Event Fundraising: is it the theme, the people or the mission that make it a success? | Behavioral Healthcare Executive Skip to content Skip to navigation

Event Fundraising: is it the theme, the people or the mission that make it a success?

February 10, 2009
by Nelson W. Burns
| Reprints

I am often asked my opinion of event fundraisers; what makes an event successful? Many times it is a trick question because success comes in many shapes and colors. Are you having an event for fundraising, socializing, or recognitions? A nonprofit better define the purpose well before planning the event takes place.

For successful event fundraising, take the example of University of North Carolina students having a “Krispy Kreme race for the kids”. A race designed to have participants run 2 miles, eat a dozen donuts and run another 2 miles; giving all donations to the N.C. Children’s Hospital. Yea gads; you say, how can that raise money? Well, they raised approximately $35,000 from 5,000 runners at that event. Not too shabby in my book.

Was it the donuts, the kids, the run or the University that made this fundraiser so successful? If they have 5,000 participants this year, how many runners will they have next year? The success hit all the media networks and the internet sites, what kind of serious money can they raise next year? As this event illustrates, it is not so much one kind of run, golf outing or dinner gala that makes a successful fundraiser. It is the delicate combination of all of these factors with the right audience. Planned effectively, with all of these characteristics considered, event fundraising can be a financial success for nonprofits.



Thanks for sharing that story! I've heard that silent auctions can be successful for nonprofits.

Nelson W. Burns

Nelson W. Burns


Nelson W. Burns has been the president and CEO of ...

The opinions expressed by Behavioral Healthcare Executive bloggers and those providing comments are theirs alone and are not meant to reflect the opinions of the publication.