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2021: AmFund’s Worst Dates to Hold a Fundraiser

It’s that time of year again! We break down the upcoming year to help you plan your 2021 fundraising events on the best possible dates. Even though we all have 365 days to choose from, there are only about 75 days that we consider to be ideal for fundraising events. As we all know, a lot of time and effort goes into planning a fundraiser. For that reason, all of your hard work must pay off. For that to happen, you need to schedule your events on the days when people are most likely to attend.

The Ongoing Effects Of The Pandemic

If there’s one thing that 2020 taught us, it’s that we are all capable of adapting to change. With this idea of adaptation in mind, it’s essential to continue planning virtual events into your 2021 calendar. No matter what you think 2021 will turn out to be, always be ready for anything!

Now that we’ve all delivered virtual fundraising events in some way or another over the past year, 2021 will be about perfecting the execution of these remote-based fundraisers. When it comes to planning virtual events, here are some tips to keep in mind:

- Weekdays are okay! Since people don’t need to worry about travel time and everything that goes into getting ready to leave the house, it’s much easier to get people to sign on during the week.

- Mondays and Sundays are generally still best to avoid. If you do decide to hold a virtual event on one of those days, keep it short and do not go late into the night.

- Spread your events across multiple days if needed. If you have a lot of content to cover, it’s best to spread things out across multiple events over the year. In other words, don’t hold one long virtual event that is several hours long. Be aware of the attention span of your audience. If you do decide to hold a longer event, you must have a “finale” or a span of 1-2 hours during which the majority of your audience is incentivized to tune in. A successful example is to have your supporters tune in on the final evening finale for a short program to countdown your auction and do your final fund-a-need or perhaps announce contest winners or awards.

Take A Look At Your Competition

Here’s a statistic worth considering for a second: according to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, there are 1.5 million non-profit organizations in the United States. The non-profit sector continues to grow every year. What does that mean for your organization? It simply means more competition is popping up in your local area! When it comes to picking a date for your events, do some research on the happenings in your local area including other nonprofit galas and your Chamber's local calendar of events. The last thing you want to do is compete with another large event on the same night!

Don’t Forget About the Weather

If you are going virtual, this is a component that you can disregard unless you are planning watch parties! Even though we are seeing fewer in-person events than ever, it’s still important to think about the weather if you are planning to hold these types of events at some point next year. For example, if you are in an area that receives a lot of snow, consider daytime events during the winter; many people prefer driving during the day instead of risking the icy roads at night. And hurricane season has been busier than ever! Late summer and early fall bring a lot of hurricanes to certain parts of the country. Just be aware that you may need to postpone your event if one of these giant storms hits your area during the week of your event.

Always Avoid National Holidays

Avoiding national holidays is a hard and fast rule that we here at AmFund abide by every single year. We understand that some organizations thrive with their long-established holiday events (like a New Year’s Eve Ball). Unfortunately, most of these holiday fundraising events do not work. National holidays bring out a lot of competition that creates a difficult environment for success.

Even with the pandemic going on, it may sound tempting to hold a virtual event on a holiday. But don’t forget, your donors still have a lot going on during those days. The bottom-line results that you will receive from a holiday event will not be worth all of the time and effort that you put into it. For this reason, it’s best to avoid national holidays.

Other 2021 Dates to Avoid:

· Labor Day Weekend (9/6/21)

· Rosh Hashanah (9/6/21 - 9/8/21)

· Yom Kippur (9/15/21 and 9/16/21)

· Halloween (10/31/21)

· School Spring Break (Spring 2021)

· Thanksgiving Week (11/25/21 - 12/1/21)

· The first week in January (12/31/21 - 1/8/22)

· Presidents Day Weekend (2/13/21 - 2/15/21)

· Giving Tuesday (You will be competing with every organization on that date) (11/30/21)

· The last two weeks in December (12/19/21 - 12/31/21)

· Martin Luther King Day (1/18/21)

· The week before and after April 15th (tax time) * (4/4/21 - 4/24/21)

· Passover Week (3/28/210 - 4/3/21) and Easter (4/4/21)

· Mother's Day (5/9/21)

· Memorial Day Weekend (5/29/21 - 5/31/21)

· The last two weeks in August (vacationers' last hoorah and kids back to school and college) (8/22/21 - 8/31/21)

*Psychologically, people are more concerned about their finances just before and just after they have paid their taxes. So, for fundraising purposes, it's better to stay away from this time of the year.

Stay Away From Big Sporting Events

It’s a good idea to treat major sporting events as your competition when you are planning out your dates. For starters, you never want to plan a fundraising event on Super Bowl weekend. It might also behoove you to check into the local highschool and college football schedules if you're area has a particularly avid football following! People love their football! But it’s not just football. Check for the World Series, NBA Finals and other major sporting events. Even the dates with smaller events, like the Kentucky Derby (May 1st, 2021), are good to avoid. Also, don’t forget the Olympics have been postponed to July 23rd, 2021 through August 8th, 2021.

What Night of the Week is Best?

There’s no question that Saturday night is the best night to hold a fundraising event. People are rested, and willing to go out for the night. Or in today’s world, people are looking for something to participate in that is safe and fun, like a virtual fundraising event! Friday nights are your next best bet. People are willing to go out or participate in a virtual event on a Friday night knowing that they have the next day off from work. But try to wrap it up before 10 PM (most people are tired from a long week of work).

Tuesdays and Wednesdays can work, but again, don’t let them run too late and don’t forget to give enough time for people to get settled after their workday. Thursdays often attract a younger crowd. These nights can be very hit or miss. The success of a Thursday night will likely hinge on your audience. If you are reaching out to an older group of donors, we suggest you stick with Saturday nights. As we mentioned earlier, virtual events have changed the landscape a bit. So as you plan out your 2021 calendar with the idea that you may be able to make your event work out fairly well on a weeknight when you go virtual.

*Bonus Virtual Event Tip: Capitalize on the focused attention of your audience at the conclusion of your virtual program to create urgency for the close of your silent auction. After your thank you’s make a final announcement “Don’t forget, there are only 60-minutes remaining in our silent auction. So bid high and bid often!”

After analyzing the calendar for 2021, AmFund predicts the most popular Spring 2021 fundraising date to be: April 17, 2021.


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