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Different Types of Special Events

When fundraisers hear the phrase, “special event,” we often think “fundraiser,” but the general public hears “party!” They think of the gala or luncheon or golf tournament they attended and enjoyed. And we’re glad they did.

Professional fundraisers are obviously responsible for raising money, so it’s only natural to look at events through that lens. But, we must remind ourselves that events are also useful when we are stewarding donors and building pipelines for new ones.


As you create your annual fundraising plan remember to include a variety of events to cultivate and steward your donors and prospective donors. Also, you can engage your board and other volunteers by asking them to invite friends, family, and colleagues to tour your facility or to attend a “Lunch and Learn” event. Both of these are great introductions to your organization and the work you do.

The cost of a box lunch is nominal, and these costs should be built into your fundraising budget. Oftentimes a board member or longtime donor will cover these costs.


Cultivation events are another opportunity to engage your board members and other volunteers by asking them to invite the people they know. Golf tournaments, clay shoots and Top Golf are popular events to attract and cultivate prospective donors.

Preview events are especially good for arts organizations, but you could also preview new classrooms or playgrounds, or a neonatal unit.


A VIP reception or an appreciate luncheon are prestigious events for your existing donors. They have been on the tours, attended your information lunches, and played in your golf tournaments. They believe in and support your mission. Show your gratitude. Let them know they are appreciated. A stewardship event is a subtle opportunity to move them to the next level, maybe a naming opportunity in your capital campaign or a bequest in their will.


Michelle Crim, CFRE

Dynamic Development Strategies can help. We offer coaching, grant writing, and fundraising services for our nonprofit clients. We specialize in small to mid-size organizations because we understand your challenges. Please contact us for more information.

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