How to Structure Your Fundraising Event Committee

How to Structure Your Fundraising Event Committee Tips and Tricks

A successful gala requires a clear event plan, good people, and an organized event committee strategy.

We get a lot of questions about the best way to delegate the work leading up to a big fundraising event. Every event coordinator knows you need extra sets of hands—but how do you organize planning committees for the monumental task of holding a major charity event like a gala?

In this guide, we’ll explore these top strategies for empowering your event committee to plan a successful experience that drives collective giving:

1. Determine the types of committees you need.
2. Fill leadership positions early.
3. Recruit committee members.
4. Plan productive committee meetings.

Whether you’re planning an event to support your annual giving fund or a major capital campaign, these tips will ensure you have the right people on your team and the tools to empower them to give their best work.

Determine the types of committees you need.

Not every event you plan will require multiple committees. Smaller events like webinars or trivia nights may just require one event planning committee.

However, certain nonprofit experiences, such as galas and auctions, are major undertakings that often require multiple committees. For example, an auction event might need the following types of committees:

Auction Committee: Gathers auction items, prices items, and strategizes item placement (for silent auctions) or announcement order (for live auctions). ● Sponsorship Committee: Helps maximize revenue by finding corporate partners to sponsor the event and donate auction items or experiences.
Sponsorship Committee: Helps maximize revenue by finding corporate partners to sponsor the event and donate auction items or experiences.
Donor Experience Committee: Ensures a positive donor experience by providing multiple ways for donors to give and offering donors a more personalized experience by connecting with them before and on the event day.
Registration and Checkout Committee: Manages guest registration and helps winners claim and pay for auction items.
Entertainment & Program Committee: Plans entertainment opportunities like live music or comedy.
Media & Public Relations Committee: Coordinates auction promotion via marketing platforms like social media and email and connects with local media outlets to share event press releases.
Decor Committee: Selects themed decor to give your event a tasteful or fun vibe that enhances the attendee experience

For a more detailed rundown of each of these gala committees with roles and job descriptions, check out our list of Event Committee Roles and Responsibilities.

Ultimately, each committee should focus its efforts on creating a positive experience for donors and increasing the chances that they engage with your giving opportunities.

For example, BWF’s donor experience guide recommends offering “VIP access” to donors to make them feel more connected to your nonprofit and engaged with your mission. To make donors feel special throughout your event, invite beneficiaries to speak about the positive impact of donor support or ask your executive director to personally sign all donor thank you letters after the event concludes.

Fill Important Event Committee Roles and Jobs Early

Some committee positions are critical to fill early on with dependable, organized leaders. Committee leaders and chairs help manage each committee and productively direct their efforts, making it essential to choose these individuals early in the planning process.

Hand-pick top committee leaders such as:

Event Chair: This is the overall boss of the event planning process, who has the final say in decisions made by all event committees. This individual should have experience
managing similar events in the past and a deep understanding of the event’s purpose and goals.

Logistics Coordinator: This role should be filled by someone with logistical skills, like strong communication and attention to detail, as well as the ability to navigate many moving pieces. This position serves as the signpost for the event—who goes where and when to make everything happen as planned?

Event Planner: Ideally this leader has professional planning experience and understands what it takes to pull off a large-scale event—from organizing catering to dealing with venues and managing people.

Volunteer Coordinator: This is one of the most important event committee roles because major events can’t succeed without the support of a strong team. Volunteer coordinators should know exactly what type of person is needed for each role and identify specific volunteers who would work well in each position.

Community/Partnerships Liaison: This individual will coordinate with your community partners to foster open and transparent communication. For example, you might team up with local healthcare organizations, businesses, or other nonprofits to help run or sponsor your event. This person needs to facilitate two-way communication between your organization and community partners to create a positive experience and answer any partner questions or concerns.

These leaders will play an essential role in selecting other committee members, setting committee agendas, assigning tasks, and ensuring everything runs smoothly leading up to and on event day.

How to Form an Event Committee

Before you begin recruiting volunteers to fill committee positions, make sure your committees and their job responsibilities are locked. You need to know exactly which committee positions need filling and what each volunteer will need to do to fulfill their role!
1. Begin by selecting a chair for each committee. Chairs will ultimately be in charge of every decision that committee makes, and is responsible for overseeing all work done by members of their committee.
2. Solidify how many positions each committee needs, and what the roles and responsibilities will be for each position. Consider what type of person would thrive in that committee and performing those specific duties, and then create a “job description” for that role to help pin down the perfect volunteer for each position.
Check out our blog post on job descriptions, committee roles, and why it’s so important to know what you need before you begin recruiting: Making Sure Your Committees Are Locked Before Recruiting
3. Recruit! It’s time to get out there and find the right person for the job. What natural qualities does that volunteer bring to the table? Are the requirements of the position within their skillset? Do they have time in their schedule to perform all of the required duties?

Recruit committee members.

In addition to the chairs or leaders of each committee, your teams will also require members to carry out different planning necessities. After selecting your committee chairs, task them with recruiting volunteers to fill each committee. Take the following steps to build strong teams:

1. Determine how many members each committee needs. Consider the extent of the tasks the committee will undertake and each member’s workload. For example, your decor committee might only need three members to brainstorm decoration ideas, purchase supplies, and design the event space. Meanwhile, a major committee like your auction committee may need to be larger to cover more ground when looking for auction items.

2. Define roles and responsibilities for committee members. Consider what type of person would thrive in each committee and perform those specific duties effectively. Then, create a “job description” for that role to help pin down the perfect volunteer for each position. For example, you might prioritize potential committee members with plenty of marketing and social media experience for your media team.

3. Reach out to potential members and get them on board. Recruit committee members from within your nonprofit’s staff, volunteer base, and the general community. Ensure that every committee member you recruit has the skills, experience, and necessary time in their schedule to perform all required duties effectively.

To get more volunteers on board, Getting Attention’s recruitment guide recommends emphasizing the impact that committee members will have on not only your event but your nonprofit’s mission as a whole.

For example, if your event is a recurring one, share statistics from the previous year about how much you were able to raise and how many people were helped because of the event. Doing so will give committee members a greater sense of connection and motivation to plan a successful event.

Plan productive committee meetings

Your committee meetings are where important decisions are made, tasks are delegated, and deadlines are set. It’s important to make committee meetings as productive as possible to make the most of having all committee members gathered in one place. Use these tips and tricks to make your meetings more effective.


Never leave a committee meeting without having the next one scheduled!

Remember that as the event gets closer, committees may need to meet more frequently, so be sure all staff and volunteers have plenty of time available in the weeks before the big night.

Schedule meetings that people can actually attend

Scheduling can be tricky with committee members having home, work, school, and other life obligations. Schedule meetings thoughtfully by following these tips:

  • Suggest meeting times outside regular work hours that everyone can attend.
  • Offer virtual attendance options for those who cannot make it in person.
  • Save time by designating which decisions can be made by just the committee chair, rather than requiring the entire committee to meet.

Your meetings will have much higher attendance when you’re considerate of members’ time and other obligations. Plus, members will be much more engaged when your meetings are easy to participate in and have a clearly defined time limit.

Create clear meeting agendas

Before going into any committee meeting, determine what you’re meeting about and what needs to be decided or completed by the end of the meeting. Make sure those objectives are achieved before adjourning!

What should your committee agendas look like? Take these steps to fill out your agenda with relevant bullet points:

● Create a list of action items for the meeting, like making a decision or approving an expense.

● Follow up on any tasks from previous meetings to make sure progress is being made or confirm that the task has been completed.

● Delegate outstanding tasks to members, with clear deadlines for those tasks.

● Ask if anyone on the committee has a question or concern that needs to be addressed.

Never leave a committee meeting without having the next one scheduled! Even if you’re just reaffirming a recurring meeting time and place, it’s helpful to give members that reminder because it will lead to continued high attendance rates.

Remember that as the event gets closer, committees may need to meet more frequently. Make sure all staff and volunteers have plenty of time available in the weeks before the big night.

Inspire committee members to bring their A-game

Your committee members’ hard work and passion give your event the energy and enthusiasm it needs to make a splash. Inspire collaboration and creativity among team members by following these best practices:

1. Always leave some space for your committee members to make suggestions and bring their own ideas to the table. You never know what you might learn, or what big problem a volunteer might be able to solve!

2. Keep the motivation going and the morale high. Tell your volunteers how much you appreciate them and thank them for achieving difficult benchmarks or completing big tasks.

3. Share meeting agendas beforehand. This lets everyone know what items will be addressed and if they need to bring anything to share with the group (such as a budget, contract, or list of options for the group’s input).

4. Send out meeting notes after the meeting wraps up. Include all agreed-upon action items, with the committee member responsible for that task and the deadline.

Explore our guide to motivating event team members for more ideas to spark creativity and energy, such as throwing a kick-off party or assigning accountability buddies. By fostering personal connections among committee members, you can develop better team cohesion, ultimately leading to a smoother event planning process.

Major events help inspire greater support for your nonprofit while offering a fun experience for community members. With the right team and planning structure, you can avoid any chaos or unnecessary stress leading up to event day.

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