How to Host a Benefit Concert for Your Nonprofit

Fundraising Events

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Crank up your nonprofit fundraising with a benefit concert! If you’re looking for a fun and exciting way to raise more money for your cause, a benefit concert is a perfect solution. Music is great at bringing communities together, and while it may take a lot of planning, hosting a benefit concert can be incredibly rewarding for both you and your supporters. Not only do your donors get to rock the night away, but you can use the concert to provide information about your mission and what you can accomplish.  

What is a benefit concert? 

A benefit concert is a musical event used to raise money or awareness for a charitable cause through ticket sales and other donations during the event. Benefit concerts are often celebrations of major achievements or a part of a larger fundraising campaign. These events help unite people for a cause through the power of music. Many benefit concerts become annual events or make history for their cause.  

Examples of benefit concerts 

Some major examples of successful benefit concerts include Live Aid, Tibet House US’s Annual Benefit concerts, and One Love Manchester.  

Live Aid was a benefit concert to raise funds for Ethiopian famine relief in 1985. This 16-hour, multi-venue live music event is one of the most well-known examples of a benefit concert due to its notable musician acts, such as Queen, Elton John, David Bowie, and more. Its historic impact continues to resonate, highlighting the transformative power of music in rallying support for humanitarian causes.

The Tibet House US Annual Benefit is a popular benefit concert that has been hosted annually for almost 40 years. Held annually at Carnegie Hall, this event not only invites attendees to revel in captivating musical performances but also serves as a vital platform for celebrating and safeguarding Tibetan culture. Joining this remarkable gathering means contributing to the preservation of a rich heritage while experiencing an unforgettable evening of music and cultural appreciation.  

More recently, the One Love Manchester concert in June 2017 brought many high-profile acts—including Ariana Grande, Niall Horan, Coldplay, and Miley Cyrus—to raise money for the victims and families impacted by the Manchester Arena Bombing that occurred two weeks earlier. Through the healing power of music, the concert symbolized solidarity, resilience, and unwavering support for those impacted by adversity.

While these are examples of some of the most famous benefit concerts, your concert doesn’t need to be historic to have a large influence on your cause.  

benefit concert band on stage and crowd

Advantages for nonprofits of hosting benefit concerts

Hosting a benefit concert for your organization offers numerous benefits, such as:

  • Fundraising. Benefit concerts are great for generating income through ticket sales, raffles, merchandise, or other fundraising avenues.  
  • Community. Foster community engagement at your benefit concert as local musicians, volunteers, and donors all gather in one place for a cause they care about. 
  • Awareness. Benefit concerts provide an opportunity for you to educate your community about your cause and the work you do.  
  • Donor engagement. These concerts allow your donors to engage with your mission and other people who support your cause, keeping them involved with your nonprofit.   
  • Inspiration. Music is a great source of inspiration for people to get excited about supporting your cause, which can lead to more people volunteering for your organization.  
  • Promotion. Benefit concerts provide mutually beneficial promotion for both your nonprofit and the musicians who choose to perform at your concert by combining both of your audiences.  

Planning your benefit concert

To maximize your fundraising, your benefit concert should be carefully planned–from the venue to the musicians to your post-concert strategy. Tune into these steps to learn how you can host a benefit concert! 

  1. Set your goals
  2. Choose your event registration software
  3. Choose your volunteer management software
  4. Find your performers
  5. Secure a venue  
  6. Create your merchandise  
  7. Promote your event  
  8. Livestream your benefit concert  
  9. Include an auction during the concert  
  10. Keep the focus on fundraising during the concert  
  11. Wrap up after the concert  

1. Set your goals 

Knowing your goal can help you make the right decisions for the rest of your benefit concert planning journey. To start setting your goals, you need to determine your budget. A realistic budget should cover all necessary expenses while also providing a buffer for unexpected costs. Knowing how much you can spend will dictate a lot of your choices when planning your event.    

Once you’ve established your budget, you can set the rest of your SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely) goals. Your goals should include how much money you aim to raise through ticket sales and other revenue avenues, as well as how many new donors you’re looking to recruit through the event. 

To better determine what you’ll need to achieve your goals, you also need to seek out event sponsors and volunteers to help out with your event. Sponsors can help you pad out your budget and start long-term partnerships with a for-profit partner. On the other hand, recruiting volunteers will help you figure out how you’ll be able to handle the different aspects of your event.  

2. Choose your event registration software 

Technology plays a major part in the fundraising world, and the right software can make your benefit concert even easier to host. Event registration and management software can help you sell tickets and merchandise to your donors while also helping you manage your attendees at the event. The right tools can help you offer the best user experience for participants and make it easy to promote your show online.  

Key features to look for in nonprofit event registration software: 

  • Custom event registration forms 
  • Drag-and-drop table management 
  • Ticket packages 
  • QR code check-in 
  • Event marketing tools 
  • Data reporting 

3. Choose your volunteer management software

Selecting the appropriate volunteer management software is crucial for streamlining your organization’s operations and optimizing volunteer engagement. Just as technology revolutionizes fundraising efforts, the right software can significantly enhance your volunteer management processes. From efficiently coordinating volunteer schedules to maximizing their contributions, volunteer management software empowers your organization to achieve its mission more effectively.

Key features to consider when evaluating volunteer management software include:

  • Robust volunteer management
  • Recruitment workflows
  • Powerful scheduling tools
  • Online applications
  • Volunteer dashboards
  • Mobile app capabilities
  • Personalized outreach
  • End-to-end reporting
  • Data transfer
  • Bloomerang Volunteer mobile app
person playing guitar at a benefit concert

4. Find your performers  

There’s no event without the talent! As you’re planning your concert, you’ll need to find musicians and presenters to entertain your attendees. Your lineup can help you drive excitement within your community. A good place to start looking for performers is with local musicians. Local musicians are often happy to play a charity event, which can also help motivate their hometown supporters to attend.  

Another good source of performers is to look at musicians with a history of philanthropy. Any musicians who’ve shown support for your cause or donated to your mission should be at the top of your list. If there’s a performer who has previously shown support for causes similar to yours, they may be willing to join your concert’s lineup to further support issues they care about.  

You can also leverage your personal network to find artists to participate in your concert. If you don’t know any performers personally, you can reach out to your friends to find people they know to join the benefit.  

5. Secure a venue  

The right venue can make or break your benefit. Your concert venue needs to be able to accommodate all your attendees and work with any necessary equipment you’ll need for the event. Not only does the concert need to sound good, but it needs to be accessible for your guests. Your venue should also match the mood of the event, such as the genre of musicians you’ve recruited to perform. Consider the genre of musicians you’ve recruited to perform and choose your decorations and build your venue’s ambiance based off of that.

Depending on your venue and the concessions you offer, you may need to file for certain permits or paperwork to avoid any legal complaints regarding the event, such as noise complaints or food safety. You should also consider what type of security you’ll need for your venue to keep your audience safe.  

6. Create your merchandise  

The revenue from tickets might cover the hard costs, but merchandise can help add income to your fundraising campaign. Design unique merchandise for your event and choose items that match the vibe of the concert. Include designs for t-shirts, pins, stickers, totes, and more to provide a few options for your guests.  

You can offer your merch both online and in-person to help maximize the funds you raise from sales. Online merchandise also allows any supporters who couldn’t attend the concert to join in supporting your cause! 

7. Promote your event  

Implementing multi-channel event marketing tactics for your nonprofit benefit concert is the key to a successful event. Social media can help broadcast your event and find more supporters to attend your event. You can also use email marketing as a direct line to fans and supporters to tease your event and build up excitement. 

You can also market your concert offline as well. Posters and flyers are a classic way to promote concerts and can help you reach local community members. You can also partner with local media, such as radio and news stations, to market your benefit further.  

8. Livestream your concert  

Don’t limit your audience to guests who can physically attend your benefit! Offer a livestream option for those who’d prefer to watch from the comfort of their homes, opening the doors to a potential global audience. You can still sell tickets to the livestreaming link or offer supporters the option to purchase a recording of the show.  

9. Include an auction during the concert  

You can also add an auction during your benefit concert for attendees to bid on exciting experiences. Ask one of your musicians to provide a lunch meetup as an auction prize for supporters to get up close and personal with their favorite artist. You can also ask performers to donate signed instruments, CDs, and vinyl for all your music-loving donors to bid on during the concert. Auctions add an extra income source to your benefit while allowing fans to take home cherished items that support a good cause. 

Use nonprofit silent auction software to maximize participation. Here are some key auction software features to look out for: 

  • Mobile bidding 
  • Outbid notifications 
  • Guest management 
  • Easy checkout 
  • Donation appeals  
a person recording a benefit concert on a phone

10. Keep the focus on fundraising during the concert  

Throughout your benefit concert, remind your attendees what they are truly there for. Share impact stories, photos, and videos from the people you’ve been able to help through your mission. By keeping your guests focused on your organization, you’ll be able to keep the fundraising momentum up past the sales made at the concert.  

11. Wrap up after the concert  

Your work doesn’t end after the event! The last step to planning your benefit concert is planning your post-event strategy. In the days following your concert, you should express your gratitude to everyone who made your concert a success—donors, sponsors, volunteers, performers, and attendees. A simple thank-you note can go a long way in building lasting relationships. You can also use these notes to ask for feedback from participants.  

Besides showing your appreciation, you also want to examine the data from your concert to determine how well it did and what you may need to change for future events. Analyzing your results after the event can help you plan a better benefit next time. 

Final thoughts 

Hosting a benefit concert is not the easiest fundraising event to host, but it can be incredibly rewarding for your organization. If you put a detailed plan in place and include different income opportunities, your benefit concert could become a new tradition for your community. Your concert doesn’t need to be a huge event to be a success, as long as it helps your nonprofit create a meaningful change in your community. With this guide, you can host a benefit concert that echoes a song in the hearts of your supporters. 

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