Planning a Fundraising Event – Partnerships

Installment 6 of Planning a Fundraising Event – Partnerships

Fundraising event partnerships are one of the most crucial things that your committee will address with local businesses. It is always a good idea to formulate relationships with local businesses throughout your organization’s ongoing efforts to assist you in easier collaboration, negotiation, and ideally better rates or donations to supply your fundraising events.

How to Partner with Local Businesses

Fundraising event planning partnerships with local businesses will provide you with venues for your fundraising event. They can sponsor your fundraising event. They can provide services or goods for your event. All of these can be provided as in-kind donations, at a discount, or with a negotiation that offers mutual media attention for their contribution (sponsorship). Also, ensure that what is being provided will generate a safe space that encourages your donors to feel welcome and supported in their joint effort to support your organization’s fundraising goal.

Where Do You Begin?

Sourcing is the first step. There may be organizations that step up and offer their services due to familiarity of your cause or personal connections to your staff or volunteers. These may not always be the proper choices for your event, so it is important to keep them in your resources for future use, but do not feel obligated to take whatever shows up. It is very important that attention to detail is done to ensure the most successful fundraising event is launched.

Don’t be afraid to approach organizations that you have no previous connections to. Prepare a formal “ask” to present your organization, educate them on your goals for the fundraising event, and what you envisioned their role could be in this event. Set aside an appointment with them so that they are able to focus on your ask and a constructive dialogue can take place. 

Make it a Community Event

If you consider the experience of all parties involved, the event will uplift everyone in unique ways. Sure, the goal is to raise funds. Sure the goal is to focus on the donor. However, the community supporters also have a vested interest in your event. They are going to be able to network and market while also participating in the experience that they are helping your nonprofit to raise funds for an important cause. In fact, they are likely the ones to benefit most from the entire experience. So when you approach them, consider it from their perspective. Be as inclusive as you can and connect with community businesses that would be a great match or support for your fundraising event.

Engage Guests

The fundraising event is for raising funds, but you do so through providing engagement and entertainment for your guests. The more entertaining and fun you can make it, the more engaged your attendees will be. Your attendees may be so excited by what they experienced the previous year, that they may be even more willing to bring additional guests who are new to your organization. This is part of your donor development efforts.

Ensure that your entertainment and activities also help to educate your attendees on your organization’s mission and accomplishments. If your organization’s mission and goals are presented in a manner that also makes the attendees feel good, they will feel more inspired to contribute. It’s not always a good thing to make them feel heavy if you are addressing a heavy issue. Sometimes putting the positive highlights of your work into an aspect of your evening’s entertainment can help supporters feel like they are not only addressing a serious issue, but that the issue doesn’t have to make them feel so heavy.

Giving makes them feel involved, but also knowing that they are contributing to something that will feel good to the recipients makes them feel happy to participate. Select the right vendor(s) to ensure the success of this particular aspect of the fundraising event. Ask them to provide samples of their work, or spend some time observing them in action at other events. Do your homework before making the ask.

Identify Businesses with a History

Start with the businesses you have worked with in the past and identify those who would be most likely to participate again. The next step is to identify those in your community who have helped other nonprofit organizations. Help these potential sponsors or vendors spread the word of their philanthropic endeavors. These are your highest potential supporters. If you are new at holding fundraising events, they may even be able to offer sound suggestions to ensure your event goes very well. This could include support in planning and promotion.

Create a Mutually Beneficial Starting Point

Excitement between parties should be evident from the start. There should be a mutual engagement and effort invested in working together to ensure a successful event takes place. The goal of the partnership is to ensure that all parties benefit from the shared coordinated efforts. This means all parties must be fully engaged in utilizing their creative energy and willingness to cooperate throughout the duration of the planning and implementation of efforts during the fundraising event. Follow-through is key.


Promotion is a critical aspect to ensure a successful fundraising event and collaborative relationship with community businesses. With these solid partnerships, the joint effort to promote your event will ensure that the attendance is strong and that the partnerships are reciprocated with increased business from the community.

Be sure that you discuss your promotion strategies with each business you are collaborating with to ensure optimum outreach. This includes discussing your various media plans, ad campaigns, and social media campaigns. Last, but not least, also remember to discuss how you can all utilize your individual customer email campaigns to cross promote the fundraising event and the community vendors and sponsors involved in the event itself.

The outreach of such a campaign effort can reach far more people than your own nonprofit’s mailing list alone can do. It’s a wonderful way to mutually branch everyone’s outreach with minimal effort. Fundraising event planning partnerships can take you from scratch to finish and ensure a successful event if utilized well.