Event Planning

How to Create a Run-of-Show for Better Fundraising

Creating a smooth program for your fundraising event is essential to its success

The run-of-show is an essential tool for any successful fundraising event. It's not just a timeline for the evening itself, but also includes the series of events leading up to your fundraiser. A well-crafted run-of-show can help determine how the event will look, where people need to be, and what needs to happen at each stage of the event. Here are some key elements that should be included in a comprehensive run-of-show.

1. Timeline: The timeline is the backbone of the run-of-show. It should include all of the key activities and segments of the event, as well as the time slots and durations for each one. This will help you create a timeline for the entire event, from start to finish.

2. Lighting and music cues: Lighting and music can play a big role in creating the right atmosphere for your event. Your run-of-show should include specific lighting and music cues for each segment of the event. This will help ensure that the lighting and music are coordinated and enhance the overall experience for attendees.

3. Script for emcee, auctioneer, or host: Your emcee, auctioneer, or host will play a key role in keeping the event flowing and engaging for attendees. Your run-of-show should include a script for each of these roles, outlining what they need to say and do at each stage of the event. This will help ensure that everyone is on the same page and that the event runs smoothly.

Including these key elements in your run-of-show will help you to create a comprehensive plan that will help you achieve your fundraising goals and create a memorable experience for attendees. Remember to be flexible and adaptable as needed, and to test your run-of-show before the actual event to identify any issues or areas that need improvement. With a well-crafted run-of-show, your fundraising event is sure to be a success!

key elements of your run-of-show include a schedule of the evening, lighting and music cues, and scripting for your program

The Elements of a Run-of-Show

In addition to the key elements we've already discussed, there are a few other important factors to keep in mind when crafting your run-of-show. Here are some additional components you will need to consider when it comes to timing out your evening:

  1. Silent auction: If you're planning to include a silent auction as part of your fundraising event, it's important to think carefully about when to open the bidding. We suggest teasing your auction items one or two weeks in advance via email, social media, or text, and then opening the bidding 5 days in advance. You could even stagger the release of items to give people fresh items to bid on before your event even starts.

  1. Schedule and logistics: Your printed schedule should start on the day of your event, but there are other timing considerations to keep in mind as well. Be sure to communicate logistics like parking, when to arrive, and last-minute details to your guests 2 to 3 days before your event. This will help ensure that everyone is on the same page and that the event runs smoothly.

  1. Check-in: This is your guests’ first impression of your fundraising event. It’s important to keep check-in smooth and efficient, which means you need to have volunteers that are comfortable with technology. Be sure to train your volunteers at least an hour before guests are scheduled to arrive. We recommend asking check-in volunteers to arrive 90 minutes before your registration starts to allow them time to get trained and eat so they’re well prepared to welcome your guests and get them started in your event.

    Consider activities during check-in to entertain guests who arrive early or who may need to wait in line a few moments to get registered. This will help set the tone for the rest of the day, and ensure that guests feel welcome and engaged from the start.

These are key elements to help you craft a run of show that will account for every detail and phase of your fundraising event.

Balance entertainment and education in your event program

Tips and best practices for creating a successful run-of-show

  1. Keep the event flowing and avoid dead time: It's important to create a schedule that keeps the event moving and avoids any lulls or dead time. This can be achieved by carefully planning the timing of each segment and ensuring that there are no gaps in the program. 

  1. Balance entertainment and education: Fundraising events should strike a balance between entertaining guests and educating them about the cause. This can be achieved by incorporating engaging activities and entertainment segments while also highlighting the impact of the organization's work.

  1. Incorporate fundraising elements throughout the event: Fundraising should be a key focus of the event, and it's important to incorporate fundraising elements throughout the program. This can include live auctions, silent auctions, and other unique revenue drivers.

  1. Be flexible and adaptable to unexpected changes: No matter how well you plan, unexpected mishaps can occur during an event. It's important to be flexible and adaptable to these changes and have a backup plan in case something doesn't go according to plan.

  1. Create slack in your schedule: It's important to build in some extra time into your schedule to account for unexpected delays or changes. This can help ensure that the event stays on track and avoids any unnecessary stress or pressure.

  1. Run through the plan with your team: Walk through every part of your plan, especially transitions from one phase of the event to the next. Will there be enough time for guests to get to their tables from the cocktail hour? How long will it take for your volunteers to gather auction items for checkout? Rehearse the elements of your program ahead of time, running through speeches and presentations so everyone is comfortable with the flow and timing.

  1. Don’t post times in your program: Avoid posting specific times for each segment in your program, as this can create a rigid schedule that doesn't allow for flexibility. Instead, provide general time frames for each segment and allow for some wiggle room.

  1. Stop serving food when you want guests to focus on speakers: If you're hosting an event with speakers, it's important to ensure that guests are focused and engaged. One way to do this is to stop serving food during important segments and temporarily close the bar to minimize distractions.

  1. Carefully plan and strategize live auction items: If you're including a live auction in your event, it's important to carefully plan and strategize how many items to include and how long to spend on each item. This can help ensure that guests stay engaged and interested, even if they don’t want to bid on every item.

By following these tips and best practices, you can create an engaging and effective event that educates and entertains your donors and helps you achieve your fundraising goals. Remember to be flexible and adaptable, and to focus on maximizing fundraising opportunities throughout the event. With the right approach, your fundraising event is sure to be a success!

For more resources and deeper discussion on your run-of-show, visit our knowledge base article on this topic, or listen to our episode on the Elevate Your Event podcast.

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