How to Choose the Best Date for Your Annual Benefit Auction [INFOGRAPHIC]

Selecting the Best Data for Your Annual Charity Auction

How to Choose the Best Date for Your Annual Benefit Auction

Selecting your event date early will allow for more venue options and allow you to start promoting and secure your most valuable guests.

Whether you are researching for a first-time event or looking to find a better day for your existing event—use this time-tested workflow to find the best date to host your event.


How to Choose the Best Date for Your Annual Benefit Auction

How to Choose the Best Date for Your Annual Benefit Auction

Best Practices

  • Secure your date and your venue as quickly as possible—one year or more in advance, preferably eighteen months.
  • Choosing your date first can help avoid overlapping events with other local organizations.

Do Your Research Before Picking Your Date

Know Your Demographic

  • Are there a lot of parents? Avoid the beginning and end of the school year, breaks when kids would be home or teacher in-service days.
  • Average age: A younger audience won’t mind staying out late, but an older audience may prefer to eat early, go home early, and not brave bad weather.

Avoid Event Overlap

When are other local nonprofits holding fundraisers during the year?

  • Avoid overlapping your fundraiser with other local nonprofits so you don’t lose any donors, sponsors, or prominent guests to other events.
TIP: As soon as you select a date and secure your venue, reach out to your big sponsors and donors to secure a commitment to attend.
  1. Check the website and Facebook of other local organizations to learn if they already have an event scheduled for next year.
  2. If they haven’t announced a date yet, look back at which weekend during the year they usually hold their event, and make sure to choose a different weekend.
  3. Sometimes simply scheduling your fundraiser first isn’t enough!
  4. If another large organization chooses the same date, consider changing if possible.

Rule 1: Avoid holidays!

Many people go out of town during the holidays and won’t be available for a fundraiser.

You aren’t likely to convince guests that your event is more important than family time or a scheduled vacation. Avoid major holidays and bank holidays.

TIP: Minor holidays that tie into your nonprofit’s work, such as National Dog Day for a Humane Society, may be a great choice for your event date.
  • Christmas and New Years
  • Memorial Day Weekend
  • Labor Day Weekend
  • Independence Day
  • Thanksgiving
  • Easter

Many people tend to go out of town during the summer months and won’t want to come back to attend an event.

Rule 2: Don’t “compete” with sports!

Fall or Winter events: Look up local college football and NFL game days, especially home games, and avoid those dates.

Spring events: Research college basketball and NBA game days.

Rule 3: Keep an eye on community events!

What other competing events are happening locally throughout the year?

Avoid scheduling your event on the same days as popular community events, such as:

  • Parades
  • Festivals
  • Street fairs
  • Graduations
  • School Breaks (winter break, spring break, or teacher in-service days)
  • Important commemorations or anniversaries

What time of year?

Watch out for donor and sponsor fatigue!

  • Certain weekends are extremely popular for fundraising events.
    • Beginning of Autumn (September through November)
    • Peaks before Thanksgiving)
    • Spring (February through early May)
    • Guests may be tapped out of charitable giving by late in either season
  • Choose a less popular weekend to:
    • Lower your risk of overlapping with another nonprofit
    • Avoiding fatiguing donors who may already be attending multiple events each season

The most popular weekends our clients chose for fundraising events in 2018:

#1. April 20th – 22nd
#2. May 4th – 6th
#3. March 2nd – 4th
#4. April 27th – 29th
#5. March 9th – March 11th

Dates to Avoid

End of the year

  • Many donors are feeling generous during the holiday season.
  • Beware—the closer you get to Christmas, the more donors may be fatigued from charitable giving by capital campaigns and end-of-year donation drives.
  • Especially avoid Giving Tuesday because you will be competing with many other nonprofits.

Tax season

  • After paying taxes people may feel a little squeezed—and not as generous.

Consider the Weather

Winter events—Depending on where you live, consider the potential impact of snow and ice on late autumn and winter events.

  • Avoid the coldest days of the season.
  • Hold your event earlier in the day so people don’t have to drive in the snow at night.

Summer events—In parts of the country prone to hurricanes and fires, some times of the year are more perilous.

  • Mid-summer through early autumn are at the highest risk for fires.
  • Peak hurricane season is also August through October.

Have a backup plan!

If you’re holding an outdoor event, have a rain plan in case of unforeseen weather.

Day of the week

Most formal fundraisers take place on Friday or Saturday nights, when most guests can stay out late.

That’s not to say that weekdays are off the table!

  • Weekdays avoid overlap with more popular weekend events.
  • Many vendors and venues offer weekday discounts.
  • More casual events that end early are great for weekdays, especially Wednesday and Thursday.
  • Younger people may be more willing to stay out on a weekday night than older people.


  • A good choice for events that end earlier in the day.
  • People may be tired after working all week.
  • Plan your start time carefully.
  • Many guests may come directly from work if the event begins before or during dinnertime. Start the event to soon and they won’t have time to get ready.

Saturday is better for formal events.

  • For black tie or costume events, Saturday gives guests plenty of time to prepare at home.
  • Good for daytime events or events that will run late. Guests won’t be fatigued and are willing to stay out later.

Sunday afternoons can be a great choice for family-oriented events.

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