If you’re like many nonprofits, you probably host an annual fundraising event to help raise money and keep your organization up and running. But planning, organizing, and managing events can be tough, and all that effort can go to waste if not handled correctly. When you’re planning your upcoming event, keep these four tips in mind to ensure everything runs smoothly:

1. Get organized

Who are you inviting to the event? Is this going to be a general fundraiser that includes the community, or are you targeting a certain group or business type for your event? Are you going to need volunteers? Make sure you know who should be involved before you get to the planning process. This will make getting your invitee and volunteer lists together easier, and knowing the ‘who’ is a great way to start planning your event marketing strategy.

2. Get the word out

Email and social media marketing are simple and inexpensive ways to let people know about your event. You can even get them to sign up on the spot. Start by thinking about your overall marketing plan and the type of event you’re planning.

Email is a great way to follow up and remind guests that they’re attending or volunteering at your event. As a rule of thumb, send out one to two reminders to your attendees, including the date, time, and location for the event. Send your volunteers all the information they’ll need, such as where to meet, their assigned duties, and the date and time they should arrive. Encourage both your guests and volunteers to RSVP via email so you can manage non-responders and keep everything streamlined and organized.

3. Sell tickets

Word is out about your event — now what? Time to manage attendance and donations. Use your website to create an event page where you can manage sign-ups, take money for ticket purchases, and accept donations. Decide on contribution levels, group discounts, and early-bird pricing. Are you going to have a VIP level or charge extra for meals and t-shirts? Use an online management system to set up different pricing levels and keep track of sign-ups for you.

4. Follow up

After you’ve sent your invitations and information and finally wrapped up your event, it’s time to show your appreciation. Send a follow-up note to thank everyone who participated in the event, including attendees, donors, volunteers, and staff. If this is an event you host regularly or annually, sending out a thank you can help ensure a great turnout next year. It’s a simple gesture, but definitely not one that should be overlooked. Send out an email, post a thank you message on Facebook, and give a shout-out to everyone who made the event possible.

Follow these tips for your most successful event yet. For more info on planning events, check out the Nonprofit Technology Network or the Fundraising Authority. And if you’re looking for email marketing tips, we have some of the best tips here.

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Editor’s note: This post was originally published in June 2012 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and relevance.

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