Top 10 Fundraising Event FAILS

Top 10 Fundraising Event FAILSFundraising events can be a great way to raise money for your organization, but it’s important to not sabotage yourself in the process. Don’t make these mistakes, and you’ll be well on your way to a super successful event!

FAIL 1: You start planning TOO LATE
While it is possible to pull off a fundraising event in a month or two, if you really want to get the most bang for your buck you should start early– 6 months for smaller events and up to a year or two for larger ones. Having more time means that you will have more options, and you won’t be scrambling and stressed out trying to do everything at the last minute.

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FAIL 2: You don’t define any measurable goals
It’s important to have clear measurable goals before you start. Decide things like how much money you want to raise, how many new people you want to expose your organization to, etc. The list is endless, just be sure you have a plan to measure all your goals too.

FAIL 3: You don’t sell tickets in advance
Selling tickets at the door is fine, but selling them in advance allows for advanced planning and smarter use of your resources. You may find that you need to double the amount of food you have available, or decide that you don’t need to go out to solicit for another 10 auction items. Find out why you should ALWAYS sell tickets in advance!

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FAIL 4: You leave money on the table by not pricing your event properly
Charge too much and you may find that fewer people attend. Charge too little and you’ve missed out on money that people would have given to your organization. It’s all about striking that balance and putting a realistic value on your event.

FAIL 5: You don’t utilize social media to advertise
Like it or not, social media has become the way of the world. Fortunately for your organization, it’s a great way to easily spread the word for absolutely nothing.

FAIL 6: You don’t encourage guests to bring their friends
It’s not that you don’t want them there, it’s just that you never thought to tell them. But encouraging guests to bring their friends means more money for your organization and, with any luck, new supporters for your organization.

FAIL 7: You don’t find sponsors to offset your costs
Finding sponsors is a great way to make sure that whatever you bring in at your event goes right to where it’s needed most. Usually sponsors are local businesses,  but don’t overlook a generous family or foundation either. And definitely  be sure to thank your sponsors publicly through event signage, ads in the program, etc.

FAIL 8: You forego a post-event analysis
Post event meetings are crucial to assessing how an event went. From logistics, to goal measurement, to guest experience– your post event meeting is where you can really decide if the event is worthy of another go next year, or just a big waste of time.

FAIL 9: You don’t talk about the organization at the event
This is a major fail! Besides raising money, the only other goal you have to have at a fundraising event should be to raise awareness about your cause and organization. You have a captive audience and you can’t assume they already know all about you. Don’t miss this opportunity!

FAIL 10: You spent more on making the event happen than you were able to bring in at the event
This is probably the most epic fail of all! A fundraising event is only good if you actually raise funds. Be sure to create a budget (and stick to it!!), define your goals, and keep that profit & loss sheet in the BLACK. Otherwise you’ve not only wasted a ton of time, money, and effort, but you’ve also sent your organization taking one step forward and two steps back.

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Media and Marketing at Ultimate Donations
Jaime is the conceptual mastermind behind, a website that helps nonprofits find and request product donations for fundraising events. When she is not helping nonprofit events to reach their fullest potential, she's spending time with her two adorable girls, volunteering within her local community, and sneaking leftover Halloween candy when no one is looking.