People fall into one of two categories: those that think planning an event is easy breezy and those who know that planning an event takes real work. I come across both ends of this spectrum all the time, and many times clients fall somewhere in between. Here's my take on the biggest mistakes non-profits make when planning an event:
5. Details: Events are nothing without all their details, and while those are extremely important, I've seen many non-profits get stuck on finding the perfect venue, negotiating with a caterer, or worrying about napkin color (I've seen it all). Your donors probably don't care about this as much as you think they do. Instead of worrying about these details, hire a professional to manage them for you, and that will leave you time to focus on your messaging, engage with that "hard to pin down donor", and figure-out how the event fits in with your big picture plans for the year.
4. Run of show: Most people don't realize that what happens on stage at a professional event is choreographed with a timed document. After spending time and money to get an event organized, it would be a shame if the program does not run smoothly. A clear run of show will keep everyone on the same page to ensure that your messaging is not overshadowed by an awkward exchange at the podium.
3. Explain your why: When you're passionate about your work, you live in it every day. It's easy to forget that most people attending your event are there because a friend has asked for their support. Remember that you have a captive audience, and it's your job to ensure they leave your event having a better understanding about what you do. Be creative and tell a story; don't just list off statistics and numbers.
2. Post event follow-up: I get it, you're busy... I've worked at non-profits most of my career, and the truth is that all of them are understaffed with a long list of tasks to accomplish every day. When it comes to a big event, it's usually an "all hands on deck" mentality, and while that's great for event day, most of those hands will disappear as soon as the event ends. Don't make the mistake of not outlining a follow-up strategy as part of your planning process. Events are supposed to be springboards for building relationships, and the real work starts the day after an event for it to truly be successful.
1. Goal-setting: This should be the #1 priority when starting to plan an event. Most non-profits are busy with the day-to-day tasks of getting things done, and when they plan their events they tend to focus on just the event planning details instead of why they're doing the event. Events are not the most cost-effective way to raise money. Know why you're doing the event, set goals, and work backwards to accomplish those goals.
Contact me to learn more about being more strategic about your events!
Lisa Wein, Consultant
I have loved event planning for as long as I can remember. Whether it's a fundraising gala, wedding, or a corporate meeting, I get a thrill when the event is perfectly planned and the client is happy.
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