Large events can obtain large funds, so aim high based upon the size of the event and your overall goal.

How to Decide

What makes this process easier is understanding what your donors care about. If they think your facility is fine, then it might be best to focus on something that they want to see happen in their community based upon your efforts. This might mean choosing your summer program over an additional office space. Your donors honestly don’t care about the size of your office space. The only time this would matter to them is if your space was unsafe or unsanitary. Cramped quarters to them means growth, and they think that is a good thing. Best to use other funds to help with this kind of funding need. 

Show Impact

Team members need to be involved in the metric aspect of their fundraising efforts. If they understand the impact of their individual contributions, they are more likely to take full ownership over their role and do their best to ensure it is done well. It is important to set expectations at the onset. This will impact all decisions made throughout the entire planning process. Ultimately, this will also ensure a more successful fundraising event and more money for your project.


  • Number of event registrations
  • Cost of the event (actual vs. retail)
  • Amount of monies raised at the event

Demonstrate the manner in which the number of registrants equals an estimation of funds raised minus event costs. 


  • Goal – 200 donors
  • Invite 400 attendees
  • Fundraising goal $50,000
  • Fundraising event cost $10,000
  • Average donor estimate (based upon 200 donors) $200
  • Funds raised (est.) $40,000
  • Funds raised minus event cost – $30,000

These numbers can vary. If you don’t reach your total goal, it’s OK. You can request grant funding to match the difference, which many grants will happily do knowing you have already raised funds. Either way, this fundraiser was a success if this was the outcome. The proceeds far exceeded the costs and you were able to generate funds toward your larger goal.

Other Options

There are ways to get even more donations from those who are unable to attend, or who attended but were unable to contribute during the event. This is where your online event campaign should include an online fundraising/donor component. Follow up emails after the event can also help spread the word of your success while also demonstrate that there is still a need.